Friday, 30 April 2010

"Newave! The Underground Mini Comix of the 1980s" Mini-reviews 41-50

Almost into the very last column of Newave: The Underground Mini Comix of the 1980s's collossal contents page,  our mini-comics tweet review quest continues. Today, we've collected our 41st-50th Twitter Newave mini-reviews for your  ever-lovin' consuption. Past Newave roundups can be found on the following pages: 1-10 ; 11-20 ; 21-30 and 31-40.

Continue on for Krazy Kat tributes, adolescant scarification, penis missiles, comics in the dark and a double helping of Mary Fleener.

41: Old Girlfriends: Vivian, a Romance – Tom Christopher, 1983

We tweeted: "A girl carves her lover's initials onto her stomach with a razor blade. Take THAT, Juliet!"

Reminding the reader of the sweet, heaving infatuation (and unrelenting insanity) of first love,  Tom Christopher sets out to create The Wonder Years as it should have been done. Recounting tales of petty theft and stolen moments of clueless adolescent intimacy, there's an awkward honesty to this mini-comic that might ilicit a certain kind of nostalgic cringe for those who can identify.

If cheap dresses, cheaper perfume and sly yet frenzied dry humping at school discos (as they are quaintly known here in the UK) don't remind you of the pure and simple joys of "the best days of your life", little else will.

Monday, 26 April 2010

Interview: Jeffrey Brown ("Undeleted Scenes", 2010)

As one of the very first cartoonists we reviewed on the blog, we are excited to publish the following interview with Chicago-based comic creator Jeffrey Brown. With his new collection of previously published and unpublished material alike, Undeleted Scenes, on the horizon from Top Shelf, we invited him to talk about such eclectic subjects as the book itself, his thoughts on autobiographical comics, his recent work with Marvel, his future projects and big burly men fighting. Read onwards for all this and excerpts from the book, including a detailed guide on how to get totally wasted watching David Lynch's Dune.

Page 5: Intoduction to Autobiography

Saturday, 24 April 2010

Review: The Playwright, Daren White & Eddie Campbell (Top Shelf, 2010)

By Daren White (writer) & Eddie Campbell (artist)
Format: 11" x 7" (Landscape), graphic novel, full colour
160 pages, Hardcover
Price: $14.95 (US)
Release: June 2010

The Playwright follows a moderately successful middle-aged English theatre and television writer through a passage of his life. Financially stable and critically well-received, he suffers from sexual anxiety fed by increasing isolation. Essentially estranged from the people around him due to his necessity to use them (and his experiences with them) as fodder for his work, the titular playwright goes through daily life largely as an observer and chronicler. Darkly comic in areas, genuinely poignant in others, writer Daren White (DeeVee, Batman: The Order of Beasts) and artist Eddie Campbell (Alec: The Years Have Pants, From Hell) create a detailed, sometimes touching insight into the small joys, sorrows and sexual desires of a man who has always been better at writing about life than living it.

Wednesday, 21 April 2010

Review: Johnny Boo and the Mean Little Boy, James Kochalka (Top Shelf, 2010)

Story and art by James Kochalka
Full-colour, 16.51 x 23.50cm, 40 pages
 Price: $9.95 (US)
Released: August 2010

Returning in the fourth volume of his beloved Top Shelf series is James Kochalka’s immensely lovable Johnny Boo. A world away from Kolchalka's previous release from Top Shelf, the Superf*ckers collection, he revisits his similarly charming, but much less profane, "all-ages" characters that have won over sprightly youths and miserable oldies alike. This time, the “best little ghost in the whole world” and his comma-shaped sidekick, Squiggle, deal with the timeless dilemma of learning to make new friends whilst also accepting that old buddies need to make new connections too.

Monday, 19 April 2010

Review: The Signifiers #1, Michael Neno (self-published, 2010)

Do you remember the childhood feeling of picking up a comic simply because it looked cool, absolutely unconcerned about the plot being midway through its arc, and other such trivialities? If you remember that illicit sensation with the same degree of warm fondness as me, then Michael Neno's The Signifiers just might be the comic for you. 

