FIVE COMICS I LOVED IN 2013
#1 Seth - “Palookaville 21”
At SPX earlier this year Seth said, “I get described as a nostalgist a lot, but I’m not. I don’t want to live in an earlier era. I am drawn to old things, whether it’s an old building or a design on an air vent. But it’s not nostalgia, it’s more about a sense that time is slipping away, it’s really a predisposition to melancholy.” This hit me hard, because I fully understand what he is describing. I feel this all the time. I even feel a physical longing for an earlier era before the elves were in a full retreat when I read “The Lord of the Rings”. I know it’s ridiculous. And I am not actually nostaglic for an earlier time period in a make believe world. But there it is. And Seth has been mining this feeling for his entire career and it resonates with me.
#2 VA - “Society is Nix”
Do we live in a golden era simply because a book like this is available? Or do we live in a shadow of the world where this was actually a mainstream artform and a book like this only has a print run in the hundreds and costs a small fortune to buy?
#3 Ad Reinhardt - Exhibition at David Zwirner Gallery
There was some images in this exhibit I was able to understand and contexualize pretty easily and they were interesting and fun to look at it. But there were others like this one where Hitler is dragging a dead wizard under the night sky that are master level cartooning with powerful images that I am unable to place into a coherent context or understand at all and they left me reeling and thinking on them for days.
#4 Anya Davidson - “School Spirits”
There is a three page sequence in here where the hornball high-school age Oola fantasizes about what she would like to do to a schoolmate she has a crush on and the cartooning is out of this world. Things like burying him up to his neck in sand and letting a crab have at him, ski jumping nude onto his face, etc. Each thought it more absurd than the last. It’s like an exercise out of Ivan Brunetti’s “Cartooning Philosophy and Practice” book. The structure of the book is set up to have these bursts of digressions which are sometimes character-building, sometimes just tone setting, hilarious, and wildly creative. It’s such an obvious and effective structure for a comic that I’m surprised I can’t think of an example where it has been that way before.
#5 Simon Hanselmann - “Life Zone”
Habitual drug users busting each others’ balls is a pretty standard trope in indie comics, but Hanselmann does it in a way that is twice as funny and twice as heartfelt as anyone else.
Plus the comedy and the dark emotional core of this play off each other in a way that enhances both dramatically. When Meg bursts into tears unexpectedly I am floored and I have to think I wouldn’t have the same reaction if I hadn’t spent that time with her on the couch busting owl’s balls.