Every Comic I Read in 2013: August

This weekend is SPX. For the first time, I’ll be there (Saturday and Sunday). I don’t have a table, but Warren Craghead and Simon Moreton will be at table D13B and said they’d let me put some comics on their table. I plan on taking copies of MadInkBeard No.5 for that purpose. I’ll also be debuting MadInkBeard No.6, the “Unwitting Collaboration” issue, which is wholly made up of collaged/altered images that I was sent in the mail by a variety of artists over the years. It turned out really nice (well, the art, I’m expecting the printed copies today or tomorrow) and seemed like an appropriate concept for SPX. I’ll be giving those away for free until I run out, so if you see me feel free to ask for a copy.

I’m also moderating a panel for the first time. Here are the details:

“The New Comics Minimalism”
While the comics marketplace generally favors work that offers conventionally novelistic narratives conveyed through artwork that inclines towards naturalistically-based figurative clarity, a rising generation of artists, often working in alternative publishing formats, is exploring the limits of expressive poetic minimalism. Comics critic Derik Badman will discuss the new comics minimalism with Christopher Adams, Simon Moreton, Jon McNaught, Frank Santoro and Andrew White.
Sunday 4:30-5:30 in the White Flint Auditorium

It’s the last panel of the show, but I hope some people will stick around to see it. That’s a great line-up of participants.

Did not read many comics at all this month. Read a lot of D&D related stuff, read some novels and short stories and nonfiction, but not many comics except what zooms by in Tumblr mostly (some in Feedly, but the “webcomics” folder has gotten really sparse over the past year or so).

Looking back at this list I feel pretty blasé about all of these, and I feel myself tiring of trying to say something about all of them. A lot of these are comics I read for some brief entertainment, which most of them provided to more or less an extent. Maybe next(this) month I’ll do better, as I’ve already read some more interesting works (new ones from Simon Moreton, Andrew White, and Frank Santoro, with the new Anya Davidson, Oliver East, and Yuichi Yokoyama on the “to read” pile).

New School by Dash Shaw (Fantagraphics, 2013)

-I need to reread this again, but on first reading the story seems really simplistic. I’ve seen a couple reviewers try to put some kind of political allegory into the narrative, but I’m not sure that holds up to any scrutiny.
-The images on the other hand are really interesting. Shaw has a fairly normal representational drawing style with a thick cartoony line on one level and then puts all these colors, patterns, textures, and even photos behind the normal drawings. It’s tempting to try to read meaning into the interaction of the two, but on my first read I found that in most cases I couldn’t. It’s a strange disjointed experience, perhaps (I hope) purposeful.

Fatale 16 by Brubaker and Phillips (Image, 2013)

-More mysterious backstory? Not really since the protagonist lost her memory. So instead we get more Seattle in the 90s plot about struggling one hit(album) wonder rock band. Nothing from the framing story at all. Not one of the best issues.

Knights of Sidonia v.4 by Tsutomu Nihei (Vertical, 2013)

-More mechs fighting weird organic monsters. More cool spaceship settings. More mysterious (and perhaps sinister) backstory.

Goddamn This War! by Tardi (Fantagraphics, 2013)

-World War I as narrated by a front line soldier with all the horror and vitriol one would expect.
-Tardi does great work with the colors in this one. Mostly cool grays with frequent brown and flashes of red or yellow. Actually it’s a good amount of red for the blood and explosions.
-For some reason I love the way Tardi draws the hands with these big cartoony sausage fingers.
-This is more chronological and historical than It Was the War of the Trenches, and I think holds together better as a book for that reason.
-This has a very long (~1/3 of the book) textual chronology of WWI at the end. I tried to read it but got bored. I don’t care that much about the specifics of the history. The theme seemed to be “the French commander is a power hungry idiot,” at least as far as I got (a few years into the war).

Neon Genesis Evangelion 3-in-1 v.4 by Yoshiyuki Sadamoto (Viz)

-More death and trauma and… mysterious backstory revealed as this series runs to its conclusion (this book includes v.10-12, the series ends with v.14).
-Ok, I also read the rest of the chapters via scanlation, since Viz hasn’t even scheduled the last volume yet… and… That’s not how I remember the anime, so maybe Sadamoto made his own ending. I don’t think you can read the ending logically, without involving some paradoxical plot, which I guess is ok.
-In the end, I have no idea how I felt about this series. I’ll probably reread it.

“Wolves,” “Demeter,” and “The Mire” by Becky Cloonan

-Read all these through Comixology where they are really cheap.
-Three fairy tale-esque fantasy tales of the “dark” variety.
-Cloonan’s art is quite nice and really works for this type of narrative. She handles setting and character and mood really well (and you can see her improve over the course of the three stories).
-In the end, while visually appealing, I found the stories thin and predictable. Each had it’s own variety of twist ending, but none felt like there was an engaging variation of the model.