July 31, 2016

ICYMI -- Small Press Comics Criticism and Whatnot for 7/25/16 to 7/31/16

Highlighting some great small press comics criticism being published, as well as other random things that have caught my eye over the past week.


* Andy Oliver on Samuel C. Williams' AT WAR WITH YOURSELF, an examination of living with PTSD presented in "a style that lends an everyday immediacy to extraordinary circumstances but one that aptly reminds us of the reality that the discussion is rooted in."

* Alex Hoffman writes about Sarah Bowie's FOURTEEN EUROS IN PRIMARK, a book totally off my radar, but one that, given Hoffman's review, I really want to add to my collection.

* Tom Spurgeon shows us all how to write a short review of a good book by taking a look at Dustin Harbin's self-published minicomic, DIARY COMICS #5 .

* Not necessarily an interview, over on The Quietus, Alec Berry takes a look at KRAMERS ERGOT and talks with its editor, Sammy Harkham, who saves the very best line for the end of the piece. 

* Ardo Omer on Hannah Blumenreich's SPIDEY ZINE which she calls "young, expressive, dorky, and loose." Which seems like the right kind of praise for this sort of thing.

* John Seven on THE INCANTATIONS OF DANIEL JOHNSTON which seems like one of those vehicles tailored perfectly for the art of Ricardo Cavolo. 

* Megan Purdy takes a look at the aesthetic behind Kelly Kwang's FRONTIER #12

* Austin Lanari struggles with his critical reaction to GULAG CASUAL by Austin English. I'm really proud to have been able to publish this for Comics Bulletin, as Lanari examines both the book and the idea of what it means to write a critical review of something about which he had such a dichotomous aesthetic reaction to.

* Get a load of Etelka Lehoczky talking about MINICOMICS over on NPR, calling it a "thriving and diverse genre". 


* This great conversation between BECCA TOBIN and BRANDON GRAHAM over smoothies in Vancouver is all you need to listen to today.

* Andy Kunka and Derek Royal talk to JOHN PORCELLINO about his latest issue of King Kat. One of the more interesting parts of this conversation is how Porcellino compares constructing his minicomics to a musician sequencing the tracks on an album. Also, it's just always great to listen to Porcellino talk about his work. 

* Sean Witzke talks to everybody's favorite guy in comics, TUCKER STONE, about 10 years of his site, Factual Opinion. If you scroll to the end, there are some great shout-outs to Tucker from all sorts of spectacular people.

* Not really anything to do with Small Press concerns, but Chase Magnett talks about VARIANT COVERS which is one of those things that I will never be able to understand other than something that is both a gross cash grab and a vestigial tail of the speculator culture that destroyed corporate comics in the 90s. 

* The artist CHAD WOOD has a new website that highlights his "nostalgically comforting and ironically amusing" work.

July 25, 2016

It's No Game -- A Short Review of CASANOVA: ACEDIA #6

Last week, in the midst of all the hubbub that was SDCC, I had my short review of Matt Fraction and Fabio Moon's CASANOVA: ACEDIA #6 run over on Comics Bulletin.

I started writing about this series comparing this iteration of Casanova Quinn to Ziggy Stardust and have been infusing all my reviews with Bowie lyrics throughout. 

Imagine my heart skip moment when I saw this panel:

July 17, 2016

ICYMI -- Small Press Comics Criticism and Whatnot for 7/10/16 to 7/17/16

Highlighting some great small press comics criticism being published, as well as other random things that have caught my eye over the past week.


* Hillary Brown on Noah Van Sciver's new Fantagraphics release DISQUIET. She claims it "isn't unrelenting in its quest to make you uncomfortable" -- which is, perhaps, an encapsulation of Van Sciver's entire oeuvre.

* Rebecca Fulleylove on Beni Bischoff's "bonkers new book" titled RAMBO. Is it art? Is it comics? Is it both? Does it matter? It's bonkers! 

* Annie Mok on Lisa Hanawalt's HOT DOG TASTE TEST that is "best enjoyed in little sips, perhaps on the toilet"  which may be my new favorite way to write about comics.

