Get A “Grip”


Ryan C.'s Four Color Apocalypse

Where the “average” wordless comic often comes across as the result of a choice made by the cartoonist to communicate her or his story by means of the purely visual “half” of the medium, Lale Westvind’s 2018-released Grip (specifically, Grip Vol. 1, as this is the 68-page opening installment of a planned longer-form “graphic novel”) seems to eschew dialogue, captions, sound effects, and related ephemera (barring the occasional, expertly-placed exception) as a matter of sheer necessity, recognizing them less as an unnecessary encumbrance that would only get in the way of the tale being told, but as outright obstacles that would actually detract from the proceedings. I defy anyone to get any further than the first page and disagree with that assessment.

Westvind’s nothing if not an inarguable master of her craft at this point — primarily known for her contributions to any number of high-profile anthologies, this…

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Weekly Reading Round-Up : 08/05/2018 – 08/11/2018


Ryan C.'s Four Color Apocalypse

Our foray into the wonders of Elijah Brubaker’s Reich these past few weeks has put paid to the idea that these Weekly Reading Round-Ups are all about looking at new stuff that was actually released during the seven-day span in question, but I don’t think we missed much. We would, however, be missing out on a smattering of noteworthy first issues this time out if we set our view-finders backwards, so let’s not do that this time, shall we? Stuff worth talking about new on comic book shelves this past Wednesday, then, listed in order of how well I liked ’em —

Who better than a delightfully cantankerous old man to weave a tale of the decidedly un-delightful, but definitely cantankerous, old men, as well as the constantly put-upon young men whose labors they exploited, that built this benighted comic book industry we all know, love, and loathe…

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Euro Comics Spotlight : “Face Man”


Ryan C.'s Four Color Apocalypse

Just who the hell are you, anyway?

It’s an ever-present, and ever-fluid, question for each and every one of us : think back to the “you” of ten years ago, for instance, and odds are pretty good that not only have your looks changed (unless you’ve got a great plastic surgeon), but your outlook on life has changed in many (perhaps most) key respects, your circumstances have changed (economically, romantically, maybe even geographically), your daily routines have changed dramatically. In point of fact, as alien as other people might seem at times, almost no one is more difficult to understand that than the person you used to be — except, perhaps, the person you are now. Good luck figuring that bastard out.

Add uncertainty about one’s surroundings and even the nature of the world itself into the mix and you’ve got the plight of the protagonist in Swedish…

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What’s In The “Space Basket” ?


Ryan C.'s Four Color Apocalypse

Maybe I’m just a masochist, but for whatever reason, comics that utterly defy description are almost always my favorite to read, and without question always my favorite to review. As a reader, they force me outside my comfort zone, and require me to consider what I’m experiencing in a deliberative manner; to question the function of the work certainly, but also, at the best of times, the form. Trying to figure out what’s happening on the page (assuming such a thing can be done), is only half the battle — why what’s happening is being communicated and presented in the way it is, deciphering the reasons for the choices the cartoonist has made, that’s the other half. And it can often be the more richly rewarding part of the equation.

As a critic, all of the above still applies, of course, but I’m also called upon to examine my…

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Weekly Reading Round-Up : 07/29/2018 – 08/04/2018, Elijah Brubaker’s “Reich,” Issues 9-12


Ryan C.'s Four Color Apocalypse

It’s been quite a ride so far these past couple of weeks, but it’s not over yet —

In Elijah Brubaker’s Reich #9 , the FDA makes its move against our increasingly-ostracized (partly by choice, partly due to circumstance) protagonist, who’s also getting noticeably more prickly in his dotage (not that he was ever exactly pleasant company), and as it happens it turns out that it was someone very close to him who ended up selling him out to the feds. These intrigues pass by unbeknownst to Willy, though, as he’s far too busy “discovering” the negative counterpart to Orgone, which he calls D.O.R., an acronym for Dark Orgone Energy. The cover for this issue is one of my favorites, the detail is just amazing and I love the lime green — a bold color choice that really draws in the eye. The interior art is solid as ever, and…

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Everyday Mysticism : David Tea’s “Five Perennial Virutes” #2


Ryan C.'s Four Color Apocalypse

Several years ago, Minneapolis-based cartoonist David Tea worked at the comic shop nearest my home, where I am something of a “regular,” and to the best of my knowledge that was the only place that he sold his beyond-lo-fi comics, neatly stacked at the counter, each of them looking like they were run off a printer at Kinko’s, then cut and stapled by hand — which I’m fairly sure is exactly how they were made. Then, one day, he wasn’t working there anymore, and how one was supposed to obtain these utterly baffling little ‘zines became as mysterious a proposition as their contents, given that the only “distribution network” Tea seemed to employ was hustling them in person.

Imagine my surprise, then, when I saw that an apparently-randomly-selected work from Tea’s oeuvre, the 2005-produced Five Perennial Virtues #2, had been reprinted in the here and now of 2018, and…

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There’s Something Happening Here — What It Is Ain’t Exactly Clear : Austin English’s “The Enemy From Within”


Ryan C.'s Four Color Apocalypse

Some comics really make you work.

Not as hard as the cartoonist who made them, of course — and Austin English busted his tail (and his hands, and probably even his brain) on his latest solo book, The Enemy From Within, published in late 2017 by Sonatina Comics. The sheer effort that went into the creation of the thematically-linked triptych of stories (the titular “The Enemy From Within, ” “Half-Hearted Slogan Dance,” and “Solo Dance #2”) is apparent on all 22 of these intricately-detailed, insanely imaginative pages. English uses every last millimeter of space available to him, his images densely packed from corner to corner, side to side, negative space a luxury he can seldom afford. He’s clearly got a lot to say — but what is it?

I’ll be honest — four times through this book, I’m still trying to figure that out. But I think that’s…

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