Featuring the liquid-nitrogen equivalent of a cold opening, the first issue of the self-published serial throws readers in at the deep-end. When a book begins with three futuristic spacemen/ desert bandits turning a girl into a dog via energy beams that are shooting out of their chests, you know you’re in for a serious ride into the unknown. It's a necessary shock though; an anti-exposition warning shot that prepares the reader for the following 47 pages of bizarreness, which feature such characters as a bandage-faced rat man, translucent cereal-eating apparitions from the astral plane, a "heat-seeking dwarf" and, obviously, a rather-eloquent humanoid crocodile seeking to purchase an antique Ricky Martin CD.

Oh yeah, there's also a sinister thought-exacting dentist. 

News: "Solipsistic Pop 2" Launch Event (London, UK)

Attention UK citizens: it's time to book a train/ coach/ walk to London for the unveiling of Solipsistic Pop 2. The launch party takes place at The Cross Kings, Kings Cross at 7pm on the 28th April and features stand up from Robin Ince, and music from Sleeping States, Tristram and Dogtanion.

For those of you unfamiliar with the original, Solipsistic Pop is a comic anthology that aims to capture the best and brightest of the UK's creators in one bespoke papery net. With 64 pages of wholesome comics goodness, a gate-fold cover, 12-page insert and coming with a "specially designed" tote bag, you'd be mad not to go buy one.

Rather unfortunately, we'll be holed-up in the blog's French HQ that week, but we heartily advise any and all able to go support the UK comics scene by attending the event and buying this particularly wonderful-looking book.

Edited by Tom Humberstone, more information and ordering details can be found over at the official Solipsistic Pop website.

Sunday, 18 April 2010

Misc: An "Illustrative Score" by Ira Marcks

Posted here due to the sheer arduous dedication of it all, Ira Marcks, the man behind Witch Knots, has illustrated an unfathomably staggering 45 minutes of music with a single scrolling image. Whilst definitely not recommended for anyone out there with a post-Generation X media-age attention span, all those who do watch will be rewarded with an overwhelming "wow" with this showcase of herculean illustrative effort.

50 ft long (approximately 15.3 metres-long, for those of us who use sensible systems of measurement), the illustration is billed as an "experimental" collaboration between Marcks and Michael McQuilken of the band A Few Moments. 

Not strictly animation, rather a single scrolling illustration, the team behind the project have coined the term "Illustrative Score" to describe it. Defined as a "visual companion devoted to enhancing the elements of a song.", it has caused structuralist comics titan Scott McCloud to post the question of whether it's a comic or not over on his website.

The piece's producer, Jack Lodwick (founder of Vimeo and, recommends viewing the video that "in fullscreen, with headphones, the lights off and sitting comfortably." on the video's Vimeo page. I'm not sure, but I suspect that's code for "with narcotic accompaniment".

Head over to the official webpage for more on the project as well as links to more press, including an insights from the on AOL's Urlesque.

Friday, 16 April 2010

Review: Mermin Issue 1, Joey Weiser (self-published, 2010)

Mermin #1

Following swiftly on from his graphic novel Cavemen in Space (our review here), Joey Weiser has launched Mermin, a self-published serial that follows the misadventures of a young aquatic boy, as he escapes his underwater home and  learns about the strange, and often confusing surface world. First made available to contributors of the Cavemen in Space fundraiser, the comic makes its debut tomorrow at the FLUKE festival (read our preview of the event and its fantastic free anthology here) in Athens, GA.

A true "fish-out-of-water" (joke alert) tale, Mermin is about a small aquatic boy  (think The Creature from the Black Lagoon’s much cuter son)  who is on the run from the mysterious undersea Kingdom he once called home. Befriending three human children, the scaly runaway must come to terms with his new, dryer, existence as he attempts to fit in to humanity, school, tetherball and gym class. It's not quite as idyllic as it sounds though, he has more than his fair share of problems in the way of school bullies, a whole host of sea creatures determined to find him, and, of course, gym class. You see, Mermin has a pretty major problem; amphibious as he may be, he's deadly afraid of water. And we thought we hated swimming at school.

Thursday, 15 April 2010

Review: Lose #1 & 2, Michael DeForge (Koyama Press, 2009-10)

Lose 1 & 2

Sitting here, listening to cartoonist/ illustrator Michael DeForge's faux-video game midi soundtrack, it couldn’t be clearer to me that he’s a man of many talents. Starting his career creating posters for bands in order to get on their guest lists, he soon branched out into online comic strips and professional illustration. Now, the Toronto-based creator (whose work has been featured in The New York Times Magazine, amongst others) has moved into the world of print comics. Industry, beware.

