I've been digging through my comics, re-reading past favorites. This is one.
Gfrörer and I knew each other through LiveJournal (hahahaha) back in theI've been digging through my comics, re-reading past favorites. This is one.
Gfrörer and I knew each other through LiveJournal (hahahaha) back in the day, and I've been following her work ever since. She started out a fantastic cartoonist and has only gotten better.
This particular comic (which I thought I had lost, and which I had lost in its original self-published form) is typical for Gfrörer, that is, dark, sexual, despairing, and occupied by death. She's not a Goth, but ok, maybe a sumptuously-read Goth who never dips into cliches and is constantly surprising AAAANNND who draws with a willowy Weimar style line that is so beautiful. And the stories don't explore the typical dark places, but are generally period pieces focused on sex and death and the tie between the two. They're also smart. They don't wear their knowledge on their surface, but it's there bubbling up through the dialog and the plot and the line. Damn... This still sounds too Goth, which it isn't. In the end, I just have to say, go read it....more
The first seven pages of the book are the full story. But those first seven pages are riddled with footnotes, which is the nextI wanted to love this.
The first seven pages of the book are the full story. But those first seven pages are riddled with footnotes, which is the next half of the book. But THOSE footnotes are littered with more footnotes, which is the second half of the book.
It's somewhat similar to Pale Fire.
But Hiršal can't write as beautifully as Nabakov (or perhaps the translation isn't very good; I will never know). And Hiršal's story isn't very interesting, even if it was written as beautifully as Pale Fire. The story is roughly a family history, and the footnotes are roughly fill-ins to the background of that family, and of little bits and pieces of local Townie color, and history and trivia about Czechoslovakia.
I tried reading it by following the footnotes but got bored. Not by the flipping back and forth like a Choose Your Own Adventure, but because I was bored by what I was reading. So I tried reading it straight through, but still was bored. I made it well past the half way point and put it down....more
I read this a long time ago. I read it again yesterday at my book store, ignoring customers and furiously torn between turning pages to see what happeI read this a long time ago. I read it again yesterday at my book store, ignoring customers and furiously torn between turning pages to see what happens next and marveling at the hyper-detailed environment drawn in every panel: every stone, window, jacket, _everything_ is drawn like some comic version of Orson Welles' deep focus. It makes Otomo's world feel infinite. Everything is visible; everything is detailed. It feels like the story we're focusing on is only one story that's happening—sure, it is the most MASSIVE stroy—but it's not the only story. Otomo doesn't even need to characterize the walk-on characters. They're literally drawn so well, and look so individualistic, that they just HAVE to have lives that we don't know about.
Anyway, the book rages, and you shouldn't read anything about it. It's fast and furious and can be read at one setting. It's also deeply surprising; esp. if you don't know who the antagonist is. Otomo is ruthless about killing off characters (this was true in Akira as well, but less so). And his action set-pieces are literally unrivaled by any other cartoonist. —mic drop—...more
You are an Angolan guerrilla fighting for independence from the Portuguese. You are in Mayombe, the Angolan jungle, in a hidden base, leading attacks, You are an Angolan guerrilla fighting for independence from the Portuguese. You are in Mayombe, the Angolan jungle, in a hidden base, leading attacks, but often waiting, and often dealing with simmering tribal squabbles and petty politics. You are several different freedom fighters, all known by codenames (Fearless, Struggle, New World, etc.). You get to see their POV, sort of like the confessional inserts in reality shows. It helps you realize how people justify their decisions and tries to explain how deep the tribal sympathies run, and how new the idea of an "Angolan People" or "the Proletariat" is. You are a card carrying Communist. Literally. You go to Communist theory classes everyday, even in the jungle. Debates about the finer points of the Communist struggle are rife. You engage in a few fights. You try to win over the locals, despite them being largely from another tribe. You try to deal with opportunistic or ideological superiors or comrades, who are causing strife, or wasting money or time. You have romance problems, since you're in the field, and your loved one is in town. (Or, for some, dead.) You have anger because someone you know was killed, or because of this constant unending exploitation. You listen to the Yoda-like diatribes of Fearless, your leader, and the leader of the hidden jungle base. Fearless is definitely NOT a demagogue or an ideologue. He is rational and deeply pragmatic, yet also an idealist who believes in a New and Better Way. He's also unyielding to the demands of the coming world.
Ultimately Fearless, Our Leader, is too perfect. He is human, but his pronouncements and opinions are superwise, Yoda-wise. Ultimately, Fearless becomes a mouthpiece for the writer. Not too much, but enough to knock you out of the narrative, and enough to remind you that you are not an Angolan freedom fighter, and that even though this is a great portrayal of "what it was like" there's a little too much speechifying coming from the now visible author. But other than that, a damn good book.
