I’ve been missing for two months but I’m found again for the New Years. I’m now writing for Mass Appeal Magazine. This is my first article: an interview with Ed Piskor and his fantastic Hip Hop Family Tree.
Pecos, is a western comedy comic book written and drawn by Yeti Press publishers, RJ Casey and Eric Roesner. The first two issues of the series were sent to me in the mail after having funded their Kickstarter with my contribution of $10. The two comics are 16-pages each, revolving around a western gunslinger named Pecos Bill and his horse Widow Maker, using cartoony art styles by Roesner and fun western folklore told by Casey.
The first issue of Pecos introduces the mystery cowboy. A group of travelers are seen around a campfire, taking turns telling stories about Pecos Bill and his insane gunslinging adventures. He’s revealed as a fierce gunslinger who raised a pack of wolves as a child (as opposed to being raised by wolves as a child), growing up to kill over 100 people and become a feared legend and ladies man. The comic’s hero is amused by the tales, as Pecos Bill is sitting in and listening to the stories of his past endeavors, as preposterous some of these claims may be.
Pecos #2 is an exciting continuation of Pecos Bill’s legend, providing an action tale involving opium, apples, train tracks, and hilarious one-liners. Bill faces a hilarious character named “Appleseed,” who places opium inside of apple cores and feeds them to townsfolk. The issue ends with a bang, as a fantastic macho grindhouse/slapstick fight scene occurs and finishes the comic on a high note.
Casey’s work on both the first and second issues of Pecos are wonderful, creating an exciting western hero and placing him in action-packed situations. This has the setup for an entertaining ongoing title, provided Pecos Bill has as interesting of villains and situations as Pecos #2 featured. Roesner’s art style can be described as cartoony, which creates a hilarious atmosphere for Pecos. Faces are illustrated with such exaggerated, dramatic structures, similar to what you would see in overly detailed gags from Adventure Time or Ren & Stimpy. It certainly adds humor where violence is shown, giving a Tarantino-esque feel to scenes in which someone dies, a one-liner is said, and blood is spurting in a crazed cartoon-like manner.
Excited to see where Pecos goes next. Casey and Roesner have succeeded in creating a hero that can dive into any predicament provided, creating an entertaining pulp-like western experience.
Writer Kirby Stasyna and artist/co-writer Joe Deagnon self-published the first issue of their horror comic Chicken Outfit, which honestly came out of no where and took me by surprise. I’m not too big on horror comics, but in combination with the gruesome art style Deagnon provided in addition to Stasyna’s aid in wit writing, the first issue of Chicken Outfit has proved a worthy mention for the year’s most interesting self-published comics.
The first issue revolves around two friends, Stan Munson and Rusty McDoodle (who wears the chicken suit), and the series of weird events that unfold around their lives. Stan Munson is an I.T. and technology savvy guy, who works for a company called Xber Xabre as their head of Application Development Department. McDoodle is a lonesome man who suffers from severe depression after his girlfriend recently left his life. The two seem to have troubles making ends meet.
The comic starts out with Munson’s self-made sex robot malfunctioning instead of performing its fellatio duty, transforming into a weird grotesque creature and immediately trying to murder Munson. The absurdity and horror begins within three pages into the comic, setting the tone for the entire basis of the comic. We’re then introduced to McDoodle, who almost offs himself, but instead heads over to a bar to speak with Munson about his weird sex robot malfunction.
Then, there’s a second set of characters introduced, with the main focus being on an alcoholic psychic named “Headcast.” Joining him is a fisherman and psychic-woman.
That’s all there is to really know, so far. The story has been extremely similar to theatrical pacing and more will undoubtedly unravel with the next issue of this excellent start. The writing is very sharp and witty; it’s evident the two authors of this comic book have planned out far in advanced what they’re going to do with these devilish characters.
But perhaps that’s what I enjoyed most about Chicken Outfit. It seems the authors know exactly what they’re doing and have it all mapped out to be as entertaining and cinematic as they can make it. This is playing out like a film so far, introducing witty characters with great development unfolding, even though not much is known about anyone at this point. We don’t know what McDoodle is wearing a chicken suit or why Munson really needs to talk to McDoodle, nor do we know who “Headcast,” or his partners are. But the pacing creates a care enough to want to know.
The art also visually fits the bill for a horror/comedy comic book. It’s gruesome and shaded with detail. Deagnon’s style reminds me of John K’s work on Ren & Stimpy, with more Invader Zim coloring and much added detail. It creates an entertaining atmosphere, for sure.
