100th post! It’s come round pretty quickly. For me, at least…
Fortnightly round-up of odds and ends I’ve been looking at:
Yuri by David Biskup: Yuri is a wordless comic, set around the upcoming show of celebrated singer Yuri Valentine in Moynaq, much to the excitement of its residents. Ladies get their hair done in preparation, the town hall begins to spruce itself up in anticipation, as Yuri sets sail on a boat due to his fear of flying. To reach Moynaq, though, he must first cross the Aral Sea, which has been steadily diminishing due to the rivers having been diverted by the Soviets for irrigation projects. To state the blindingly obvious, wordless comics rely solely on the art to convey the story and Biskup’s illustrations are more than up to the responsibility: expressive and humorous, his use of colours and shapes keeping things animated and lively while the imaginative page layouts and panel sequences never allow the reader to feel bored. You may be sick of me saying this, but this is a beautiful book, and you should get it if you can.
7 Days in Berlin by Neil Slorance, Good Press Gallery: Everybody loves discovering new people to look out for don’t they? I’m glad I came across Neil Slorance’s work- it’s simple and heart-warming and contains that all-important ingredient: self-depreciation. This is a travelogue/diary of Slorance’s visit to Berlin. Often I find with auto-bio/diary comics that the instinct over what to include/exclude can be difficult to get a feel for, perhaps because the subject is so close to the material. Slorance overcomes this by not attempting to give a full account of everything that occurred, instead including only things of interest, or making the things he does want to include funny and absorbing, which is a good knack to have. There’s room for improvement certainly, but giant tortoises, cool abandoned theme parks ensure a lovely time was had by all.
Nothing Special by Paccolli, Good Press Gallery: The first two thirds of Nothing Special is a song zine which seems easy to do, but when you think about how tricky it must be to write a song that’s meant to be read only in someone’s head and yet still manages to get a tune going in said noggin, you appreciate the artistry at work on another level. It’s a bit of a pastiche, but it works perfectly. Fun and lighthearted, topped off with Pacolli’s unique brand of cartoon/graffiti/tattoo illustrations.
Longboy by Philippa Rice: Longboys are a docile, gentle creatures who are culled for their beautiful patterned skin. You may have seen some of their knitted iterations on Rice’s blog. I really like the way Rice inverts the tone and expectations here. As the story opens and the two men venture into the fields full of longboys, there’s an ominous feel, a sense of tension as one of the men tries to calm his nervous friend down. His repeated platitudes about the longboy’s nonthreatening nature makes you sure something bad will happen to prove him wrong, but they gather up the creatures up without event. Then the longboy’s are taken home and the culling begins… The narrative relies, to some extent, to the reader feeling for these creatures, although I personally found the longboys pretty creepy- they’re supposed to be all fluffy and woolly, but they remind me too much of giant slimy worms, with their completely submissive and inert nature appearing sinister. Definitely one worth picking up.
Nomads by Lizzy Stewart: Nomads is a reminiscing of teenage years, as the narrator recalls how she and her friends would wander around after school looking for things to do. Nothing much happens, which may well be the point, but it’s too slight to engage or interest and even Stewart’s usually excellent illustrations seem limp.
Rainbow of Pain by Ernests Kļaviņš and Andrejs Kļaviņš, Kus! Komikss: I loved this, which was rather unexpected, as the overly-exaggerated gross-out art style isn’t one that appeals to me. Rainbow of Pain is about the expectations and measures we place on ourselves, but it’s also very, very funny and a bit random. A rubbish diver aspires to be the best and so, after yet another poor showing at a competition, when he’s approached by a Hitler-esqe (I mentioned random, yes?) diving coach with steroids and other dubious performance enhancing pills, he takes them desperate to prove himself. The results are unexpected, to say the least. The LCD trippy colour palette is suitably fitting and the whole thing is just very entertaining. Great little comic.
The Flames by Akvilė Misevičiūtė: The Flames is an odd sort of tale. A girl and her boyfriend go to visit her grandma in the woods to find the area is being taken over by building and construction. I didn’t mind the strange turn it took in the summoning of talking tigers to help overcome the evil of the industrial conglomerate (an allegory perhaps, of the way people have to be when coming up against such organisations) , but the happy ending (and I am very fond of happy endings) was too pat. Lovely illustrations, though.
Little Wolves by James Hindle, One Percent Press: Oh, this is really superb, and honestly for $3, and into what looks like it’s final printing, there really is no way you can go wrong owning this. Many a book has been written on the mires of creativity and success and creativity and oblivion and the not so many differences between the two, how they affect you as a person, how they affect those around you, especially if they too have similar dreams but with different results. Cecil Berry is the successful author/illustrator of a series of books centred around his character of Percy the Wolf. He longs to branch out in a different direction, but is scared of actually doing so: Percy has become both a comfort and an albatross. Instead, he plays out these fears in other ways, see-sawing between avoidance and what he thinks he should be doing. Hindle explores the old idea of the creative being a slave to his creation, the cliches of the ’artistic’ mind, the apparent choice between success and the creative ideal and more, in a way that’s at once familiar and new. The best thing is that his ideas never overwhelm the story but exist organically within it. Brilliant. Get it.