Like Nothing Else Before, Or Nothing Else That Ever Will Be : Mike Taylor’s “Late Era Clash” #27

Ryan C.'s Four Color Apocalypse

So-called “creative types” have been using their art to process loss since time immemorial, but seldom does it come across as raw, as unfettered, and yet as understated as it does in the pages of issue 27 of veteran cartoonist/illustrator Mike Taylor’s Late Era Clash. Between these two-color riso covers (interior pages also coming off a riso, but in stark black and white) is an unmediated primal scream delivered at whisper-quite volume in response to a silent and gaping void of nothingness, as large and as unfathomable as the universe itself.

Here’s the thing, though : it was all supposed to be something entirely different.

When Taylor started work on this ‘zine in 2015 (it’s just starting to get some distribution today, though) his idea was to throw the veil off his artistic process — and those early pages survive, complete with his ever-present, insistent questioning of his tools…

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Weekly Reading Round-Up : 10/14/2018 – 10/20/2018

Ryan C.'s Four Color Apocalypse

As per the norm, we’ve got four new books to take a look at in this week’s Round-Up column, with something of a common theme in that they all come our way courtesy  of those unafraid to put their money where their mouths are, the noble ranks of self-publishing cartoonists —

Or, in the case of So Buttons #9, a self-publishing writer, specifically Jonathan Baylis, who makes a welcome return after a couple of years spent raising his infant son, who features prominently in a heartwarming little “who do ya love?” anecdote illustrated with stripped-down poignancy by T.J. Kirsch and an equally “awwwww — fer cute”-inducing yarn about introducing the lovable tyke to music drawn with gorgeously wistful aplomb by Summer Pierre. For the anti-natalists out there, though, fear not : we have a quartet of stories that re-visit tried and true Baylis themes, with the great James Romberger…

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Eurocomics Spotlight : Samplerman’s “Fearless Colors”

Ryan C.'s Four Color Apocalypse

French cartoonist Yvan Guillo, better known under his nom de plume of Samplerman, has a technique like no other — and it’s one that leaves me in a real quandary. Digitally manipulating pre-existing (primarily Golden Age, and most likely all public domain) comic book illustrations into hitherto-unforeseen, and uniformly bizarre, new shapes and formations and probably even realities is the part I “get,” but what sort of artist does that make Mr. Samplerman? Or, perhaps more specifically, what sort of art is it that he’s making? Is it “found” art? Is it “Pop Art”? Is it collage? Is it Lichtenstein- or Warhol-esque  appropriation/theft?

Eventually, I settled on — re-mixing. What do we all think of that?

If his recently-issued collection,  Fearless Colors (co-published by Kus!, Ediciones Valientes, and MMMNNNRRRG) proves one thing, it’s that some sort of musical comparison is in order, because while the “strips” in this book are a…

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Fair Warning : I’m About To Give You A “Lotta Lipp”

Ryan C.'s Four Color Apocalypse

At first glance, it seems crazy — why would any critic, in good conscience, recommend that you spend five bucks on a mini-comic that’s primarily taken up by a story concerning the cartoonist who drew it just walking around his neighborhood? “Join me as I take an aimless stroll” is an old autobio trope, to be sure, but by and large these types of exercises about — uhhhmmm — getting a little exercise are relegated to “backup feature” status, as well they probably ought to be. If you’re gonna make this type of yarn the backbone of your book, shit — it just stands to reason that you must not have too many actual ideas, right?

Conventional wisdom, however, quite often lives up to only the first part of its name, and this is another of those occasions, because August Lipp’s Lotta Lipp Comics #1 is probably the most…

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Weekly Reading Round-Up : 10/07/2018 – 10/13/2018, November Garcia And Ines Estrada

Ryan C.'s Four Color Apocalypse

It’s no secret to anybody who’s read this site for any length of time that I consider November Garcia to be the best comics art import to come out of the Philippines since Alex Nino, and it’s equally-public knowledge that my adoration for Mexican (by way, the last few years, of Texas) DIY cartoonist extraodrinaire Ines Estrada knows no bounds, so when John Porcellino recently listed two new self-published titles from each of them for sale at his Spit And A Half distro site, you knew I was gonna be all over them in no time. Let’s have a look at ’em, shall we?

Rookie Moves  is a witty and never-less-than-completely engaging mini that charts Garcia’s “rise” from the ranks of comics fan-girl to published cartoonist in her own right and showcases her at her neurotic, self-deprecating best as she rubs shoulders with the likes of Gabrielle Bell, Jon…

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Dysfunction Junction : Carta Monir’s “Lara Croft Was My Family”

Ryan C.'s Four Color Apocalypse

When you can construct a fully-formed, emotionally resonant, deeply poignant comics memoir in just 40 pages, you’re probably an extraordinary cartoonist. When you can do it in 40 panels? Then take a well-deserved bow, because you’re downright otherworldly.

Now, before you mention it, rest assured  that I’m fully aware that it’s considered bad form for a critic to “give away the game” in the opening paragraph of a review like I just did, but fuck it — Carta Monir doesn’t mess around in Lara Croft Was My Family, and I intend to follow her lead. To that end, I’m going to be uncharacteristically short, sweet, and to the point here, because this is a work that seems to demand exactly that sort of analysis, given that it’s deliberately structured (and magnificently, at that) to achieve maximum impact with minimal bells and whistles — but please don’t take…

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Eurocomics Spotlight : Zane Zlemesa’s “Fenix”

Ryan C.'s Four Color Apocalypse

Latvian publisher Kus! didn’t need to look too terribly far ( probably just a few towns over, if that ) to find a Zane Zlemesa, the painter/cartoonist who produced the fourth title in their idiosyncratic and consistently-interesting Kus! Mono line — bearing the curious but intriguing title of Fenix — so credit goes to them for introducing a local talent to an international audience, but a “big break” is only what you make of it, I suppose, and the proof, as the saying goes, is always in the pudding. Or, as the case may be, on the pages.

For their part, these pages are certainly visually arresting — Zlemesa’s masterful use of paint is imbued with a fair amount of confidence throughout, and her intuitive understanding of sequential narrative is strong, with her larger-than-normal panels giving her colorful artwork plenty of room to “breathe” while simultaneously allowing for nicely-paced story progression…

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