While not much is known in the first issue of Chicken Outfit, it’s obvious the creators will have tons of answers covered by issue two. Its witty writing and excellent pacing really make Chicken Outfit a unique experience. Wonderful and fun, I highly recommend grabbing this comic.
Note: This book is meant to feature panorama pages, but it’s hard to take screenshots with my iPad and really capture the essence of the art featured in Fata Morgana, so kindly imagine another half to some of these images.
Jon Vermilyea is a multitalented artist who resides in Los Angeles. With projects ranging from designing clothes for MISHKA, animating a music video for Animal Collective, producing some books for PictureBox, creating Adventure Time wallets, and generally just flat out working on some vivid illustrations. He’s got style and he is awesome, so naturally, one of the coolest small pubs, Koyama Press, decided to publish Vermilyea’s imaginative wordless story titled “Fata Morgana.”
With Fata Morgana, we see Vermilyea get as crazed and dreamy as possible. It’s presented from the mind of a small child and features vivid colors and stray lines, forming wondrous creatures and terrifying landscapes. Everything drawn seemingly has a face that appears to be melting, forming a panorama of insanity that this small nameless boy gets lost in. There are no words in this book, but simply beautiful illustrations of monsters and dreams that Vermilyea effortlessly displays. This is crazed craftsmanship at its finest form.
The book is 48-pages and it’s as addicting to stare at as a look-and-find book. I’ve looked through this book multiple times, finding something new to gander at with each opening, hidden beneath the multiple layers of freakish characters and smiling objects. It’s definitely something illustrators would love to own and for comic fanatics to show-off to anyone. Fata Morgana as a wonderfully lunatic, psychedelic adventure, serving as an outstanding art book for illustrator Jon Vermilyea, and another staple in Koyama’s superb catalogue. An absolutely beautiful look into a child’s mind-bending dreams.
This gripping comic book from Anna Bongiovanni is one of the strongest efforts 2D Cloud has published and one of the most powerful debuts for an author I’ve ever had a chance to read. Out of Hollow Water is a dark, disturbing collection of tales about women and the psychological and physical damage they undertake from mythological creatures or metaphorical monsters. It’s a compilation of three tales called “Monster,” “Out of Hollow Water,” and “Grave.”
The book is definitely powerful, using nameless characters to convey vague stories with emotional depth. Anna Bongiovanni illustrates a gritty style to communicate odd feelings of violation and undesired sentiment. With the book’s opening story, “Monster,” Bongiovanni shows a woman being violated by a monster on an emotional and physical level. The monster here represents an intruder the woman feels sickened by, who forcefully entered her life and scarred her on multiple levels. The end of the tale is followed by multiple grey/black drawings of the woman dealing this demonic beast. It’s short and simple, yet “Monster,” symbolizes so much emotion and thoughtfulness that it lusts for multiple reads.
“Out of Hollow Water,” is a longer tale that takes up the majority of the book involving three women: a victim, her sister, and a caretaker (possibly mother?). The victim is seemingly bruised and bloody, having just given birth to some sort of demonic baby that another woman helped deliver. The sister of the victim is now given the task to rid the baby, but it overcome with a sense of guilt due to the baby’s natural innocence. It’s hard to watch this girl go through a gloomy forest holding a new-born baby, contemplating if she should kill it or let it live, but readers do get a sense of danger from the obviously demonic/unwanted baby. And danger does ensue, as a female monster eventually finds the baby and places it in its womb.
The pacing through this story is wonderful and fully utilizes the dimensions of the book itself. Each page is a 6 inch square, so the journey the readers takes through the forest alongside this woman carrying an evil baby and contemplating evils is full of fast, eager page-flipping. The obvious gruesome victim of this story is depicted with such horror, and the tension between the woman carrying the demon spawn and her inner-self is tight, haunting.
The book ends with its final tale called “Grave.” A woman digs up an old box, opens it, rids of some literal gooey-matter that easily translates to regret and negative memories, puts the lid back on the box, and buries it again. Just as the other two stories, there isn’t a solid resolution to “Grave,” yet it does its job in provoking much stimulation in the mind. The woman is seeing burying horrible memories away in her mind, attempting to ignore them for comfort as if they don’t exist, but we see the consequences of avoiding the feelings, as she constantly has her horrible recollections interrupt her grave-digging ritual. The story ends with the words, “You feel lighter. Almost in control,” which surely leaves a haunting and disturbing mood on the reader.
