Welcome to another episode of FPI’s completely original concept of Desert Island Comics (definitely not borrowing anything from Roy Plomley at all, oh no), where comikers choose 8 comics and a single luxury that they’d want to see on some imagined desert island, should they be shipwrecked and marooned one day…
It’s a simple idea; pick a historical figure and write about the. Which might have proved a little dull for children, except Murphy had the genius twist of turning it into a ghoulish night-time raid on the graveyard, digging up and interviewing famous figures from the past. It’s now a staple of The Phoenix Comic, appearing weekly and having some very, very famous guests…. and as you can hopefully see in that last strip here on Boudicca, a great sense of comedy timing;
Murphy’s Corpse Talk strips are available to preview at his website, along with samples from a few of the other Strips from The Phoenix, previous work for the DFC, and some slightly more adult works. His website also features his (near) daily comic he’s been creating since late 2009. That’s 4-panels a day, with very few breaks that I could see. What’s more it’s really good. Starts very rough and ready and hit-and-miss but after a few months hits a rhythm, and we’re in something akin to Kolchalka mode, 4-panels capturing a moment, emphasis on the funny, but a fair bit of sweet and a little thoughtful. All in all well worth investigating. Here’s a recent strip, but I think I’ll put up some more soon….
Right, enough prelude, time to get into the whole desert idland comics thing of this desert island comics thing. So here we go, without further ado….
Desert Island Comics – Episode 44 – Adam Murphy
More than any other, this feels like the comic that was written for me. In fact, if I were allowed to choose just one comic, this would probably be it. A high-concept sci-fi romp through the religions and belief systems of the former Soviet Empire. Sort of like Jodorowsky but really fun and really alive, instead of being sterile, over-thought bullshit.
“The delight of my spirit has defeated my desire to live!” “Black worms… inside of me! Each of them is me!” Glory to Allah. Good and merciful. He led my heart.” “I am your immortal soul. We are one.” No other comic book has shaped my thinking and furnished me so many of the maxims and images that define my internal life.
(It looks like it’s being re-released as “Jihad” which seems like a step down to me, title-wise, but it looks like it’ll be a nice edition…)
Speaking of comics being alive, no-one epitomises this quite like Sfar. In fact you can even see it in his own work where he gets off track the life sort of drops out of it, like the last bit of Vampire Loves. But you can’t help forgive him for it, the living bits are so vibrantly, gloriously alive.
Klezmer seems to embody this even more than his other work, the drawing particularly is so loose, so unconcerned with polish or perfection or anything other than soaring creation. Now somebody hurry up and translate the next volume – I’ve been waiting years!
The Cowboy Wally Show by Kyle Baker
So smart. So insightful. So jaw-droppingly well drawn. But most of all, so excruciatingly, side-splittingly, no-really-I-think-I-actually-just-pulled-something funny. I wondered if it would be a bad choice for the desert island – I’ve read it so often will I still laugh at the jokes – but I’m actually laughing now just thinking about it. Solid gold.
Have to have some Tezuka with me, and this is probably my favourite of his. Also nice and long which seems like a good desert island choice. For me, the big thing about Tezuka is his great compassion. He gets so angry about the endemic injustices in society, but he always works to humanise his bad guys. They may be hurting others through abuse of power, but there’s some compelling, personal logic that’s led them to it, and allows us to empathise with them. These themes are at play throughout his work, but in the life of Buddha he seems to have found the most perfect marriage of creator and subject matter.
Hajime No Ippo by Morikawa Jyoji
I don’t know – I’m still in the middle of reading this one, so maybe it has too much prominence in my mind at the moment. It’s one of these insanely long Japanese sagas, and as such it really starts to flag in the middle, particularly with the introduction of an utterly awful “cocky-new kid” character (God I hate that guy). But there’s something really compelling about it – I’m still reading after all.
Ostensibly it’s a boxing manga with all the usual Shonen tropes, clumsy melodrama and without any literary pretensions whatsoever. Which I think is why I like it so much – it is at heart profoundly sincere, passionate and respectful, about boxing but but also about the process of becoming a man. It’s superbly well done – superb dramatic builds and reveals, incredible kinetic boxing sequences, surprisingly deep, engaging characters. Technical issues and tactics are explained brilliantly within the action, making them part of the drama.
And most of all, it’s funny – certainly comparable with Cowboy Wally if not even more so. I’ve had times when I had to struggle to stay on the chair I was laughing so hard. And at well over 100 books, it should keep me going for a while (although it’s shamefully not available in english, except as scanlations of varying quality. Maybe I could get printouts…)
Another massive one – these should keep me going until I get rescued… James Kochalka has been such a huge influence. Most obviously, in my own 4-panel daily diary comic, but also in his example of passionate, aware, committed living, which the comic embodied. Rather than waiting for and dreaming about some imaginary future life where everything is exciting and wonderful, pay attention NOW! Things are exciting and wonderful NOW! It’s a fucking roller-coaster ride just being alive, with every moment charged with numinous meaning and God-knows-what waiting around the next bend. Let’s live it!
Cowa by Akira Toriyama
This comic I stumbled upon by accident, on the internet, at work, and almost immediately gave up any pretence of even trying to look like I was working. I read the whole thing in its entirety jaw hanging around my navel, and then locked myself in the bathroom and cried for about half an hour because it’s SO FUCKING GOOD WHAT AM I EVEN DOING!? I SHOULD JUST GIVE UP NOW NO! NO! KEEP WORKING! I HAVE ONLY MY POOR HUMAN BROKENNESS ETC ETC which is kind of a messed-up reaction to what is essentially a really fun, dumb adventure about a little boy who goes on an adventure. But it’s just so great – so warm, so funny, so elegant – a master at the absolute peak of his game.
Forming by Jesse Moynihan
I’ve been struggling with this last one a bit – we’re now into comics that I like, I mean really, really like, but is that the one to be stuck on a desert island with? Like this is your only reading material forever, potentially. Can I assume I get the usual Bible and Works of Shakespeare? Anyway, I’ve gone for Forming, especially if I can get the upcoming books included in the package. A bit like The Horde, it’s high-concept scifi but merged with new-age mythology and stoner insult-humour. Just so bizarre and delightful – it feels not so much like the characters are alive but rather you get a sense of Jesse himself wrestling with his creative process and spewing out this bizarre mix of his formative influences.
That’s an easy one. The light of my life, my inspiration, my muse, my constant source of delight, my best friend; my wife.
That’s probably cheating isn’t it?
Sadly, it is cheating, and even the inclusion of a great image wont let Adam get away with it, so……
The only second-best alternative would be a lifetime supply of pens and sketchbooks, which I’m sure lots of people say, but drawing has done so much for me in terms of growing up and coming alive, and staying (relatively) sane, that I think it would be an essential survival tool.