Not a very shopbound week this week, so mostly library fodder. Go to the library: as we’ll see, they have some amazing free comics there.

On the shopfront though, there was…

NIX48The Phoenix #48 by Various, David Fickling Comics

There was the mighty ‘Nix, highlight being a particularly dynamic Troy Trailblazer episode.

TT‘s masterfulmind Robert Deas is ploughing quite a unique furrow among the burning feathery pages of the galaxy’s finest, with a heavy emphasis on pure visual dynamism, a pure propellant narrative language that contrasts beautifully with the sight gags and wordplay that it shares paper with. Some episodes are over in seconds but you never feel like you’ve been short-changed. Jessica Jetrider (not Jennie, as I mistakenly had it last week) kicks ass, and when I say that, I mean she really does kick someone’s ass.

In Pilotwatch this week, he’s forced to have a shower: the sheer mortification across every strand of fur is a treat. The next panel has him all bedraggled and stripped of dignity like cats get when they’re caught in the rain or fall in the toilet. And that’s it for Pilotwatch this week. Come back for more next week – if he hasn’t been turned into a flan by the Nano-Chefs in the interim.

FRAAAFury MAX My War Gone By #7 by Garth Ennis & Goran Parlov, Marvel Comics

Frank!

Frank!

FRANK!

FRAAANK!

FRAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA

 

Reading Fury MAX this week was handy because it minded me of the previous issue – that would be #6. Its depiction of the sexy evil Cuban baddie forms an I think quite necessary supplement absent from this, one of the ones what I got from the library:

VIVA

Che: A Graphic Biography by Spain Rodriguez, Verso Books

It’s pretty wonderful in its own way of course – calmly historical, with no more romance and bias than you should have in a biography of one of the Twentieth Century’s genuine secular saints, but with a definite and surprising libidinal lack. Its subject’s subjectivity, the internal pressures that turned the comfortable medical student into the world’s most potent avatar of revolutionary justice, go unexplained.

Enter Ennis and Parlov’s proud revolutionary soldier: vanity, triumphalism, the military addiction to violence and self-erasure – as essential to the revolutionary firebrand as Fury’s imperialist pig.

Presumably to Rodriguez – quite the righteous dude himself by all accounts – the imperative of resistance didn’t need explaining. His pencil softens the leonine warrior, the world-famous Korda portrait Guevara (and its post-mortem proliferation, surely a perfect topic for a book like this, is relegated to a dry afterword) into a soulful, rounded cherub.  The noise and the fire are gone – we get just the facts, not the legend, when in this, as in so few genuine cases, the legend is the reality. I was hoping more for Trashman in a beret.

NIX48Lint by Chris Ware, Drawn & Quarterly

Where everything in the universe entire is dots in circles, and dots in circles are horrorfying because…?

‘Lint’ is an American wording meaning, roughly, ‘fluff’. As in, ‘there was nothing in his pockets but knives and fluff’. As a title for a clothbound hardback study (gots to milk that commodity fetish) in the vanishing banality of Evil, it immediately embeds itself in such a pit of irony that it indicates all too clearly how unfair it’s going to play with the reader: just what kind of hoopsa boyaboys it’s going to ask you to jump through. In brief, Mister Lint is a shudderingly loathsome individual, as thorough a rendering – cradle to grave – of such as the medium (running at approx 50% villainy at the best of times) has yet to achieve. This is effectively the sole point (within a circle) the book makes. It does so with as many a literary and theoretical a nod as you would need to be convinced that Evil is real and it teased you at school, and if it makes you feel any better (no to that, btw)  Evil is unhappy too, and such a coward it has probably repressed the memory of all those children it raped. It won’t even admit how Evil it is.

