December 2, 2016

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Memories of Howard Chaykin, Alex Ross and a Gumby Watch (Weekend Pattering for December 2nd, 2016)

Previously on Panel Patter

Cover of the Next Week

Like his artwork on Sabrina, Robert Hack's variant cover for Dirk Gently's Holistic Detective Agency: Salmon of Doubt #3 is a true joy in the way that he captures a timeless quality in his images.  With the old paperback design of this cover, this book looks like a lot of fun.  And it actually looks a bit like a Matt Kindt cover as well.  Kindt and Hack have a similar approach to their images.  Hack's cover here is fairly simple but the simpleness is deceptive because the strength of his drawings is more in the complete image than in any single element of it.  


** ONWARD AND UPWARD WITH ALEJANDRO JODOROWSKY (Fandor)-- I live by a simple rule:  always link to interviews with Jodorowsky.  It doesn't even really need to be about his comic work.

Jodorowsky: Everybody knows the system we live in is bad. No one is happy. We know that politics is rotten, and that religion is a business. Everybody knows economics has no justice. There are a lot of people who don’t have enough, and a lot who have too much. We know we’re destroying the Earth. Actually, we know everything are we doing wrong. And if we knew everything that will be in the future, we would change it. When I made films in the past, I could kill an animal. I believed that killing animals for art was to sacrifice them, like in religion. But I was not aware of animals suffering. Then many people came out who started to shout about why do we kill animals if they are nice and beautiful. Naturally, now we eat less meat. It is like this—step by step. In the future, the new generation will make a political revolution, because the world is no good right now. Everybody knows that war is a business. How many young people would like to go to a war and get killed today? People right now are global, they don’t want to die for their countries. Violence is now happening elsewhere, especially over access to water.

This and That

from Bryan Lee O'Malley's Scott Pilgrim Vs. The World

*** THE BEGUILING ANNOUNCES MOVE TO COLLEGE STREET (Sequential)-- I've only been to The Beguiling once.  A couple of years ago, we drove up to Toronto for a vacation and stayed in the downtown area.  There are actually a number of really good shops in that area but the big one I really wanted to hit was The Beguiling and, since it's in Scott Pilgrim, Honest Ed's.  This was probably a year or two before it was announced that Honest Ed's had sold all of the property on that block for future development.

So my son (probably 8 or 9 years old at the time) and I wandered around the store for a bit.  He was getting impatient and but I was in heaven up, on the second floor, somewhere around the DC Showcase bookshelf.  I maybe already had one or two in my hand and was just starting to dig through their deep collection.

And then it happened-- my son barfed in that corner.

So there you go; that's my memory of The Beguiling.  If I ever get a chance, I probably owe the staff of The Beguiling a beer because I quickly apologized, dropped the books, and ran my son out the door before he could spew any more around the store.

For some weird reason, this is one of my favorite memories related to comics.  (I can rank it favorite because my son was only suffering from motion sickness after paying more attention to his Gameboy as we drove around Toronto to get to the store.

My other favorite memories?  Glad you asked:

  • Howard Chaykin #1 -- At a Chicago Comicon (back when it was still great before Wizard bought it,) I was standing in line for Howard Chaykin.  This was probably around 1987 or 1988.  When there was only one person in front of me, I reached into my pocket and pulled something out.  Somehow, Chaykin saw this and momentarily freaked out at me thinking I had pulled a live mouse out of my pocket.  It was only my Gumby digital watch.  I honestly don't think I stayed in line after that because it would be years before I would get a Chaykin autograph.  (stay tuned for that story.
  • Sometime in the late 1990s, my friend Ty and I drove into Chicago and hit the great Chicago Comics.  As we were wandering the store, Alex Ross came in to pick up some books and he started browsing around the store, just like we were.  (Remember, we're in Chicago.  Seeing a comic creator around here can be rare sometimes.  It's not like we're NYC or Portland.)  I turned to Ty and dared him to go over by Alex Ross.  Really all I wanted to do was push Ty into Ross.  Don't know why.  We were kids then and the thought of pushing Ty into Ross greatly amused me.  
  • Howard Chaykin #2:  Around 2010, Chaykin was a guest of Wizard World Chicago.  Ty (there he is again) and I were back in line to get a signature.  Whoever was in front of us got into a discussion with Chaykin about aging and thinning hair or losing hair.  Chaykin saw me and said something like I had a great head of hair (I'll remember that moment forever) but I'll lose it when I turn 40.  He then asked me how old I was.  I was 40 years old.  He shot daggers at me and I think may have cursed me in Yiddish.  Long story short, I got my copy of the American Flagg! collection signed by Chaykin, probably the one and only Chaykin signature I have on any book.

Your Moment of 1980s era Howard Chaykin

Let's just keep the Howard Chaykin love going with this video from the 1980s of an interview with Chaykin about tough guys.

Current Mood

November 30, 2016

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Pounding the Journalistic Pavement with Sarah Glidden in Rolling Blackouts: Dispatches from Turkey, Syria, and Iraq

Rolling Blackouts: Dispatches from Turkey, Syria, and Iraq

Written and Drawn by Sarah Glidden
Published by Drawn & Quarterly

If there’s any one thing we can take away from Sarah Glidden’s Rolling Blackouts: Dispatches from Turkey, Syria, and Iraq, it’s that time keeps on marching on and our stories and histories continue to change. Her newest book chronicles a trip to those three countries in 2010 where she and a small band of journalists wanted to report on Iraqi refugees and their lives. Back then, a large number of displaced Iraqis found refuge in Syria. And now in 2016 Syria is torn apart by war and people are fleeing that country to find refuge elsewhere, including in the United States. The situation in Syria has changed so much that Glidden addresses the march of history and wonders if her story is even relevant after recent events. But just because situations and politics change, the stories of these refugees and, indeed, all refugees becomes even more important. The stories she tells in this book aren’t just a history of 2010 but an important exploration of the ever-growing issues of refugees that are more and more part of our world.

Glidden asks herself and her readers “what is journalism?” in the opening pages of the book. Is it what her friend and travel companion Sarah, a journalist herself, describes it as- verifiable, accountable and independent? She seems to be the expert here. But to some of the Iraqis they find on the way, journalism is just a cover for American spies and having a veteran as one of their other companions seems to cast a lot of potential drama over their group? Or is Glidden’s own chronicling of her travels journalism? Or maybe the book isn’t even about journalism at all, even though that’s what Glidden wants it to be. Maybe it’s about how Americans and Iraqis view each other and Glidden’s own brand of journalism is just a tool to tell her stories.