Brutal. Doomed. And unexpected the whole way through.
It's a noir in that there's no detectives and everything is dirty, bleak, and rundown, even the writing. The protagonist is woefully detached but falls in love, a lot like the protagonist to Simenon's The Train, which I also just read, and which is also equally bleak. But the protagonist in Pick-Up (named Harry Jordan) is just burnt out. He meets a woman (of course) and she's a femme fetale, of sorts, since she (named Helen Meredith), like Harry, is a woman at the end of her rope. But she doesn't doom Harry. Harry and her are both already doomed. Doomed from the shitty world they're a part of. Doomed from feeling trapped (Helen) or inadequate (Harry). Both of them are the dregs of our society and what is unsaid (but very clearly implied) is that their plights are damnations of our society and the options they have as a woman and as...
I'll get back to that.
A quick point: Willeford writes about art as an insider. He knows how to make art and how artists, or how some artists, think. He also gets the art world. I want to know more about him.
(view spoiler)[The next to last sentence in the book completely changes the entire book. In a great way. I don't want to give too much away, but damn... (hide spoiler)]...more
1. It creeped me out a bit when I realized this story about a young girl was written by a young guy.
1b. But the characterization of Wendy is dead-on,1. It creeped me out a bit when I realized this story about a young girl was written by a young guy.
1b. But the characterization of Wendy is dead-on, so I stopped caring nearly immediately that this story about a young girl was written by a young guy. I've known this girl. I've dated this girl. I've been this girl.
2. It also creeps me out that I still haven't totally left Wendy's lifestyle which is nothing but precarity, cynical abandonment of that precarity through paaarrrtaays, bitches!, some despair, a healthy dose of delusion, a sprinkle of treachery, and some tenacity to keep on. I mean, I no longer party like I'm 22, or like my roommate who is a bartender and is constantly bringing home new people. I'm more sedate and more secure and less interested in getting wasted, omg, wtv. But yeah, this book gets that "OMG, want to die; wil nvr drink again... ... OMG lets get hammurt tonight!"
2b. The book is filled with the precarity of being young AND nails what it's like to be a wannabe Artist surrounded by others who want roughly same thing (or at least want to fuck people who are Doing That Thing or are at least talking about Doing That Thing) yet everyone isn't doing much other than so getting so really wasted and, like, so trying to get some. (Go read Sentimental Education. That book nails this same bohemia hipster shit, and in 1869.))
3. And the art? It's fast and shitty and totally awesome. There's this style that the kids are doing which is half manga and half sloppy underground comix let's-draw-really-fast and fuck all that "professional" bullshit from the majors. But it works. Seriously. The drawings are simple enough to completely project your identity, yet different enough to recognize individual characters, e.g., one of Wendy's bffs is a party boy named Screamo who is a cartoon version of Munch's The Scream but a punk hipster version wearing black and constantly drinking or fucking "hot" guys. (All the cartoon boys or girls Scott draws look roughly the same, so "hot" really doesn't mean much to the reader.)
3b. One great thing Scott does is switch drawing styles for Wendy panel to panel. It's a wonderful technique and it works well to get that whole 'early-20s mercurial—hell, nearly bi-polar—emotional state.' Check out a few of the faces of Wendy:
I couldn't get into this. It's the Strugatskys' fantasy novel, set in Soviet Russia, filled with bureaucrats and well-drawn scientist/magicians goingI couldn't get into this. It's the Strugatskys' fantasy novel, set in Soviet Russia, filled with bureaucrats and well-drawn scientist/magicians going about their passions, digging into the way the world works. Baba Yaga is there, as well as a ton of Russian folklore I don't know despite my nerdy D&D background.
It's roughly three stories: The story of our hero, the computer programer Alex Ivanov Privanov's, initiation into the strange and magical side of the USSR. This part is complete madcap and introduces us to the Soviet re-structuring of myths, creatures, and magic. The second story follows Privanov's daily life at the Scientific Research Institute for Thaumaturgy and Spellcraft; specifically his dealings with a blowhard fraud obsessed with figuring out the Perfect Man. It's less madcap, and focuses on the daily life of a magician-scientist, and specifically follows one crazy New Years Day where all the wizards decide to work on their crazy projects instead of party. The final part deals with a mystery of Janus, the two-man and a mysterious parrot. It's less zany and more of a parlor room mystery, but is filled with as much insanity as the rest of the book, including a time twisting surprise and a bike that can enter the fictional past or future (which is pretty awesome, esp. since Privanov decides to check out the sci-fi future of our collective imagination).