Lose, published by Koyama Press, is DeForge’s foray into the criminally diminished area of single-artist showcases. Coming of age with comics over titles like Eightball, Acme Novelty Library and Dork, my inner comic-geek can’t help but feel some kind of primal attachment to this format. Maybe it’s the heady mix of staples and ink-slathered dead trees, but I always feel a little giddy when some brave, bold publisher/ creator releases something in this format.

The back cover from Lose #1, based on old CBS comic advert (see DeForge's website)

Wednesday, 14 April 2010

Interview: The artists of "Tribute to Popeye"


When we published our Tribute to Popeye review, we had a very long internal debate over which pictures from the collection to include. Some funny, some weird and some just plain fantastic, we really agonised over the process; we love the book that much. It was at that point that we had the bright idea to gather together a handful of the artists to talk about their contributions. After all, the more articles about this fantastic piece of pop-cultural homage, the better, right?

Continue after the jump to read Arnaud Floc'h, CraomanDavid François, Raphaël B., Rica and Robin talk about how they became involved, their pieces and also their relationship with Popeye himself.

Sunday, 11 April 2010

"Newave! The Underground Mini Comix of the 1980s" - Mini-Reviews 31-40

You can't see it clearly in the photo, but there's an open can of "Whoop Ass" on the floor.

I can honestly say that the further we dive into the murky depths of Newave!, the better it gets. Hot on the heels of all the anarchic fun of the first thirty mini comics, come ten more that show, in various ways, a little extra sophistication in content or execution. In today's omnibus edition of our Tweet review project, Dadaism, philosophy, fine art and morphological images sit happily alongside violent foul mouthed teens, neo-Nazi  ducks and penis-toting dogs. Oh yeah, and there's a fire-breathing, robotic Viking version of Popeye.

Please check out our previous Newave roundups, if you haven't already: 1-10 ; 11-20 and 21-30.

31: Weird Secretary – Jim Ryan, 1983, Comix Wave

We tweeted: "A few great puns and a lot of satirical sexism inside Terry Gilliam-esque cover."

Python-esque inside and out, Weird Secretary features a number of skits filled with non-sequitur jokes, sideways satire and good ol' fashioned "bad" puns. It also contains one of the funniest strips in the anthology so far: "The Adventuress of Finn McQuade: Alcoholic Professor of Philosophy". Need I say more? I didn't think so.

Friday, 9 April 2010

Interview: Michael DeForge (Lose #1 & #2, 2010)

Micheal DeForge's Lose #1

The hardest thing about editing together an interview with Michael DeForge is that it's almost impossible to  pick a definitive selection of images to accompany it. Increasingly prolific, when looking through his blog, it becomes obvious immediately that he's some kind of unstoppable ultra-talented drawing machine.

With the second issue of his comic series Lose just released, the Canadian creator met with us over the internet-waves earlier this week for an interesting discussion about his work. Read on for his thoughts regarding his working process, The Flash, classic cartoon characters, faux-video game soundtracks, collecting children's books and more. Any interview that simultaneously includes both Roger Ramjet and Prince has got to be worth checking out, right?

What’s the most frustrating thing about being asked to introduce yourself in interviews?

Probably just trying to think of a way to make it more than just the one line - "I'm Michael and I live in Toronto."

On your blog, you describe Lose as your first “real” comic.  What was the impetus behind making the step from illustration work and short strips (like Cave Adventure) into full-length comic production?

I attended TCAF last year (which is where I incidentally met my publisher, Anne Koyama). I had been experimenting with short comics and strips for a while, but seeing all the work at that festival made me really want to bunker down and just finish one. So I took some ideas I had been toying with and committed to making it a series.

Lose #2

Thursday, 8 April 2010

Update: Swedish Invasion Starts Tomorrow!

Now complete with a fantastic poster from Kolbeinn Karlsson, Top Shelf's Swedish Invasion event officially gets underway tomorrow. With signings and appearances galore from the creators in New York and Chicago (see more info on the publisher's site), we on the other side of the Atlantic are feeling a particularly viking-shaped hole in our comic landscape at the moment.

To cheer ourselves up, we've compiled a handy list of our reviews and interviews with the current wave of invading Swedes, for your reading pleasure, after the jump:

Wednesday, 7 April 2010

Preview: "Hrrk", The FLUKE 2010 Anthology

The awesome wrap-around cover by cartoonist/ event organiser Patrick Dean

Further confirming my belief that comics blogging is the foremost use of the internet (well, almost, right?), a sneak-preview of the 2010 FLUKE Mini-Comics Fest Anthology was graciously deposited yesterday in the ATF inbox by event organiser Patrick Dean. Entirely written and laid out by Dean himself and featuring final artwork from no less than seventeen independent/ mini comics creators, it will be available to all attendees at the event completely gratis.

