Random New Releases Riff Round-Up


Saturday, October 30, 2010

Hey there. I am traveling this week and do not have access to a scanner. So that means I can’t really continue my grid talks. Forgive the interruption, True Believers. However, while driving, I pondered many topical goings on in comics. Here are my notes:

-I really liked Seth’s new Palookaville comic book. The story in the back is an interesting example of grid layout. It feels very natural and unaffected. I also liked the story because it seems to me that he is purposely playing around with public assumptions about himself and the genre of autobiographical comics. (Yes, indeed, I believe that autobio comics are a genre with their own conventions and tropes).

-The new Darwyn Cooke Parker book looks awesome. I bought it and read up until page 19 and then stopped. It’s so well laid out and drawn that I want to savor it slowly. I think the Cooke train is really chugging along now. I think the first book was just a warm up. The framing, the set design, everything feels way more thought out than The Hunter. The action and feeling in just the first 19 pages is remarkable – as is the clarity of action.

-Clarity of action is not Frazer Irving’s strong suit on the new Batman and Robin. Much as I adore his images, I’m a little puzzled by certain action scene transitions. Check it out for yourself as I can’t explain much without spoiling plot points. Still, he might be my favorite mainstream artist out there right now. According to Joe McCulloch, Irving works up his images color first – not blackline first – and it really makes a difference. His images glow in a way that I do not see in most mainstream comics. Worth checking out even if you are not a Batman fan.

Kick Ass volume 2 #1 sucks donkey dick. Romita Jr is only doing breakdowns and it shows. Palmer (inker) and Dean (colorist) just don’t seem to smooth out the edges of Romita Jr’s rough pencils. The colors are especially off to me. I think JR’s art looks better with flat colors.

-Apparently, The Whale by Aidan Koch is out. I’m really looking forward to getting my mitts on this book. If you aren’t familiar with Aidan’s work, check out her website. Definitely worth a look.

X’ed Out by Charles Burns anecdote: My girlfriend had a nightmare about alien reptile eggs and drew a picture of the eggs for me. I said that they look like the eggs in the new Charles Burns book. “What’s that?” she asked. I said “You didn’t see it sitting over there on my desk? I thought you read it.” When I showed her the book her face went white. “I didn’t see this,” she said and started flipping through it. And then she started flipping out a little. It was scary. And weird. She said “The eggs look exactly the same as the ones in my dream,” and then she started to cry.

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33 Responses to “Random New Releases Riff Round-Up”
  1. ADD says:

    Totally agree on Parker: The Outfit. Maybe it’s because I read a dozen Westlake novels between the release of the two Parker GNs so far, but The Outfit felt much more confident and nuanced, and really brought Westlake’s vision to life in comics form. Can’t wait for the rest of the series.

  2. ADD says:

    And yeah, Kick Ass 2 looks like garbage. Then again, I kind of think the whole undertaking is garbage anyway, so maybe that’s appropriate.

  3. saetw34tdfg says:

    concerning x’ed out, your girlfriend possibly has woven the cover of hergés “tintin – the shooting star” into her dream… http://www.amazon.com/Shooting-Star-Adventures-Tintin/dp/0316358517/ref=sr_1_22?ie=UTF8&qid=1288607884&sr=8-22

    • saetw34tdfg says:

      anyway, the coincidence with the alien egg is very strange… I haven’t read the burns book, but apparently there is a lot more tintin reference in it.

  4. Will says:

    I can’t decide where Blaise and Aidan’s rough/precious graphite style is really coming from… Jockum Nordstrom? Jessica Williams? I know Blaise has interviewed Amanda Vahamaki, who seems like the closest thing in actual comics (rather than CF.)

    X’ed out is cool. Interesting how he positions his older, more simply drawn monster-world as the dreams of his naturalistic black hole characters. Maybe the mutations will bleed over and become ‘real.’

    • I just think it’s coming from drawing – from drawing and letting marks be marks and not stylizing them so much into a “comics” language. Same with Vahamaki, whom I got to know at Fumetto in 2009. She said she “just likes to draw”. The more I look at Blaise Larmee the more I see Aidan Koch’s influence which is again “just drawing” or naturalism. I don’t really see CF in Larmee’s work that much anymore.

