and a 6th mystery comic (we're still working on this one!)
Retrofit has published 45 comics and graphic novels since they started in 2011, and are using Kickstarter because, "We want to make sure the printed quality of our comics stays as high as possible to match the vision of all of our artists, but we also want to be able to pay our artists more upfront!"
If you are at all interested in comics that are not only outside the mainstream but offer brilliance as well as beauty, then you should seriously consider backing this project.
"Certainly, much of Shaman Volume 1 is bonkers and goofy and absurd. But Kahn and Hidalgo are offering much more than Pop Tarts for breakfast here. What is the right thing to do? How do we understand pain and loss in our lives? What does it mean to be a parent, a friend, a hero?Shaman is serving a full meal for dinner – it just happens to be one with a deliciously sweet and fun frosting on top"
I bandy about terms like "cash grab" and "tire fire" and "shit storm", but ultimately try to play the ray of sunshine to Chase's dark cloud.
In the end, though, I write this:
Break the corporate comics addiction. Stop buying shit that has no respect for you. Look into books from publishers like 2dCloud or Retrofit or Uncivilized Books or Tinto Press and find the type of comic that wants you to interact with it, isn’t trying to sell you something, and — for Christ’s sake — actually makes you think.
For this reason I love that Haunted Mansion #1 exists. It is a billboard for everything wrong with corporate comics. It is the clear line that demonstrates that Marvel and DC actually hate you.
So, for this reason, I would totally suggest you buy 27 copies of Haunted Mansion and distribute them to all of your friends and ask them, “Why would you stay in such an abusive relationship?”
The last time I was confronted with Conor Stechschulte’s Generous Bosom, I needed the help of Jason Sacks to help me unpack my reaction to it. What Stechschulte is doing in this series demands a completely different kind of careful reading than almost any other book I’ve encountered. There are strata of storytelling that requires an abdication of conception and a surrender to the moment that is virally uncomfortable, almost a renunciation of cohesion, an immersion into the pure artistic moment. Not to belabor the point, but in Generous Bosom there is a fog to comprehension, a wading into a miasma and effluvium of risographed diagonals of nausea inducing colors and almost sketched moments of heart-rending trauma, as if pieces of a puzzle are strewn about the room in order to ape some sort of madhouse feng shui. There’s a moist desperation that occurs in the experience of reading it, as if apperception is foot race you’re running with shin splints.
And yet it pulls you in and straps you down. Stechschulte is pressing the launch button, shooting you into dense places outside your grasp. It’s thrilling and fascinating and acts as a wake-up call experience that almost makes it seem as if all that you’ve been reading prior has been produced by somnambulists. Breakdown Press calls Generous Bosom “an erotic psychological thriller charting the fallout following a stranded motorist’s unexpected encounter with a strange, isolated couple.” Yes. This is what’s at the center of this book, but Stechschulte is playing with reveals and motivations and secrets as much as he is imparting a plot, and the end of Part Two seems to point in unfathomable directions given where the story has dwelled up until then.
In part, Generous Bosom is a game of trust. With each turn of the page, you are left falling backward with your eyes closed and your arms folded against your heart hoping that Stechschulte is an honest enough artist to catch you and keep your skull from splitting open on the concrete. Stechschulte has earned my trust with books like The Amateurs, so I’ll keep reading Generous Bosom and leave my crash helmet to gather dust on the top shelf of the hall closet. You can (and should) pick up a copy of Generous Bosom Part Twohere.
In private spaces and public faces, with gestures intended and performed, life is a series of understandings and actions that form a convoluted collision between truth and deception, fabrication and verisimilitude. Others observe what we perpetrate and, in that, make us mirrors as much as victims. Regarding Eleanor Davis’ new comic BDSM, publisher Youth in Decline says it’s a “modern SM dating story tackling the complex, intersectional relationships between friends and lovers, feminism and kink, and projection and consumption.” Its subtle precision is rendered in Davis’ confident clear ink lines, often stark against an almost exquisite lack of background. It breathes deeply with the conviction of an artist who understands that the complicated nature of human desire is best conveyed head on, allowing the underlying cacophony of resolution to resonate in the perception of the onlooker.
The seeming simplicity of BDSM almost contradicts the intensity of what Davis is confronting, and, in this disunion, her purpose becomes more innate, forcing the reading of it to become an internal conversation between public and private understandings. From the front cover to the final panel, everything in this book works to pose the questions we more often than not shy from asking out of fear of what the answers may reveal.
Whether it is confronting the ramifications of power in what feminist film critic Laura Mulvey conceptualized and labeled “the male gaze,” or understanding the interpersonal dynamics of dominance and submission in a sexual relationship as it plays out in both a public arena and a private space, Davis uses the framework of a tight narrative structure to expound upon her ideas, allowing the reader to assign understanding a posteriori. In the end, though, the reader ultimately has to confront themselves.
The Frontier series from Youth in Decline has consistently been a venue for some of the most engaging and powerful comics being published today. By publishing Davis’ BDSM, they have raised the bar even higher.
