20 Aug 14
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Review: New Physics by Box Brown

I jumped into a lot of comics subscriptions this Spring. I wanted to get an idea of the current small press landscape, I wanted to push my own boundaries as a reader, and I wanted to read work from people I hadn’t seen before. One of those subscriptions is Yeah Dude Comics 2014 subscription from publisher Pat Aulisio, which has been a bit of a mixed bag for me. Certain work from the subscription like the comics of Laura Knetzger have been wonderful, while others have been less interesting. Box Brown’s New Physics is the latest book from the run.

New Physics is 20 pages of two-color risoprint comics in neon pink and black. 2014 is the year of the neon pink risograph comic, it seems. The comic is the story of Vern, a musician and social media mogul in the far future who slowly builds an audience and then converts it into a cult.  

One of New Physics’ strengths is Brown’s strong eye for page construction and paneling. Vern’s profile links up to the social helmets of new followers in one page. Other pages show websites and social media sharing; part of the comic is Vern’s personal journey, and the other part is the broadcast. Brown is able to tie all of this stuff up very cleanly.

We also get a look at social media through a different lens - Brown imagines how the already social connectivity we live in now will evolve over a few hundred years. It’s not insanity to think that religions could spring up inside social media. Different platforms tend to pull specific crowds of people into them, forming like-minded collectives. It’s a fascinating rabbit hole. Brown also gets to have a little fun with his instagram-like follower pictures and usernames.

I love the parallels that Brown draws between the New Physics cult and the non-denominational mega churches that collect thousands upon thousands of parishioners and put ATMs in the back of the sanctuary. There’s this theme of monetization that runs through parts of the comic - buy the NewPhysics™ Torso Reimaginer, get the hat and T-shirt. Buy your salvation, fools.

New Physics is compelling and cynical view of tomorrow from a cartoonist you should be paying attention to. Recommended.

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Notes: Again, apologies from pulling images off the internet for this review - my scanner can’t handle neon colors very well, they all end up washed out. Because of this, there are some color discrepancies between the images as posted and the final comic d/t the riso print.

Box Brown (tumblr: boxbrowncomics) is cartoonist and publisher with Retrofit Comics (tumblr: retrofitcomics) His recent graphic novel, Andre the Giant: Life and Legend, a biography of the legendary wrestler, was published by firstsecondbooksYou can get a copy of New Physics at Box’s website.

New Physics is published by Pat Aulisio (tumblr: yeahdudecomics). You can see more of the comics published by Pat on his website.

18 Aug 14
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Review: It Never Happened Again by Sam Alden

Earlier this year I did a review/thoughts piece on Sam’s Wicked Chicken Queen from Retrofit. I was thoroughly impressed with Alden’s mastery of graphite and the thoughtfulness of the book. Uncivilized Press has recently released a book with two collected stories, “Hawaii 1997” and “Anime,” the first of which was published on Alden’s tumblr account prior to collection, and the second of which is a brand new story.

I don’t generally make too many comments about a book’s production, but Uncivilized Books has put together a really nice paperback for It Never Happened Again with spot-gloss, lovely contrasting colors, and high quality paper.

In “Hawaii 1997” we see a young Alden exploring Hawaii and a moment of his life that seems both surreal and life-altering. The story shows Sam meeting a girl around his age while on vacation. There is some horsing around and the play of shadow stomping, and a chase scene that allows Alden to work with shadow and texture. The comic flows really well from page to page, much better than it did on screen, and ends with a punch in the gut.

 “Anime” shows a young woman, Janet, who feels very uncomfortable in her own skin. She calls herself Kiki after a character from a Studio Ghibli film and is planning a trip to Japan with a friend. She believes that this trip is going to change her, and that “once I get over there things will just be so much easier for me,” ignoring the finite length of her trip. But what she finds is another foreignness, a more palpable, direct foreignness, than the one she faces at home. Challenged expectations are key to “Anime,” and it’s hard to tell what will happen to Janet in the end. Alden lets his protagonist walk away from the reader as she moves through Japan’s crowded streets. It’s clear she’s just as alone in her land of fable as she is at home.

