Back in Pieces

Today, Robert Kirby reviews the new collection of MK Brown comics, Stranger Than Life. An excerpt:

Brown reveals a more serious side to White Girl in the masterful twelve-page “White Girl Dreams”, where White Girl has bizarre flights of fancy, imagining among other things, “soaring with others in the night, dancing though my face is someone else’s.” In it, Brown blends middle class ennui with surrealist tropes to create an ultimately rather poignant, fragmented portrait of a day-to-day existence suffocated by rules, traditions, and obligations, where the good, pleasurable flights of fancy are shunted off to some forgotten, subterranean part of the brain. White Girl yearns for those good dreams, telling us, “I always get the other kind.” The other kind are the ones in which an annoying “perfect stranger” comes home and regales her with endless obnoxious, husband-to-subservient-wife questions (“What’s for dinner? When do we? Why aren’t there any?” and so forth). She also tells us, understandably, "I hate this dream.” Without making any fuss, a feminist viewpoint clearly surfaces throughout the swirl of fantastical, kaleidoscopic imagery. It may indeed be that the dream White Girl hates is her actual life, a take that gives the piece its particular edge. Exploring the very nature of dreams vs. reality and what one makes of the difference, the story rewards multiple readings.


—Interviews & Profiles. Alex Dueben talks to Diane Obomsawin. ("When was it -- before I even knew I was attracted to women -- that I knew, unconsciously. It goes back very far, to the age of six or seven. Also I was curious about my friends and their stories. That was my question for them: What was your very first attraction?")

13th Dimension has a two-part interview with Mike Mignola. ("I was listening to the 8 billionth comment about H.P. Lovecraft and I said, 'Yeah, that stuff is in there, but I think that the bigger, fundamental structure of the Hellboy stuff came from pulp magazine guys like Robert E. Howard and Manly Wade Wellman.'")

Noam Cohen at the New York Times has a brief profile of xkcd's Randall Munroe. ("Though the book won’t appear for six months, What If? quickly reached No. 2 on Amazon’s best-seller list on the strength of pre-orders, trailing only a history book from Rush Limbaugh.")

Whit Taylor interviewed Mike Dawson. ("This was the first time I've ever gone into writing a story with a publisher already in mind. [...] There were pros and cons to it.")

—Reviews & Commentary.
Old TCJ hand Jared Gardner reviews Julia Gfrörer, Isabel Greenberg, and Cole Closser. ("Here I want to focus on the recent debut work of three young cartoonists that are inspired not by the inward gaze but instead by myth, legend, and a pure, unadulterated love of visual storytelling as an end in itself.")

Jacob Covey discusses how his views on S. Clay Wilson changed while he helped design Patrick Rosenkranz's new book on the artist. ("His is not the art of an innocent kindergartner who draws fanciful anatomy in a surreal landscape but that of the self-realizing, hormone-raging, unclean middle-beast that is boys who are becoming men. He still draws like a kid, just not the kid we romanticize about. At a time when most of us become self-conscious and begin self-censoring Wilson did not.")

Illogical Volume reviews Über, Pretty Deadly, Three, and Zero. ("There’s a certain punitive/educational value in amplifying and expanding on the staggering brutality of our recent past, but the danger of reducing it to gory spectacle haunts every page of this comic.")

Richard Bruton reviews Alan Moore and Steve Parkhouse's The Bojeffries Saga. ("Funnier than the hilarious D.R. & Quinch? Definitely. Better than Watchmen? Oh yes. Better than V For Vendetta? Yep. Better than Miracleman? Without question. Better than From Hell? Hmm… depends on my mood, but right up there.")

While writing about the film criticism of Manny Farber, David Bordwell discusses Farber's work on comic strips, too. ("Silly Milly is drawn in typical McGovern style, as though by a wind current, and has a prehistoric animal for a hair-do, a very expressive, giant-size eye, and a perfectly oval profile. It is one of those comics with animated décor, like Smoky Stover, with adjoining family portraits shaking hands, and one that tries for laughs in every part of the box.")

—News. Rich Warren at the Chicago Tribune profiles the Billy Ireland library. ("Veneration isn't stretching it as a term to describe what visitors might feel in these galleries. When they first step inside, most visitors are stunned at the sheer size of the illustrations, which are matted, framed and hung like paintings — like the works of art they are.") Incidentally, I am looking forward to Frank's column this week.

—Funnies. Roz Chast previews her upcoming book in The New Yorker.

—Video. Via Robert Boyd, here's the trailer for a new documentary on the Hairy Who.