by Kevin Czap
Ok, round two, let’s do this! hoowah
Cinema #1: Monica et les fourmis, Julie Delporte — Delporte is one of the invigorating artists working in Montreal (or thereabouts). Her work weaves effortlessly between cartoony line drawings to more naturalistic renderings amid evidence of a cut-and-paste approach to collage. This particular mini was part of a series of three, each one related to a particular director (I chose the Ingmar Bergman). It’s exciting to flip back and forth through this (it’s all in French, so my comprehension of it as a whole is limited, unfortunately) and soak in the color. What Delporte has done with color here is relatively simple, line drawings that alternate between different colored pencils, but the effect is exciting in a quiet kind of way. The red, yellow, blue, purple and the occasional black all sing with each other beautifully. Another book I need to have translated for me, so I can enjoy it all the more.
Rav #5, Mickey Zacchilli — It was a year ago that I was last in Brooklyn and I had just started seeing Mickey Z‘s work. Rav #4 was high on my list of comics to seek out. Bursting with frenetic action to match the hyperactive linework, Rav won me over with how much visual power was packed into it. A year later, we find Juice in some sort of tight spot the details of which are kind of unclear (clarity continues to be less of a concern). Somewhat surprisingly, the action takes a backseat in this issue, and it focuses more on the confusing after effects of the previous events. Juice runs into his ex, Sally, who is acting pretty weird, to the point that the snake-faced monster she’s been seeing for a while doesn’t really know how to handle her anymore. The Snake Prince seems to have softened up over the past year, and is now really friendly towards Juice. Maybe he sympathizes now that they’ve both dated Sally?? The best part is at the end, when the mysterious antagonistic Ben shows his sweet side, cuddling up with his smiley-faced partner Buddy. Zacchilli’s work really needs to be experience firsthand, though, any explanation I could give just falls short. All in all, a real step forward for this series. What else will happen?!?!
“Trans Siberia,” Tom Kaczynski — Continuing where “Trans Alaska” left off, Kaczynski ponders on nostalgia. Despite the personal focus in these, this series is really getting at the defining elements of contemporary condition. One interesting aspect of the increasingly persistent feelings of nostalgia within our culture is the generational component. Being of an older generation, Tom K’s experiences are slightly different from the mutated form of nostalgia that grips my generation, it seems. The main difference would appear to be the “weaponization” of nostalgia – for those of us born in the mid 80s, marketing and consumerism has been perfected to a science and trained on us throughout our entire childhoods. As we grow into our late 20s, early 30s, we find that the fun and catering were conditional, and we’ve now been cut off. In this situation, the nostalgia becomes more like a drug addiction that’s left a large number of us emotionally stunted and drifting.
The other interesting thing for me is in terms of identity. As one look at my last can reveal, I’ve got some Polish blood in me. Aside from that fact, my knowledge about that side of my lineage is practically nonexistent. And yet, as I read Kaczynski talking about his real childhood in real Poland, I feel a bit of that kind of nostalgia. It’s coming from nowhere but this desire to connect with this unknown past somehow. Like, if only I knew about Cheburashka!
“How to Make a Bell Stand” and “L.A. Diary,” Gabrielle Bell — A brand new mini from Gabrielle Bell! Bell muses about expectations and putting pressure on yourself as she draws a picture of Steve Martin. When I was getting Bell to sign my copy of Kramers, I said something stupid like “it’s an honor to have you draw in my book!” which, had I read this before then, I would have known would make her feel pressured to draw something magnificent (she ended up drawing a magnificent basket of fruit). Behind door number 2, we have Bell’s “L.A. Diary,” another fine collection of strips from Uncivilized. Seriously, I will always cherish this stuff and the Diary books are so great because of the supplemental sketches, cluing you into just how thoughtful Gabrielle is at this comics thing. She makes it look easy, but damn.
Kid Mafia #1 and Open Country #2, Michael DeForge — I want to say two things about DeForge‘s new Kid Mafia mini. One, best depiction of a video game in comics since Huizenga’s various “Fight or Run” pieces (including the sublime sequence in Ganges #2). Two, and I quote, “NOT A DUPPY, NOT A DENTIST / NOT A POLICEMAN, NOT A JUROR / NOT A CONVICT / JUST A
And finally, the second Open Country! I continue to have a very strong reaction to this series – it’s depiction of young artist types strikes really close to home and I can’t help but feel a deep fondness for them. More importantly though, I’m really intrigued by the ideas DeForge is putting forward about our relation to the body. By giving these characters the task of visually reconstructing their bodies, he gives us insight into whatever existential crises these kids might be going through. By placing it all within the context of art, DeForge puts a political spin on the ball, in my opinion (even if the artists in the comic are as far as we can tell fairly apolitical). Quite excited to follow this one forward, if only to see how the psychic avatar portion resolves itself. (Also of note is how I feel there’s a kinship between this and DeForge’s piece in Thickness #2, “College Girl by Night.”)
Obsolete, Mikkel Sommer — More body stuff. This book is just beautiful. From the fine folks at Nobrow, Sommer (much younger than I would have expected) does everything here exceptionally well. Color pulls a lot of the weight here, he scraggly, wrinkly lines providing volume and texture more than shape. The story kind of glides past you like the ghosts in the book, but this is what makes it all the more interesting to me – although the subject is high-octane action movie material, your pulse never rises above a steady beat, soothed by the beauty of the execution. The relatively short format aids in this, and Sommer handles the timing like an old hand.