returns today with a full dose couldn’t make it today, but we have two reviews for you. First, Robert Kirby on Graham Chaffee’s Good Dog:
I confess unfamiliarity with Graham Chaffee’s prior work. According to his bio he authored a 2003 comics collection, The Most Important Thing and Other Stories, then took a detour into tattoo art before completing this comeback effort. His drawings are appealing throughout Good Dog. He may not have the instantly recognizable, idiosyncratic style of a Theo Ellsworth or a Michael DeForge, being more of a solid craftsman along the lines of say, Dean Haspiel or Josh Neufeld, but his skills are undeniable. His dog drawings particularly shine. He deftly captures their body language and emotional states without undue anthropomorphizing; dog-loving readers will recognize that he clearly gets the whole dog thing—from the scratching of an itch to the quizzical cock of an ear, to the forlorn, tentative quality of a stray meeting a seemingly kind stranger. His human characters are also finely rendered, especially his more stylized drawings of the pool hall owners. Chaffee is also adept at using the art of comics to create some beautiful scene transitions and character arcs; at the peak of the story, one character greets his destiny in a grandly executed, poetic sequence that left me with a lump in my throat.
Pietrolino abounds in things that Jodorowsky loves. But the book is radically different from all his other comics in its unprecedented levels of restraint and even good taste. There is hardly any violence, precious little sex, no taboo breaking, barely any mystic-religious stuff, the plot is straightforward, and Jodorowsky dials down the symbolism. The tone is wistful, reflective, nostalgic, gentle, and melancholy. Pietrolino suffers, but his suffering is depicted without Jodorowsky’s tendency to abrupt tonal subversion; there are no sudden beheadings or wisecracks, there is no explicit parent-child sex. It’s the kind of Jodorowsky book you could show your mother, or a priest, or even a little girl, his equivalent of The Straight Story, David Lynch’s gentle yarn about an old codger riding a lawn mower to see his estranged brother one last time. And yet as with all—or nearly all—of Jodorowsky’s works, Pietrolino is at its core the tale of a wounded individual seeking healing, so it nevertheless fits neatly into his oeuvre.
Finally, it looks like Desert Island is putting on a comic book festival on November 9th, with Paul Karasik as programming director. Good news.