Tuesday, December 18, 2001

From the Reading Pile III

Low Tide #4
Another top-notch Paper Radio comic! This edition includes comics, fiction, and found art that touches on an early morning at work, 14 good things, a meeting in Arabia, a postal worker's adventures, art school, and food. The standout is "Tiger Threat," which entails a man's search for his tiger friend, an amplifier, and the dissipation of their friendship. The surprise ending of that story is worth the $2 alone. Box 254, Allston, MA 02134.

March Madness
Ben Jones' love of basketball is made manifest in this cryptic sketchbook-style comic. Combining images of Basketball Land, how a basketball feels when it hits you in the face, high-top shoes, a basketball juicer, ghosts, scooters, and people playing the game, this 16-page minicomic is a psychedelic ode to the game. Three points for pursuing an obsession! $1 to 23 Forrest Hills St. #2, Boston, MA 02130.

Modern Industry: Futurista!
A two-volume, 116-page anthology published early in 2001, this edition of Modern Industry would have benefited from better production. Photocopied with rubber stamp logos, these two comics would have made a nice perfect-bound book. Still, the comics are impressive. Jack Turnbull emerges as a self-publisher to watch with his piece "The Girl from Outer Space," which captures connection, frustration, and dedication quite well. Carrie McNinch's "My Dear" communicates the multiple, life-long forms of love that couples can feel -- almost all captured in drawings of photographs. F.C. Brandt's "And Another Thing" is a Jef Czekaj-like romp through time travel, politics, and good humor. Bruce Orr's "Linka" is a two-page existential quandary. And the seven-page "... Stalin Joe Stalin" by Trevor Alixopulos is an insightful parallel between historical world politics and the current business landscape. The art is often rough, but the ideas and concepts carried by these views of the future are strong. A quality roundup of comics creators from three countries, the collection also includes work by Jason Shiga, Mike Tolento, Marissa Falco, Jess Reklaw, and Dylan Williams. $8 to TFR Industries, Shawn Granton, 3719 SE Hawthorne Blvd. #243, Portland, OR 97214..

Perfect Plastic #2
A bit pricy, but this screenprinted, handmade wonder is one of the most beautiful minicomics I've ever seen. I'd like to blame this on one of the Paper Radio or former Fort Thunder crew members, but I really have no idea who produced this amazing piece of small-press ephemera. [I didn't when I read it; I do now: Alex Barry of Jamaica Plain.] Screenprinted in three colors throughout, the booklet juxtaposes raw comic art and mysterious writing such as, "A good robot friend is hard to come by. Sure you could purchase one in a supermarket gumball machine, but those ones, oh boy, they listen to the worst albums." The art reminds me slightly of Ron Rege Jr., Gary Panter, and Ben Jones. Alex informs me that there are four editions available.

  • #1, $5, xerox, color and black and white ( very few copies left)
  • #2, $15, color silkscreen book ( currently reprinting)
  • #3, $5, silkscreen cover, b&w xerox, blotter paper LSD insert, 83 pages (500 copies)
  • #4, $10, color and b&w xerox, on executive and photo glossy stock (100 copies)

    You can write Alex at 6 Pond St. #3, Jamaica Plain, MA 02130. Tell him Media Diet sent you.

    Snow Bits 2001
    Another mind-blowing minicomic out of Massachusetts. This almost-anonymous work [I've since exchanged emails with a Donald P. Grady.] is drawn almost entirely on graph paper, with the artist using the boxes to fill in pixels -- or as panels for non-pixellated art. It's largely a stream of consciousness story that invoked Larry Marder's process comics and former members of the Fort Thunder collective. The plot involves snow, robots, a digi-dog, a frozen castle (the best page spread!), a book, pixellated goggles called Digi-Eyes, and a bird lady who makes gift boxes. The story flows scene to scene by falling into an aspect of the art, and the resulting read is one of free association, cascading progress, and ambivalent relevance. Wonderfully done! Email Donald to request a copy.

    Sparkly Angel #1
    A stunningly personal zine that described encounters with physical abuse, emotional abuse, eating disorders, sleeping pill overdoses, bisexuality, stuffed animals, racial discrimination, and Harvard Square. Sara's lived a lot for a 19-year-old, and discovering zinemaking seems to be good therapy. I read almost every word, and Sparkly Angel reminded me of the zine Navelgazing in many ways, from its charmingly sloppy collation to its revealing handwriten layout. A mix of personal writing, clip art, poetry, and child-like artwork, the 52-page Sparkly Angel helped me realize that my relationship and work problems are small -- and make me want to tell Sara that she's OK, beautiful, smart, and not alone. She says her mom helped her with the zine. That's pretty cool. $2 to Sara Berry, 9 Ellsworth Road, Nahant, MA 01908.

    Superflux #1
    This stark, black-and-white, bile-drenched pamphlet was produced by Mr. Graham, who published these "notes from the front lines of the analog resistance" just after he quit his job this summer. Oh, how he hated that job. Here are some other things Mr. Graham hates: cell phones, yuppies, the rich, pretentious design, JFK Jr., Survivor, and the Internet. But -- lest you think that this almost all-text screed is merely a rant or whining, know that Superflux is extremely smart and very, very funny. Mr. Graham does more with these four pages than most zines can do with 48. His writing is spritely, his sarcasm is whip smart, and his sense of humor outshines even the most dire of his commentaries. Of the eight easy pieces, my favorites include "If You Have a Cell-Phone, I Hate You," "Thank God for the Rich," and "Thenewgoldenage.com." Extra punk points for the distressed typewriter on photocopier layout. Look for this in the Boston area or email Mr. Graham. He informs me that #'s 2 and 3 are now available for $1.

    Have you read these? What did you think?
  • No comments: