Tuesday, June 26, 2007

I Shall Change the World Through Comics Sales

Am I dreaming? Am I not warily churning butterflies in my stomach at the prospect of some looming event? Are there no signings, no conventions? Is this a small respite? Can I finally get to that stack of books gathering dust on my coffee table? Yes! Yes! So this week I finally have a chance to discuss some new books, and some newish books, I've had nary a moment to either read or write about. All of them I would recommend owning, and doing so as quickly as possible- it pays our rent, yes, but these offerings are extremely swellerific and positively desirable, dudes and dudettes.

Fletcher Hanks I Shall Destroy All the Civilized Planets - Edited by Paul Karasik, published by Fantagraphics. Upon first inspection it is easy to dismiss the contents of this book as pure old-timey, dopey crap, of the kitschy sort of superhero buffoonery lampooned in Robert Smigel cartoons on SNL. Indeed, in the book's afterword, a revelatory comic-format quest to find Hanks the man, Karasik portrays his mother and Hanks' son both merely glimpsing at his comics, and their immediate response: "Looks like crap to me." From 1939-1941, Hanks let loose these bizarre treasures upon the world, often for third rate publishers, until Whoosh! he disappears, drops off the comic radar. A cult figure in comic-lore, his anatomy's atrocious, his sense of reality non-existant, but his The standout character of this book, a collection of fifteen of Hanks' best, is Stardust: The Super Wizard, "whose vast knowledge of interplanetary science has made him the most remarkable man that ever lived, devot[ing] his abilities to crime-busting." Stardust has a knack for catching the baddies- and then unleashing such violent retribution that the overhyped 90s superstar artists couldn't even imagine. Y'know, I just read a review of this book proclaiming it hilarious (published by the same guys who made those poopy comics popular in the first place). Nothing could be further from the truth for me. Read the afterword; get the context. You'll see these stories are imaginative and childish, yes, but also the disturbing comics of a disturbed man, displacing his twisted worldview in comic form. Now for all of us to enjoy! And awaaay we go...

Spent - by Joe Matt. If you've never read Joe Matt's books- Peepshow, Fair Weather, The Poor Bastard- nothing I write here can possibly prepare you for the sheer pain of reading the man's books. The kind of pain that makes you wince and avert your eyes when the main character in a book or a movie embarrasses the hell out of themselves, or says something completely asinine at the worst moment to the worst person. Spent collects in a re-edited and re-colored form his best storyline from the past four issues of Peepshow, the end-all be-all of autobiographical comic candor for over a decade. Look, we've all got problems, right? Joe Matt just lays all of his to bare on the comic page, for better or worse, exorcising his every insane tick for your entertainment. And entertaining it is, as HBO once tried to option Peepshow as an original series (guess they settled on the less neurotic Larry David, instead) and I've been known to guffaw and chuckle at the books myself. With regards to the title, know that when a chronic masturbator uses the word Spent, he ain't referring to shopping like no danged Rockefeller at Bloomy's!!

Paul - by Nate Doyle. You might remember Nate from such weekly newsletters as The Weekly Planet, and This Week in Fungus. An occasional contributor to this publication, and a valued employee here at the store, Nate is also a very talented and promising cartoonist. His drawings are lush and expressive. He's got a great sense of tempo and storytelling, with a fluidity of motion and action that are rarely exhibited by an artist so young (here's an anomaly: you can actually tell what's going on in his comics!). Based on Norman Maclean's novella, "A River Runs Through It," Nate's mini, Paul, is available now for only five bucks at the Planet. If mini's are the rookie cards of the comics community, jump on now, so that you might lament that you knew his stuff when...

House - by Josh Simmons. An original graphic novel from the creator of Top Shelf's Happy, House is a silent story of teenagers exploring a creepy abandoned mansion, where adventure and tragedy await. Here be there be unnerving mischief. Ye be warned.

Syncopated - Volume 3 is the newest, ish, but just now have I gotten a chance to read it, the previous editions already securing a prized place on my bookshelf. A quick observation of the current comics world here, with MoCCA having just ended- there are a bozillion anthologies out there right now. Strike that generous estimate. A gozillion! This is a personal favorite. Vol.3 features Tom Devlin, Nick Bertozzi, and Paul Hoppe (all 3 Jeff Ayers faves) and a zozillion other reasons to buy it.

"A prayer for the wild at heart, kept in cages." -
Tennessee Williams

Now if you'll excuse me, I think I'll go sit for a spell,



Blogger Paul Karasik said...

Thanks for the kind words about my Fletcher Hanks book.

For readers still unfamiliar with the work, I urge you to go to my website and see a slideshow of one of the stories NOT included in the anthology:


-Paul Karasik

June 26, 2007 at 10:42 PM  

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