Weekly Reading Round-Up : 06/10/2018 – 06/16/2018

Ryan C.'s Four Color Apocalypse

If it seems like Image Comics is rolling out a new series (be it limited or ongoing) every week — well, that’s because they are. But even by their standards, four in one week is a lot —

Bloodstrike : Brutalists #0 is the one everyone’s been talking about (although that fact was apparently lost on my LCS owner, who ordered precisely one fucking copy — and it was the godawful Rob Liefeld variant, as opposed to the awesomeness shown above), as it brings the punk ‘zine/”alt” comics sensibilities of the great Michel Fiffe (most notably of Copra fame, although my favorite of his works is unquestionably Zegas) crashing headlong into the mercifully-shuttered world of the aforementioned Mr. Liefeld’s Extreme Studios line-up circa about — I dunno, 1996 or some shit. From the book’s numbering to its purposely-stilted dialogue to its admittedly lame core premise (undead heroes who bear…

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Lost In America : Nick Drnaso’s “Sabrina”

Ryan C.'s Four Color Apocalypse

We live not just in turbulent times, but significant ones — the ground has shifted beneath our feet, and if you’re American, it’s fair to say that, in many respects, the facade of the country we thought we knew has slipped, and in its place stands revealed a nation that we hoped (or, at the very least, liked to kid ourselves) we weren’t. This is, indeed, a defining moment in our history — but who defines what that moment is?

Nick Drnaso, hot on the heels of his striking 2015 debut graphic novel Beverly, is at least game to give cataloguing the contents of said moment a go in the just-released (by way, once again, of Drawn+Quarterly) Sabrina, and to call this merely a striking follow-up is to sell it well short indeed : this is a quantum leap forward that, fair enough, treads similar thematic ground to…

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“Soft X-Ray/Mindhunters” : Alex Degen Refuses To Buckle Under To The Aesthetic Fascists

Ryan C.'s Four Color Apocalypse

Chances are that it would be almost unbearably pretentious, not to mention way less clever than it sounds, if I were to refer to Alex Degen’s latest Koyama Press-published graphic novel, Soft X-Ray/Mindhunters  — which originally began “life” as a 44-page comic and now stands, expanded and extrapolated upon, at a whopping 392 pages — as “a visual feast – for the mind!” or somesuch, and yet —

Yeah, you guessed it. that’s definitely what it is. And I’m just as definitely kicking myself for not coming up with some genuinely unique, as opposed to glib, way to describe it — because “A.” (as the cover would have it) Degen’s cartooning is, in fact, consistently unique, and deserves same in return. Bursting at the seams with information, if not words (barring its gloriously, deliriously verbose chapter titles), there’s so much here to partake in, to parse, and to ponder over…

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Katie Skelly Gathers Up All Her Recruits For “The Agency” (Advance Review)

Ryan C.'s Four Color Apocalypse

I think it’s fair to say that 2017 was a “break-out year” for New York-based cartoonist Katie Skelly, what with her OGN My Pretty Vampire ranking among the year’s best-reviewed books and proving to be an out-of-left-field success for its publisher, Fantagraphics, so it doesn’t come as any surprise that a follow-up would be rushed to presses fairly quickly — and it’s a doubly-obvious move since her “next book” was already, as the saying goes, “in the can.”

By way of making that statement seem far less mysterious, I suppose I should explain that the strips that make up Skelly’s forthcoming The Agency have already seen the light of day as webcomics, so collecting them all in one volume makes all kinds of sense given that she’s sure to have a solid group of freshly-minted fans who will be eager to see something new with her name on it on…

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Weekly Reading Round-Up: 06/03/2018 – 06/09/2018, Special Sarah Romano Diehl Edition

Ryan C.'s Four Color Apocalypse

It’s no secret — nor should it be! — that Seattle cartoonist Sarah Romano Diehl’s Crust was one of my favorite comics of last year, but in my attempt to “play catch-up” with some of the stuff I’ve received in recent weeks/months, I came to the realization that I never got around to reviewing the other books (all, to her credit, self-published) that I got from Ms. Diehl some time back, so allow me to correct that egregious (nay, downright unforgivable!) error right now —

All The Comforts Of Being Alive is a thick, bursting-at-the-seams travelogue mini-comic/’zine that expertly incorporates mixed media such as photographs, scrap-paper notes, etc. to tell the story of Diehl’s first road trip back to her Colorado college town in a decade. There’s more than a whiff of nostalgia to the proceedings here, but it’s all good : anybody who goes back home (or, in this…

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Won’t You Take Me To “Poochytown” (Advance Review)

Ryan C.'s Four Color Apocalypse

Here’s the thing : Jim Woodring’s been at it so long, and done it so well, that it’s almost easy to — dare I say it — take him for granted.

There’s really no reason that you (or I, or we) should, though — after all, the guy is basically a cartooning national treasure. Dating back to the (very) late-1980s debut of his first series, Jim, and continuing through Tantalizing StoriesJim Vol. 2Frank, and a number of subsequent graphic novels and occasional short strips set in his (and I use this term with precision) visionary world known as The Unifactor, he’s been making comics like no one else has ever made — hell, like no one else has probably ever thought of — for going on three decades now, and here’s another thing : his stuff seemed about 100 years ahead of anything that…

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“The Ideal Copy” Is The Ideal Comic For Readers Of Any Age

Ryan C.'s Four Color Apocalypse

I’ll be the first to admit it : I’m way less familiar with the current state of affairs vis a vis all-ages comics than a person in my (self-appointed, but still) position probably should be. It’s not that I have anything against all-ages books, quite the contrary : I think there needs to be a whole heck of a lot more good stuff out there that appeals to the so-called “youth market” if we want kids to fall in love with the comics medium. If there’s no future for kids’ comics, there’s no future for comics, period, since very few people get interested in these funnybooks we love in their 20s and 30s. Comics started life aimed at a children’s audience, and even if they’ve purportedly “grown up” (notice I don’t say that they’ve actually matured), there always needs to be a healthy crop of material out there…

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