Alden has a habit of letting his panels go a long way before words are spoken. I find myself thinking about the story in terms of what I see and how I feel while pouring over these quiet moments. I think that is what makes Alden’s stinger endings work so well. The flow of It Never Happened Again lends itself to wandering, and Alden seems to know when to make the wandering stop.

In some ways, the protagonist of both stories is trying to grapple with the world in a way that makes sense, sometimes succeeding, sometimes not. There’s also a sense of trying to push away things, Janet pushing away her father and her given name for something that she feels strongly about, Sam pushing away from his family, his small rebellion of going out when everyone else is asleep on vacation. How the push changes both characters is an essential part of the collection.

Perhaps it is a loss of innocence that makes these comics so compelling– both protagonists have a sense of vulnerability that is showcased throughout the narrative. Sam and Janet both lose a piece of their innocence in their respective stories. Or, viewed another way, the idea of the personal dream plays heavily in It Never Happened Again; the construction of a dream in “Hawaii 1997” and the implosion of one in “Anime.” These dreams and their potential consequences make the characters in Alden’s stories more real and makes the telling more visceral. 

The idea of something never happening again, the sense of being in a specific place and time, is key to the development of both of the stories in the collection, and a key to their success. In their own separate ways, these stories show that moment and its aftermath. In It Never Happened Again, Alden has tied together two very different stories and made them resonate. Recommended.

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Sam Alden blogs at gingerlandcomics and will have work in the upcoming anthology Subcultures. Uncivilized Books can be found at their website and tumblr uncivilizr. You can buy a copy of It Never Happened Again at this link.

15 Aug 14

Quick Picks #2

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I’m still working through my stack of minis, which includes some micropublisher work, a few subscriptions, and even a Kickstarter project or two. Quick Picks is a monthly feature of a set of three microreviews of stuff I’ve read the past week.

Bastard #1, by Max de Radiguès

Max de Radiguès is kicking up a little attention this month because of the recent One Percent Press announcement that his book Rough Age will be available in English for the first time at SPX. Charles Forsman has published another of his comics in English, a mini called Bastard. The 3-in-1 mini is a sub-theme for this Summer’s Oily bundle, and Bastard #1 collects the first 3 minis of a comic that features a mother-son pair of unlikely outlaws as they race from a mysterious crime scene with bags and bags of money.

Radiguès has a clean style reminiscent of Sacha Goerg and Charles Forsman, but what’s different is his specific paneling choices. He sticks with the classic 6 panel page like Forsman, but varies that based on the scenery (two vertical panels combine to make a closet, two horizontal panels combine to show a shopping plaza, etc.). I loved the way he lets the mystery of his story grow just enough to keep you interested and reading, but without giving away too much too quickly.

Verdict: Great sense of character and space in a comic that is the definition of slow burn. Recommended.

Blades & Lazers #1-2 by Benjamin Marra

Blades & Lazers was my first experience with Marra’s work, and many of his comics seem to run on a similar idea, to pay homage the ridiculous fever-dream comics of the 80s. And Blades & Lazers does this with aplomb, featuring V’LARR, a mute 24th degree reaper and blademaster, and V’RONN, a las-slinger. They hunt Galacto-Demons. Yep.

Blades & Lazers has a unique design, in that it’s only two colors (riso print neon pink and navy blue). The story being told sounds like a Star Wars side story – these two characters could easily be found at the Mos Eisley cantina. The stories are interesting, the books are fun, but I wouldn’t say that I’m rushing out to buy more of Marra’s work, just like I’m not rushing out to buy Star Wars comics. Blades & Lazers failed to capture my imagination.

Verdict: Pulpy and a homage to the 70-80s B movie.