* Alex Hoffman reviews 1944 by Hanneriina Moisseinen, part of the mini-kus! line from the Latvian publisher, Kus!

* Alenka Figa reviews Sage Coffey's zine IF IT WERE SOCIALLY ACCEPTABLE which seems like one of those slow-builds that pull you in and then gut-punches you with a reality check.

* Mike Sterling has been looking back at GOOD COMICS FROM THE BLACK AND WHITE BOOM which is a part of comics history that really deserves a lot more attention and exploration, especially in terms of how it worked in the marketplace and how these books relate to what is going on in the current small press scene. 

* J.A. Micheline's IN DEFENSE OF THE 10/10 REVIEW


* Tom Spurgeon re-ran his 2013 interview with GENEVIÈVE CASTRÉE who passed away earlier this week. 

* You can also read Naomi Fry's interview with CASTREE

* Finally, Rob Clough's remembrance of GENEVIÈVE CASTRÉE best sums up why we will all mourn her loss. 

* Women Write About Comics is launching its own ZINE, Secrets of the Goat People, and is looking for submissions of fiction, prose, and comics from women and non-binary people. If they use the same editorial standards that they do for their site, then this is sure to be pretty spectacular. Deadline for submission is August 6th

* Joseph Kyle Schmidt talks to JANELLE ASSELIN about romance comics, the direct market, Kickstarter, and being a publisher. Also, they talk about The Red Virgin and the Vision of Utopia!

* Sarah Mirk talks to MAGDALENE VISAGGIO about Kim and Kim, inspiration, and LGBTQ representation in print comics 

* SARAH HORROCKS talks about becoming a great comic writer and artist and crushing your enemies. All of these things she does pretty impressively.

* Andy Oliver's SMALL PRESS DAY 2016 -- Looking back on a glorious day celebrating self-publishing, micropublishing, and DIY culture in the UK and Ireland. My hope is that it has continued success throughout the years and, perhaps, takes on a life of its own over here in the States.

* Chase Magnett talks about the pleasures and pitfalls of AUTOBIO COMICS and the bravery it takes to offer the world a slice of your life. It's an idea that I've been kicking around in my head for a number of years: Even if a comic is crap, you still have to respect the temerity it takes to undertake the endeavor. Most of us aren't even close to being that brave.


* Armin Rosen ponders the experience of BOB DYLAN's recent live performance in Queens. 

* THREE POEMS by Allison Cobb

July 11, 2016

Tiny Pages Made of Ashes -- July 8, 2016

Tiny Pages Made of Ashes is the 
small press comics review column I put together 
at Comics Bulletin.

This week features three reviews:

by Tillie Walden
Published by Avery Hill

by Theo Ellsworth

July 10, 2016

ICYMI -- Comics Criticism and Whatnot for 7/3/16 to 7/9/16

Highlighting some great comics criticism being published, as well as other random things that have caught my eye over the past week.

(Note: I was off grid for most of this week, so this list was compiled last minute and I'm sure I missed a bunch of great stuff)


* Greg Hunter's review of Rebekka Dunlap's DREAM TUBE tries to break down this really complex set of stories by framing each of them into what they are reminiscent of.

* John Seven reviews Sophie Campbell and Erin Watson's SHADOWEYES which he calls "one of the most enlightened comics" he's had "the pleasure of reading".

* Hillary Brown reviews Tony Millionaire's MAAKIES: DRINKY CROW DRINKS AGAIN and I'm pretty sure she liked it??

* You know I'm rushing through this list when I include Nick Gazin's COMIC BOOK LOVE-IN -- really obnoxious writing about some great books. Think of this as "exposure" to what not to do, and my promise never to link there again.


* Alex Dueben has this really interesting conversation with FRANK VIVA about his new book, Sea Change

* Rachel Davies interviews JULIA GFRöRER about context, collaboration, and working with themes


* Ray Sonne chooses three women writing INSPIRING AUTOBIO COMICS 


July 5, 2016


I wrote about Josh Hicks' GLORIOUS WRESTLING ALLIANCE for Comics Bulletin.

