I've had a lot of these little things building up for quite some time now and it seems as if it will be impossible to hammer them into some really coherent post. Nonetheless, each of these is very worthwhile and I want to be sure I share them so the best thing is to just shatter the dam and let the floodwaters roar.
MARNIE GALLOWAY AND MONKEY-ROPE PRESS
Earlier this year at the Small Press and Alternative Comics Expo, or S.P.A.C.E., in Columbus I met the exceedingly talented and incredibly charming Ms. Marnie Galloway of Monkey-Rope Press. Moby-Dick was an obvious point of connection for me (see the 'About' page on her web site for an explanation of the name and how it is a direct reference to chapter 72 of the great book) but her art, her prints and her comics were exquisite as well. Marnie was wonderful to talk to, and she was recently awarded a well-deserved Xeric Grant Award for her comic In the Sounds and Seas. There are currently two issues completed out of a projected six, and these are lushly beautiful eerily powerful wordless tales. I am smitten. Take a look at this spread from volume two of In the Sounds and Seas...
You can see why I was so drawn to them, and why I really think you will be as well. You can read more about Marnie's books and comics here and you can buy them, as well as many other prints and books and the like at her Etsy shop here. And if you are so inclined, you can follow Marnie and Monkey-Rope Press on Facebook here.
An artist whose work I have long adored without even really knowing it is the Czech painter and illustrator Zdenek Burian. As a child, I was obsessed with mythology, monsters and dinosaurs, and I had stacks and stacks and stacks of books about each. I've been looking at Burian's dinosaur paintings for longer than I can remember, but only recently did I discover who he was. That was a real shock of recognition. Better yet, there is a blog devoted to sharing a wide variety of Burian's paintings and illustrations right here. It's well worth checking out, and I learned that Burian did far more than simply paint dinosaurs, as this gorgeous piece titled "Cruel Diana" demonstrates...
A third artist, who has apparently been all over the place for a few years but completely outside of my awareness until now, is Brooklyn's LaLa Albert. Her illustrations sit in some queasily oversexed glam-rock alien dimension and are simultaneously unsettling, magnetic, erotic, disturbing and chilling. An example, titled "Demon March"...
Fortunately, LaLa does have at least two fantastic art zines available, titled Alien Invasion 1 and Alien Invasion 2 which you can buy from this blog post.
NO WAY OUT FOR A FAMILY OF FIVE
Continuing in this disturbing vein, writer Sean T. Collins and artist Jonny Negron have crafted a sickeningly good and absolutely horrific short comic titled No Way Out For A Family Of Five. You can, and should, read it here and if you need just a taste first, here is the first page...
IN DEFENSE OF CRAP
At times, I am deeply embarrassed and ashamed of how pretentious and elitist I can be. It's also a paradox because for every work of classic literature I praise, there is a Mighty Thor graphic novel lurking in the background. In 1999, Fantagraphics' own Kim Thompson addressed the need for, well, crap in his short essay A Modest Proposal: More Crap is What We Need. The essay addresses what Kim sees as an increasing marginalization in comics, one that will ultimately be the death knell for everything. An excerpt...
Comics need Dean Koontzes and Robert Ludlums and Leon Urises and that Clear-and-Present-Danger guy, Tom what’s-his-name. They need stuff that’s kind of dumb but also a little bit smart, not particularly adult but not totally juvenile. They need a middle ground somewhere between Utter Shit and Great Art. Otherwise the marginalization will continue, and the genre stuff will turn into modern network TV (i.e. horrible beyond belief) and the good stuff will turn into modern poetry, and we’ll all be fucked.
This piece is well worth the five minutes it will take you to read, and I think it has implications well beyond comics. What's especially interesting is that this piece is even more relevant today, 13 years after it was first written. This may not convince me to ever watch that abortion Jersey Shore but perhaps I'll be a little less scathing toward fans of James Patterson.
TAKING TWO NAKED DOLLS AND MASHING THEM TOGETHER
And from the above defense of "crap" to this. I am absolutely mystified by the widespread popular appeal of the 50 Shades of Grey books and having read portions of the first one myself I remain flummoxed. They seem to be dreadfully written, rather pedestrian, and ultimately pretty horrifying in terms of their depiction of gender roles. I don't get it. Anyway, Britt Hayes has written an amusing and pretty harsh article about the books and the upcoming (shudder) movie adaptations. It's fluff, yes, but good fluff and delightful schadenfreude if you're into that sort of thing. (Yes, sometimes I am).