Soul Death On The Installment Plan : Sam Grinberg’s “On A Hot Summer Night I Like To Eat My Favorite Cartoon Characters”

Ryan C.'s Four Color Apocalypse

I’ve always been of a mind that the minute you find yourself inhabiting a suburban street — or, even worse, a cul-de-sac — the clock is ticking against you. A kind of apathy-by-osmosis begins to infect your being, slowly rotting you to the core, to the point where “ideas” such as “you don’t have anything to fear from the police if you haven’t done anything wrong” and “higher taxes on the rich are harmful to the economy” start to sound reasonable. I’m not sure if it’s something in the air, something in the (usually well) water, or something in the Muzak that gets pumped through the speakers in the park pavilions, but the suburbs fucking kill you — and they take their sweet time doing it.

Nobody gets this better than suburban youth, who by and large can’t wait to turn 18 and get the fuck out of Dodge…

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Another Welcome “Cash Grab”

Ryan C.'s Four Color Apocalypse

The tenth and most recent issue of Aaron Lange’s CashGrab — his ‘zine of art, miscellany, and art miscellany published by Vancouver’s The Comix Company — feels like it’s been a long time coming because, hey, it actually has been : indeed, the year-plus interregnum between installments is uncharacteristic for this prolific cartoonist and illustrator. Of course, for any number of others this would be considered working at a pretty brisk clip, which puts Lange at something of a disadvantage in that he’s stuck answering “what’s taking you so long?”-type questions while many of his contemporaries are accustomed to hearing “take your time,” but in case anybody hasn’t noticed there’s been this pesky pandemic going on, and everybody’s lives are out of whack. The fast have become slow, the slow have become fast, and the readers of both have become frustratingly anxious.

For my own part, self-styled “cool…

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Putting The “True” And “Crime” In True Crime : Cathy Hannah’s “The Lonely Grave Of Bobby Franks”

Ryan C.'s Four Color Apocalypse

Let’s not kid ourselves : while the poor get locked up for penny-ante crimes like selling pot or smoking crack, the rich quite literally get away with murder on a massive scale. Whether it’s laying off thousands from their jobs with the stroke of a pen, or sending our young men and women in uniform off to die to protect their profit margins, the well-to-do are awash in river of blood, both economic and biological, for which they will never be called to account.

Still, every once in a blue moon, when their callousness and psychopathy leave the realm of the abstract and enter that of the personal, the results are too sickening for even their bought-off courts to ignore. Such was the case with Nathan Leopold Jr. and Richard Loeb, two spoiled scions of privilege who, in 1924, kidnapped and murdered their 14-year-old neighbor, Bobby Franks, simply because

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Preview : “American Cult”

Ryan C.'s Four Color Apocalypse

This isn’t my usual custom, but since I collaborated with Mike Freiheit on the story “Walk A Mile In My Shoes : A Jonestown History” (I wrote it, he drew it) in editor Robyn Chapman’s new Silver Sprocket-published anthology American Cult, I thought I’d shamelessly plug it here and, of course, encourage all of you to order it. I’ll have more to say about it on my Patreon in fairly short order, I would guess, but for now I’ll regale you all with some sample art pages from the book and the publisher’s official promotional text. I’ll resume regular programming (that being reviews, naturally) with my next post, I promise, but hey, this is the first comic I’ve been a part of as a creator, so I hope you don’t mind indulging me a bit — and I also hope you’ll consider supporting this very worthy project.

A graphic…

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Eurocomics Spotlight : Tiago Manuel’s “Mishima : Manifesto De Laminas”

Ryan C.'s Four Color Apocalypse

However you slice it — sorry, bad choice of words — they don’t make ’em like Yukio Mishima anymore : the epitome of the “warrior-poet” mystique made flesh and taken to its natural conclusions, his death by his own hand the only fitting capstone to a life that basically demanded nothing less for its final act, to this day he remains a revered figure in as many disparate milieus as he travelled in himself, from far-right nationalist revolutionary cells to the more extreme quarters of the queer BDSM underground. A mass of fascinating contradictions that could never be resolved, we can only really know him, perhaps, through his work, despite the best attempts of everyone from filmmaker Paul Schrader to Death In June’s Douglas P. to illuminate the enigma that was his life and art in their own art.