Veering off into wrestling inspired imagery of the poetry of Death Machine, the limitations of the women’s league, and new personas for Gravy Train (“I don’t want to be remembered as a Giant Sauce Receptacle forever!”) Hicks circles around questions of identity in this bonkers tale of kayfabe and marketing. If your persona is at odds with your individuality, who are you really?
How strong must your ego be to survive?

July 3, 2016

ICYMI -- Comics Criticism and Whatnot for 6/26/16 to 7/2/16

Highlighting some great comics criticism being published, as well as other random things that have caught my eye over the past week.

* Since 2011, Retrofit Comics has been publishing amazing books by a diverse and talented group of cartoonists, consistently pushing the envelope of what is possible in the medium. Over on The Beat, John Seven takes a look at some of RETROFIT'S EXCELLENT COMICS BY WOMEN 
* Speaking of Retrofit, Alex Widen does a short review of Leela Corman's WE ALL WISH FOR DEADLY FORCE
* A powerhouse quartet of comics critics, Shea Hennum, J.A. Micheline, Caitlin Rosberg, and Oliver Sava, have a thick and thoughtful conversation about the cultural impact and contextualization of RAINA TELGEMEIER'S SMILE 
* Christopher M. Jones turns his perceptive critical eye onto all the problems that exist in the much-lauded SWALLOWING THE EARTH by Osamu Tezuka
* Nadia Bauman writes about CODENAME BABOUSHKA AND CULTURAL APPROPRIATION. In it, she introduces you to the term razvesistaya kliukva ("a branchy cranberry tree") and how this applies to fiction that exploits stereotypical views on Russia
* Alex Hoffman parses Josh Cotter's SKYSCRAPERS OF THE MIDWEST in a note-like, observational way. There's something nice about this format, sort of a conversation between a critic and a reader, that allows you to join in as you read it
* I guess it IS half-way through 2016, so, in a way, it makes some sense to post something like this (other than, you know, click-bait), so here's Abraham Riesman's THE BEST COMICS OF 2016 (SO FAR). This is a pretty all-over-the-place kind of list, which calls into question Riesman's own sense of aesthetic (if you ask me), but the fact that he includes Nick Drnaso's Beverly shows he does have some taste (which he quickly undermines by including Dark Night, but that's a whole 'nother kettle of fish)


* Matt O'Keefe interviews writer CHRIS SEBELA about his work on We(l)come Back and Heartthrob. Unfortunately, there is no mention of #PoolDisaster2016
* Sean Ford talks to GABBY SCHULZ about Sick, a book which, after listening to this conversation, I really need on my shelf. 
* Robert Kirby has a breezy, casual, and fascinating conversation with MARINAOMI about her new book, Turning Japanese, her drawing style, and book tours
* Take a listen to this great conversation between cartoonist Tillie Walden, Avery Hill Publishing co-publisher Ricky Miller, and founder of TheLesbianReview.com Sheena about WORKING WITH AN EDITOR 
* Katie Skelly has posted THE COMPLETE AGENT 73 which was written by her Trash Twins Team-mate, Sarah Horrocks.
* Caitlin Rosberg writes an interesting but kind of unfocused piece on THE GROWTH OF SMALL PRESS AND SELF-PUBLISHED COMICS which rails against the Eisner's (to an extent) and celebrates the efforts of both C. Spike Trotman and Beyond Press 
* Talynn Kel's WHEN WHITE PEOPLE CONSUME BLACKNESS FOR PERSONAL GAIN discusses Cultural Cannibalism and the intrinsic violence therein 
* Am I wrong for being confused by the tone of Hermione Hoby's piece in the New Yorker about GENESIS BREYER P-ORRIDGE? It seems kind of condescending, but I'm not sure if it is condescending towards its readers or its subject? Help me out here.

July 2, 2016

Tiny Pages Made of Ashes -- July 1, 2016

As part of my new role as small press editor for Comics Bulletin, I've revived the dormant Tiny Pages Made of Ashes column -- reviews of small press books.

It features 3 reviews written by David Fairbanks and me:

HELLBOUND LIFESTYLE by Alabaster Pizzo and Kaeleigh Forsyth (published by Retrofit Comics)

DARK PANTS #3 by Matt MacFarland

HANDBOOK by Kevin Budnik