Storm Chasers by Ken Mahon

The mysterious appearance of a second moon plays havoc on the Earth’s surface with storms, tsunamis, and other natural disasters. Humans escape to the skies to avoid the weather, while a select few remain on earth. When a sky-citizen falls to the earth, a family of storm chasers saves his life and promises to take him back to the elevator that will get him home. But they are beset by challenges along the way.

Mahon has a lot of great ideas for Storm Chasers, but the execution is lacking. There are two sub-stories that really pull from the main thrust of Storm Chasers, the jealousy/anger of the son character, and the archeological dig of the mother character. It feels like those are pieces that Mahon thought were worth exploring, but they come off as either ham-fisted or disingenuous. Additionally, the book is extremely dark, so at times the art doesn’t pop.

Verdict: A lot of neat ideas that don’t really coalesce as well as they should.

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Bastard is published by snakeoily, and Radiguès’book Rough Age will be published by onepercentpress and will premier at spx

Blades & Lazers is published by Ian Harker’s Sacred Prism publishing venture.

Storm Chasers was published by Cardboard Press as part of their summer 2014 subscription. Cardboard Press is a publishing venture cofounded by Katie Blackwood and Paddy Lynch to showcase Irish comics.

13 Aug 14
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Review: Dinner Ditz by Alexis Cooke

It isn’t often that two of my comics interest seem so perfectly aligned in one project. My interest in manga is what drove me to comics in general, and my experiences at conventions have pushed me towards smaller works and small press. So when a mini from Chromatic Press comes out that has art reminiscent of Natsume Ono, you can bet that you have my interest.

Dinner Ditz is 60 pages black and white comics that takes a lot of its cues from shojo and lighter yaoi manga. Peregrine, who has recently come out and gotten a divorce, wants to connect with his daughter Lottie through cooking, but he’s awful in the kitchen. He enlists the aid of a cooking coach Otho to help him learn to cook better and be less nervous in the kitchen.

Cooke has a good eye for character design. Her male leads are the pensive type with hawkish features and strong jawlines, a similarity to the work of Natsume Ono (the nervous, hawkish guy is the bread and butter of her storytelling). Throughout the mini, the character interactions of Dinner Ditz are the reason it works. The tropes, like the nervous divorcee, are familiar, but the focus is on how two men spend time together, and how a father loves his daughter. Dinner Ditz is at its best when Lottie and Peregrine are on the same page together – there’s a true chemistry in the illustration, and the writing is at its most sincere.

Still, the mini is not without problems. Cooke has a tendency to overuse sound-effect words that explain a face or an action when the meaning could be easily interpreted from her illustration alone. I don’t think I’ve ever seen the words “love nudge” used as a sound effect before. Cooke also over-relies on the profile shot, which makes the comic feel stiff in places. Using a larger variety of character placements, camera angles, and shots would likely improve the flow of the comic and keep the reader’s eye. There were also a few places where the writing felt a bit stilted, especially the opening and closing text.

I think Dinner Ditz is a great start. Cooke’s style is bright and expressive, and Dinner Ditz seems like the beginnings of what will likely be a strong professional career in comics. It’s certainly a cute story. And as Cooke continues to grow as a cartoonist, I’ll be interested to see if she brings us back to the world of Peregrine and Ortho.

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Dinner Ditz is written and illustrated by Alexis Cooke (tumblr: anxiousa), and was published by chromaticpress in their sparklermonthly magazine. Sparkler is in the middle of a subscription drive - $5/month gives you access to a lot of comics, prose, and audio material.

A review copy was provided by the publisher for this review.

11 Aug 14

Linkblogging #3

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Another month, another Linkblogging post. Please note that there is plenty of great stuff on the internet, and this is only stuff I know about. If your stuff isn’t on this page of stuff, let me know.

Have you followed sequential-alt yet? Because you should! Also follow this account, sequentialstate, because you get one more punch on your comics blog punchcard - 10 punches and you get your own free blog.