But fluff is easily blown away,  and was too inconsequential a thing to begin with – it didn’t even care that it was killing you, and itself, from the inside. It was just traveling on currents too big and chaotic and very, very terrifying to even know what kind of damage it could do. Except, these currents aren’t potty training related, or abuse-abandonment linked, or coherent in any of the ways them thinker mans have tried to establish. The only currents at work here are those invented, arbitrarily, reasonlessly, as vengeance against the bully perhaps, by the author of the piece.*  He picks and chooses the Evil at work as befits his meticulous scheme. Gestures towards reality remain exactly that – gestures, intricate and dazzling and formalistic to the WOW, to be sure: but shapes drawn on the air all the same. It’s not a description of Evil – it’s just a fiction: There’s nothing about the world to be learnt here, though it’s trying really hard to make you think otherwise.

(*This is a good lesson for life, that this book won’t give you: man made things are man made, and can be unmade. Anyone who tells you ‘it’s too big and chaotic to work out’, or ‘that’s unrealistic’, or ‘that’s not how things are’, just doesn’t want you to try. Lint cops out with ‘Evil’s just Evil, don’t trouble with the why – analysis is fraud…’. I can’t afford to live like that.)

NIX48The Hive, by Charles Burns, Jonathan Cape

Much better than the last issue. That one was an autopilot greatest hits set, or one of those meticulous live replays of the classic album beginning to end, even the shit tracks you skipped, where you realise all the influences that made them what they were, that you tracked down in the interim, 80s Cronenburroughs  plus Herge for that Nazi frisson in this case, were yep a lot better actually than the pasticheur. Except for Tintin, fucking always, always boring.

While Lint and Ware mine Freudism for an effective touch of authenticity and sheer screaming development horror, early on before abandoning the conclusions you might be forced to reach if you were brave enough to take these things seriously, with The Hive Burns hips himself up a bit by taking that psychoanalysis schtick on a generation or two, adopting Jock Lacan’s Real-Imaginary-Symbolic triad. On Tuesday night, in the midnight time, much addled after watching Japan’s premier doomgaze band, Troll#1 and I couldn’t for the life of us work out what level lined up with what… Doug and Sarah, they’re Real, right? But comics, comics, though Imaginoid, are more real than the people in them, god knows, so the comics, (still not clear whether that means The Hive I hold in my hand or those insanely wonderful, naughty, lush Swan-looking romance things Doug and Sarah like reading) maybe they’re The Real? And the lizard affect-factory that they toil in, that’s kind of everything right there too, but that’s got to be Symbolic right?

It’s a crazy mixed up world. We well couldn’t work it out. Help in the comments section please, even if it’s help of the ‘I hate you because you’re idiot’ variety.

NIX48Bardin The Superrealist by Max, Fantagraphics

This was rather wonderful too in its way, warm as cognac and the Catalan summer, thick clear lines a reassuring sense of structure and boundary on the journey inwards… Charming and smooth then, but somehow altogether too elegant and poised to convince as dream gnosis.

It looks real good in those off-the-peg Dali-worship rags, and cosily codifies the baroque Tibetan iconography so beloved of the Andalusian dog-botherers into pocket-sized impieties that you’d be happy to carry around, but it doesn’t ever threaten to go far or wild enough beyond the hand me down cultural structures already available to reach a state of divine madness itself.

It’s not the kind of book you want to criticise, but the sweetly sozzled states it describes just aren’t quite paranoid enough, so maybe doing so would help.

 

NIX48Glitz-2-Go by Diane Noomin, Fantagraphics

The word I keep wanting to use is ‘retchro’. This is stuffed with – or, sort wants to give you the impression that it is stuffed with, when in fact much more of its strength comes from simple touches like the way the characters talk to each other in such casually abrasive, finely heard cadences, and kind of open up so the barrier between the reader, the character on the page, and the life behind the inky figures there collapses so you feel as if you are part of the family, long and wearily acquainted with those friends of Noomin who she’s granted through the sharp magic of her line this extra dimension of on-page existence… You already know them, know what they’re going to say before they do. It’s a rich and soft book, for such a sharp and sassy purple little package.

Where was I yes stuffed with that spikey gogo exotica beach blanket early 60s through a mid-seventies filter, draggy, druggy, bad girl bad taste John Waters surf vibe, like a Cramps song or something…

It’s not like that at all, but if that helps cool it up a little, then fine.

