The fortnight seems to come around pretty quickly, no? Time to peruse some of the odds and ends I’ve been looking at recently:
Blur King by Drewscape: If you cast your mind back a few weeks, you’ll remember Drewscape’s name as the author of Monsters, Miracles and Mayonnaise from our feature on Singaporean comics. This is a collection of his earlier strips, semi-autobiographical in nature, in which he aims to capture the unique perspectives of childhood. In his foreword, Drewscape (aka Andrew Tan) refers to his rough, early drawing style, but I think it sits nicely with the unpolished, naive subject matter. Funny and sweet, kids will really love this- the slight disgustingness and the tribulations of food and PE- great little size too.
Ploc by Alain Gree: Ploc is simply fantastic. If you had given me it a few years ago I would have dismissively harrumphed at the obviousness of a kid’s magazine with retro art, but now I’m simply rather charmed by it (old! I’m getting old!). It helps that it’s actually very good, with a ton of information attractively presented and lots of engrossing activities, colouring in fun, things to cut out and make, things to draw, puzzles to solve, models to make. Each issue is also themed- this one has a ‘on the farm’ topic with animals and food galore, and there’s a narrative running all the way through. Gree was popular in the 70′s and 80′s for his children’s books (amongst other things) and his work is currently experiencing a resurgence, thanks to the Japanese taking an interest and buying the license for his art. It looks to be a fruitful partnership. I bought this for myself but read it with my 3 year old nephew and he loved it too; I think you’d be hard-pressed to find a child who didn’t find something to like here.
Simple Stuff #1 by Emily Churco, One Percent Press: simple in title, simple in execution- Churco collects together comics, illustration and photography in this fab little zine. Her strips are very well drawn, but far too small in size to appreciate properly. To give you an idea of scale, the page above is larger than the actual thing, and some pages have 30 panels on a 6″ by 5″ space- it’s a shame because the material is so obviously good. I like how Churco uses a real-life happening and photo documentation- like the mystery of not being able to find any lemon pepper at the grocery store despite her friends sending pictures of fully stocked shelves only the day before, as a push-off point to create something related but imaginary.
Betsy by Sophie Goldstein: I bought a few of Sophie Goldstein’s comics from her Etsy shop and they’re deceptively cute looking, her stories are set in the same alien world inhabited by fluffy and blobby beings. Despite appearances, they’re swiftly and quietly heartbreaking. Betsy sees a world where women donate their wombs to science in efforts to breed a new expendable generation of space explorers. The creatures that are created from these experiments are then trained up, with rapid decisions being made regarding their development and whether they make the cut or not. Science fiction always lends itself to certain questions well- what it means to be human being the most prominent one and Goldstein deftly explores some of the many shades of that question in her comics. Click through to her Etsy if you have a few bob- I don’t think you’ll regret it.
January by Eleni Kalorkoti, Colours May Vary: Andy handed me this little zine of Eleni Kalorkoti’s art when I went down to the Felt Mistress event at his shop. Kalakorti uses a sort of art deco geometry, managing to soften it with tea stained and smoky hues. Some nice images in here, although not to my aesthetic, but the double page-spread of heads floating in a black background left an impression.
Pope Hats #1 by Ethan Rilly: A few years late catching up with this, but I’ve rounded up the 3 issues of Pope Hats and read the first,. It starts innocuously enough: 2 girls who live together going out for a drink with friends and then about 8 pages in, a ghost pops up and it’s the most normal thing in the world- things are not disrupted, things are the same but plus ghost. Sometimes you don’t recognise that a lot of what you’ve been reading is pretty good or average until you read something really good. Reading Pope Hats after all the positive acclaim it’s had you can see why- it’s instantly realised: the dialogue, the characters, the ambiance, the tone -all fully formed and pulling you in. If, like me, this is one of those comics you’ve been thinking of getting around to, do it- it’s brilliant.
Pyytajat (The Trophy Hunters) by Jaakko Pallasvuo, Good Press Gallery: In this Finnish comic, a man returns home for the funeral of his brother, whose body has only recently been discovered after he went missing two years ago. Prior to the wake he goes to visit his niece and the two talk about their dead relative and the ways of life in general. The sticking point here is the text is in Finnish, with translations for the whole page provided at the bottom of said page. I read another translated book which sued a similar technique, retaining its original language, but with the English text written under each respective panel and while fiddly sounding, it worked. This doesn’t, because you either take in the whole page first, then read the words and try to match up what’s happening in each panel, leading to the flow being constantly disrupted. I still liked it though; it has a strange, ambient quality to it that contributes to the mood and feel of the whole thing and I imagine it’s a very strong work to read in Finnish.