Kickstarter

Funding for the John Porcellino documentary, “Root Hog or Die,” is coming to close on Kickstarter. John, among other things, runs his own zine distro, Spit and a Half, self publishes comics, and has a book coming out from drawnandquarterly in Fall 2014, The Hospital Suite. You’ve got 6ish days left.

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With 19+ days to go, the Valor anthology has soared past its $20K funding request and looks to have some pretty neat comics. The theme is fairy tales with courageous heroines. You can find the anthology’s tumblr at valor-anthology.

LOVF by Jesse Reklaw is looking for $2.5K and has partial backing from fantagraphics, whatever that means?? Jesse was one of the pioneers of webcomics with his piece Slow Wave. Also, it appears he’s trying to sell the original art of LOVF all as one piece for $5K on his website… which, that’s something.

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Sabrina Cotugno (tumblr: arythusa) has what looks to be a great comic up on Kickstarter, Bleeding Heart, about a scientist in training who rescues an injured werewolf. It appears that this standalone story will be a small part of what looks to be a much larger comic universe called The Glass Scientists. You can find out more at the Kickstarter page. This is something that I think we don’t see a lot of - comics Kickstarters generally collect previously printed material; they don’t often kick off a whole multiverse of comics work.


Read This Thing

Udo Jung’s new webcomic Hyperspace Journey.

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Part one of Persimmon’s Cup, a new comic on study-group by Nick Bertozzi.

robkirbycomics interviews kevinczap on Panel Patter.

News/Reviews/Oddities:

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retrofitcomics has 3 new books available for preorder at their store which should be available at spx.

Zainab at Comics and Cola lists her favorite comics of the year thus-far and has an interview with Inés Estrada that just went live today. I recently did a review of Estrada’s CS, which you can read here.

koyamapress will have a new book from Patrick Kyle out at SPX - Distance Mover. You can see a sneak peak at the Koyama Press website.

Liz Suburbia’s SACRED HEART has been announced for Summer 2015 by fantagraphics. Previously announced at SDCC, but hey, it’s pretty freaking cool. You can see some progress shots here.

If you want to exhibit at TCAF 2015, you don’t have that much time. Application submissions close October 17th.

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Have a great Monday!

8 Aug 14
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Review: QCHQ by Jordan Speer

Jordan Speer’s QCHQ from Space Face Books looks relatively strange and uninviting - its fluorescent coloring, relative lack of structure, and unique illustration style would have likely caught my eye at a convention but I doubt I would have purchased a copy. However, being part of a subscription means getting every book a publisher puts out, which in turn, puts you into contact with books that challenge your comfort level as a reader and puts into your hands books you would have never purchased on your own. In this case, I’m glad for the challenge.

Speer’s QCHQ focuses on the QCHQ company’s quarterly report, with hokey presentation slides with Comic Sans text and strange bolding choices give the official spin on a world that seems to be dying under the weight of its god-client. Speer’s characters and illustrations are rubbery, designed to look like the most advanced graphics of the 90s in lurid, plasticine detail. Demonic blood drips and oozes, dissected frogs lay casually on kitchen tables, and corporate-sponsored blood sport is mentioned in the same breath as quarterly earnings.

QCHQ pulls a lot of reference from 90s computer culture. There’s the illustration style itself which harkens back to the low-poly designs of various computer games from the time, plus the low-tech slide show that looks like it was built with the first version of Powerpoint. But Speer draws from the present, with technical artifacts like slide-lock USB keys, green screen special effects suits, and hash tag graffiti. The resulting mix is something of an anachronism.

In part, Speer seems to be talking about corporate culture as a whole – its unnatural behavior, its relative lifelessness, and backroom deals that are made at the highest of high circles. QCHQ shows the real-world (as real as can be possible in this book) consequences of corporate behavior, and the results are gruesome.

Speer also seems to be particularly interested in outsider observation. One remarkable illustration is of a giant satellite with fists holding the thing together, all made up of mechanical eyes and ears. Surveilling  googly eyes grace many pages (even the cover), and so do cameras. The feeling of being watched is constant throughout QCHQ.

