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Monday, March 08, 2004

 

Short, Sharp Shocks -- It's been a couple of weeks since I've been able to knuckle under enough to get some reviews done, so the stack has managed to get tall enough that stuff keeps sliding off. I had hoped to whittle the stack down a bit more than this, but maybe I'll get to some more reviews later in the week.

Forlorn Funnies #5: My Love is Dead, Long Live My Love -- Probably the biggest bargain of the year, this standalone issue provides a myriad of examples of Paul Hornschemeier's brilliant cartooning and design sense. A flip-book half dedicated to the forlorn, half dedicated to the funny, with standout pieces like "America, Your Boyfriend," which frames the debate over U.S. foreign and domestic policy in terms even an idiot can understand -- quite a handy thing to have around, if you think about it. "Whatever Dude" and "It's Just So Cute" demonstrate how Hornschemeier can absolutely dazzle with his fearless exploration of what it is to be a cartoonist. "These Trespassing Vehicles" and "The Underneath" both point the way to new directions Hornschemeier may be exploring in the near future. This is incredible, essential stuff, absolutely the best comics money can buy, and this issue has so many wild examples of Hornschemeier's gifts that it's guaranteed to hook you for life. Grade: 5/5

The Gypsy Lounge: Lunchtime Variety Criminals -- An epic post-superhero story that constantly teeters on the edge of an appealing insanity. Writer/artist Jasen Lex combines his angular cartooning with seamlessly integrated phtographic backgrounds throughout, his story focusing on the daughter of a noted superbeing who gets caught up in the bizarre scheme of a brilliantly deranged scientist. Lex's style is uniquely his own and extremely accessible, and should appeal to readers of books as diverse as Powers, Grrl Scouts and, perhaps especially, Automatic Kafka. Unlike that last title, though, Gypsy Lounge works as a complete narrative and never gets so fascinated with its own chaos that it loses your attention. Lex's combination of cartooning and computer techniques is both forward-looking and thoroughly comics. Order through the Aweful Books website. Grade: 5/5

Further Grickle -- My first exposure to Graham Annable convinces me I need to see more. Deceptively simple cartooning gives way to cogent insights about human fallacy, with just enough "there" there in the art to breeze along without seeming anorexic. "By Necessity" is a serio-tragic and utterly relateable suburban misadventure, while "Living for the Moment," which opens the volume, sums up social insecurity with wit and insight in three short pages. Great stuff, highly recommended. Grade: 4.5/5

Skidmarks: The Complete Bic Cycle -- Surprisingly human graphic novel that most readily evokes Eddie Campbell, Gilbert Hernandez and Paul Grist as it documents the awakening of a self-involved young adult always involved in one scheme or another. This isn't a fully-formed masterpiece, but writer/artist Ilya shows great potential and an emerging unique voice and sensibility, and at less than thirteen bucks, artcomix fans may find this a worthy addition to their libraries. Certainly it indicates Ilya may be a name to look for in the future. Grade: 3.5/5

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