Super suavecito! A fantastic adventure story about three friends banding together to make their dreams come true. What really makes the whole thing geSuper suavecito! A fantastic adventure story about three friends banding together to make their dreams come true. What really makes the whole thing gel together is Raul III's Bic pen (!) illustrations. His style runs the gamut of the great 20th century graphic visual heritage cleverly linking the style and wit of 1920/30's rubber-hose animation (think Felix the Cat turning the question mark over his head into a hook to save himself from falling down a cliff edge) with the anarchy of R. Crumb. Add in the absurdist/ Dadaist sensibility of George Herriman's Coconino County denizens and, well... the book is just magic. Readers will zip from urban desert settings to the edge of a black hole and back again. Enjoy the ride!...more
Kramer's Ergot 8 is a much more manageable size than the behemoth #7. This iteration casts aside any attempts at anthology and instead aims for the stKramer's Ergot 8 is a much more manageable size than the behemoth #7. This iteration casts aside any attempts at anthology and instead aims for the stratosphere making a serious case for a new art for a new dark age. The tone is set right away with an essay by anti-capitalist, anti-authoritarian one-time front man for The Make Up* (and other bands) Ian Svenonius who draws a direct line from ancient gay history to modern camp sensibility to the pop art movement, and finally underground comics. Alt-comics as an extension of camp sensibilities (and gay history) is a juicy idea, and I milled over it for days. I predict the provocative, cringe-worthy, eye-rolling and laugh-out-loud funny ideas espoused by this essay to be cited in many grad school papers and smarty-pants essays for many years to come.
If traditional narrative is sentimental, then each of the comics in this collection is decidedly unsentimental. Svenonius states that alt-comics (via camp) provide stories with themes of "louche degeneracy, contempt for humanity, self-centered navel-gazing, and existentialism." Each story in Kramer's Ergot 8 wears each of these as a badge, but also with a forward-looking sensibility that is neither optimistic nor pessimistic; neither cynical nor realistic. Part of the bonus of this collection is that it manages to also contain all of this mostly within the realm of the sci-fi and horror genres.
Robert Beatty's airbrushed nonobjective illustrations are the "overture" of the book and at once recall 1970's/1980's aesthetics and -to me, at least- those two decade's cheap vision of the future. Beatty's symbolism is hard to decipher, and the 8 hexagons that make up the cover image are broken up and sharpened within his pseudo-narrative. Later in the book, Takeshi Murata's stunning digitally altered still life photographs pick up this forward-looking/backward looking idea for the future and makes it less abstract and more personal with seemingly banal symbols as VHS tapes, the book "Expanded Cinema", the Terminator skull and sexually-suggestive lemons.
Gary Panter directly recalls the trippy stories of underground comics, as his goofy characters find a ball that lets them indulge in their every fantasy. Their limited imaginations can only conjure up a sandwich and the story ends with them slackjawed as the ball plays several of their favorite movies simultaneously. The paradox of hedonism is that it is ultimately boring after a while. His presence amid artists of a younger generation seems reverential with his story at the front of the book.
Hedonism is a central theme of the book with characters engaging in morally questionable acts in stories by C.F., Gabrielle Bell, Sammy Harkham, Johnny Ryan, Anya Davidson, Frank Santoro and Dash Shaw. The latter pair and Bell draw stories rooted more in our reality, though tweaked slightly. Santoro and Shaw's story of a young man who finds himself running from the law uses a rough, sketchy line quality to emphasize the omnipresence of the narrative 'camera' used throughout. The highly-sensationalized, mediated news expose T.V. format is slowed down by the Santoro and Shaw's pacing and hazy color palate. Ryan and Harkham each have characters that seem to utilize violence and horror for their own sake. Ryan continues with his signature disgusting and nightmarish humor seen in his "Prison Pit" series and Harkham's wordless "A Husband and a Wife" feels like little more than an exercise in gothic storytelling, though I know there it is more studied than that. Anya Davidson's story is the most satisfying of these as she uses color schemes to distinguish 3 overlapping voices occupying the same space on the story's pages: a violent T.V. movie, the equally violent dream it inspires in a troll, and Buddhist writings.
Curator Sammy Harkham offers a new vision for the future of comics, one that requires a foot firmly planted in its subversive campy roots. Comic narratives in the era of Comics Studies, "Best American Comics" and 24/7 self-promotion tend to be 'safe', that is to stay more in the realms of homogenous consumerism, memoir and nostalgia. Political and sexual subtexts tend to be too clean... the whole endeavor seems to be a bit too neat, too polite. Kevin Huizenga's contribution stands out because it is the most square, reading like a completed class assignment. Of course it is technically very good, but it's in the wrong book-- lost a the sea of debauchery, particularly in the colorful conclusion: 1970's reprints of "Oh, Wicked Wanda!" from Penthouse Magazine. This politically incorrect strip is a bold move that may alienate some readers (particularly the female ones), but it nails the point home that the next evolution for comics is to move away from dinner table and back to under the covers with a flashlight.
*Listen to the album "In Mass Mind" by The Make-Up. Now....more
Many of the minor characters in the previous books get adequate page time and richer development. Martin's writing style that I crucified in a previouMany of the minor characters in the previous books get adequate page time and richer development. Martin's writing style that I crucified in a previous review is more tolerable in this book. It is easy to spot Martin's favorite characters and settings as the writing is richer and more nuanced with situations around the central schism between the Starks and Lannisters. I'll admit that the Bran and Daenerys chapters plod along for most of the book and Martin is guilty of some Dickensian-style coincidence and over-reliance on magic to cover up some gaping plot holes.
Without revealing too much, there is a jawdropper of an incident two-thirds of the way through which quickens the pace of everything else to follow. Probably the best book in the series so far. We'll see......more
Not his best. Newer, less interesting characters are picking up where better-established ones that the reader becomes invested in are either picked ofNot his best. Newer, less interesting characters are picking up where better-established ones that the reader becomes invested in are either picked off or imprisoned....more