      • Ian Harker says:

        Yeah, that’s what I said about Blaise in the Young Lions review thread. I see CF more in the presentation/design than I do in the drawing. I tried to explain the idea of “non-cartoon” drawing applied to comics to some people the other day and they were having a hard time finding it a significant development.

        • Ian Harker says:

          Seems to me that cartoon illustration is only a small sliver of the overall spectrum of drawing, yet the old school attitude in comics is that naturalistic and non-cartoon approaches to drawing will never be anything more than a small sliver on the overall spectrum of comics. Doesn’t make sense to me. I accept that cartooning and comics have a very special relationship aesthetically, but the possibilities are still limitless for other approaches to image making.

          • Robert Boyd says:

            I think modern digital scanning has a lot to do with it. Inking comics was a technological necessity for a long time–so long that people sort of forgot why they were doing it. I think gradually artists started to realize that there were other options. But it took artists who come out of the fine arts world to take that leap. The first artist who I saw who worked that way (and whose work I liked) was Anke Feuchtenberger.

      • Will says:

        Well, neither of the first two people I pointed out, Williams, Nordstrom, draw comics per se. And there are others.

        Your point about “just drawing” is deeply understood, but I see these drawings and I see a common language. I see them drawing the way other people draw when they want their drawings to look this way. It’s like saying Blair Witch Project is off-the-cuff just because it looks like it is. Or that if a graffiti artist drew a graffiti comic, they were also ‘just drawing,’ despite the narrow confines of graffiti style. And that’s why I’m digging for comparisons, not just within comics, and not out of any judgment, but just to build a background.

        Vahamaki is more complicated for me… the drawings are more complete, whereas Blaise and Aidan seem to be self-consiously working within the aesthetics of a sketch — but without the urgency of your approach, for example.

  5. Blake Sims says:

    I’ve been loving Irving’s work since the Seven Soldiers Klarion mini, he’s got a great style.

    • And I hope Mr. Irving doesn’t take offense to what I wrote above – or that anyone should get the idea that I dislike his approach. To me he is on the same level as JH Williams in terms of the “experience” I have when reading his work – truly a world envelopes me when I read Irving’s comics.

  6. […] Frank Santoro talks about a variety of recent releases, including books by Seth, Frazer Irving, Darwyn Cooke, Charles Burns, Aidan Koch, and John Romita […]

  7. Uland says:

    It seems like the naturalistic deal is a response to not wanting to be tied down to the kinds of baggage that the kinds of drawing more common over the last 20 years in comics carries with it; the style will determine the content, to a certain degree. I hope it’s carried through enough to simply serve the stories, and doesn’t devolve into yet another bag of stylistic tricks. As it stands, it seems like yet another posture.

  8. DerikB says:

    If you look at some of Koch’s color work, you’ll see a rather different more expressionistic style:


    (actually, even the b+w one here)

  9. guillainbarre says:

    derikb: that expressionistic style comes from R.B. Kitaj’s late, small sized portraits. if aidan koch hasnt seen them then Id be surprised since the application of color is so similar.
    I agree with what someone said above, but moreso for blaise.
    i draw similarly to that person will posted and its funny because there are a gazillion people who draw like (blaise, elina, lizzy stewart , vahamaki, aidan, nordstrom to name a few) that but I have no idea about where this wobbly pencil line comes from, because in my mind it’s a line that predates someone like CF and has no immediate reference aside from maybe david hockney or kitaj. given the basic uniformity of the style it just seems odd that there isnt some kind of trendy touchstone that that drawing style comes from.
    there was a kid I met freshman year who drew the same way too. I think it all comes from using a mechanical pencil or something. also there’s a big tendency to draw a nose a certain way too. jockum nordstrom looks like the oldest person to work that way…

  10. Uland says:

    IF it’s not another posture, in my mind, all those marks need to be there for a reason that serves the story. I don’t see that happening. It seems like it is still tied up in making things look cool, then figuring out how they could be used in a story.
    Someone email me when some substantive work comes out of this little corner. Until then, I’m okay with letting the art school contingent have fun ( or am I?)..