The book is full—no, crammed—with events, and characters, and way too many references to Russian mythology and tons of other mythologies. The Strugatskys' take on magic is basically a take on the scientific ivory tower, and they get the repartee of scientists, I mean magicians and wizards, and how they talk amongst themselves. But it's a bit much and it doesn't have the paranoid solidity of Definitely Maybe or the creepy depth of Roadside Picnic. That might be because of the translation, but I think it has more to do with the book existing firmly within the Russian cultural consciousness, which I'm just not part of.
(BTW, what is up with "hairy ears"? It means something bizarre that I don't get... like stupidity or depravity or... I dunno. There's a bunch of stuff like this. Like if you're hungry you suck your teeth? Or you scratch your teeth? It's like learning the various short-hand emotional codes in manga (a bubble out the nose means sleeping; nosebleeds equal sexual frustration! Whaaaaa?), but without a Russian version of an otaku to tell me what is what. Same with Dostoyevski who constantly writes about "flashing eyes." What the hell is that?)...more
Hayashi demands a lot from his reader. His comics are closer to poetry than prose. He demands that you connect the dots and fill in the story. He asksHayashi demands a lot from his reader. His comics are closer to poetry than prose. He demands that you connect the dots and fill in the story. He asks you to make sense of the snippets of plot. If you're Japanese, he gives you cultural references to hang on to. If you're not Japanese, like me, then tough shit. You can work through it. You're all grown up.
My favorite comics right now teach me how to read them. I'm used to speeding through a comic. I'm used to inhaling it like water; thinking little of the artistry behind it, but enjoying the images and words all the same. Chris Ware says that comics are readable images, or that the cartoonist is writing signs. But Hayashi doesn't do that. Hayashi's images and text are dense and not always interconnected. Not only are the images and text not always connected, but often the connective tissue between two panels will be opaque.
Brutal, quiet, and sharp. And a fast read. All Simenon hallmarks; all in full display here. Roughly a road trip book, except the protagonist is a refuBrutal, quiet, and sharp. And a fast read. All Simenon hallmarks; all in full display here. Roughly a road trip book, except the protagonist is a refugee running from the Nazis invading Holland (although he officially lives in France). But it's really about a man who is a shell and who is unable to connect or feel. He is roughly a monster, yet he's a monster who falls in love—with a woman and with life. Yet his dis-attachment and coldness persist. A beautiful, quiet, and ugly book....more
I never bothered reading this book because I bought all of Hanawalt's minis throughout the years and I figured this book was just those minis collecteI never bothered reading this book because I bought all of Hanawalt's minis throughout the years and I figured this book was just those minis collected. But it isn't and I'm dumb. It's almost all new material. Or at least material I've never seen. And it's fuuunnny!!
Hanawalt was always funny. She was part of a group of comic book girls called Cookie Monster Island, or Pizza Monster Island, or something like that. They were all amazing and it seems like most of them moved to LA to work with Hollywood or Adult Swim or whatever. Bad for comics; good for the world. I guess.
Hanawalt is part of the gloopy deliberately "off" comics crews of the last few decades that are basically
So Hanawalt perfected her childhood obsession of drawing realistic and beautifully rendered ponies, birds, dogs, and whatever, but then had them walk upright—without being cartoonified, which is a damn weird effect. (At first it just looks wrong. Awesome and hilarious. But creepy and off-putting. In a good way. Even though now everyone is used to her style because of Bojack Horseman.) And then she adds sex but again she adds the weird and funny, and without the creepy hate sex of Crumb and his followers, but is still creepy and wrong. And did I say funny? Oh. Well. It is. Funny....more
Ok... the "WOW" is really from Jodorowsky's art, which is mind blowing. Definitely coming out of the psychedelic poster heads of the 60s, but hisWOW
Ok... the "WOW" is really from Jodorowsky's art, which is mind blowing. Definitely coming out of the psychedelic poster heads of the 60s, but his comics are as mind alternating as any of his predecessors and equally ground breaking. His art is still fresh and cutting edge, seamlessly moving from dripping forms to draw-over collage; all basted in heavily saturated tertiary colors—all pushing at the "limits." That is, his colors aren't the desaturated colors of the prior generation; nor are they the staid primaries; his colors are coming out of turn of the century decadence, and turned up to "ACID." And his forms are pulling from the surrealists and their ilk—twisted and distorted forms to break up the everyday conscious and to get at the center of the soul, maaaan. But it fucking works. That is, until I read the damn text. The text is trying to do the same thing as the imagery, but... if anyone has paid attention to Jodorowky then they'll know he's obsessed with all "that 60s shit" in text and spirituality as well as imagery. And although the imagery is still pushing boundaries and expectations today (in his films as well) the messages in these comics bore me to tears (in his films as well). The perhaps once interesting messages and ideology has been fully gentrified by yuppies doing Birkham yoga and talking about petting tigers in Thailand while reading the newest self-help book. It's corrupted and shitty Alan Watts (who I like) and other feel-good tune-in to yourself it's-all-about-you vibes that are as boring now as a... hell, I don't even know what to compare it to. I don't know what's more boring. I was going to write "a 50s rom-com," but every time I see one, I'm surprised by how weird it is...
