Every Comic I Read in 2013: July

Rolling Stock 138 by Oliver East

I wasn’t feeling it this month, so some of these comments kind of suck. But I am a slave to my pre-determined project.

In other news, I’ll be at SPX this year (for the first time). I won’t have a table, but I will be walking around Saturday and Sunday, hopefully with something new (and some old stuff). I’ll also be moderating a panel (my first) with some great artists (more details on that when they officially announce the programming). Say hi if you see me, maybe I’ll give you a comic.

[The image above is Rolling Stock 138 by Oliver East. See below.]

Outside 2 by Geddes and Craghead (Oily, 2013)

-More surfing action… with an awesome section where the surfer protagonist wipes out, the drawings get all dark and chaotic, and one panel on a page goes off-kilter like a tv set with the vertical hold messed up (do you people remember “vertical hold”?).

-Not much else to say at this point, as it’s still unfinished, and it’s hard to comment on what is essentially a third of a poem.

See March’s post for comment on issue 1.

Ulysses by David Lasky (1991)

-I bought this on Bloomsday, when someone (maybe Tom Spurgeon?) pointed out that Lasky was selling copies. I’d been wanting to see this for a long time, so…

-It’s basically a 12 page condensation of Ulysses in comics form. 18 chapters in 36 panels (based on my recollection of the original, Lasky did 2 panels per chapter). In the end, it’s not so interesting in itself… you get a basic narrative outline of the novel, which is what I assume Lasky is going for… but it is interesting to think about how different it could be. You could draw 2 panels per chapter and probably make a hundred versions of this comic, no two using the same bit.

Fatale 15 by Ed Brubaker and Sean Phillips (Image, 2013)

-Just learned that while this was original meant as a limited series, it’s now an ongoing series… I’d heard it had been expanded in length but for some reason I thought that meant a couple issues. Wondering if that is a good idea, as it could encourage plot sprawl and even more endless deferment of heretofore hidden elements and motivations. Seems like the story, as it is set-up, really needs to be going some place definite as opposed to “ongoing adventures of immortal Lovecraft noir lady.”

-This one gives a little more on the present-day framing narrative and then goes into a 1990s Seattle flashback featuring a character that is apparently designed to look like Tom Hart (?), though he’s a former musician who makes zines.

-More death, though no Lovecraftian monsters.

Random bunch of manga

-Some of Macross the First which is a remake of the original Japanese Macross series in manga format. Drawn by the original character designer (kinda like the Evangelion manga I guess) it’s quite lovely, but there’s not much via scanlation (about 1 volume), and I truly doubt anyone will translate it for real in English. I’d read more of it.

-Some Sanctuary by Sho Fumimura and Ryoichi Ikegami which is one of the few series from old Viz that I never read. For awhile there (early on) I was reading (or at least an issue or two, that is, when they were just doing pamphlets) pretty much all their publications. This is a long crime and politics drama. There’s something about Ikegami’s hyper-realistic images that really works for this type of story. This could totally be a “prestige” drama on cable television. In comparison to Ikegami’s work with Kazuo Koike this is a little less batshit crazy and has a bit more realistic grounding. Though it is severely lacking in decent female characters, which at least Koike can do some of the time.

-Some other stuff I didn’t write down and have already forgotten so it was clearly not memorable.

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

-Viz is releasing this newer volumes with three of the original volumes in one softcover volume with some color pages. So this amounted to 9 volumes of the 14 volume series which was just finally completed in Japan this year. I read some of this in pamphlet form when Viz was first putting it out… in the late 90s. Which shows you how slow Sadamoto was on this.

-Probably more people have seen the anime than read this manga, but it’s been so long since I saw it that I’m not sure how this compares to the anime at all.

-Maybe my reading is colored by slight memories of the ending to the original anime, but this whole series has a weird sense of irreality to it… like even within the diegetic world things don’t really make sense. It’s almost dream-like in that respect. The original project is clearly written with a knowing nod to the tropes of the genre except everything is turned inward and made unheroic. This is not a story of triumphant victory or love conquering all. An enjoyable series nonetheless.

Knights of Sidonia v1-3 by Tsutomu Nihei (Vertical)

-Another sci-fi mecha manga series. This is of the “humanity flees earth and lives in giant spaceships that have cities within them” genre. Also weird alien creatures that no one seems to know anything about. And clones. And people who have been modified (genetically I think) to photosynthesize.

-The people of this future have some genetic changes to them which are so far mostly played for contrast against the protagonist, who is a classic fish out of water, raised in secret away from the rest of society, and he also appears to be the “seems normal at first but actually has some kind of secret power/legacy/skills” character. Lots of tropes mashed into this series, but something about it is entertaining and interesting, partially due to the diegetic world being less contemporary and more alien than stories like Macross, Gundam, or Evangelion. I like that the protagonists best friend is some kind of third gender, though Nihei hasn’t really explored that through 3 volumes.

-Sometimes you just want something that is well made and entertaining. This fits the bill. Also I like Nihei’s slightly flat character designs and the often almost completely nonsensical space battles.

-Some cool settings in the city inside the spaceship too. This one is almost more about the setting than the plot. The chapters are all started with an image of somewhere on the ship labelled: “One Hundred Sights of Sidonia” like some sort of old Japanese print series.

Abyss by Saman Bemel-Benrud (online)

-I really like the simplicity of the drawing and design: no gutters, a base 8 panel grid, pencils, a really nice light blue, rough pencil shaded blacks.

-It’s interesting how often we see the characters from behind and how little that is a bad thing.

-I love the sequence in the middle where the woman is in the abyss and the panels are all drawings of objects and symbols on blue background. Not totally sure how I should interpret it, but that adds to my liking of the comic. Nice little Chipotle burrito sequence too (I never tried all salsas at once!).

-You don’t see a lot of comics engaging with contemporary technology in such a way. Bemel-Benrud is a coder or designer (or both) which may make a difference in that respect.

-You can even go to the site in the comic: http://opening-soon.tumblr.com/

Rolling Stock 138 by Oliver East (comics workbook, 2013)

-This one is just awesome. A vaguely mysterious structure that looks like a jungle gym or some kind of raised platform in a blank space. Then the almost symmetrical waterscape with the object in the top panel in line with the water entrance/exit between the rocks.

-Great colors in light washes, with the rocks and structure standing out as a darker focus. The horizontal brush stroke in the water, the mottled wet splashes at the very bottom (some kind of vegetation?).

-The a few pages later there is Rolling Stock 141 and 142. More of those framed structures (perhaps something to do with fishing?) on top of waterscapes with rocks and pale blue washes that beautifully streak across the paper.

-Between the three there is the rock wall (maybe a jetty of some kind) open closed and open again across the horizontal of the pages. A nice rhythm along with the shifting differences in the structures at top.

-Wonderful sequence.