Wednesday, February 05, 2003

From the Reading Pile XVI

A Modest Sample of Work for My Close Friends and Prospective Clients
An aspiring commercial artist, Fred was one of the friendliest people I met at APE this year. Currently working freelance, Fred says that his mini hasn't really helped him find any work yet, but you know what? The photocopied 12-pager is an impressive melange of Andi Watson, Shary Flenniken, Kris Dresen, Jeff Smith, Jordan Crane, and Geoff Darrow, believe it or not. Using a Scott McCloud-like approach to strutting his storytelling stuff, Fred recounts his animation, illustration, and publishing experience, basically creating a comics resume. The plane crash panel by itself is worth flipping through this. Friendly, funny, and extremely clean in its pacing and line. Somebody hire this guy. Free from Fred Leisen.

The New Adventures of Mangfish
This eight-page photocopied mini was completed at the copy shop minutes before Andy arrived at APE this past weekend. It's a slight divergence from his Life of a Fetus work for Slave Labor, both in terms of artwork and story. As the "presumed unquenchable," Mangfish is jokingly based on the "popular books on tape version of Peter Benchley's White Shark." Riffing on some of Marvel's worst monster comics ("Mangfish chooses poorly.", the Mangfish soon emerges as the "Mangfish that walks like a mang," stomping on a well-drawncoelacanth. This might be a good excuse for Andy to draw amphibians ("Good evening friends.") or it might be a solid parody of monster comics. All I know is that it's less dense that Fetus -- less psychedelic -- and a slight stretch for Andy. Keep stretching, man. I look forward to seeing the full length. Free from Andy Ristaino.

Snake Pit Anthology II
I met -- or almost met -- Ben at APE this year, and having read almost two years worth of his daily punk-rock autobio comic strips, I feel as though I know him. His simple yet complex all at the same time. Every day Ben details his daily regimen. His soundtrack. Watching movies. Smoking pot. Hooking up with girls. Drinking heavily. Going to shows. Working at a record store. Enjoying James Kochalka's work -- and getting the tat to prove it. Caring for his fish. Toruing as a roadie. Playing in a band. Visiting his parents. Going on roadtrips. It's all rather deadpan and mundane in a Doris-meets-Cometbus kind of way, but reading Ben a year at a time -- these anthologies collect Ben's monthly editions -- it's easier to track the trends in his life. People come and go. He debates whether he has a drinking problem. And he continues to discover himself through comics, friends, and music. My favorites in this edition include the full-page New Year's piece, the thrash metal song lyric adaptations, and his drawing of girls, turtles, snails, and people at parties. Wonderful. $2 to Ben White, P.O. Box 49447, Austin, TX 78765.

Stuart Ng Books Catalogue Eight
This free 28-page catalog of out-of-print, rare, and used books about illustration, animation, and comic art is an impressive, albeit expensive selection of original art, artist monographs, political cartoons, art instruction books, illustration annuals, reference books, and periodicals. A media geek's dream. Almost rivaling my favorite catalog of rare labor- and socialism-oriented texts, this catalog, though thinner, is just as tempting. Charles Addams, Jack Cole, Harold Gray, Bill Mauldin, Harry Rountree, and back issues of Nemo -- they're all here, all in early editions and well-described listings. Budget knows whether I'll place an order, but it's fun to browse -- and dream. Stuart Ng Books, 2456 W. 228th St., Torrance, CA 90501-5232.

Synthetic Universe #3
Not to relegate Alison to girlfriend status out of the gate, but this comic -- Alison's first full-sized comic, I believe -- was handed to me by Andy Hunter, former Somerville-based editorial executor of Mommy and I Are One. Oddly, having read the entire comic, a piece that Andy wrote, "Killing Time," is perhaps the best in the issue. A modern-day reworking of the frog prince fairy tale, the piece is a darkly playful look at love, separation, and opportunity. Hunter's other piece, the short-form "Walk in the Park," isn't as satisying. Of Taylor's solo pieces, "Thrifting in the 2020's" reminds me of Megan Kelso's Bottlecap stories, with its dystopic manufacturing-based future and relational considerations. (The phone panel on p. 11 of that story sings!) "The Bone Story," despite the awkward two-page spread, is a nifty twist on autobio storytelling. And, while it was fun to see Andy's mug in the third panel of p. 30, Alison's art is largely an ugly-style take on Leela Corman or Jessica Abel. The writing, I like. The art, I might need to get used to. $3.95 to Alison Taylor, Hardcut Publishing, P.O. Box 291700, Los Angeles, CA 90029.

No comments: