Sunday, January 14, 2007


First things first: I was remiss Friday in not updating this blog/feed to note that I posted a brand new review over at the main site. Dynamite Entertainment has rescued Tim Truman’s 80s classic SCOUT and you should seriously check it out. Go. I’ll wait.

Okay. Welcome back. The first Blog Extra of the year covers a new crop of goodies from the fine folks at Fantagraphics. Jumping in…

THE COMICS JOURNAL #279 is the usual terrific package of materials, and more than usual it demonstrates why the JOURNAL both impresses and infuriates. What impresses? Amazing articles like Trina Robbins’ interview with World War Two era artist Lily Renee and the presentation of a number of her comics. Renee’s work is a delight, and the reminder that women filled in on the cartoonist front as well as in the factories is a good one. The issue also contains a number of excellent reviews, none better than Noah Berlatsky’s evisceration of Jeffrey Brown’s EVERY GIRL IS THE END OF THE WORLD FOR ME (“Brown doesn’t work around or within his limitations. Instead, he just let’s them sit there proudly, like a 3-year old who’s taken a dump and wants to show you the turds.”) The infuriation comes from the feature interview with Johnny Ryan, the only cartoonist working today who is possibly less talented and compelling than Jeffrey Brown (and oddly enough, it’s conducted by Berlatsky). His comics have nothing interesting to say, and the interview verifies that neither does the man. Impressive or not, the JOURNAL is always worth your time and cash.

Gilbert Hernandez writes and draws NEW TALES OF OLD PALOMAR #1, which takes his HEARTBREAK SOUP settings and characters and moves them into the oversized “Ignatz” format. The story picks up as the town is beset by food thieves who are running so fast that no one can catch them. But eventually Pipo is put on the chase and cracks the mystery. Long time fans of Beto’s work will be delighted to see new work set in the era where Luba and Pipo are still young and life hasn’t begun dragging them down as it does down the road. New readers will be easily able to figure out who the people are and their relationships to one another, thanks to the simple introductions and Hernandez’ use of body language and facial expressions to convey emotion and meaning. And much like the hardcover did for PALOMAR, the larger format really allows the art (shading and detail) to breathe. Instantly my favorite book in the line.

Also new in the Ignatz line is DELPHINE #1, written and drawn by Richard Sala. My previous attempts to get into Sala’s work have come up flat; something about his attempts to balance horror with whimsy not clicking. But DELPHINE is a full turn away from how I felt about those earlier efforts; basically, a young man travels to a remote town to visit the girl he loves, but thanks to strange citizenry and bizarre circumstances, he finds himself in mortal danger. The book is played as SNOW WHITE told from the Prince’s side, and as a clear horror tale (no whimsy allowed). Sala’s art is dark and moody, and atmosphere drips from every panel, and his script is very strong in making the townsfolk just real enough to prevent them from becoming caricatures. I was immediately drawn to the boy’s plight, and the flashback that sets up his relationship with the girl is executed perfectly. Very good effort.

Completing this round of the Ignatz releases is INTERIORAE #2, written and drawn by Gabriella Giandelli. Issue one followed a strange, spectral white rabbit as it observed the inhabitants of a European apartment building and reported on their behavior to a dark force living in the bottom of the building (which could be interpreted as being anything from a demon to the building itself). Issue two is more of the same, as the rabbit follows the sex lives of a couple of the women in the building, as well as the hallucinations of an older female resident. Hearts break, metaphysical moments occur… pretty much your standard day leading up to Christmas. But the real heart of the story creeps in at the final moments when the darkness dweller begins offering up a hint as to its true feelings and intentions to those who live above, and it positively chills the reader. INTERIORAE delivers a solid reading experience and retains the potential to break out into something special.

That’s it for this week. Be here through the week as I (attempt to offer, I swear) main site updates, as well as back here on the weekends for more future editions of the Blog Extra!


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