Highlighting some great small press comics criticism being published, as well as other random things that have caught my eye over the past week.
* If you support Sarah Horrocks' Patreon (and really, you should) then you've already read her RANXEROX: HOLY FUCKS FOR THE PEOPLE. If not, she just made it available for everyone. Reading this made me buy these books. I regret nothing.
* Andy Oliver writes about Simon Moreton's MINOR LEAGUES #3. If you've been following my writing at all (and for fuck's sake, why would you be doing that?), you know that Moreton is one of my favorite cartoonists going presently (#8 on the list last year). What Oliver writes here, though, is the kind of writing that would make anyone want to read Moreton's work. This is personal and beautiful criticism at its best.
*Hillary Brown on Gary Panter's SONGY OF PARADISE which she seems to like (I guess?), but sounds kind of painful to me. I haven't read it, so I should probably do that before I make any more comments about it, right?
* Now I know Bob Levin has been doing this for years now, and his latest review of PURGATORY ("A REJECTS STORY") by Casanova Frankenstein is a quick dash-off, but give an old man his due. Even when he doesn't give a shit, he makes you BELIEVE he gives a shit. And that, my friend, is some good writing.
* Lucy Bourton introduces us to the FOUR PANEL COMICS of Paris-based illustrator Loïc Movellan. It's great to see an artist have so much fun within the constraints of this self-imposed dictate, as well as see how such an experiment lends itself to notions of expectation and perception.
* Irene Velentzas reviews THE CUSTOMER IS ALWAYS WRONG by Mimi Pond, a book that "explores the nature of how others' stories shape our own and forge our relationships ... [and] ... reminds us that what happens to us, how we remember a certain place, a certain time, who we were or are, is all a matter of perspective." These are good things.
* I'm always glad when I get great writers to write about interesting books by inundating them with cowboy emojis and Gifs. This time, I got Alex Mansfield to write about HEAVENLY BLUES by Ben Kahn and Diego Hidalgo. Mansfield peppers his criticism with a lot of unanswerable questions which is a style I am quite partial to, as it reveals the struggle of the critic to make sense of much larger issues.
* Alex Dueben talks with MAGGIE UMBER about her recent book, Sound of Snow Falling, as well as her deeply moving essay "Getting Divorced In Comics". While this interview is a bit stilted and suffers from what I assume is the constraints of an email interview, it is still worth a read. Maggie is one of the good people in comics, and her work is beautiful and meditative and undulating.
* Zack Soto and Mike Dawson talk to GINA WYNBRANDT over on Process Party this week. Wynbrandt's comics are great, and my review her book, Big Pussy, consistently gets hits on my blog (although I don't think it's because of my writing based on "Search Terms"). The conversation spans "a variety of topics including Justin Beiber, dating, getting derailed after finishing a book, her art style, and her writing process!"
* Zainab Akhtar is Kickstarting issue 2 of CRITICAL CHIPS packed full of comics essays and criticism! Some of the best writers writing their best writing. Kick it!
* Speaking of Kickstarter, the amazing folks at 2dCloud are funding their SUMMER 2017 collection which looks absolutely stunning. 2dCloud is one of those publishers that I trust absolutely and know that, if they are publishing it, I'll want to read it. Kick it!
* Philippe LeBlanc has once again upstaged me by putting out his much more comprehensive (though less regular and profanity strewn) SMALL PRESS AND INDIE COMICS ROUNDUP. I wish Philippe would make this more of a scheduled feature on The Beat so I could just point to it every week and say -- "Go look at this. It's good." Then again, he would have to add more profanity and/or references to sandwiches to make it really good. Also, maybe he'll link to one of my reviews once I start writing them again...
* I know there have been some issues with Oh Joy Sex Toy recently, but I gotta say that Jess Fink's SEXY DRAWING LESSONS is informative and funny.
* The specificity of the rules to this one are kinda bonkers, but what it might unearth creatively could be spectacular. Yes, I'm talking about THE COMICS WORKBOOK COMPOSITION COMPETITION 2017.
* Megan N. Liberty looks at THE AMME TALKS by Ulf Stolterfoht and Peter Dittmer in her piece called "How a Chatbot Became a Conceptual Poet" which features the sub-heading, "In a conversation with poet Ulf Stolterfht, a chatbot pushes language towards its breaking point in a way no human could." If that doesn't get your attention, then you're fucking dead to me.
* Sure, it's not small press related (then again, this is the "whatnot" section anyway, so go fuck yourself), but Brian Hibbs has some choice words about MARVEL LEGACY.
* Finally, you might want to read Simon Yisrael Feuerman's SEARCHING FOR ROMANCE -- but then again, who am I to tell you what to do.