Tana Oshima’s “Nabokova” : As Dense As A Russian Novel, But Nowhere Near As Long

Ryan C.'s Four Color Apocalypse

There’s beauty in simplicity, as the cover of Tana Oshima’s newest self-published mini, Nabokova, clearly demonstrates. It’s stark, perhaps even spartan, but deeply communicative and precisely thought through. It imparts its message with crystal clarity and nothing by way of fuss or muss.

But there’s beauty in complexity, too, and this comic is also proof positive of that, as we’ll get to shortly. And trust me — this really only scratches the surface of the contradictions and conundrums contained herein. Bring your hardhat, folks — this one takes some real work.

On a purely physical level, this is a book that exemplifies the kind of quality artistry and craftsmanship we’ve come to expect from Oshima in fairly short order — printed in rich colors and varying tones and gradations (blue being dominant in all things — okay, almost all things) on high-quality paper between heavy cardstock…

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Guest Essay : Alex Graham On Art As A Vehicle For Reality Creation

Ryan C.'s Four Color Apocalypse

Long-time readers of this site will know that Alex Graham is an artist whose work I’ve always been proud not just to review, but to active champion. The auteur responsible for Cosmic BE-ING is consistently one of the most fascinating voices in the medium, and is an accomplished painter, to boot. I’m therefore very pleased to present her essay on “Art As A Vehicle Of Reality Creation,” which offers tremendous insight not only on her process, but the overall aims of her entire artistic project. Take it away, Alex!

Art as a Vehicle for Reality Creation – 15 Years of Painting

Channeled by Alex Graham, written September 11 2019.

“Immolation,” October 2015

 I could have titled this essay sensationally –as, “Art & Witchcraft.” And the meat of the message would remain unchanged.

 In these rigid times, playful thinking is discouraged in theory discourse– and if it were to emerge, the…

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Terror In The “Woods”

Ryan C.'s Four Color Apocalypse

“There is another world. There is a better world,” Grant Morrison famously informed us (in a scene that still coaxes a tear from my eye every time) in the final issue of his celebrated Doom Patrol run, before qualifying things by stating, “Well — there must be.” But what if there isn’t?

The “city slicker” couple at the center of cartoonist Mike Freiheit’s new graphic novel, Woods, moved to a remote cabin hoping to find that better world after the election of a certain unnamed right-wing demagogue helped engender a complete mental breakdown in one of them, but they soon discovered that going “off the grid” looks a lot easier on YouTube videos than it actually is in real life.

That being said, Freiheit — who self-financed and self-published a limited edition of this book in preparation for SPX (I’ve swiped a couple images off his facebook, which…

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You Can’t Pass On “Can’t Breathe Without Air”

Ryan C.'s Four Color Apocalypse

The second of two recent self-published minis from the sublime mind and pencil (and pen, and brush, and —) of Angela Chen that we’ve had the pleasure to read in recent days (the first being The Review, the cover of which is shown near the bottom of this review and which I sincerely hope you, dear reader, have already availed yourself of the opportunity to order), Can’t Breathe Without Air may sound on paper like it treads pretty firmly in “been there, done that” territory — it is, after all, a 32-page ‘zine composed entirely of diary comics — but in the right hands, even the most over-worked of premises can still be interesting, no matter how absent the “fresh” and the “new” inherently are from the equation.

Besides — I still think diary comics serve an important function for cartoonists. There’s utility in just keeping yourself busy, honing…

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Announcing Fieldmouse Press And Solrad

Ryan C.'s Four Color Apocalypse

Fieldmouse Press Board of Directors ​For Immediate Release Field Mouse Press 9/3/2019 info@fieldmouse.press

Small Press Comics Critics Announce Formation Of Nonprofit Publishing House Fieldmouse Press

Grass Valley, CA:​ Today, veteran comics critics Daniel Elkin, Alex Hoffman, Rob Clough, and Ryan Carey announced the formation of a new, non-profit publishing company, Fieldmouse Press, establishing a visionary, ambitious, and dedicated multi-venue publishing initiative within the burgeoning small press comics community. The company’s first publishing project, SOLRAD (www.solrad.co), will publish comics criticism, essays, interviews, and new comics as a part of a larger effort to serve the public good. SOLRAD will launch at the beginning of January 2020.

Fieldmouse Press will be operated by President Daniel Elkin, long-time publisher and editor at Your Chicken Enemy, with Alex Hoffman, publisher of Sequential State serving as Secretary/Treasurer. Rob Clough of High-Low Comics and Ryan Carey of Four Color Apocalypse round out the company’s initial board…

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Beyond The Avant Garde : Devon Marinac’s “Restaurant A.A.”

Ryan C.'s Four Color Apocalypse

A heady mix of hand-made collage, lucid channeling, stream-of-consciousness scribbles, and verbal/visual poetry, the ever-unpredictable Devon Marinac’s self-published comics ‘zine Restaurant A.A. is, if nothing else, an exercise in pushing, perhaps even demolishing, boundaries that probably never really existed in any appreciable way apart from as assumptions in our own mind.

Which makes it a worthy enough creative endeavor right there, but in truth I think there’s more going on here than that — narrative isn’t he backbone of this work, but it’s not an afterthought, either, and if you put in the work required to decipher its meaning and message, you’ll find a smart piece of commentary on excess as it relates to both the creative impulse and the practicalities of everyday existence, a mixed-media declaration of intent in regards to the inherently limiting nature of classification, and maybe even, dare I say it, a few laughs.


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Get To Know Some “American Scumbags”

Trash Film Guru

If you’re gonna call your movie American Scumbags, you’ve put yourself in a position where you’ve got to live up (or should that be down?) to that name. Fortunately, Denver underground filmmaker Dakota Bailey — who not only wrote and directed the 2016 production he put that title on, but stars in it under the pseudonym of Dakota Ray — seems to know of which he speaks, and has his finger firmly on the pulse of the world of sleazoids and sickos. In other words, he’s our kind of guy.

Filmed — okay, shot on cam — for the princely sum of $1,000 and recently made available for streaming on Amazon Prime (don’t ask me about its availability on Blu-ray or DVD, I honestly have no idea), this thing feels pretty grimy and follows the lives of three pretty grimy figures whose stories are interlinked in ways obvious and…

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