December 2008

Analytic Drawing: Jason Overby

Jason Overby draws comics that might seem poetic.  Really, they’re analytic.  In his mini Jessica, he breaks the seen into parts.  His eye’s tracings stagger, jitter, fall apart; a portrait becomes a squall of lines.  The grid holds them together, as does the story, some boy-wants-girl nonsense I can barely remember. The style, though, stands [...]

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Black Sun by Gary Tarn

In the film journal Trafic, Claire Bartoli, a blind woman, wrote on the densely braided soundtrack of Godard’s Nouvelle Vague.  Fifteen years later, Gary Tarn, a filmmaker, make a track of visuals for the blind writer Hugues de Montalembert in his film Black Sun. De Montalembert was a painter and filmmaker living in New York [...]

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Best of ’07: How To Be Everywhere

Published in conjunction with the exhibition “How to be Everywhere” at Gallery Neptune, Bethesda, Maryland My book of the year must go to Warren Craghead’s How to Be Everywhere.  I’m already on the record as an admirer of his work, but this is a masterpiece.  It is the only fluid, beautiful fusion of comics and [...]

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Best of ’07: Achewood

Word’s out: Achewood is hilarious. Yet it has flaws. Chris Onstad sometimes stretches for a gag at a character’s expense (Lyle’s man douche, anyone?). Its Illustrator-made art does not grace the eye—at best it gets the job done. Worst of all, Onstad often seems to care not at all about plotting. He can obviously do [...]

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Best of ’07: Powr Mastrs vol. 1

Chris Forgues does most of his work as a storyteller with his clean, almost airy line, and that frees his story to go wherever it will.  Powr Mastrs has an improvisational feel, but I never get a sense he’s making the story up as it goes along.  Rather, I almost feel like it’s making me [...]

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Best of ’07: Elvis Road

I have had a pet notion that comics resembles architecture more than any other art, but Elvis Road makes a stunning argument that they in fact look more like urban planning.  The kind of planning it showcases, to quote an old friend, “looks like it was done by a pack of retarded hyenas.”  She was [...]

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Best of ’07: Red Eye, Black Eye

Behind a great title and better cover, K. Thor Jensen turns two months of couch surfing into a fine debut book.  Ostensibly of the maligned genre of autobiography, it really ventures into largely unexplored country for comics: travel writing.  Both fresh and retro, the book’s style and surface make it seem like it appeared in [...]

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Best of 2007

It’s 2008! Time to revisit the year before. My best of 2008 will appear in an upcoming issue of The Comics Journal. So here I’d like to revisit my Five Best of 2007, one-a-day for this week.. These were great books from back in the day; don’t forget them in the cruel march of history. [...]

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Problem Solvers by Paper Rad

Comfortably dumb like children’s television, art collective Paper Rad’s Problem Solvers hides the smart stuff.  But it’s in there.  There’s irony, sure, but more: they open this 22-minute animated kids’ show with this disclaimer: “It’s more like how we remember TV from our childhood.” I remember it the same way: deadly serious and hypnotic.  Full [...]

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Santoro vs. Cocteau Cage Match

 The minotaur makes the islands Greek. In Frank Santoro’s comic Chimera, he glides through a dream.  Dream’s myth, and he sees a Minotaur with his girl.  Mythic places: the forest, sea, sex, then they rouse at Rockaway and take the train to the movies (Sirk’s dream). Printed in black, yellow, and crimson on newsprint, Chimera‘s [...]

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Airing Out

Thing are no less complicated, but at least no national dramas now demand my time. So I’m back blogging.  Some notes: 1. In the off-season, the critic Noah Berlatsky invited me to join the Hooded Utilitarian.  I’ll post there now & then, along with Noah & Tom Crippen.  Tom writes the capes-n-tights column for TCJ, [...]

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