Wednesday, November 27, 2002

From the Reading Pile XIII
Before I can tackle the accumulated zines and comics stacked in the milk crate on the floor by the big blue couch, I need to catch up on some unpublished reviews. Apologies to all involved, but these were penned back in April.

John Pham's 52-page "mini-comics madness rip-off preview" delivers on the artistic tease he offers in Raina Lee's 1-Up zine, avoiding illustration work for fuller length comics. "Oceanus Versus the Venusian Crayfish" provides one of the pieces scheduled for Epoxy #3, and it's a doozy. The four-layer narrative combines the relationally tense participation in a Hue City talent show, an old man's story about an orchestrated zoo break, the reminiscence of an ended relationship, and a "band" rivalry. Pham's work still reminds me of an anime-inspired mix of Tom Devlin and Jordan Crane, leaning toward Crane and indicating that his influence looms large (someone give that boy a MacArthur!). Pham's use of repetition, inversion, and slow-motion cinematography is awe-inspiring, and there are several moments worth citing: p. 5's stop-motion scene setting, p. 16's understated youthinasia, p. 19's use of multiple planes of reference, and p. 38 in and of itself. Pham's a god, and it's necessary that I absorb more of his work. $3 to John Pham, P.O. Box 361135, Los Angeles, CA 90036.

O, Canada!
Printed in February 2002, this 28-page mini collects three stories detailing Allison's recent trip to Vancouver, BC, with her friend Asher. "Asshole" describes an encounter trying to sell minis to a clerk at Golden Age Book & Comic Emporium, showing the low ranking most comics retailers give to self-published comics (sometimes solely based on size) and the need for more centralized indie comics distributors. "Un-Canadian shares an incident experienced while crossing the street -- an incident that occurs regularly in the Boston area. And "But It Wasn't All Bad!" offers some nice framing for the trip, including a two-page spread of Vancouver's skyline, a view I saw last September and can appreciate. Despite Allison's sketchier line work in this edition, O, Canada! re-establishes her as one of the best minicomics makers in New England today. $3 to Allison Cole, 2 College St. #502, Prividence, RI 02903.

Paper Rodeo No. Infinity (May 2001)
Yes! Sander's right. Newsprint is hella cheap, and more people should pursue their tabloid-templated projects. The Paper Radio crew collates this 12-page edition of creative comics and grassroots regional advertising. This issue features work by Tim, a cover that riffs off a Chewbacca-like character, the T, and some Sentinel-like robots. Also: L. DeCurtis, whose chaotic multiple portraits capture elements of boredom, fashion, and frustration; Ben Jones, with some more unicorn and breakdancing bear imagery; and Mat Brinkman (I think) and his wonderfully linear process comics. The ads are as cool as the comics, bringing contributors' styles to spots for local indie hot spots such as AS220, Myopic Books, Other Music (RIP), and Million Year Picnic. More of this, please. I've had this issue way too long. Free from Paper Rad.

Proper Gander #32
They're not the same, but in Boston we have the Weekly Dig, and in San Marcos, not far from Austin, they have Proper Gander. While the Dig is an edgy tabloid affectionate for the area's electronica and free-jazz scenes, the Gander is a 10-page comics-laden tabloid heavy on art and fiction. Hans Rickheit's "Chrome Fetus Comics" bridges the gap, accompanying excellent comics work by Baltimore residents Mary Knott and Beppi, Andrew Goldfarb, and Tania Kauffman. The non-comics and -ad content features a good zine and comics review section and a handful of record reviews, as well as a profile of artist George Bedard and a fiction excerpt by Mark Wisniewski. Also included is a center spread of portraiture exhibited at the Go Coffee Shop -- images of a fellow named Furly. Slim and somewhat ad-packed, but still solid. Worth getting, and one of the better second-tier alt.papers I've seen in awhile. Free from Proper Gander, P.O. Box 434, San Marcos, TX 78667.

Ultra Laser #1
I've seen Asher Penn's comics before, and I think I might have mistakenly considered him part of the Paper Radio set. Regardless of his creative affiliation, this is an excellent mini similar to Allison Cole's work and sporting a screen-printer cover, contruction paper interiors, and the opening, "Hello there. My name is Asher. I am a Canadian art stud." Incorporating cute brute comics featuring a Stussy-clad bear, a Pikachu-like figure, and various indie-rock characters, the 36-page mini is primarily a sketchbook including comic art, song lyrics, and balloon lettering. While I'm intrigued by the Stussy fetish, I was particularly interested in the five pages of handwitten text. This writing expresses heartfelt appreciation and affection for a friend (perhaps Allison?), incorporating quotes from several teen movies -- perhaps movies Asher and Allison saw while in Vancouver: "Cruel Intentions," "Grosse Point Blank," and "10 Things I Hate About You." I'll need to keep up with Asher's work, and I'm thrilled to find a new set of creative companions in the area. $3 to Asher Penn.

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