    • Are the marks all over Barry Smith’s figures there for the story? Or the marks on Clowes’s figures? Are they serving the story?

      • Uland says:

        Yeah, I think they do serve the story. Both Crumbs and BWS’s marks add a distinct kinds of physicality that reflect their concerns.
        Ian: I think certain kinds of marks can get in the way of certain kinds of stories. Chippendale could never do a story about picking the kids up for school, for example.
        What I’m saying is that if this is “naturalism”, the style, as it were, needs to serve a naturalistic
        function. That, in my mind, means a whole lot of restraint, a whole lot of avoiding mannerism.

        All that said, I regret that last sentence that Frank disagreed with. I really do hope this kinds of thing takes off, I’m just wary of it becoming a distinct style as opposed to a really authentic, easy ( in the best way) way to tell real, meaningful stories.

  11. Briany Najar says:

    Comics don’t need stories.
    Stories are for kids.

  12. Ian Harker says:

    I don’t understand how marks can do anything other than serve the story. The marks that form an image and the style on display set the tone of the story itself. Aidan’s work is great because it employs all 5 senses. Think of how many aesthetically “successful” cartoonist fail to employ more than 1! Just in the mini-vignette of a comic that is the Secret Prison 3 cover she creates an atmosphere of sight, sound, touch, smell and taste with only 4 panels.

    p.s. That was also a plug.

  13. Briany Najar says:

    I was waiting for a bus recently and this old man sitting next to me wanted to talk, so i chatted with him a while.
    He went into this story about some of his old friends who went from being local pariahs to becoming respected business-people without harming anyone or acting unfairly.
    Unfortunately, some competing businesses took objection to them and started trying to defame them in various mendacious ways.
    The thing is, this old guy was from some town quite a way from here and, accordingly, he spoke with an accent and used semantic flourishes and lexical variants that aren’t present in my own dialect.
    I wanted to hear how this saga went on but I kept being distracted by the persistent question,
    How are all those funny little sounds serving the story?

    OK, that’s quite a weak metaphor.
    How about, Art isn’t the same as journalism.
    The story is just a convenient structure to hold the audience’s attention on the piece, not the sole valued purpose of it.
    The traces of a reflective being, that’s what i want to see, on any and every level of composition.

    W S Burroughs beats J K Rowling, right? right???
    Now I’m furious!
    Excuse me.

  14. brynocki C says:

    you got it. Dual stories. Multiple stories. The businessman story. The accent story. The noises you were hearing on the bus story. Your state of mind and how it was allowing you to perceive your situation story.

    Art school contingent? Oh my god get a life. Bag of tricks, bag of turds. I’d rather have a bag of something than a mouth full of boring.

  15. Briany Najar says:

    “I’d rather be confused for ten minutes, than bored for five seconds.”

  16. Marc Bell says:

    Bear with me here. I buried this here so it wouldn’t be in the way:

    Amy Lockhart dreamt she was in a Reality TV show where she was top of a skyscraper in Australia that had this fabric-like conveyer belt roadway system for cars to drive to the top of the building on. Everybody was gathering on top of the building to see who the contestants on the show would be and the people organizing the show were wearing postal service style outfits that were kind of crafty and handmade with thick woolen vests.

    Everyone formed a circle and passing around a book. The book was filled little squares with pictures in them that moved when you flipped it (a flip book, I guess). AND THEN Frankie (Santoro) showed up but his name was ‘Rocko’ and everybody was saying, “hey, it’s Rocko!”. He rushed in,excited, with two minature deers behind him. The deer had silky white fur with grey speckles on it. Amy looked at one of the deer and smiled and thought “come here deer, I want to be your friend” and it came over and Amy pet the deer and everybody was like “ohhhhh”.

  17. Aidan says:

    Not Kitaj, but Odilon Redon.

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