To that list add the name of Portuguese cartoonist/fine artist Tiago…

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In Defense Of Traditional Comics : Jack Turnbull’s “The Wash-A-Shores”

Ryan C.'s Four Color Apocalypse

I’ll be the first to admit that, around these parts, I tend to let my biases as a reader show, and that they inform (or maybe that shout be infect?) my biases as a critic. Stuff that can generally be described as “avant-garde,” or as “art comics,” or at the very least as “non-traditional” tends to be what I prefer to spend my time with and on, and I also give extra consideration to work that I haven’t seen reviewed anywhere else. Whether this is good or bad I leave up to each reader of this blog to decide for themselves, but I’d be lying if I said every single comic that I either purchase or receive is given absolutely equal consideration when it comes to deciding whether or not I want to take the time to review it.

And yet — there’s certainly nothing wrong with good…

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“Crusher Loves Bleeder Bleeder Loves Crusher” #1 : With Friends Like These —

Ryan C.'s Four Color Apocalypse

Somewhere in the overgrown fields of soul-dead suburbia, your typical delinquent young teenage boy has made a new friend — but is his new friend only out for blood? And would that question lead you to assume said new friend is probably a vampire?

Spoiler alert : he’s actually a mutant quasi-anthropomorphic fuzzy mosquito (or something), so his lust for the red stuff is just as natural as breathing is to you or me. But maybe we’re putting the cart before the horse by pondering the (somewhat) philosophical questions at the heart of writer Thomas Stemrich and artist Patrick Keck’s new full-sized (and, for the record, self-published) comic ‘zine Crusher Loves Bleeder Bleeder Loves Crusher #1 prior to considering the work on its technical merits? I guess we are.

I’ve reviewed Keck’s work in the past, most recently his years-in-the-making solo graphic novel Peepers over at Solrad, and to…

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“It’s A Tricky Spot To Be In” : Four Color Apocalypse Talks To Alex Graham About Life Before, During, And After “Dog Biscuits”

Ryan C.'s Four Color Apocalypse

It’s no secret that Alex Graham’s Dog Biscuits, both in its original online iteration and its newly-released print version, has been one of the most talked-about comics of the so-called “pandemic era.” Timely, topical, and yet never anything less than intensely personal, its success has brought Graham new legions of fans/readers, and yet that success has also come, of course, with attendant challenges — and even pitfalls — of its own. Four Color Apocalypse recently had the opportunity to chat with the artist about her celebrated, and at times controversial, magnum opus from A to Z, Genesis to Exodus, and I’m pleased to present that conversation here for your enjoyment and edification.

Four Color Apocalypse : For readers who aren’t aware of the origins of Dog Biscuits, could you kindly explain how the strip first come about, and did you always plan for it to be as expansive…

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“That Full Moon Feeling” — Hey, Witches And Werewolves Need Love, Too

Ryan C.'s Four Color Apocalypse

I once opined — and I’m hardly the first to have done so, trust me — that it’s good practice for cartoonists, and really artists of all stripes, to step outside their comfort zones and try something different, but I’ll let you in on a little secret : the same is absolutely true for critics.

As prima facie evidence of this assertion, I offer up Austin-based cartoonist Ashley Robin Franklin’s new little book from Silver Sprocket, That Full Moon Feeling, which lithely threads the needle between two genres that are by and large of little interest to me, specifically romantic comedy and the supernatural, yet nevertheless managed to warm my cynical middle-aged cis white male heart and plant an entirely unforced smile on my face for the duration of its 64 pages. Which, admittedly, is me giving away the final verdict of this review early on, but I do…

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See What The Buzz Is About : Steve Lafler’s “BugHouse” Book One

Ryan C.'s Four Color Apocalypse

It’s always a treat when a staple of your reading youth (and in this case I use the term “youth” advisedly, as I was well into my twenties when the series in question originally saw print) becomes available again for a new generation to enjoy — or for members of your own generation who may have missed out on it the first time around to finally discover for themselves. There’s bound to be a bit of risk involved in re-visiting something you hold in high esteem, though, isn’t there? I mean, a person’s tastes and expectations change over time, there’s no doubt about that — or at least they damn well should — so what appealed to you at age 25 stands a very real chance of just not doing the job for your 40-something self. Above and beyond that, though, there’s also a very real possibility that changing times

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