Today at TCJ, Paul Tumey is here with a look at The Pits of Hell by Ebisu Yoshikazu, which Breakdown Press put out last year. It's an excellent book, and Paul turns his entire Framed! column over to going after why.
I have a new love: The Pits of Hell by Ebisu Yoshikazu. This collection of surreal and savage manga stories drawn in a naïve art style vibrates on my bookshelf and issues forth the sounds of thumping pachinko machines, clattering speedboat motors and roars of rage so intense there is no doubt in my mind they have the power to rip my head off. These stories are screwball, haunting, mystical, shocking, hilarious, frightening, and sad—usually all at once.
Today's review comes to us from Anya Davidson, who is here with a look at the first three issues of Ginseng Roots by Craig Thompson.
Ginseng Roots, his latest book, serialized in about 12 installments, the first 3 of which are currently available from Uncivilized Books, chronicles his experiences as a child harvesting ginseng with his family in Marathon, Wisconsin, a small town that, during the ginseng boom of the 1980’s, when the dried roots were fetching up to $65 a pound, was flourishing thanks to an influx of cash from buyers in Taiwan, Singapore, Thailand, Hong Kong and China. Thompson began working in the ginseng fields, weeding around the valuable roots, when he and his sister and brother were 9, 8 and 6 respectively (The author made a creative decision to omit his sister from Blankets, but she appears as an ancillary character in Ginseng Roots.) In need of supplementary income, their parents put all three children to work during the Summer at an age when most children are attending camp or simply lying around all day. In scenes set in the present day, the siblings candidly share their thoughts and feelings of deprivation and resentment, while acknowledging the complexity of their childhood situation.
I'm currently at the ALA Midwinter show, which has had no small measure of drama, and I'll be honest: I've already had my fill of drama this year so far. I started off 2020 enjoying some time reading Justice League Europe comics with small children (the Giffen/Sears ones, not the ones by the child porn guy!), and then flew off to a work conference at the beach. Unfortunately for me and a few thousand other people, that conference was in Puerto Rico, and the earthquakes that occurred throughout that time period made it all but impossible to keep up with the various comics news that has kept on rolling for the past few weeks. I'm grateful to Alec Berry for his work behind the scenes to keep posts alive, terribly sorry to the contributors who have been waiting for me to write them back, and super pumped about the massive amount of great writing that has been lurking in emails and dropbox folders while I've been out of action. I am glad to be someone back to my version of normal, and am hopeful that the people of Puerto Rico, who were so kind and gracious to me and all of the other visitors are back to something like that as well.
Also, don't fly home into a tornado, but if you're going to, do it after a bunch of earthquakes. It doesn't feel as scary at that point.
It's impossible for me to wrap my head around whatever went on at The Beat last week, but it seems like things over there may be a return to The Beat of old--less movie and TV stuff, more Heidi writing? I wish her the best. It is hard to imagine a future where there are more comics sites coming, and very easy to imagine one where the ones that exist go the way of websites The Dissolve or Deadspin. I'm glad she got a redesign out of that relationship. Hopefully this means they'll be a nice big oral history on Lion Forge down the line, courtesy of all the people that they hired for various periods of time over the last few years. Did you ever hear that rumor about how they tried to buy Drawn & Quarterly? That's a good one.