At the center of Glidden’s journey is Dan, a guy who joined the marines for some complicated reasons. He didn’t believe in the war with Iraq but he also couldn’t let others go over to fight for America if he also wasn’t willing to. Now going to college on the GI Bill, Dan joins these journalists to go back and revisit the country and its people. A childhood friend of one of the other journalists, it’s hoped that Dan would be able to provide a unique and questioning perspective on his and his country's’ roles in the lives of these displaced people but he’s never willing to open up that much. He wants to believe that their presence in Iraq was just and that the people’s lives are better now even as he meets people whose lives have been completely uprooted and irrevocably altered by the actions of the United States.

Dan’s presence on this trip only complicates an already complicated situation. Dan is central to Glidden’s book but he’s not the focus of it. In Glidden’s travels, we meet all sorts of different people who have had to leave their homes and, in many cases, their families. Some of these people are welcoming to this small group of Americans, welcoming them into their homes and freely telling their stories. Other people treat the Americans as the surrogates for the United States and the country which attacked their homes, destroying their lives and families. Rolling Blackouts show that there are two and, often, more sides to every story and Glidden meets many of those stories. 

Glidden’s cartooning breaks down a lot of the barriers between us sitting in our comfortable homes reading this book and the lives of the refugees. In most cases, we would read accounts like this as prose, with an author painting these images with words and phrases. But like Joe Sacco, her spiritual predecessor when it comes to this type of comic storytelling, Glidden has the power of the images. She shows people eagerly answering their questions or pulling back when they learn they are talking to Americans. The observational and conversational nature of her cartooning makes these complex politics and emotions easy to follow. For as complicated as the issues that Glidden covers are, her approach to telling these stories is as clear and concise as possible. It’s this clarity that makes Rolling Blackouts a must read to understand the lives of refugees around the world.

At the end of the book, Glidden circles back to her questions about journalism and she doubts her own ability for it in the stories that she’s just told. There may be elements of independence, accountability, and veracity in her work but because of how much time has passed since 2010 and now, she questions her own work. Syria in 2016 is a lot different than the Syria of 2010 but the stories of these people still need to be told. The lives of the refugees, whether they’re in Syria or Germany or France or the United States (or wherever they may settle) share these experiences and Glidden’s book allows us to create a relationship with them. And with this relationship comes some understanding of the lives that refugees have had to give up to find safety for themselves and their loved ones.

November 18, 2016

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A New Morning in America-- (Weekend Pattering for November 18th, 2016)

Previously on Panel Patter

Cover of the Next Week

The flow (pun intended) to Matt Kindt's cover of Dept. H #8 makes this a stunning image.  The current set up by the character's hair moves you through this image but it pushes back on itself.  There's a lot of tension in this image as Kindt has the hair pushing back on itself.  Also, the juxtaposition of the blue of the water and the green of her skin makes nothing about this image calm or serene.  

Bonus Cover of the This Week

Look at those colors to Veronica Fish's cover on Slam #1.  Just look at them.  It's green skin again and it looks great playing against the pink of the rest of the cover.  Just superb.  This is the kind of cover that would get me to flip through a book.  


** “Why Draw Comics About Anything Else?”: The Keiler Roberts Interview (TCJ)-- Rob Clough interviews Keiler Roberts about her work in comics, teaching and parenting.

For example, one page that people respond to in different ways is the one where I’m in the bathroom while naked Xia sits on the toilet. She says “This house is getting naughtier and naughtier.” You can figure out that she’s done something wrong, and maybe I did too. She ends the short conversation with “Don’t hurt me mommy, I’m just a little girl.” Clearly, there’s a lot of context that was left out. Some people laugh at that last line and probably see it as Xia exaggerating. When it happened, it broke my heart. Was she really afraid of me? I probably had forgotten that she was just a little girl and was treating her like a monster. I thought the conversation would have more power out of context, because the context makes it too specific. Many parents probably have a similar moment with their kid, and I wanted it to be relatable.

** ERIKA MOEN AND MATTHEW NOLAN ON OH JOY SEX TOY VOLUME THREE (The CSPH)--  The creators of Oh Joy Sex Toy talks to The Center for Sexual Pleasure and Health about their comic.
Erika: I’ve become more confident talking about sex stuff since we first began. Originally, I was very averse to being called a “Sex Educator” because I just didn’t feel friggin’ qualified. I’m not formally educated in any way, I mean, I majored in COMIC BOOKS in college for goodness sake! I’m just a passionate nerd who reads a lot about sex stuff, just like there’s passionate nerds out there who read a lot about Star Wars stuff. Doesn’t mean either of us are qualified to be expert professors of the subject, y’know? All the information in OJST comes straight from,, Wikipedia, and my resource books, like S.E.X. by Heather Corrina (founder of Scarleteen), Changing Bodies, Changing Lives by Ruth Bell, and more. So don’t worry, I AM fact-checking from reputable sources! But I see myself more as an information recycler than an actual sex educator.

** Gene Luen Yang Thinks Superheroes Are for Everyone (New York Times)-- As someone who made his name on American Born Chinese and his recent two-part book on the Boxer revolution, Gene Luen Yang talks to the NYT about his work at DC on Superman-related books.
So much of the monthly superhero market is driven by nostalgia. But at the same time, we live in a world that’s very different than the one we grew up in. The larger readership wants our stories to reflect what America is today. If we care about diversity and representation, then the approach we need is two-pronged: We need new characters establishing new legacies, and we also need characters that use a pre-existing legacy to attract eyeballs. Ultimately, what you do is never going to please 100 percent of the audience. I do think if you tell a great story, maybe you’ll get some of them to switch over.

This and That

** CCS ONE-WEEK CARTOONING WORKOUT (CCS)-- Panel Patter favorite Alec Longstreth has designed a one-week email cartooning course for The Center for Cartoon Studies.  
Are you an aspiring cartoonist and need some help getting started? Have you been a cartoonist for a while, but need a refresher regimen to get you back into a creative groove? Whether you are interested in graphic memoir, comics journalism, or fantasy genres, this seven-day course is designed to help build your cartooning muscles.

Your Moment of Politics?

