Wednesday, July 28, 2004

From the Reading Pile XXVIII

Alice in New York
This is the first installment of a planned graphic novel. If the first proper book edition is intended to be 100 pages long, it will be a breezy read indeed. Beginning in 1989, this first issue covers Henry's arrival in the city, meeting his bed and breakfast hostess Carol, and initial fortuitous welcome to the Big Apple. I'm not overly impressed by Henry's page design or artwork -- think a sloppy Matt Madden, perhaps -- but this issue does feature several memorable moments. The opening vignette on an overheard conversation about love -- and fortune -- found, p. 9's sidewalk still lifes, p. 21's lovely lust, and p. 24's call to "be smart despite yourself" all show promise. One to follow, perhaps. Henry Chamberlain, 1545 NW 53rd St. #1, Seattle, WA 98107. [28S :03]

Barry Pago: Crime Scene Photographer
Holy cow. And how. As always, Jamie's delightfully dark depictions deliver a surprisingly efficient emotional effect. Blending Greg Cook's anthropomorphic cartoonishness with Hans Rickheit's ghastly gaze, this mini -- complete with characteristic label-affixed covers -- really packs a punch. A cyborganic penguin working as a new-school Weegee cannot contain his cannibalistic urges while his son -- a frustrated photographer himself -- also goes too far. The final six complete pages are absolutely priceless, contributing a catastrophic closure while pulling the heartstrings and providing a playfully pathetic look at the father-son dynamic. A real call to pause and wonder. Jamie Tanner [36XS :01]

A color photocopied or laser-printed edition, this is a DIY catalog and program for Russell's MFA thesis exhibit at the Art Sinner College of Design in Pasadena. Combining photographs of tomb archways, distressed walls, cloudscapes, facades, and found objects with appear to be three sections of found text or original writing, the digest doesn't do much to share Russell's skil or validate his overall vision. More meaningful if you experienced the exhibit, I'm sure. Fingers crossed he got his master's! Christopher Russell, 745 Maltman Ave., Los Angeles, CA 90026. [12S :01]

Celso #2 (Birth of Celso: Inevitable)
What a trip of a comic! This legal-sized issue is an immensely and intensely dense piece of work that, while not entirely clear or cohesive, remains intriguing. Combining the fantasy world building of Sam Kieth with the psychedelic yet subtle silliness of Andy Ristaino, Celso drills through several layers of surreality to explore the environs of a humongous warrior-like creature who seems to spawn cities in his steps, a paranoid old man who is intimidated by a cat and afraid of a perceived demon on his roof, and a baby with a mallet who shares a moment with what might be an homage to Tony Millionaire's Drinky Crow. Despite the edition's oblique surrealism and the over-long text interlude featuring the old man, Celso's artwork is delightfully detailed, bringing to mind the efforts of Geoff Darrow, albeit entirely different. Confusing, yet convincing, it's worthy of consideration. Celso, 9 Bench Mark Dr., Boulder, CO 80303. [$2 US, or trade 22L :03]

Sidewalk Bump
Full disclosure: I contributed to this comic anthology celebrating the personal importance, impact, and appreciation of skateboarding. While the pieces by Dan Moynihan, the editor, ably address the wonder, joy, and celebration skating can bring -- in his segments on pavement, architecture, the strength of wooden decks, the art of drawing lines while skating, and cats -- the other contributors also add a lot to the consideration of conquering concrete. Leslie Kleinberg offers two looks at her memories of not skating when she could have. John Isaacson provides a six-page piece on skating in a rustic setting. Dave Kiersh submitted three comic-text items on how skating can affect relationships. And John Porcellino amazes with a couple of wonderful items himself. Less aggressive and more amiable than the old Thrasher Comics, this anthology is a heartfelt hallowing of what some see as a humble hobby. Dan Moynihan, 29 Farquhar St. #2, Roslindale, MA 02131. [$5 US 52S :04]

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