I haven’t finished this one yet, so can’t reasonably write much more about it, in fact I’ve probably already said far too much, and wrong at that. I think I’m going to review a book I haven’t read Every! Week!

Come back!

11 Responses to “Comicbook reviews on the internet”

  1. Ales Kot Says:

    Disagree with your analysis of LINT. “Evil’s just evil” is not what I got from it – what I got was “Evil’s just human, so try to see the human being behind every shitty act, because that might be the only way anything can ever get better. Listen and pay more attention.”

    That’s what I got from LINT.

    (I mean, that’s just one thing I got from it, there’s more but I have another interview to answer and I feel like crap because I’m sick…)

  2. The Beast Must Die Says:

    I think Lint is the best thing Ware’s ever done.

  3. bobsy Says:

    Well fair enough (not pleased with how I phrased that section quite honestly, and I don’t think I’m going to be able to put it any better) but, forgive me, ‘Evil’s just human’ … is a bit trite, ignores the reality of external structures and pressures, excuses both author and reader from having to make a thoroughgoing analysis of why bad things might be done by people? By being SUE EEEVIL even so late into life (a cliched redemption narrative *would have been more realistic*), by focusing on the birth and death of the subject and limiting the horizon of BADD THINGG to the existence of his consciousness alone, by making it ALL LINT’S FAULT… it actually … I dunno, I kind of felt the book said ‘your mum dying’s no excuse’ when, actually, it is? But, that even saying that, people whose parents die young *don’t* turn Evil, and hence… the only thing that can actually be as evil as Lint is a made up thing in a comicbook? An artificial and unhelpful framework to attempt to infer a real-life etiology of Evil from?

    …see I told you I wouldn’t be able to express it any better…

  4. bobsy Says:

    Beast – yeah, I mean it made me think, which is always good, and formally stunning of course, lots of keen observation etc. … but it’s like when certain elements of it are so hot, and others fail to match up to that, the project as a whole is kind of failure? The flaws and omissions become more important than the successes and achievements?*

    It’s like, if Joyce didn’t have the understanding of interpersonal dynamics : to match the level of formal skill : to match the ethical clearsight … he wouldn’t be the genius he is?

    *If i had a ‘project’ that ‘failed’ like Lint does I’d be laughing, obvs

  5. The Beast Must Die Says:

    Ha, yeah with Ware some criticisms seem churlish in the face of such formal awesomness.

    The thing I found so powerful about Lint is the depiction of the damage a person can reak, without ever truly being aware of it. And the tiny, but persuasive lies we tell ourselves every day to cover up our selfishness and cruelty. Yet I didn’t find it a totally damning judgement. Lint was a different kind of character than Ware’s usual brand of emotionally scorched turbo-loser. Yes, the book is a portrait of a monster, and the final revelation of that is one of Ware’s most devastating narrative sucker-punches, but it’s also a picture of a life fully lived for better or worse. The idea that you might get to the end and be none the wiser is a bleak one, for sure, but in some ways it’s a forgiving view.

    I dunno, I certainly don’t think your reading is wrong, but I found it to be a totally devastating and incredible read, in a way that I don’t always get from Ware.

  6. Ales Kot Says:

    Yeah, and I see the idea of showing a story where the protagonist doesn’t get better because he’s oblivious to his own faults as one that’s worth showing.

    I mean, that kind of a story can rewire you. It can turn you.

  7. bobsy Says:

    I may have worked out whither the dot-in-a-cirlce motif, and how evil ’tis, with specific relevance to the story of Mr Lint

    http://faculty.weber.edu/tlday/human.development/ecological.htm

  8. Ales Kot Says:

    Holy shit, that fits perfectly.

  9. Ken Quichey Says:

    Which individual went to the trouble of deleting my comment?
    You made things better did you?

  10. bobsy Says:

    I could do it all day…

  11. Ken Quichey Says:

    “Help in the comments section please, even if it’s help of the ‘I hate you because you’re idiot’ variety.”

    Sure.

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