It's been a hard couple of weeks.  Honestly, the election of Donald Trump for President kind of hit us hard.  Personally, I'm still not convinced that Hillary Clinton would have been a great President but she was probably the best choice of 2016.  But of course, I live outside of Chicago, the swatch of blue amid a sea of red states.

I've been thinking a bit about what to do and think about this.  At FilmMaker, Dan Schoenbrun wrote about how all movies are political.

We need to take a hard look in the mirror and ask ourselves if the films we are making or helping to make are actually saying the things that need to be said. If they’re making people feel the things they need to feel. If they’re even reaching the people they need to reach, and if not, what we can do to change that.

And following up on that, Indiewire asked a number of film critics to respond to Schoenbrun's piece. Jen Yamato (a critic for The Daily Beast) has an answer that can also easily apply to comics.
Film critics have the power to hold Hollywood accountable for the misogyny, bigotry, and erasure of others that have never disappeared from this country and its pop entertainment, just like we wield the power to critique bad acting and terrible scripts. But most film critics don’t exercise that power. And many critics, like plenty of other humans, can’t see (through) their own veil of privilege. My hope is that we try harder, filmmakers and critics and moviegoers and non-moviegoers alike, to demand better not just for ourselves but for others in the age of President-elect Trump and beyond.
Strangely, I've found my own thoughts and writing in the past few months becoming more political in a lot of ways.  Not so much in terms of elections and power but in the ways of beliefs and behaviors.  Even this week, my review of Gord Downie and Jeff Lemire's Secret Path feels much more charged than a lot of my writing has before.  I'm not saying it's better or even good but just that it's coming from a different place than I've written about much before.  

It's most likely a wishy-washy punditry but it's my wishy-washy punditry and I guess I feel comfortable with that.  It's where my headspace is right now.  And honestly, I hope it's where my headspace is for a long time.  I don't want to forget these emotions, both disappointment and nervousness, and that should be a part of the way I look at the world and at comics.  

To paraphrase Schoenbrun, comics are political.  Superman is political.  Doctor Strange is political.  Love and Rockets is political.  Giant Days is political.  Transformers is political.  So our writing about these books should be political.  If these artists are willing to have a point of view that they are going to try to express through their comics, we should have a point of view about them as well that we try to express through our writing. 

To quote a 1984 election ad for President Reagan, it's morning in America.  Only in 2016, it's going to be a long days journey to get to a night when we can rest easily.

Current Mood

November 17, 2016

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Walking Down the Secret Path with Gord Downie and Jeff Lemire

Secret Path
Written by Gord Downie
Drawn by Jeff Lemire
Published by Simon and Schuster

There’s an ugliness at the center of Gord Downie and Jeff Lemire’s Secret Path, the story of a child taken away from his native home in the name of Christianity. With Downie’s lyrics and Lemire’s drawings, the book shows a boy’s desire to get home in a world that will not let him return to his parents. The book shows the resilience of the boy’s character and drive but it also shows the cruelty of the life that goes with all of that. By taking a broad approach to a very specific, historical incident, Downie and Lemire tell a universal story that provides as many lessons that we need to have today as it does lessons about the past.

Lemire takes the story that Downie tells through song (from an album of the same name) and gives it a face. The Indigenous boy, in real life named Chanie Wenjack but never actually named in the book, was taken from his family and sent to a Presbyterian school that was funded by the Canadian government. In Lemire’s silent images which speak volumes, we see the boy in this school, surrounded by other kids but more threateningly surrounded by priests and nuns and it looks like a prison. The boy is a prisoner of a piousness that has little to no regard for the boy himself or for his heritage. And for a boy who was only 9 years old, prison is what it must have felt like as these people try to teach him state-sponsored Christianity.

When the boy escapes the school with a couple of other kids, he eventually finds himself all alone, walking along a cold and isolated railroad, trying to make his way back to his home and his parents. Shaping the visual story around Downie’s lyrics, Lemire’s linework isn’t merely narrative; it’s emotional. As we’ve seen with Lemire at his best, going back to the Essex County trilogy, his art has an evocative nature to it that reflects its characters emotional states. Whether it’s the large, sunken eyes or the shaky lines, Lemire’s depiction of the boy’s journey represents his emotional state as much as it does his physical condition.

Secret Path is a very cold book. With his Payne’s gray watercolor wash over his drawings, Lemire strives to make the boy’s world a harsh place. The bluish-gray hues that color the boy’s existence, except for the few colorfully warm memories of his family, add to the cruelty of the world in the boy’s experience. Walking down that railroad track with the boy, you can feel the dropping temperatures and the boy’s own struggle for warmth. As Downie’s lyrics remind us, the boy only had a windbreaker but he’s out there in the Canadian wilderness as the temperatures continue to drop and Lemire gets you to feel everything that the boy is going through.

Downie’s plaintive lyrics never treat the boy’s story as a simple narrative but he tries to explore the boy’s experience and mindset. As presented in the book, the lyrics, set in an old-fashioned typewriter font, paint their own poetic images of the boy's journey. Each song’s lyrics breaks the story into distinct segments which, along with the artwork, centers us in this boy’s journey. It’s impossible to know what he was actually doing or really thinking from the time he separated from his friends until a few days later when his body was found by a railroad worker but Downie and Lemire create a representation of what the boy could have been feeling and thinking.

Secret Path isn’t necessarily history but a reflection of the past. But it also serves as a warning in a world that’s being fought over because of strong ideologies (or maybe even over the lack of those ideologies.) Without reading the back cover blurb or looking into the history of the stories' inspiration, Chanie Wenjack, Downie and Lemire wisely don’t ground the story to a time or a place. Instead of providing a lesson, Downie and Lemire hope to instill empathy in the reader, not just for the boy but for all of humanity. The lessons of this book aren’t just about one Indigenous boy in Canada but are far more universal in this age of demagoguery and might-makes-right.

And with all of that said, Secret Path ends with a small splash of color and a bit of hope. As the weight of the collective sins of society increase with every page of the book, Downie and Lemire hint that one way or another, there is release from that pressure. While the book in no way forgives the society that took this child away from his parents and his home, Downie and Lemire allow the boy to find a peace that was denied to him by the priest and nuns who took him away. In the end, there is freedom for the boy and his soul that no one was able to take away from him.

Review extra:  Secret Path has been a fascinating project.  It's a book.  It's a music album.  And, thanks to the CBC, it's also a movie.  Below is the Youtube video from the CBC.  The first hour of this is the video of Secret Path and the second hour is a panel discussion about this part about Chanie Wenjack and this part of Canadian history.