With attractive cartoonish computer-generated art, Speer constructs an alternate world that is cold and plastic. While much of QCHQ is a fantasy world, with its absurd creatures, vehicles, and dump trucks full of cones, cubes, and spheres, QCHQ also feels like an ode to the now. The effect is chilling.

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QCHQ was written by Jordan Speer (tumblr: jordanspeerart) and published by Space Face Book (tumblr: spacefacebooks). You can get a copy at their website.

6 Aug 14
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There’s been a great conversation regarding the work of Mike Dawson this week, somewhat self-inflicted. Dawson posted some honest to god numbers about the number of books he has sold and talked really frankly about his work and his audience.

I honestly didn’t know anything about Mike’s work until earlier this year, when I bought his second book, Troop 142, at the Secret Acres booth at TCAF ‘14. As a former scout, a quick flip through showed a lot of the things I remember from my scouting experience in the late 90s-early 00s. A read of the book late last month showed more of the activity that I remembered from scouting - the roughhousing, the idiotic talk of boys who don’t know anything about women, the personal growth and exploration. But Troop 142 tackles some of the darkest memories of my scouting experience as well – the institutionalized homophobia and expulsion of agnostics and atheists.

Dawson manages to discuss ideas through a slice-of-life storyline that is driven more by the passing of days than any particular plot. David and David, younger boys in the troop who are attracted to each other, deal with bullying and their anger in a very “scout-sponsored” way. The boys are horrified when called “boyfriends” as a joke, and lash out in anger with slurs that ultimately attack themselves. Dawson captures the way that young men communicate very well in Troop 142.

And while Dawson wants to draw attention to these things, Troop 142 is more about vulnerability and the social constructs of adolescent groups than the politics of the scouts. We see boys getting picked on and see egos swell and burst. Fighting breaks out at a moment’s notice over tiny slights, small moments that turn into life-changing moments.

Dawson’s cartoonish illustration style lends it to this kind of story, where the subtleties of human interaction can clearly be displayed on faces that are somewhat larger than life – Dawson uses different body shapes and facial features to differentiate between a large cast of characters, but I admit that I still had problems telling two characters, Jason and Matt, apart. It doesn’t help that the two are seen in a lot of scenes together. I feel like this could have been avoided, given the amount of revision that Troop 142 went through before it was published in book form.

I picked two specific pages that I thought were very well placed at a second read – boys and men from the story all recite the Scout Law – “A Scout is trustworthy, loyal, helpful, friendly, courteous, kind, obedient, cheerful, thrifty, brave, clean, and reverent.” In some way, the tenet of the Law that each boy or man recites is their biggest character flaw, and it will take some time for these flaws to show themselves throughout the book. This was a really interesting composition decision that paid dividends later on.

Overall, Troop 142 is hard to categorize. Dawson has created a complex and multifaceted work, simultaneously discussing the politics of a gigantic organization and the emotional frailties of its members. But I think more importantly, Troop 142 carries the weight of these things in the small moments of campfires, tents, and merit badges. Which, honestly, is just like real life.

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Mike Dawson is an Ignatz winning cartoonist and hosts the TCJ Talkies podcast. You can find him at his twitter page or at his tumblr account, mikedawwwson.

Secret Acres is an independent comics publisher based out of Brooklyn. You can find their twitter account here.

4 Aug 14
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Review: How To Be Happy by Eleanor Davis

I’ve been eagerly anticipating the first collection of Eleanor Davis’ work since I stumbled upon her illustration work for Google and the New York Times. Still being fairly new to the indie comics scene, I hadn’t realized how much of her work was available online or in various anthologies. On the whole, this is my loss, but seeing all of her comics with a fresh eye was important for me. It gave me a chance to evaluate her work in a more holistic way.

