Get Hooked On “Blood And Drugs”

Ryan C.'s Four Color Apocalypse

Where I come from, drugs were always considered to be pretty fun — and, for the record, I feel that if consumed responsibly they are — but who are we kidding? Kicking them can be a real motherfucker, and it’s not like the path of recovery isn’t perilous in its own right. And when you’re in recovery, or attempting to begin recovery, on the social and economic margins, the entire enterprise is a hell of a lot trickier than it is for, say, some ne’er-do-well rich kid forced to walk the 12 steps after trashing daddy’s yacht.

Geographically speaking, at least, cartoonist Lance Ward is himself from “where I come from” — that being the Twin Cities, for those not in the know — but he’s clearly had a vastly different “drug experience” than I have, and in his new Birdcage Bottom Books-published original graphic novel, Blood And Drugs

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Transmissions From The Front Lines Of A National Nightmare : “TrumpTrump Volume 2 : Modern Day Presidential”

Ryan C.'s Four Color Apocalypse

Here’s the thing a lot of purportedly more astute commentators than myself seem to consistently miss : we don’t just live in absurd times, or troubling times, or even dangerous times —we live in grotesque times, and the current occupant of the Oval Office is a living caricature that embodies more or less every ugly aspect of the national character we used to at least have the nominal decency to attempt to sweep under the rug, or to even go so far as to pretend didn’t exist. Now, however, the mask is off : the anti-intellectualism, racism, xenophobia, sexism, self-centeredness, and genuflecting at the altar of violence both casual and savage that at least appeared to be on the way out, or viewed as unfortunate aspects of the past well worth being ashamed of, are back with a vengeance, and celebrated with a kind of gleeful abandon by the former…

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Weekly Reading Round-Up : 10/27/2019 – 11/02/2019

Ryan C.'s Four Color Apocalypse

Four new number ones stood out on LCS racks this week, all from DC, and all from the new(-ish) Black Label imprint. Did someone say something about diluting the market with too much product? Well, that’s what the “Big Two” have been doing for decades now, and we’re all still here, so why the hell would they stop? Marvel’s doing it with their X-books, and DC’s doing it with this ostensible successor line to Vertigo, so let’s see what they’re giving — or, more accurately, selling — us:

After three failed relaunches featuring a watered-down iteration of John Constantine, DC finally realized what they used to know : people want the real thing, and so here we finally have it with the one-shot special The Sandman Universe : Hellblazer #1. There’s a bit of irony at play here in that Neil Gaiman’s Sandman series spun out of the “dark corner”…

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If “This Never Happened,” Then Why All The Fuss?

Ryan C.'s Four Color Apocalypse

If you’re a comics critic, the smart money is on not touching Alex Graham’s new self-published serialized “ongoing,” This Never Happened. Two issues in, it’s caused — and continues to cause — anything from ripples to seismic waves within the small-press community, depending on who you are and how close to Seattle you live.

I get it, I mean, shit — it’s a small scene, and some easily-recognizable figures within it are getting torched. Not with anything like the vengeful glee of Simon Hanselmann’s Truth Zone, but then, the folks on the receiving end of his barbs generally aren’t people he interacts with on a personal level frequently, much less former romantic partners. There’s a degree of distance between author and subject there, while Graham is offering no such safety. She’s putting you right inside her head, showing her lived experience, and — not to sound too cliched…

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Have A Rusty Tin Can Of “Rooftop Stew”

Ryan C.'s Four Color Apocalypse

Jesus H. Christ, it’s about time.

If you’ve read a small-press comics anthology at any point in the past 15 years or so, or picked up a free Seattle newsweekly or a nominally “underground” ‘zine of any sort, then you’ve seen a Max Clotfelter comic. In many ways, it’s probably fair to say his work’s been damn near ubiquitous. And yet, despite having a rich back catalogue of material to choose from, no enterprising publisher to date had stepped up to the plate to put out anything like a semi-comprehensive collection of his stuff.

Leave it to J.T. Yost at Birdcage Bottom Books to correct this historical injustice and to finally package an impressive selection of Clotfelter strips in a “proper” paperback. There’s no doubt that paring down exactly what to run with and what to leave behind was likely the toughest part of putting Rooftop Stew together, but…

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“Malarkey” #4 Establishes November Garcia As The Premier Autobio Cartoonist Of Our Time

Ryan C.'s Four Color Apocalypse

I just knew something was up.

When word hit that November Garcia had found a publishing “home” for Malarkey #4, the latest issue of her ongoing comics ‘zine, and that said publisher, Birdcage Bottom Books, was putting it out in full color, I got the feeling that she was through knocking on the door and was ready to fully announce her presence as a cartooning force to be reckoned with. It’s something that’s been building for some time, of course — we certainly don’t hear the Julia Wertz comparisons much anymore, do we? — yet it’s also worth considering that indie comics history is littered with any number of  artists who were plenty skilled at the art of revealing, and sometimes even reveling in, their own neuroses, but who had the stereotypical “pretty good run” for a few years and then moved on to pastures that were hopefully greener, but…

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A Ryan Callaway Halloween Double Feature : “One Winter Night”

Trash Film Guru

One thing no one can doubt for a minute : Ryan Callaway is a busy guy. Most years see him putting or two or three films, and here in 2019 he’s releasing his hour-long “short,” The Ghost In The Darkness, as well as the full-length effort under review here, One Winter Night, more or less simultaneously. Not even fellow New Jersey microbudgeter Nigel Bach can match that pace, and he doesn’t have anywhere near Callaway’s cast sizes and production complexities, given that he’s essentially cranking out everything from within the confines of his own home, and with himself as his only “star.”

Still, work ethic is one thing, actual ability something else entirely, and just because Callaway can pull off the seemingly impossible on a consistent basis doesn’t mean he always should. I got early access to this flick (which should be available for streaming on Amazon…

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