November 14, 2016

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Get Tillie Walden's Webcomic "On a Sunbeam" On Your Reading List

So last year at Short Run Seattle, Box Brown introduced me to Tillie Walden's work. I found her art to be phenomenal. I was very excited when I heard she was starting a webcomic, and six chapters later, I'm absolutely blown away by her incredibly detailed line work and ability to use changes in color and style to striking effect.

Just look at this first set of panels of On a Sunbeam, the webcomic in question:

We start with the vastness of space, introduce a character, and show that ships have a very distinctive style to them, all with just three panels. Our character is on a quest of some kind, and it involves a space structure that looks like it popped out of an art history book. And just look at the detailing of the ship in that second panel! There's not just lines or buttons scattered randomly to create "details." There's a conscious effort made to have each panel look a bit different, using a variety of shapes and patterns.

It's breathtaking artwork, and that's just the first three panels. Each of Walden's entries, which feature pages upon pages of work, are exactly like this. She never cuts corners, making her comics ones to linger over, finding new pieces or seeing how patterns develop over the course of a chapter. There's a ton of echoing images in On a Sunbeam, due to its dual narrative of past and present. Because of the depth of each posting, they are also complete mini-stories, making this something that might appeal more to a traditional comics fan that most webcomics, which spread their story out across multiple days with smaller entries.

Here's another example of the artwork:

The first thing you notice here is the sense of scope. Thanks to figures in the foreground and a great use of perspective, we know the characters have arrived at a place that is immense. Due to the shattered stairs, cracks in the walls, and various holes, we know this place is dilapidated. And with Walden's use of colors, ranging from black to faded yellow to the multiple shades of gray, we have contrast that makes each of these elements stand out.

One more panel, this time with more figure work:

Here again, Tillie strives to use grayscale to keep the world of the characters varied, whether it's the flat black floor or changing tones to indicate the characters' clothing and other items are as varied as those we have in real life. There's not a lot of detailing in the faces of her figures, but we can still see their emotions, thanks to posing, placement, and clever panel structure.

The biggest weakness of "On a Sunbeam"--and in other Walden work I've read so far--is that while her visuals are amazing and the scope is absolutely breathtaking, she still struggles with pacing and plot. Her creative work is very much an experiment. Tillie's comment regarding the webcomic is very telling: "There are no exact plans for when this comic will end, I’m just going to keep drawing until I want to stop." What that means is that some readers may get frustrated at the meandering nature, with plot points mostly arriving as she sees fit, with many panels just exploring the world and her characters.

At some point in her career, I hope that Walden works on tightening her writing so that the quality of the story can match the quality of the artwork. That's not saying she's bad now, but once Tillie puts the two together, she will be an absolute master.

In the meantime, I'm very happy to keep reading and enjoying pages such as this one:

I hope you'll take the time to check out On a Sunbeam, especially if you're not familiar with Walden's work yet. She is going places, and I highly recommend you investigate her work now, so that when she's winning awards and getting a major book deal, you're not late to the party. Tillie has a Patreon, so if you love her work and can spare some funds, please help her keep going. Comics as a whole will be better off, and you'll be supporting an amazing young talent whose potential is as vast as the landscapes she's creating on the page.

November 8, 2016

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Graphic Nonfiction: Ellen T Crenshaw Gives You 10 Voting Quotes

Today is Election Day in the United States, and so much is at stake right now, it's not even funny. The vote today is literally a matter of life or death for so many vulnerable Americans. We can only hope that despite flirting with a total disaster candidate, that America will wake up and do the right thing today.

The Nib has been doing some great work during the campaign--I'm so glad it's back!--and here is one by Ellen T Crenshaw, featuring quotes from people relating to voting.

A few samples:

You can read the comic in full here.

I really like how Crenshaw makes sure that the images are large enough that we don't just rush over and read the quote. There's enough heft that we want to see how she handles Lincoln's mole, for example, or the way in which she poses Sarah Vowell in a manner that suggests some wry expression to match the quote. Her final quote, featuring President Obama, really highlights his demeanor when he speaks.

Additionally, Crenshaw also works the lettering to keep it varied, both between the quotes and within them. The Lincoln speech bubble has four different lettering fonts, for example.

We can't know what will happen today, but we can encourage you to vote. Al Franken, who is now one of the nation's best Senators, was elected by a margin of 311 in his first Senate race. With so much riding on the outcome, now is not the time to hesitate--as these speakers from Crenshaw's drawings say--Vote! Vote! Vote!

November 4, 2016

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Weekend Pattering for November 4th, 2016-- Remembering Steve Dillon (1962-2016)

I'm waiting for the day when Box Brown does a comic chronicling the 2016 Cubs/Indians World Series.  It would be a great third part if he wanted to consider his Andre the Giant and Tetris books as the first two parts of a trilogy.  Just saying...

Previously on Panel Patter

Cover of the Next Week

Doom Patrol #3 cover by Simon Bisley

Let's step back to the heady days of the early 1990s, when a young whippersnapper named Grant Morrison took over DC's Doom Patrol comic from Paul Kupperberg.  You can't really say that the two writers were kindred spirits in any way.  For the first handful of Morrison's Doom Patrol comics, Richard Case handled both the interior art and the covers but as the comic embraced its Dadaistic leanings, Simon Bisley took over the cover work.  Bisley's covers look like Dave McKean's Sandman covers, only on acid.

With Gerard Way's ode to all things Grant Morrison's Doom Patrol, it's only fitting that Bisley should be doing a variant cover for the new series.

It just feels right to see Bisley's Robotman gracing the cover of a comic book again.

Bonus Cover of the Next Week

Cometbus #57 cover by Jeffery Lewis

Aaron Cometbus's fanzine deserves an extra call out.  It's been available through online dealers for a couple of months now but it looks like the latest issue of Cometbus is hitting direct market stores next week.  The book is full of all kinds of great interviews with NYC-based comic people.  


** An Interview with Sophie Campbell (The Comics Journal)-- From Wet Moon to Jem and the Holograms, Sophie Campbell has built an interesting career.
I’ve talked about this in other interviews where people ask me if there’s a social agenda with what I’m doing, and it’s yes and no. Yes because I’m thinking about that stuff so it can’t not have that aspect to it. Some decisions–just to have a fat character for example–are inherently political and you can’t avoid it and I think there’s some responsibility to be aware of it. But I didn’t really start thinking about that kind of thing until partway through my career. Looking back, now I can see how my work fits together with intersectionality and feminism, but I wasn’t aware of it at the time. I was like, “this is what I want to see, this is what I want the characters to be like,” and that was the extent of it. I tried to do what I wanted to see in comics, and what I saw in the world around me. But since having learned so much in the past however many years, I can look back at my work and see it more clearly.