How To Be Happy is 152 pages of a mix of full color (104 pages) and black and white (48 pages) comics from a range of Davis’ comics history. Included are pieces from Mome and Nobrow, as well as previously published work from her website. One thing that is immediately clear when flipping through the collection is Davis’ eye for color. In a color-blocked style, “In Our Eden,” her lead off piece, is both engaging and beautiful in its construction. The second major comic, “Nita Goes Home,” is likewise remarkable in its use of color. Both of these comics set the stage for the overarching theme of these short comics. Davis notes in the book’s opening pages that “this is not a book about how to be happy,” and I agree. How to Be Happy is a book that shows people living with despair, grief, and unhappiness. It is a book about how people fail and sometimes succeed in calming the harsh storm inside ourselves.

Davis’ work is on a really stark emotional spectrum – and while her giant grinning men are a joy, it is in the tears of her characters where we find the most of her message. In the last long color comic “No Tears, No Sorrow,” we find characters distanced from the world and unable to cry. They decide to go to a seminar to return their lost tears. What the main character finds is the inability to separate her own personal sadness from the collected sadness of humanity as a whole. We close the comic with a scene of her sobbing relentlessly in an aisle of a grocery store. Dealing with sadness, understanding it, and coming to terms with it, is a thematic concept that drives How To Be Happy.

In the lead off comic, “In Our Eden,” a group of people is slowly whittled away from as the leader abandons an agrarian lifestyle, then commercial products and hunting. In the end, it is just one Adam and one Eve, together in their Eden. In some ways, this comic shows us success and failure at the same time. As Adam drives the nonbeliever away with his more and more radical notions of Eden, he and Eve are isolated from their community - but they have each other. Building communities and maintaining them is also an important theme that builds throughout How To Be Happy.

Of all the work in How To Be Happy, Davis’ black and white comics are the most savage. In a series of two panels, Davis shows a man in a Mickey Mouse t-shirt snip off his lover’s fingers in the way that a person might lance a boil – at arms length away, squeamishly, and without emotion. In one of the shorter black and white comics, a husband and wife come to terms with their failed relationship. “Any kindness I’ve ever shown has been in my own self-interest,” she says, and he responds with, “The very existence of other people seems doubtful.” Their solution is catastrophic and biting. I love how Davis separates the couple in individual panels, showing their isolation. But after the baby comes they stand together in failure, clearly not any different than before and now connected by something they cannot manage.

At the beginning of the book, we see a group of people falling from the sky as one lone woman tries to catch them all. At the end, we see a group of people trying to catch one person. The fall is inevitable, but community can make it bearable, survivable. Davis’ work is a fierce but beautiful reminder that humanity has within it the disease, and sometimes, it also has within it the cure. Recommended.

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Eleanor Davis is a celebrated comics artist and illustrator. Her work can be found at her website, her sketch blog, and also at her tumblr - beouijaHow To Be Happy is published by Fantagraphics (tumblr: fantagraphics) and can be purchased at their website or from your local independent bookstore.

1 Aug 14
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Review: Nu #1, by Sachia Goerg

I’m slowly but surely getting caught up on purchases from the past 3 months, and part of the catch up game is digging into snakeoily's Summer 2014 subscription bundle. This set comes with three 5”X7” comics, one of which is Sachia Goerg's Nu #1. The Oily Comics edition has compiled the first three minis into one book, and translated them from French.

Nu #1 is 24 pages of black and white risograph comics with a black and red cover page. It tells the story of a voyeuristic high school student, Jean-Michel, who can’t seem to get his artistic act together in live drawing class at school, but has taken to sneaking onto his crush’s property in order to sketch her while she is swimming. When he gets noticed by her massive dog, he almost gets caught, and his habit starts to spiral out of hand.

Goerg’s linework is nice - it has an organic quality similar to Noah Van Sciver or Inés Estrada, but Goerg is able to find a strength in simpler cartooning than either artist. Some of the strongest pages are Sacha’s portrayal of Jean-Michel’s second visit to his crush’s house where he has to retrieve something lost during his first visit. 

