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.

42: Wanted – Tom Christopher, 1983, Comix World

We tweeted: "Like a reverse cannabis PSA, this tale of Reagan-era soft-drug arrest makes the holding cell look FUN."

Ah, the great American melting pot at it's finest, people of all ethnic backgrounds come together in the holding cell to discuss the universal virtues of "dope and pussy... and cars".

Very much a product of its time, but still carrying relevance today, Tom Christopher delivers a comment on the ineffective and often senseless processes of the American judical system. Apathy and resignation (from all parties) is a central theme of this excellent mini comic that ends, quite literally, with a potty joke.

43: Masks – Bob X, 1983, XEX Graphix

We tweeted: "Heavy brushwork creates this tribute to tribal masks. Not a sequel to the famed @DarkHorseComics title!"

A fact that nobody reading this will care about in the slightest: I collect masks. All kinds: tribal, decorative, theatrical, religious, lucha etc. So, although the appeal of this 8-page black and white lo-fi mask collection may be lost on some, I can totally appreciate the content. Ranging from traditional to abstract, Bob X's thick black calligraphic brush-strokes have a Neolithic quality to them that celebrates the timeless human fascination with icons and identity. Either that, or he was really bored that day.

44: Oblique – Bob X, 1984, XEX Graphix

We tweeted: "Before Flikr, there was Oblique - a collection of doodles sent out into the world for fun's sake!"

As stated in the tweet, this mini acts as a reminder of the essential nature of the Newave  comics movement at the time of its inception. With no guarentee of gainful illustration employment and no fancy-pants free distribution networks like the internet in existance yet (not ubiquitously, anyway), the desire to create and publish work of any kind was strictly a DIY affair. They may not tell a story, or even be that pretty, but Bob X's mini-comic package of doodles operates as a visual synecdoche of the whole "underground comix" phenomenon in general.

45: Dada Gumbo #7 – Dale Luciano, Steve Willis, Meher Dada, Brad Foster, Par Holman, Steve Lafler, Jim Ryan, John E., Norman Dog, The Pizz, Jamie Alder, Michael Dowers, J.R. Williams, XNO, Michael Roden, Bob X, 1985, Dada Gumbo Press

We tweeted: "Some self-reflection on the "experimental virtue" of the Newave scene. Also, a penis-missile."

Appropriately following on from Oblique, the irreverent style of many mini-comics is brought into question as Dr. Sax lampoons the low-fi "for art's sake" approach with a strip that takes place entirely in the dark. When the highly artistic speech bubble A is confronted with speech bubble B's objections that "so-called 'experiments' are just a way to avoid the rigor of serious drawing", it all ends in unseen bloodshed.

The moral of the story: never criticise an artist's work directly. Do it at home, behind the protective veneer of comics blogging, duh.

46: Greetings From Kokonino – George Erling, 1981, Stray Kat Studios

We tweeted: "Postcards show Kokonino as a serene, scenic place with, most importantly, no people!"

George Erling pays tribute to the home of Krazy Kat, with a scenic postcard pictorial. of Kokonino Kounty Detached from Herrimen's characters, Erling allows the setting of Krazy's strips to appear just as iconic as the creatures within them. It's a truely genuine love letter from a fan, and, as such,  delightful references to the original strips are abound. My favorite image was the Kelly's Brickworks "Commemorative Postcard", celebrating their millionth brick produced. Say what you like about Ignatz, he's definitely always been a supporter of local industry.

47: The Dead Girl – Mary Fleener, William Clark, 1988, Lies They Tell Publications

We tweeted: "Mary Fleener illustrates this melancholic tale of a man who is unable to reciprocate a ghost's love."

Originally priced at a measly fifty cents, Mary Fleener and William Clark's gloomy sixteen page story is one of the highlights of the entire Newave collection. Inspired by a photo taken by Vera Ouckama Knoop, it reads like an illustrated poem, with Clark's words acting as a distant narrative voice to contextualize Fleener's images. On second thoughts, "poem" isn't a fair comparison; the comic is more akin to an unpretentious yet effective pop song, something short that leaves its audience with a general feeling rather than a specific meaning. All in all, it's an excellent use of the truncated format, and comes highly recommended.

48: They Were In Love – Mary Fleener, John E., 1986, Lies They Tell Publications

We tweeted: "Insanity of love causes a couple to swap all their organs. Model donors here. NHS take note!"

Due to the size of the format, it's very hard not to "spoil" a mini-comic when reviewing it. Pretty much revealing the puchline outright in the tweet, I can honestly say that it's the journey, not the destination that appeals so much about this mini. Pretty much created in the same mature style as  The Dead Girl, it's just as fantastic (perhaps even a little more so.)

49: Mondo M. – Meher Dada (Dale Lee Coovert), 1985, The Dale Lee Planet

We tweeted: "A tale of apathy from Meher Dada. Features a crucifix on a a piece of toast: Holy breakfast, Batman!"

There isn't a lot to say about the narrative of this mini comic, only that I suspect that its creation lies to facilitate Coovert's stylistic cartoon caricatures. Most of them remind me of  Marvel's Mole Man, for some reason. That's not a bad thing, though; I bleedin' love Mole Man.

50: Glop – XNO, 1986, XNO Productions, XEX Graphix

We tweeted: "XNO in great form with classic movie monsters & a night of evangelic TV with the Bizarros. Am good!"

As well as being responsible for the anthology's cover image, XNO's art also book-ends the Newave tome with a print taken from this fantastic, slick-yet-rough cartoon art. Very much part of the school of low-brow stylists that came after Big Daddy Roth, there's a frenzied gooiness to XNO's characters that's complimented by great eye for composition and "the big picture". Someone publish a retrospective art book, stat!

Fifty entries down, 271 pages to go! More than just a collection of mini-comics, Newave! features interviews and insightful commentary from some of the creators as well as the lovingly-reproduced source material. Available pretty much everywhere now, the collection costs around $24.99 (US) and looks great no matter where you put it.


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