** This Westworld and Captain America Writer Just Wrote Your New Favorite Graphic Novel (GQ)-- So, Ed Brubaker is just turning up everywhere, particularly when the episode of Westworld that he wrote aired on HBO.  But this interviews concentrates on his and Sean Phillips' excellent comic The Fade Out and its exploration of Hollywood.
It’s interesting: social media has changed the way we look at stars a little bit, but let’s not pretend, if you follow some movie star on Twitter, that it isn’t a completely curated experience from their end. I’m sure some are not, but most movie stars are probably not running their own Twitter account. [Laughs] That’s the interesting side of it: the picture that is presented to the world. You know, I saw a lot of parallels between The Fade Out and something like Deadwood, in a way, because it was about a place and a time, but Hollywood in the post-war years felt like the Gold Rush. Everybody was coming to Hollywood to try to become a movie star or a writer, and the amount of names of people who came to Hollywood to try to become a writer and wound up tossed out the other side doesn’t end with Dashiell Hammett and William Faulkner. I think Raymond Chandler was the only one who figured out how to game the system and make a living, and not actually have to live in Hollywood!

This and That

** CXC 2016: Report Card (Comics Workbook)-- Whit Taylor shares her thoughts about the recent CXC 2016, looking at how it stacks up to some of its goals.
When I asked Spurgeon what he wanted for this festival in coming years he said he hoped that CXC would “not just [be] having a strong show but driving attention to the entire world of comics in a kind of Cannes Film Festival way.” He talked of developing a housing program as well. “I’d love for the show to become successful enough we can aim it at some of comics intractable problems!”
Also at Comics Workbook, Juan Fernández ruminates on what a Comics Festival could look like.
Why? Because as it stands, in it’s current, commodity focused culture, comics are facing a cultural choking point with respect to the role that comics making can play in broader cultural discussions. We need to give comics making and comics reading practices more breathing room. To grow. To continue expanding. We need to nurture interdisciplinary approaches to experiencing comics. We need our festivals to make this a guiding principle.

** The Shirley Jackson Project (The Comics Journal)-- Greg Hunter reviews the latest Rob Kirby-edited project.
One sign of a good anthology is that even the misfires are interesting, and this is true of The Shirley Jackson Project. “Merricat” by W. Woods posits a series of found sketches by Merricat Blackwood, of We Have Always Lived in the Castle—sort of a losing endeavor by default, as the novel itself takes a deep dive into Merricat’s interiority, but it’s still fun to see the choices made sketch by sketch. Jennifer Camper’s “The Guest Bathroom” begins another losing game, putting a Jackson-like figure in the center of its story about a gradual home invasion, and also adopting a Jackson-like voice for its captions. In other words, it’s particularly easy to measure this piece against Jackson’s own work. But Camper still boasts one of the collection’s most dexterous plot-level feats, weaving together strands of the Jackson stories “Like Mother Used to Make,” “Trial By Combat,” and “The Villager” within one comic.

 ** The REAL Best Comics of all-time (73)-- Reacting to Sean T. Collins list at Thrillist about the Best Graphic Novels of All Time,  Sarah Horrocks replies with her own list.  Looking at the two lists, I'm much more partial to the books on Horrocks' list but both of them contain a lot of comics that I like and a lot that I still need to catch up on.

Steve Ditko

** Steve Ditko: The Father Of DOCTOR STRANGE (Birth. Death. Movies)-- Just in time for the movie to come out, Derek Faraci profiles the one cartoonist who still toils away daily in an office in Midtown Manhattan.
In 1987, Steve Ditko was awarded the Comic-Con International Inkpot Award. He didn’t show up for the ceremony, so publisher Deni Loubert accepted it on his behalf. Loubert sent the award to Ditko, only to have it returned with a note that read “Awards bleed the artist and make us compete against each other. They are the most horrible things in the world. How dare you accept this on my behalf”.

Your Moment of Steve Dillon

Honestly, I'm still having some trouble processing the death of Steve Dillon, who passed away on October 22, 2016, at 54 years old.  While I've been reading his comics since the mid-1980s, when his stuff first started appearing in the states in Eclipse Comics' reprints of British comics, I don't know if I could ever say I was a fan of his.  Hs work was solid but for a large chunk of Dillon's work, I think I was far more interested in eye candy than his work ever was.

Preacher is the Dillon book to me and maybe that's part of the problem.  I'm just not that much of a Garth Ennis fan and Preacher is Garth Ennis to me.  The over-the-top outrageousness was just a put off to me.  But there are key aspects of Preacher that I love and a lot of that is Dillon and his depictions of the friendships and relationships of Jesse, Tulip, and Cassidy.  It's probably been 16 years since I last read through the series but it's the way that Dillon showed how these characters cared for one another that's always been one of the more remarkable things to ever come out of Vertigo.

Ennis and Dillon had talked about doing a follow-up Vertigo series, City Lights, that always sounded like it was going to be the spiritual successor to Preacher and it was a book that I always wanted to see.

For as much of Preacher being about Ennis' writing, the book really succeeded because of the many ways that Dillon brought the story to life.  It was vile, disgusting, blasphemous, joyful, exuberant and beautiful.  

And you know, in hindsight, those are all words that I'd use to describe Steve Dillon's work. 

Current Mood

November 1, 2016

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Weekend Pattering for October 30th, 2016-- Cover of the Week

This and That

This is a few days late (and probably a few dollars short) but after two big comic events last week, the wind was kind of out of my sails for ruminating on links of the week.  The first was the death of Steve Dillon and the second was the shitstorm that developed around Chelsea Cain and here "feminist agenda" in Mockingbird.  With a bit of distance, I'll probably have something to say about both Dillon and Cain for the next Weekend Pattering.  

With all of that as preamble, we'll have a shortened Weekend Pattering since it's already Tuesday in most of the world.  This week we'll highlight one upcoming cover with a very important message.

Cover of the Next Week

Next Tuesday, November 8th, is election day in the United States and we highly encourage everyone to get out and vote no matter who your choice of candidates may be or no matter how much you don't think your candidate needs your vote.  