-- my grandpa, drinking a Rob Roy on the porch, rubbing his paisley sweater
It’s amazing any of us survive. Even armed with all the love in the world and the best of intentions, parents unavoidably execute small brutalities upon their children that cannot help but leave lingering scars. We are the sum total of our experiences and all those little cuts from those we love and depend on eventually make the most festering of wounds. Then later, possibly, we ourselves become parents and subsequently wade into the knife fight that is child-rearing, nicking and piercing inadvertently, wounding though sometimes with purpose. It is the great failure of our lives as adults, no matter what little successes we can celebrate. When we take that cold, hard look at the face behind the mirror, only the liar will not burst out weeping. There is a subtext of this sort of injury and defeat that suffuses Eddie Wright and Jamaica Dyer’s new self-published comic Lake Imago #1. It is also, as Nick Hanover wrote about it at Loser City, a “study of depression and grief”. Lake Imago wears all the easy-fitting trappings of a classic horror story: three young girls (a wild one, a sensible one, and one that is withdrawn and moody) take off on a camping trip to an out of the way lake in order to get away from it all, heal, bond, and celebrate. But Dyer and Wright aren’t content to let the genre tell the story, instead there is a greater mystery and a richer end seemingly oozing behind that which otherwise would be well trod and flat. Much of this is because of Dyer’s choices in the art in this first issue. Dyer instinctively knows when to pull back and erase everything behind the characters, eliminating her otherwise detailed backgrounds, allowing the negative space to focus the observer on the emotional beat of the moment; then, in the next panel, wash everything in the environment is the deepest black ink, reversing yet pushing forward everything and anything. Much of what is occurring, even in seemingly static moments, hums with the possibility of movement: character's legs stretched like elastic bands ready to snap back, hallucinatory whirls and swirls adding further rhythm to whatever refrain that is building here in this initial chord structure.
So much of the storytelling is done through Dyer’s art that writer Eddie Wright has little obligation to fill the pages with words. Wright grasps the power of the soft voice and it is on full display here, just as it is in his other impressive work, Tyranny of the Muse. Wright is exploring the potential and the weight of the damage we carry in our lives. Each of his three main characters are awash in guilt or pain or denial, everyone needs healing, all three cling to each other in their own way, either through justification or longing or validation. Yet strange things are bubbling under the surface and while issue one serves as setup, it hints at horrors yet to come. As much as each of these characters are relatable as they are reflections of aspects of ourselves and the ways we cope with where we have been, Wright and Dyer set the stage to smash this mirror and, in those cracks, unleash our nightmares.
The strength of Lake Imago is that whatever monstrosities may come in subsequent issues may, perhaps, emulate the missteps and damage of childhood and child-rearing. “When things got really bad…” You can pick up a copy of Lake Imago #1 in either print or digital format HERE
In my world, the best comics are the ones that are being produced by exciting, boundary-pushing creators that are either self-published or curated by dedicated and enthusiastic small press publishers.
One of those publishers is Minneapolis, MN based 2dcloud.
2dcloud has consistently been putting out some incredible books that have redefined how I view the medium. Books like Gina Wynbrandt's Big Pussy, Saman Bemel-Benrud's Abyss, Noah Van Sciver and Nic Breutzman's Deep in the Woods, Will Dinski's Ablatio Penis, and the 2011 anthology Motherlover have all pushed the notion of what comics can be further and further up the ladder and out into the ether.
This is an important small press publishing house producing amazing work. If you want to see the future of comics, you need to get behind 2dcloud.
Now they are running aKickstarter for their late winter / early spring titles. As they say in their write up about it, "this book bundle is a small macro anthology, bringing together exciting authors with singular visions." And they're offering these direct to their audience at a significant discount - $9 digital, $39 print. Bought separately at retail, these books would total $86. Why would you pass this up?
Here's what's being offered (all illustrations by Sarah Ferrick):
Gulag Casual by Austin English
Gulag Casual, the new collection by acclaimed illustrator and cartoonist Austin English, presents some of the most mature and sustained work yet from a constantly challenging and essential artist. This new suite of short stories collects material from 2010—2015, showcasing the kind of imaginative imagery which firmly establishes English as one of the most innovative cartoonists in practice today.
Mirror Mirror #1 by Tracy Auch — Nou — Andrea Bjürstrom —Leslie Weibeler — Caroline Hennessy — Nicholas Verstraeten — Katherine Poe — Sarah Ferrick — Connor Willumsen — Leon Sadler [ed. Blaise Larmee]
10 artists. 11 bodies of work. 2dcloud's flagship anthology. Cover by Sarah Ferrick.
Lyrical drawing — Libidinal drawing — Comics — Drawing practice — First person drawing — Third person drawing — Embodied practice — Cartoonist turned poet — Mirror as tampon — Works on paper — Bitmap v Grayscale
ITDN by Andrew Burkholder
ITDN Group published a series of comics pamphlets from 2010—2014. Each issue was anonymously authored and included the possibility of being created by a different person. The 'group' — plural, informal, and rigid — is the only thing cohering the series together. A follow-up to Qviet, this collection documents Burkholder's earlier years, providing insights into his explorations of the themes and concepts that underpin many of his more broadly received works.
Altcomics Magazine #2
The printed companion to our documentary film—in—progress. This second issues features interviews with cover artist Sarah Ferrick (Chicago), Frank Santoro (Pittsburgh), Austin English (New York), Kristina Tzekova, Scott Longo, & Dylan Williams.
Sec by Sarah Ferrick
Sarah Ferrick’s output from 2014—2016 has taken the form of love letters. From the carefree Ssong, to the despairing Hey, and now to the blooming flowers of Sec.