But still, damn the art in these comics is amazing, as is the layout, as is the pacing, as is his use of space. Jodorowsky is a goddamn forgotten gem of comics art.
This book explains why you can't get brilliant work done.
All those petty disturbances? The phone calls? The allure of trivia (like the radio in the StThis book explains why you can't get brilliant work done.
All those petty disturbances? The phone calls? The allure of trivia (like the radio in the Strugatsky's time; internet/NetFlix in our own)? The daydreaming? All of it. It's all planned. It's all a conspiracy. I think it's the neighbors. Or the neighborhood co-op. Or maybe the KGB or the NSA. Or perhaps it's the Freemasons. Or the Trilateral Committee. Or aliens? Yes, probably aliens. Or, hell, maybe it's the universe itself.
Or maybe you're just an easily distracted slacker.
I was half way through when I went with my ex to a movie. It was an art film. The first part of a trilogy. I placed the book at my feet. When the movie was over I collected my things. When I got on the subway I realized I must have kicked the book under the seat in front of me. Damn. Just when it was getting good. Maybe it's the KGB or NSA not wanting me to finish the book. But fuck it. The book was (finally) reprinted so I'll just buy a new one for cheap online. Go on to Amazon. Cheapest book is $24 and Amazon claims only a Kindle version is available new. No way. Suspicious. Probably the Freemasons work. I go onto Abebooks. Same results. Bookfinder. Same results. Aliens' work, most definitely. Yes, aliens. Must be. I try to call the theater but it's holiday season (suspicious) and no one is answering the phones (likely story).
So the next day I go to the theater to see the second part of the art trilogy (which I didn't really want to see) just to try get my out of print not-digital book back. Something very suspicious is going on. Maybe it's the universe that doesn't want me to finish the book? But the book is there! In "lost and found"! And the second part of the trilogy is actually ok. And the book? It ends well. Damn funny. And hard to say who it is that's preventing our protagonist scientist from completely his world-shaking brilliant work. Probably the same conspiracy that decided to let me finish the book....more
This book floods me with childhood and adolescent memories. Of course, I have never had a friend like Lila (Lila is the protagonist and the best frienThis book floods me with childhood and adolescent memories. Of course, I have never had a friend like Lila (Lila is the protagonist and the best friend of the author, Lenu) and I know of no one who does. Lila is one of the greatest literary creations I've read. I can imagine her running circles around Madame Bovary, chastising Rodion Raskolnikov, and aimlessly talking and wandering with Quentin Compson. She's ultimately unknowable and mysterious, yet as well drawn and known as your closest friend.
Despite Lila, and despite the memories this book conjures, I'm still not sold that it's a masterpiece for the ages. The writing is deliberately water—that is, it's nearly unnoticeable. That's Ferrante's intent and she's almost as good at the invisible sentence as Flaubert or later Hemingway. Her writing is anti-florid and very reigned in. It's also so lacking in affect that it's impossible to judge. On the other hand, Ferrante uses every novelistic technique to propel the story forward. Each paragraph ends on a minor cliffhanger; a cliffhanger based in the everyday, but still enough to hurry you to the next chapter, the next page, the next book. She's learned from both Austin and Proust. She's learned the classical tool of excitement in serialization, and the modernist tool of focusing on the mundane. She eschews the experimentation of modernist novel and the high drama/action of the classical novel.
Last, for me, I remember what it's like to grow up poor, and desperate for more. Desperate for another life and any way out. Or even better... desperate for a great life with everything I wanted. I had no class consciousness; I only knew that I lacked and that there were others who didn't, and I wanted to be them. Later, as I left members of my class behind, I realized that I knew nothing, and that my former world was tiny and unimportant to their entire way of life. I realized, like Lenu, that I needed to learn everything: not book-learning, although that too, but how to operate in a world outside of the one I grew up in, and how to escape the fear and the inadequacy that consumed me once I left my world. I was mocked and ridiculed and needed to change my ways and my accent and my way of being in the world. I am know, like Lenu, totally different. I have lost that old fear and sense of inadequacy, but this book brought it back. I've never had a Lila, but am not sure I would want one. I've never met anyone that exceptional, and it frightens me to imagine that the Ancient Goddess Lila is not the projection of the author. It frightens me to imagine that she is/was someone real, and terrifying, and lovely in her innate outlier status. That not everything is constructed, but some are just born naturally smarter and stronger. It's the dominate myth of our time, and one I reject, but if I ever meet a Lila, I'll be forced to admit that the myth is based in fact....more