Regular linking and commentary should be back this coming weekend.

October 31, 2016

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Halloween Horror: Chilling Adventures of Sabrina Book One: The Crucible by Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa and Robert Hack

Chilling Adventures of Sabrina Book 1: The Crucible
Written by Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa
Drawn by Robert Hack
Published by Archie Comics

Chilling Adventures of Sabrina: The Crucible is not a cute book. In this two Archie horror books, Afterlife With Archie and Chilling Adventures of Sabrina, Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa takes these all-American teenage kids and puts them in the middle of a Stephen King-like world. It’s no longer important whether Betty or Veronica is Archie’s true love; all that matters is which one will live to see tomorrow. This recasting of the Archie myths plays off of the ties between stories of teenage all-American kids in love and in fear for their lives. Sabrina takes the story of a friendly, teenage witch and tells her story of being an American witch that’s part of a long, troubled and persecuted tradition.

“Traditional” is actually a really great word to use to describe Aguirre-Sacasa and Robert Hack’s work in this book. There’s witch lore behind their storytelling here that goes back to the days when women were hung or drowned just for being suspected of being a witch. Exploring her birth and her education, they show Sabrina as a young red-blooded girl who is basically expected to follow in the family business of witchcraft. Her father was a warlock, her aunts are witches. She’s got power behind her but she does have one flaw in her; her mother was a normal woman who was used by her father. Aguirre-Sacasa and Hack don’t shy away from the hints of abuse that take place in this story. Sabrina’s mother was a victim of her father and Sabrina is as much her mother’s child as she is her father’s.

Aguirre-Sacasa dives deep into the traditions and myths of witchcraft that conflicts with the coming-of-age of story of a girl in the 1960s. Even as he’s exploring this tradition, he’s telling a story of possible rebellion of a girl struggling between tradition and modernity. And while that story has been told before in comics and even in television shows (which I completely forgot about until I googled it,) it’s the depth of both aspects of the character that Aguirre-Sacasa and Hack are willing to dive down into that makes this book really kind of shocking. On one hand, you have this evil power that wants to use this girl and on the other hand, that power has to go up against normal teenage hormones.

Over in Afterlife with Archie, Aguirre-Sacasa has basically played the same conflict, only with zombies and teenage hormones. What’s new here is Robert Hack and his not-quite-rose-colored images of Sabrina’s life. His scratchy artwork and autumnal oranges and browns give the story a worn feeling to it. Not in the sense that the story is tired but that it’s an old story that’s being told in this book. While Aguirre-Sacasa sometimes gets lost in the combined lores of witchcraft and Archie, Hack plays with the incongruity of the imagery to make the combination feel like an old, timeworn connection that’s no different if her aunts were Rotarians as opposed to them being witches.

Hack also has a great time with the fashions of his characters. From the slightly-stuffy aunts to the titillating undead witch to the high school letterman to Satan himself appearing at a witch’s ceremony, Hack dresses his characters to match their personalities. The playfulness of his fashions build off of horror movie traditions of jocks and their girls being hunted by unseen terrors even as the real horror of this book is those girls and the powers that they’re discovering. Sex and power. Power and sex. The great story that Aguirre-Sacasa and Hack are telling is about Sabrina finding out about both of those things.

The combination of all-American teens and horror stories is nothing new but that Archie Comics have decided to explore these paths with their long-standing squeaky clean characters still is a bit shocking. In one book, you have Archie starring in The Walking Dead but in Chilling Adventures of Sabrina, Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa, and Robert Hack are using these characters to tell a story about witchcraft as much as they are about teenage love and rebellion. But ultimately, it’s a bit difficult to tell what’s really frightening his how well these two stories can become one or how much the horrors of Sabrina’s life invade and take over the life of a girl who’s just trying to survive high school.

October 21, 2016

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Weekend Pattering for October 21st, 2016-- Doing the Monster Mash Potato

Previously on Panel Patter

Cover(s) of the Next Week

Let's go with something horror-twinged this week.Or better yet, let's go with 3 ghastly, bloodsoaked covers.

I honestly haven't read much Chew beyond the first collection.  I love the way this cover for Chew #57 is basically the black of the character's hair quite, with the red of the glasses literally bleeding into the red of the background.  Just how much blood can there be?

October 20, 2016

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Halloween Horror: Ghosts by Raina Telgemeier

Written and Drawn by Raina Telgemeier
Published by Graphix

Death is something that we all think about but it’s a really big and unknowable concept for kids. Believing in ghosts are one thing, a childish fantasy that sticks with us through our whole lives, but believing that all of those ghosts are a person who died is another thing. And then add into it that those people may be your grandparents, your parents or your siblings and the idea of our mortality becomes almost unbearable to adults let alone to children. But it’s these kinds of heady concepts that Raina Telgemeier is tackling in her newest book Ghosts. While it covers some of the same ground as Telgemeier's previous book (particularly the all-too-important concept of acceptance,) Telgemeier's portrayal of life and death in Ghosts takes those concepts in new directions for her

Catalina’s family has to move to a new Northern California town due to her younger sister’s worsening cystic fibrosis. Maya’s sickness is something that isn’t curable but the move to a different environment may make things better for her. So Cat’s story begins as a somewhat typical “kid forced to move away from her school and her friends” story, having to deal with all of the angst and resentment towards her family, while having to make new friends and even find a boyfriend in the new town. But this isn’t any normal Northern California town; it’s a town filled with ghosts. And while to an outsider, it may look like the town is haunted, Cat and Maya learn about the history of the ghosts and families. So while it takes some twists and turns, the story of the ghosts and Cat ends up containing some fairly typical themes for a YA story like this.

The titular ghosts of this book give it a sense of life even as you’re dreading the worst possible events as you’re reading it. Even if the move was intended to help Maya, she gets progressively worse and sicker in this new town. It feels like the move was too late to save the young girl and that feeling just grows with each panel and page. For all of the normal teenage drama that fills this book, Telgemeier’s reminders of our mortality create an uneasiness in this book. Between Maya’s illness and the almost ever-present ghosts, the acceptance that Telgemeier really seems to be exploring here is the acceptance of our own inescapable death.

But everything in this book is not doom and gloom. At the heart of the story is Cat and the resilience of her personality. There are lessons to be learned and new people to get to know in Ghosts. When you take out the supernatural elements of the book, Cat’s story is the story of a young girl navigating her way through life. She wants to be a good sister but she also wants to live her own life. While the fantasy adds flavor and depth to the book, Telgemeier keeps it about the characters, about Cat and Maya.

