I’ve been too busy to update this… but it’s never too late, right? Â February and early March wereÂ really slow for reading — I didn’t crack the mini-pile much, but made it through three GN’s:
Sam Zabel and the Magic Pen by Dylan Horrocks. Â I love the way Horrocks draws, and the colors make it even nicer. I really like seeing him apply his clean, indie style to fantasy and superhero imagery. Somewhat disappointed in the book overall, though. Â Like most of Horrocks’ previous work, this is a comic about comics, but where Hicksville and Atlas are weird and inspired, Sam ZabelÂ plays more off of stereotypes without ever really transcending them. Â It’s fun enough, but rather thin. Horrocks seems most concerned with correcting mainstream comics’ tendency to feed male sex-and-power fantasies, a worthy goal, Â but it results here inÂ a cautious,Â eager-for-approval tone that has little depth.
The Sculptor by Scott McCloud. I was struck by how much manga influence there is in McCloud’s work now. Â I especially noticed a similiarty to Tatsumi as in the examples belowÂ (though the vertical panels and heavy use of “aspect to aspect” paneling, as McCloud calls it, aren’t Tatsumi features). Â As for the story and characters in this 500 page tome,Â the less said the better.
Ethel and Ernest by Raymond Briggs. Â I haven’t read as much Briggs as I ought (he hasn’t done that many comics), other than The Snowman. Â This graphic novel about his parents’ 50-year marriageÂ is just lovely, focusing on the small, almost private world of their relationship and life together, as British 20th century history unfolds around them. Â The watercolor art evokes children’s book illustration (which is what Briggs has mostly done). Â As unpretentious, subtle and naturalÂ as those last two books are… not.
And just a couple of small-pressÂ gems:
Malice in OvenlandÂ #1 by Micheline Hess. Â The first issue of a fun all-ages comic. Doing her kitchen chores, a girl falls into a creepy, smelly, greasy, magical world inside theÂ filthy oven. Â Hess’ drawing is colorful, simple and fun — Â but not too simple: her pen-and-ink hatching helps create a fun/gross atmosphere for her fantasy world.Â Â Recommended for kids — looking forward to the next issue. Â From Rosarium Publishing.
Immovable Objects by James Hindle. AÂ nicelyÂ done minicomic, from 2012. Â In the “sad, frustrated guy” genre of indie comics, looking like a minimalist Dan Clowes/Chris Ware/Adrian Tomine kinda thing… maybe thatÂ genre isÂ a little overdone by now, but this one was worth the read: formally interesting and a niceÂ text/image interplay. Â The flatness of the visuals corresponds to the flatness of the protagonist’s affect.