Jean-Michel is very two-toned. At school, he plays like a doormouse, very quiet and reserved. But when he gets home and goes out on his stalking adventure, he becomes confident. His posture changes, his demeanor changes. He demands his model do what he want, instead of being harangued. I like this tonal shift, I think it plays well into the rest of the comic.

I also enjoy the stark differences between the scenes where Jean-Michel is out at night - the way Goerg portrays motion and blackness is very appealing, the inks are a lot bolder. 

Goerg is playing with a mirrored narrative, in the sense that Jean-Michel’s activities seem to pique the curiosity of a friend, who ends up stalking him - the stalker being stalked, as it were. We see this reflective quality in the construction of this mini - chapters 1 and 3 focus primarily on the stalking, while chapter 2 focuses more on the interpersonal consequences of Jean-Michel and Lucas’ actions.

One of the features of Nu #1 is a collection of small pieces of pop culture throughout the comic - The pilot of The Wire is playing in one scene, Lucas wears a Zeroes QC t-shirt and listens to Nirvana. Part of me wonders if these pop culture accoutrements have a symbolic meaning for the story as a whole - I find it interesting that Lucas is listening to Polly when he gets caught stalking, a song about a girl who gets abducted and tortured after attending a concert. What does the use of Nirvana’s Polly inside the narrative say for Lucas’ fate?

The translation is a little stilted in places, but not enough to turn me off on the comic as a whole - and there are plenty of volumes to go. Goerg recently published his mini Nu #14 in French. 

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Notes: Nu is French for naked. I didn’t know this before today.

Sacha Goerg can be found at his personal website, his twitter account, and his tumblr account sachagoerg. Oily Comics is a micropress run by Charles Forsman. You can buy copies of Nu #1 at select comic shops and online at this link.

30 Jul 14
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Musings: CS by Inés Estrada

I’ve spent the past few weeks pushing through a backlog of books that I’ve been slowly accumulating since TCAF, and I wanted to step away from that a bit to focus on some of the small press things I’ve been reading recently. A recent acquisition is Inés Estrada’s new comic CS, a 16 page mini risograph in neon pink and green.

CS is billed as something of a micro/macro love story – it features an unnamed protagonist living on the skin of a person she admires. A mosquito bite becomes a route of entry for our protagonist, who is eventually ambushed by what appears to be cells from the person’s immune system. The comic is part comedy, part tragedy, all wrapped up in a surreal vision of the human body.

One of the ideas that Estrada toys with in CS is the visceralness of relationships. We often get so invested into our partners or lovers that we have the tendency to get consumed. A part of us changes when we let ourselves go; we feed off of that person, we fall into that person like we fall into bed.

Estrada also seems to be saying that being so fully invested, so absorbed in these types of relationships can be unhealthy. Our main character dies a horrible death, all the while saying to the void, “I’m not afraid […] I’m where I want to be.” That theme of death inside the relationship is really powerful – is Estrada saying we let ourselves fall into these relationships too quickly? Or is she contemplating the loss of self that accompanies these types of relationships?

Estrada’s illustration is earthy and not afraid to be cartoony at the same time. Some of my favorite panels were of the protagonist falling down the rabbit hole – there’s a sense of seriousness coupled with a whimsy that permeates the comic.

A final point perplexes me – the main character seems to be in two places at once throughout CS, sitting beside her companion while simultaneously being digested by him. I think this echoes earlier points, but I like the mirrored visuals, the idea that we can be such a small part of a person and yet be right next to them.

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Notes: My scanner can’t handle neon, so I’ve used some publicly available scans for the images of the comic. I think I’m in love with neon colored riso-printing, but it doesn’t make for very good blog content.

You can check out Inés Estrada’s website here and she tumbls at inechi. Estrada has been a contributor to kuš, among other publications. CS was published by Sacred Prism, the zine publishing vision of Ian Harker (tumblr: sacredprism). You can buy Estrada’s comics at Gatosurio.