Tuesday, April 17, 2007

All Love & Rockets and no play...

It’s been a long time since I did some proper comics blogging. I’ve really been trying to focus all of my writing energies into the Love & Rockets project, which I have really enjoyed so far, and feel like is a much more worthwhile endeavor than simply casting another opinion of the newest comics into the somewhat overcrowded ring.
Actually, while I do still keep up with a few key titles I enjoy (Walking Dead, Daredevil, Fell and Y: The Last Man are my guilty pleasures), for the most part I have cut way back on the new comics I buy. I just got to a point where I realized I have so much stuff I haven’t read, it would take me years to catch up. Part of that is the backpacks full of comics I used to buy in quarter box binges when I was in college, which I still have never quite caught up with.

The best thing I've read recently besides Love & Rockets was probably the first issue of Nate Neal’s The Sanctuary, which I think was self-published, but distributed by Fantagraphics. Neal is an alumni from the short-lived, but excellent Hoax anthology from Mental Note Press, and has always had a style that I find particularly appealing. The Sanctuary (which you can only recognize by its conspicuous absence of a title, replaced instead with a large, chalk scrawled buffalo symbol) is a completely silent comic about a caveman painter and the tribe he lives with (not to be confused with Tom Gauld's equally worthwhile Hunter and Painter from Cabanon Press). It’s sweet, and well-paced, and it shows what storytelling potential there is in text-free sequential art. The silence also fits its subject matter, as the story presumably predates any known human language.

Speaking of silent comics, I also recently read Jason’s newest (mostly silent) graphic novel, The Living and the Dead. I would count Jason among my top 5 favorite cartoonists of all time, but of his nine graphic novels released in English to date, this was my least favorite. It was a slight, shallow little story about a meteor hitting the earth turning most people into zombies. Absent was much of the charm and clever visual twists that are Jason’s hallmark, and even the perfectly timed punchlines seemed few and far between. It felt too derivative and predictable, like Jason adapting a Marvel script, sans the superheroes. That being said, Jason’s art is always nice and his new full color graphic novel solicited in the back of the book is something to look forward to.

I would also highly recommend you track down a copy of the April issue of Harper’s magazine, which not only contains an outstanding, 15-page story by Joe Sacco, titled “Up! Down!” (or was it called “You’re in the Iraqi Army Now”), but it also contains a new short story by Steven Millhauser, who, in my mind, is the best short story writer in the business. If you haven’t read Little Kingdoms, or The Knife Thrower and Other Stories, I can’t recommend them highly enough.

Other than that, I have been trying to force myself to read the pile of new parent books that have been sent to us. It’s hard, as I don’t really like self-help books in general, but do feel the need to educate myself as much as possible. There is so much to know, so many things to keep in mind, that it’s really overwhelming, and the books always seems to evoke a strange sense of melancholy in me, partly because I know that, despite my best intentions, I am wholly unprepared for what lies ahead. So, while I force my way through the dozen or so books we’ve received so far, I will mix in the new Optic Nerve story now that all three parts are out, Chicken with Plums (which I still haven't read) and who knows what else.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Hi Marc. You don't need to read self-help books on parenting; you'll be a great dad!