Telgemeier’s artwork wonderfully dances between the personal, the ghastly and the dramatic. For the first third of the book, she sets up the book as a horror story and the expressiveness of her characters play into this. Cat is a fantastic character who, due to the circumstances of her life, is primed to experience these new things as some of the scariest moments of her life. As she develops the story, her artwork moves from this horror-tinged flavoring to a celebration. These shifts in tone and flavor in Ghosts is told through the artwork, reflecting Cat’s own growth during the book.

And really, the story ends up being about something as simple as acceptance. Through the ghosts and these unearthly beings, Cat learns lessons about her family, her new friends and, most importantly, her sister. Maya is a wonderful spirit in this book and she’s all too mortal. In Cat’s life, we see this great tension between her living friends and the spirits of the dead on All Saint’s Day. Telgemeier never gets morose or narrowly focused on death even though the thought of death hangs over every page. Instead, all of this serves to remind us the lives we have here and now. By approaching the supernatural as the natural, Ghosts becomes a story about the joys of life and family by reminding us of the richness that exists in these normal experiences.

October 14, 2016

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Weekend Pattering for October 14th, 2016-- Sean Phillips Revisited

Previously on Panel Patter

Cover of the Next Week

O.k.  It's actually two covers. I believe the top tier may be a variant and the bottom tier is the front and back cover of the regular edition of the new quarterly Love And Rockets #1.  I love the push and pull that exists between these covers, showing us almost the same things just from different angles and perspectives in time.  Even though they've done some iconic covers over the past 30+ years, sometimes I think that Gilbert and Jaime Hernandez just don't get enough credit for their compositions.  

Love and Rockets #1 is out on October 19th, 2016.


** Ed Brubaker on Westworld, The Fade Out, and his immersion into Hollywood (The A.V. Club)-- Oliver Sava talks to Ed Brubaker about a lot of his work lately, including the HBO show that he's currently working on.  I particularly enjoyed the point where he talks about the evolution of Sean Phillips' artwork in Kill or Be Killed.
I came up with the idea at some point during the first issue of doing those pages that are like splash pages with text running down the side, which you’ve seen in European comics, and I think Frank Miller did it in Sin City sometimes. It was something I’d never tried before, and I wanted to do it in a way to free up the narrative from necessarily having to tie in with every moment of the pictures. And then Sean, when we were first talking about the design of the book, sent over his idea for having every page be a full-page bleed. He’s still using the three-tier structure that we’ve been using since we started Criminal, but he’s experimenting a bit more with how he handles the page.
Brubaker's most recent "From the Desk Of..." newsletter this week previewed the just-released third issue and featured a stunning black-and-white page from the upcoming fourth issue.

Sean is almost done with issue 4, which looks amazing even in black and white so far, and I'll give you a secret tease to that here, with one of my favorite pages that doesn't spoil anything:

I'm in love with this page and Phillips' artwork from this series.  I see a lot of  Al Williamson and Alex Raymond (and even Dave Sim doing his best Alex Raymond impersonation) on this page.  It's beautiful.  Few comic artists have ever been able to make me believe in their snowy drawings the way that Phillips is doing it here.  Part of me wants to see a black&white edition of any of the Brubaker/Phillips joints but then you'd end up missing the coloring of Elizabeth Breitweiser, Val Staples or Dave Stewart.  I think if you see anything here it's how great of an image and foundation Phillips lays down for the final printed page.

 ** “And It Lasted Forever”: An Interview with Tom Spurgeon (The Comics Journal)-- As a leadup to this weekend's CXC show in Columbus, OH., Tim Hodler interviewed the show's festival director Tom Spurgeon about his many ventures such as the show, The Comic Reporter, his time at Fantagraphics as the editor of The Comics Journal and his upcoming book about the history of Fantagraphics.  Spurgeon has a unique view of comics because of the various roles he's played in it during his lifetime.

There's a lot of great stuff to dig through that interview for but this is the part that particularly stuck me.  Hodler asked Spurgeon about the evolution of comics and Tom answered:
Still, without some sort of structure… well, right now it just feels like we’re making comics and then throwing them into the ocean. I don’t even know when people I like are going to have comics out, and this is my job. I can’t imagine how soul-killing it is to work on something for two years, have it out, get one review and maybe a convention out of it, and then never hear anyone talk about what you did ever again. I see it as a systemic failure: we’ve had all the things happen to most media businesses decentralizing and spreading out cost, and ours was never that strong to begin with.

This and That

** That's Not Who We Are (The Nib)-- Mike Dawson's latest comic at the Nib is kind of scary when you stop to think about how long white people have tried to justify that they know what's best for black people.

** What Is It Like To Raise Kids In Malaysia When You're LGBT? (The Nib)-- Kazimir Lee's explores the troubles of LGBT parents in Malaysia.  It's a stunning look at a conservative country's view of parenting.

Your Moment of... Batman?

** SNYDER & CAPULLO To Reunite for 2017 DC Summer Event... And Yes, BATMAN Is In It (Newsarama)-- George Marston reports that at NYCC Scott Snyder announced that he and Greg Capullo will be working on DC's next summer event.  And all I can say to that is...




You see, that means that Greg Capullo is returning to DC and getting away from Mark Millar's grubby little hands.

Millar and Capullo's Reborn came out this week and it was... alright I guess?  After Capullo made such a splash on the New 52 Batman with Snyder, his storytelling with Millar feels really off and I guess I'm more than willing to blame the author for that.

Basically, my review of Reborn #1 would have been, "well, it's just another Mark Millar comic."  And I don't think that's saying too much as most of Millar's stuff lately has been really just kind of bland, saccharine, Hollywood blockbuster comics.  At Sequart, Ian Dawe kind of hits the nail on the head for me about a lot of Millar's recent comics.
The book... mines familiar Millar thematic territory, namely the transformation of ordinary people into superheroes.
Wanted.  Kick-Ass.  Huck.  Starlight.  Kingsman.  MPH.  The Chosen.

It is the through-line of so many of Millar's comics and I don't think he has a lot of variation between these stories.  And that's what gets me to think, "it's just another Mark Millar comic." 

And Hollywood loves it.

