Weekly Reading Round-Up : 11/12/2017 – 11/18/2017

Ryan C.'s Four Color Apocalypse

Next week DC promises to “change everything we thought we knew about the universe” or somesuch bullshit with their wretchedly insulting Doomsday Clock cash-grab, so before that hits let’s take a look at what the final week of the world as we used to know it had to offer, shall we? Time for another dive into what LCS and the US Postal Service brought my way —

I’ve never been able to get a firm handle on Tim Seeley, finding his stuff to be wildly up and down (often within the same series — I’m looking at you Revival), but when he’s on, he’s on. Before it had a premature and all-too-convenient “ending” forced on it, Effigy was shaping up into something flat-out amazing, and given that some of the same themes of media obsession and instant celebrity seemed to be at the heart of Brilliant Trash, the…

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“Trim” Your High-Fallutin’ Standards With Aaron Lange

Ryan C.'s Four Color Apocalypse

Aaron Lange has issues — five of ’em, literally, as regards his annually-issued comics anthology series Trim — and too many to count, in the figurative sense, as is plainly evident in Trim‘s pages. Consider : this is a guy who, according to a TCJ piece from a few years back, relocated to Philadelphia because his previous hometown, Cleveland, wasn’t a big enough shithole.

I’ve only spent a mercifully short amount of time in both cities and I have to say that at least Lange got that much right : Cleveland, after all, has every bit the air of a town whose best days are behind it as its (numerous) critics charge, while Philly very much feels like a place that never had any “best days,” and almost certainly never will.

Living in environs such as these is bound to inculcate a certain type of attitude among those…

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There’s No Business Like “Night Business”

Ryan C.'s Four Color Apocalypse

So how does this work? I mean, you either know what you’re getting into with a Benjamin Marra book or you don’t — and if you know that much, you probably also know whether or not you’re going to like it. No artist in the comics medium this side of Steve Ditko has pursued such a singularly myopic and obsessive worldview, and whether we’re talking about outer-space barbarians, post-Civil War freed slaves, secret agents in the “War On Terrorism,” or “gangsta” rappers,  the basic formula really doesn’t change, does it?

“Characters” as we understand the term don’t really exist in Marra’s world(s), but caricatures abound : men are invariably square-jawed, misogynistic, super-powered, and either “all good” or “all bad” (usually the only difference being that the “bad guys” start the killing off while the “good guys” finish it): women are basically all T&A and can’t seem to help either throwing…

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Weekly Reading Round-Up : 11/05/2017 – 11/11/2017

Ryan C.'s Four Color Apocalypse

A varied and disparate selection of books came my way this week, some easy enough to find, others decidedly less so —

And on the “decidedly less so” front, we’ve got legendary auto-didact Mark Beyer’s Ne’er-Do-Wellers, a limited-as-hell (as in 200 signed and numbered copies) new publication that comes to us by way of Trapset Zines and was issued in conjunction with the opening of a new gallery show of Beyer’s work. Not so much a “comic” per se as a series of illustrations accompanying reports of particularly strange and sometimes brutal crimes that took place in recent years in Beyer’s hometown of Albuquerque, N.M., this is as stark a distillation of absurdity, deadpan humor, and pessimism for humanity as a whole as you’re probably expecting, and certainly Beyer’s unique-unto-himself style of illustration is every bit as much a dark joy for the eyes as it’s always been, but…

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Howling With “Coyotes”

Ryan C.'s Four Color Apocalypse

In my never-ending quest to find something new worth following on a month-to-month basis, I’ve taken a flier on a few recent Image first issues in the last couple of weeks, and in between the ones I decided to throw the towel in on immediately (No. 1 With A Bullet) and those I’ve decided to stick with on a tentative basis (Port Of Earth), there was one definite standout that hooked me from the outset and didn’t let go and/or up : writer Sean Lewis and standout newcomer artist Caitlin Yarsky’s Coyotes.

So, yeah, that’s the “plot” of this review given away right out of the gate, I suppose, but what the hell, let’s talk about why I felt this was $3.99 well-spent and why I think you should sink your hard-earned cash into it, as well, shall we? I think we shall.

Yarsky’s stunning…

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Late To The Party : “Blade Runner 2049”

Trash Film Guru

I know, I know — at this point there’s pretty much nothing about director Denis Villeneuve’s Blade Runner 2049 that hasn’t already been said, but here I am anyway, chiming in with my two cents’ worth long after whatever admittedly slight amount of relevance my opinion might have to prospective viewers has long since left the building. Still, I wanna talk about it anyway, and there’s a good reason for that :

I was, you see, a skeptic when it came to this flick. I was less impressed with Arrival than I was apparently meant to be, I saw no actual need for this sequel, and unlike its celluloid progenitor it’s not based on anything Philip K. Dick actually wrote, so — at most, I was figuring it would be alright. Hopefully it wouldn’t detract from the legacy of the original. But no way did I figure it would prove…

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Brian Canini Guides You Through “The Big Year”

Ryan C.'s Four Color Apocalypse

Diary comics can be a tricky thing to review simply because they’re at sort of a “middle stage” in their overall development these days — originally designed purely as an eyes-only exercise to keep cartoonists “sharp” either between, or alongside, “real”projects intended for public consumption, at some point a handful of artists, most notably Gabrielle Bell, began to take them and mold them into something like cohesive overall narratives, and in that sense it’s probably fair to say that they just might represent the next logical evolution of autobiographical comics as a whole.

And yet, by and large, more often than not a cartoonist’s raw sketchbook diary pages are usually just posted as premiums for their Patreon subscribers (see Bell again, as well as Tillie Walden, and who-knows-who-else by now) or collected as print-on-demand jobs (see Gabby Schulz’ recent A Process Of Drastically Reducing One’s Expectations). To that end…

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