History Repeating Itself — As Something Entirely New : Thomas Lampion’s “The Burning Hotels”

Ryan C.'s Four Color Apocalypse

After cutting his teeth on a number of impressive self-published minis in recent years, it was only a matter of time until Thomas Lampion made his full-length graphic novel debut, and with the recent Birdcage Bottom Books publication of The Burning Hotels, that moment has arrived — or maybe it was already here? I mean, yeah, we know that “time is a flat circle” and all that, but even still — synchronicities and repeating patterns throughout history usually don’t figure as prominently as they do here in comics unless they’re written by a certain bearded fellow named Moore.

Yes, this books is a memoir, but it’s a highly inventive memoir, Lynchian in both its structure and imagery, firmly grounded (both in the past and the present) yet nevertheless hallucinatory and even a touch phantasmagoric. It’s unique, that’s for sure — and effectively so, at that. It’s also strangely affecting…

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The Good — And Bad — Old Days : Steve Lafler’s “1956 : Sweet Sweet Little Ramona”

Ryan C.'s Four Color Apocalypse

Heralding itself as the first chapter in a multi-part saga, Steve Lafler’s slender new book 1956 : Sweet Sweet Little Ramona — self-published under the cartoonist’s own venerable Cat-Head Comics imprint — is, at first glance, the retail world’s answer to Mad Men (and I say that fairly confidently in spite of being someone who’s never seen probably more than a few minutes of Mad Men — and in passing, at that), but if there’s one thing Lafler’s proven over his long career, it’s that he knows how to subvert expectations even while working within fairly well-defined genre confines. Sure, this being but an opening salvo and all it’s impossible to say whether the same will prove to be true here in the long run, but in the early going? All signs sure seem to point in that direction.

So, yeah, it’s 1956, and a gaggle of department store buyers…

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All Good Things Must Come To An End : November Garcia’s “Malarkey” #5

Ryan C.'s Four Color Apocalypse

I guess maybe it’s a bit grandiose to call Birdcage Bottom’s release of the fifth and final issue of November Garcia’s Malarkey the end of an era, but fuck it : for the past five years this book has been a staple of my comics-reading life, and I have something of a personal “trajectory” with the title, as well, going from enthusiastic fan to gushing critic to friend of the cartoonist to someone’s who’s consistently thanked in the book’s credits and whose “pill quotes” are regularly featured on its back covers and related promotional internet blurbs. I ain’t no neutral observer or anything of the sort — not that critics ever are, it rather flies in the face of the job description. Still, it’s fair to say that I have a personal interest in Malarkey‘s success, there’s no doubt about it — this comic really is my equivalent…

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