The event, much like the anthology itself, showcases a wealth of small-press and self-published material from comics and zine creators, with all manner of gems available to purchase on the day. Held in Athens, GA at Ciné BarCaféCinéma on the 17th of April, admission costs just $5 and (just in case you missed it the first time)  includes this wonderful FREE ANTHOLOGY.

Page 2: David Mack

Tuesday, 6 April 2010

Best of Baltic Comics Magazine š! Issue 5 (2009)

Today, with a little sadness, we conclude our week of š! with a review of our favourite comics from the fifth issue. It's been an enjoyable seven days of comic-reading for us, and we hope that you'll get your handkerchiefs ready as we end the series with the appropriately somber-sounding "After Snowfall" themed issue. Kick it!

BALTIC COMICS MAGAZINE š! #5: After Snowfall (December 2009)

"Cavemen in Space" Fund: Complete!

A big congratulations goes out to Joey Weiser, whose self-organised Cavemen in Space fund reached its $3500 goal yesterday at midnight! Coinciding with his birthday, we can't think of a better present than knowing that CiS can head to the printers debt-free!

Now, to celebrate, go read our review of the book, along with our interview with Joey. Do it!

Sunday, 4 April 2010

"Chicks on Comics" Interview (Part 2 of 2)

 #52 byPowerPaola

They're back, and more female than ever! Today's concluding part of our chicks on comics interview [first part here] contains the Chicks on Comics team's influences, the balance between the necessity of a female-only platform in comics and the importance of viewing an artist's work outside of gender, as well as the future of their project.

#33 by Clara Lagos

Saturday, 3 April 2010

"Chicks on Comics" Interview (Part 1 of 2)

 Logo by PowerPaola

Today and tomorrow, we'll be publishing our positively gigantic interview with the creators behind the Chicks on Comics blog. Advertising itself as "a comic discussion between 8 comic artists", readers will find the all-female group of international artists drawing strips and images on pre-set themes. Featuring everything from menstruation to memory, their pens cover female-specific issues as well as more universal subject matter.

Too big for just one post, we've split the interview into two. Today's questions focus on the formation of the project, as well as serving as an introduction to the cartoonists themselves. Decidedly un-politicised, their thoughts regarding the origin and purpose of their collaboration can be read after the jump, along with a selection of cartoons featuring: ruminations on growing older, dreams, romance, and the psychic art of wax-strip reading.

#38 by Anna BB

Friday, 2 April 2010

Best of Baltic Comics Magazine š! Issue 4 (2009)

š! #5, probably just as decipherable as a London transport map for getting about. 

This week, we've been hard at work on our quest to review the first 5 issues of Latvian comics anthology š!. So far, we've seen talking sanitary towels, earthquakes, elephants, pig-masks and love "struck" matches. Intrigued? Read onwards to see just what new tricks the magazine's editors had up their sleeves as we review the fourth edition of this fantastic collection. 

BALTIC COMICS MAGAZINE š! #4: Lost in the City (August 2009)

Cover by Paul Paetzel

Thursday, 1 April 2010

Best of Baltic Comics Magazine š! Issues 2 & 3 (2009)

Joined at the hip: Issues 2 & 3 of š!

It's childish, but I'd be lying if I said that the old reversible book format didn't appeal to me. There's something about the Siamese twin of print media that brings back fond memories of the double-sided digest-sized comics found in petrol stations across the country whilst I was growing up. Fitting then, that one of the themes of the bumper double-edition of of š! is "childhood".

Containing issues 2 and 3, strangely, readers will be happy to find not two but three themes represented in its chunky stapled frame: the first solely focuses on the old Latvian tradition of "Budēļi" (more on that later) and the second is dubbed "The Childhood Issue", although it also has a supplemental motif of "matches". This anomaly was due to a mix-up between the editors and the contributors, and the matches concept was not intended for publication. Spookily, the match-themed strips all cross over into intended theme, regardless. No harm, no foul.

BALTIC COMICS MAGAZINE š! #2: Budēļi (January 2009)

Cover by Anete Melece