I hope that Capullo gets a huge payday out of this when the movie gets made.  I hope Capullo can go back to drawing fun and interesting comics after this because Reborn #1 wasn't really it.  Capullo's art seemed a bit off to me.  Even though this is the penciler, inker, and colorist from Batman, something felt different here. It didn't pulse like those issues of Batman did.  It didn't sing.  

It was just another Mark Millar comic.

Current Mood

    October 12, 2016

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    Listening to the Silence in Tom Gauld's Mooncop

    Written and Drawn by Tom Gauld
    Published by Drawn & Quarterly

    Tom Gauld’s Mooncop is a very simple story. It’s about isolation and loneliness but it’s never isolated or lonely. Gauld imagines a world of a lot of unfulfilled promises that have been abandoned and only a few caretakers remain to watch over the long-forgotten promises. The dream of colonizing the moon is still a strong one for us today; whether it’s a dream of solving overpopulation of our world or some villainous moon base, we all have dreams about living on the moon in zero gravity and away from the everydayness of life on Earth. That’s what drove mankind to the moon in the first place. And Gauld imagines a world where the Apollo missions led to people actually living on the moon and realizing that maybe life in outer space doesn’t live up to our dreams.

    Essentially, the moon is being downsized as people are moving from the moon back to Earth. The one person who’s not leaving is the one cop who patrols the moon. It’s not like he’s taking down mafia bosses or saving people from deadly crimes. He finds runaways and missing dogs. And like every cop, he likes the occasional donut. It’s not the stuff of police procedurals. Instead, the officer’s life is rather mundane. There’s not a lot going on and there’s actually less happening every day.

    Gauld’s moonscapes are full of wide, empty vistas and stars fields. They only highlight the officer’s isolation as the Earth appears in the sky, hanging over the officer’s life as a reminder of everything that he doesn’t have. As the moon’s colonists abandon their lunar home, the officer begins to think that maybe he should put in for a transfer as well but he’s never a character that seems anything other than at peace with his position. It’s not resentment, fear or loneliness that drives him to request the transfer. If anything, maybe it’s the lack of momentum in his life that he thinks he can jumpstart that nudges him toward action. 

    We almost never see Gauld’s characters in anything other than side profiles. This story reveals itself to the audience, with us nearly always standing at a 90-degree angle to the officer and the other lunar citizens. This technique creates distance between the storyteller and his audience, another tool in Gauld’s arsenal of isolation. Gauld never shows a full facial expression or a strong reaction to anything that’s happening in this officer’s life. It highlights a sense of resignation that overcomes any reading of depression or loneliness in Mooncop.

    In this book, Gauld does a lot with only a little. The reserved nature of his work runs through the art, through the narrative, and through the characters. There are no grand gestures on display in this book as Gauld embraces the solitude and quietness of the moon. Ultimately, that’s what the book is about, the quietness of life. There are plenty of ways to read this as a sad and lonely story but Gauld never gives into that depression for too long. Instead, his characters live in the moments of relative solitude and they accept that. Not everyone needs the hustle and bustle of the life that waits for them on the world below them.

    October 11, 2016

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    All-Ages or Small-Ages #28 (Pictures of Spiderman by Nick Gonzo)

    See all of the past entries of All-Ages or Small-Ages here.

    There are a wide array of all-ages comics out there from the classic Archie comics, through the  Sonic the Hedgehog and Disney, all the way to the original properties such as Lumberjanes. You might look at one of these books and think that, as an adult, it doesn’t have much to offer you. As someone who has discovered a deep fondness for titles such as this, I’ve been surprised by how rich and complex the stories can be. All-Ages or Small-Ages? is a feature that takes a look at the books that fall under this banner and attempts to analyse whether or not their assigned label is apt; is it a book that you can read along with your children?

    In the interest of full disclosure, this comic has not been officially rated by the almighty bestower of ratings as all-ages but, due to the actual content within these pages, there's a chance that it would meet the criteria. It marks creator Nick Gonzo's first foray outside of the Madius Comics banner, following the successful 50Signal and Funk Soul Samurai. Despite what the title may imply, this isn't a book about any Spider-Man, be they amazing, spectacular or ultimate; it is instead about the journalistic pundit, J. Jonah Jameson hunting for love in world that he doesn't quite understand. 

    J. Jonah Jameson is a character that most people know, but not many people understand. While this comic doesn't require an in depth knowledge of the background of the character, as this is clearly a departure from the original source, it helps to have an idea of the kind of person that he's been before this: brash and self-serving, sure, but ultimately compassionate. Seeing this latter quality in him brought to the surface takes you by surprise. There's a vulnerability to the character that we haven't seen before that makes this comic feel unquestionably unique.

    Similarly, Gonzo is a writer with an undeniably cynical edge to his work, but also a deep-seated desire to see the best in the world. Although this comic feels immensely bleak in some places, due to both the tone in the writing and the intense shadows in the art itself, there's a positivity to the overall underlying progression of the narrative that demonstrates what this story is really about: the light at the end of the tunnel.

    Gonzo has a recognisable and, although unconventional, a very fascinating art style. Beyond the aforementioned use of shading, he understands the need for a page to stand on its own terms. In the same way that the best newspaper strips do, each individual page in this comic can be read as a complete statement such that only reveals its true brilliance when they're all put into sequence. There's also a sense of progression across the page that keeps the energy high, drawing you effortlessly from one page to the next.

    Despite all of this, the driving force behind this comic is Gonzo's commentary on the intense and  yet very artificial intimacy that the internet can provide. Complementing JJJ's views with those of Pooter Peter Parker, Gonzo takes a very firm stance on the effects that a solely online presence can have on someone so inherently lonely. Saying that, as before, there's a reluctant, and perhaps subconscious, sense that everything is ultimately going to be OK. It's that bizarre and strangely satisfying combination of attributes that make this such an intriguing work.

    It's best to enter into this ten page story knowing as little as possible to get the most out of it. It hews close enough to the original material to draw out the most important characteristics, but remains at enough of a distance that the knowledge doesn't become a hindrance. Pictures of Spiderman has been percolating around in my head since I first read it over a week ago and it will undoubtedly do the same for you. It's bizarre and bleak while still maintaining a strong sense of beauty; I love everything about it.

    Pictures of Spiderman is only being printed in a limited run, so head over and contact the creator before it's too late.

    Let me know if there's a comic that you think I should be checking out. I'm always on the look-out for some more hidden All-Ages gold. Contact me at or head over to check out the podcast that I co-host You Know What I Like...? on SoundCloud.