For narrator Frank Santoro, it’s a mind-boggling affair. His parents, now senior citizens, divorced, are working in the same hospital. They cross each other often, but don’t speak to one another. Why is that? Even though there is no mystery waiting to be solved, crime story-style, or a single-event trauma shockingly revealed at the apex of the plot, Pittsburgh is nevertheless a sort of personal meandering psychogeographical walk down the proverbial memory lane in which the author tries to investigate what underlies this standoffnishness. Continue reading “Pittsburgh. Frank Santoro (New York Review of Books)”
Tremor Dose. Michael Conrad and Noah Bailey (Comixology)
No matter how many steps we have taken towards self-knowledge, or developed the cognitive sciences, or evermore sophisticated manners of understanding the elusive “psyche,” we are not closer today to unravelling the mysteries of dreams as shamans or soothsayers were. Perhaps dreams will always be a step ahead beyond our capability of reducing them to a rational explanation, taunting it and defeating it. Showing us that there will always be something wild and more powerful than the arrogance of thinking that we may reach it with reason and science.
Tremor Dose is about that wild quality of dreams. Its utter indomitability.
Continue reading “Tremor Dose. Michael Conrad and Noah Bailey (Comixology)”
Roi Charbon. Max (Rackham)
Translated from Spanish, this is the French edition of “King Charchoal,” a graphic novellette created by Catalan post-punk comics meister Francesc Capdevilla, known as “Max”, one of the most important names in the Spanish post-democracy scene in the 1980s. His first major famous work was his saga with the funny Peter Pank, and then later the truly Surrealist nightmares he made for Bardín. However, Max always explored other themes and tones, registers and genres, some of which closer to the literary turn of the 1990s, others closer to a freer drawing practice. Capable of navigating the ultra-legible water of the ligne claire, the theatrical flexibility of the rubber hose style, or the high contrast of Indian ink shadows, Max takes on his subject matters with a variety of signatures that become significant in themselves. Continue reading “Roi Charbon. Max (Rackham)”
Dementia 21. Shintaro Kago (Fantagraphics)
This book is at one time hilarious, gross, horrifying, witty and thoughtful. It could be read as both an ode to old people and a scathing portrait of old age. Maybe it was created to ward off a deep-seated fear of the author. It can be definitely used to write a paper about representation of the elderly in Japanese manga, contextualizing it within that country’s culture and socioeconomic problems. Or just read it at face value. Continue reading “Dementia 21. Shintaro Kago (Fantagraphics)”
Speak/Bezimena. Laurie Halse Anderson and Emily Carroll/Nina Bunjevac (Farrar, Straus and Giroux/Fantagraphics)
Both these books deal with sexual abuse and were created by rape survivors. Both books bring about an attempt to deal with this situation, with the horrible return of the darkest memories, of the blunted pain that never washes away. Both these books create semi-fictive narratives that do not explain the crime, but at least provides a story, which, as it solves itself, may grant some peace to the teller. Continue reading “Speak/Bezimena. Laurie Halse Anderson and Emily Carroll/Nina Bunjevac (Farrar, Straus and Giroux/Fantagraphics)”
Le Mort Détective. David B. (L’Association)
David B., particularly known for his strong visual metaphors working on behalf of deferred yet robust meaning-making trouvailles, returns to form in this quick, fun romp. Le Mort Détective is both a riff on a long tradition of fantastic and lurid bookcover illustration and a convoluted, thick-plotted adventure. Continue reading “Le Mort Détective. David B. (L’Association)”
Passing for Human. Liana Finck (Random House)
“Ever failed. No matter. Try again. Fail again. Fail better”. Within the world of comics-making, never have the words of Samuel Beckett felt more urgent and alive and true than with Passing for human. Our lives, as they’re lived, do not offer a neat narrative, give up no reliable, durable interpretation, do not come with neat resolutions. And after they’re lived, well, we’re not going to tell them then. Continue reading “Passing for Human. Liana Finck (Random House)”
The Hard Tomorrow. Elanor Davis (Drawn & Quarterly)
I want to say that Davis is a trailblazer, but I’m not sure if that metaphor works with a bike. Not only to connect to the author’s previous wonderful books, but also to what it entails to ride a bike in terms of physical effort and commitment, bodily materiality and its fluid functions, the sheer elegance of a mechanical machine in which every part, no matter how different, works towards the same goal, and also its impact in the surroundings: a soft passage, a brief zooming sound. Continue reading “The Hard Tomorrow. Elanor Davis (Drawn & Quarterly)”
Just a quick note to let you know that Palgrave is doing a “Cyber Sale,” which allows you to buy those hefty academic monographs and anthologies on comics for reasonable prices, instead of the excruciantingly expensive “library prices” or whatever the reason is to jack them up. Anyway, among them you’ll find Comics Memory. Archives and Styles, edited by my wonderful friends and comics scholars Maaheen Ahmed and Benoît Crucifix, which includes an essay of mine on French master Edmond Baudoin. Of course, you’ll find many other great volumes on comics. Check it out here.
Laura Dean Keeps Breaking Up with Me. Mariko Tamaki and Rosemary Valero-O’Connell (First Second)
If you were not convinced immediately by Skim, and then This One Summer, and her work on multiple franchises, this new graphic novella written by Tamaki should carry a strong punch. Stop saying that you wished for comics to have emboldened, empowering female characters. They’ve been here for a while and Tamaki has been a powerhouse in making them accessible, funny, and moving. Continue reading “Laura Dean Keeps Breaking Up with Me. Mariko Tamaki and Rosemary Valero-O’Connell (First Second)”