Weekly Reading Round-Up : 07/07/2019 – 07/13/2019

Ryan C.'s Four Color Apocalypse

Another week, another mess of first issues — even if one of ’em is from last week. What can I say? My LCS got shorted on the title in question and so I didn’t get a copy until this past Wednesday. But we’ll get to that in due course. First we’ve got —

Second Coming #1, by Mark Russell and Richard Pace, was originally slated to be a Vertigo title until the suits at DC got cold feet, and I’d say it’s all worked out pretty well for the creators in question given that Vertigo is being shuttered and its “new” publisher, Ahoy Comics, appears to be on something of an upward trajectory. The premise here is that bored Jesus gets sent back to Earth by an even-more-bored God and takes up residence with a painfully obvious Superman analogue for reasons that I guess will become more clear in the…

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The Boy Who Fell To Earth : Liz Valasco’s “The Adventures Of Moon Pie”

Ryan C.'s Four Color Apocalypse

By turns charming, mysterious, and existentially dreadful (albeit in an understated fashion), cartoonist Lis Valasco’s newest (as far as I know) mini, The Adventures Of Moon Pie, relates the tale of her title character and his nameless (again, as far as I know) robot companion, who apparently debuted in an earlier comic, going about the admittedly laborious business of completing some sort of unexplained — perhaps even inexplicable? — mission, and finding little by way of living beings to interact with in the lush forest in which they’ve landed. Apparently, then, having a job sucks just as much for “people” from other planets as it does for those of us here.

Collecting and cataloging mushrooms for some purportedly “higher” purpose is the ostensible goal of our duo, but the long lifespan of our moon-headed protagonist (I refer to him as a “boy” in the title of this review due…

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Laugh ‘Til It Hurts : Tom Van Deusen’s “Expelling My Truth”

Ryan C.'s Four Color Apocalypse

It’s no secret that I’ve always considered Tom Van Deusen to be one of the funniest cartoonists working today, but that’s selling him a bit short, I suppose, considering that he’s also one of the most interesting. Hiding under the modern iteration of fairly classic comic-strip style illustration that he employs is something that’s almost post-postmodern, an exploration of identity and the perception thereof that see-saws back and forth between making Van Deusen look as outrageously asinine as possible in one book (Scorched Earth), gluttonous as hell in another (EatEatEat), and good-natured-bordering-on-bemused in the next (I Wish I Was Joking). All of which leads this critic to ask the questions : Will the real Tom Van Deusen please step up? And does it even matter if he does?

His latest collection from Kilgore Books, Expelling My Truth, seems as though it…

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Weekly Reading Round-Up : 06/30/2019 – 07/06/2019

Ryan C.'s Four Color Apocalypse

For awhile there, it seemed like all we covered in this column was first issues. Then we got back into looking at minis and other self-published stuff. And now we’re whiplashing back to looking at a whole bunch of first issues again. Because I really do have this over-arching need to keep you folks off-balance, I guess. Anyway, we’ve got for of ’em to check out this week, so here we go :

Sea Of Stars #1 comes to us courtesy of Image Comics, writers Jason Aaron and Dennis (Hopeless) Hallum, and artist Stephen Green. Anybody with half a brain probably steers clear of Aaron’s creator-owned stuff at this point (what happened to Southern Bastards? Or The Goddamned?), but I have a full  brain, and so I picked this up — and walked away from it pretty glad that I did. An “all-ages” sort of thing about a…

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Not Such A Long Time Ago, In A Galaxy Pretty Close To Home : Meghan Turbitt’s “Galactic Friends”

Ryan C.'s Four Color Apocalypse

Billed by its creator and publisher, cartoonist Meghan Turbitt, as “the definitive guide to Star Wars by someone who has only seen the movies once for the first time last year,” the 2018 full-color mini Galactic Friends is pretty much exactly what it claims to be — which makes it the most authoritative shorthand examination of George Lucas’ non-stop license to print money that has likely ever seen the light of day.

There are blessed few outside observers to the entire Star Wars phenomenon left on the planet, of course — they’ve heard of this shit in even the most remote Mongolian steppes — so to find one is something of a rarity in and of itself; to find one possessed of a sharp wit, zero by way of preconceptions, and the ability to draw? Well, heck, that fits the dictionary definition of a “miracle” right there. Or at least…

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“All-Time Comics : Zerosis Deathscape” #1 : I Love It When A Plan Comes Together

Ryan C.'s Four Color Apocalypse

We’ve certainly spent a lot of time dissecting Josh and Samuel Bayer’s All-Time Comics series on this site lately, and while I’m tempted to say something along the lines of “the beatings will continue until you buy this shit,” in truth I was doing some catch-up work in order to set the stage for the second “season” of this ever-evolving concept. The “zero issue” put out last month by Floating World Comics set the table, but now that All-Time Comics : Zerosis Deathscape #1 has arrived, it’s time for the main course. So — just how tasty is it?

The first few pages — a flashback sequence illustrated by the always-sublime Gabrielle Bell that ties the events of the “prequel” comic in with the series “proper” — are one visually-delicious appetizer, that’s for sure, but for old-time readers, it’s the main 1980s-set portion of the story, drawn by trailblazing “Big…

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“Teratoid Heights” : Mat Brinkman’s Unfettered Imagination, Unfurled For All

Ryan C.'s Four Color Apocalypse

As a critic — particularly a critic of “underground” and/or “avant-garde” comics — sometimes you’re called upon to attempt to describe the utterly indescribable. This is a good thing — at the very least it expands one’s vocabulary, sometimes even one’s consciousness — but it’s by no means an easy thing. And there’s no greater challenge than attempting to convey, in terms anyone can understand, something of the unique spirit, character, and aesthetic sensibility of Mat Brinkman’s comics.

One of the co-founders of Providence’s legendary Fort Thunder cartooning collective, Brinkman himself is something of an enigma these days, having abandoned comics for music and maintaining no online presence whatsoever, but his work is just as tantalizingly mysterious, and Hollow Books’ recent re-issue — in handsome cloth-bound and foil-embossed “Museum Editons,” no less — of two of his classic comic-strip collections, Teratoid Heights and Multiforce, offers audiences new and old…

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