But as haunting and dark Out of Hollow Water is, it’s remarkable and breath-taking. Anna Bongiovanni has created an incredible debut comic for all to remember, tapping into the minds of readers and raising thought-provoking depth to anyone who grazes through this book. Out of Hollow Water is a highly recommended read.
Freud is a beautiful graphic novel serving as an introduction to one of the best-known scientists, Sigmund Freud, the founding father of psychoanalysis. Written by French writer, economist, and psychoanalyst, Corinne Maier, this book functions as an illustrated intro to one of the world’s greatest thinkers of the twentieth century.
This non-fiction graphic novel is almost as genius as Freud’s teachings. Using the comic book medium, Maier and French artist Anne Simon paint a vivid picture of Sigmund Freud’s life; illustrating his childhood to adulthood using contorting lines and illustrious illusions to showcase the human mind.
While not in-depth with specific details, Freud is a basic look into psychoanalysis, or the psychological/psychotherapeutic theories and associated techniques created by Sigmund Freud, which include interpretation of dreams, revealing repressed and unconscious impulses, and concepts of childish sexuality. And while the subject could be confusing for those looking at psychology on the surface, it’s not – this book is something high school youth and adults can pick up and speed through.
The biographical comic creates Freud as almost a Dr. Seuss-like character, having Sigmund Freud exclaim his findings aloud as if he were traveling through his own mind from page to page. And as we watch him flow through his life beholding new findings, Anne Simon uses fantastic imagery through the graphic novel. Some pages look similar to a board game’s play setting, while other panels are a boat ride through Freudian imagination. Constantly, the Austrian neurologist refers back to old Greek and Jewish stories he can take bits from to apply to new findings, and Simon is there to handcraft beautiful borders and wondrous pictures alongside each page. Not to mention loads of naked men and women (this is Freud we’re talking about).
Freud studies numerous patients throughout this tale, tackling such subjects as dreams and repressed memories and even analyzing his own self at points. He discovers the secret to understanding dreams and deciphering their rebuses (which the book explains as a “puzzle that uses a combination of pictures and numbers to make words”). He uncovers the childish feelings of lust toward mothers and anger toward father figures. Freud also features numerous cameos from other famous figures and neurologists from the early 1900’s who either disagreed with Freud and dismissed him as a madman, or praised his genius, such as psychiatrist Carl Jung and surrealist painter Salvador Dali.
Perhaps my favorite part of Freud came from Sigmund’s explanation of primitive societies versus modern society. Freud compares cavemen living in packs under tyrannical fathers who monopolized women, and described the relation between those sons who murdered the father figures out of anger. The story was related to today’s society of fathers and sons who are constantly in war, and further making clear why murder is such taboo. Maier does a fantastic job of simplifying these observations of Freud in layman’s terms.
However enjoyable reading Freud’s observations may be, the entire graphic novel isn’t as whimsical as a Seuss book can pan out. Considering the times of Freud’s studies, toward the end of the book we watch as war breaks out, and we are shown the dangers and troubles Sigmund Freud experienced during Hitler’s rise. It’s a sharp turn at the end of the man’s life, but it’s a necessary depiction to guide the reader into comprehending the studies of a scientist living in Europe during the early 1900’s.
The pacing and storytelling from Corinne Maier is satisfying, definitely fitting hand-in-hand with Simon’s artwork. Freud feels like a journey into the functions of the human mind, both visually appealing and a fancy tickle to one’s imagination. While not going deeply into the works of Sigmund Freud, this biography earns its worthiness with captivating imagery and an imaginative pace of storytelling. At just under 60 pages, Freud will satisfy readers with a fantastic tale of an important human being.
$8 each, 24 pages, black and white, 7.5 x 5.5 inches
I was first aware of Katie Skelly via a random follow on Twitter, in which I clicked through her Calico Comics website and impulsively read a couple of issues of her first comic series, Nurse Nurse. Her cutesy style and badass female leads drew me in, illustrating her comics with simple shapes and expressive panels. I recently had the chance to read issues #1-3 of her latest series, Operation Margarine, and I’m happy to say Skelly has impressed me.
Operation Margarine is a story about a rich girl runaway named Margarine and a badass biker bitch named Bon-Bon. The two decided to run away from town together, restarting lives as new people with each other and being quick buddies, though they’re both wanted girls by some kind of authority for two completely different reasons. While those reasons are somewhat unclear within the first three issues of Operation Margarine, the comics certainly present an amusing tale.
The brief dialogue between Bon-Bon and Margarine are enough to set the mood for the out-of-order comic book storytelling, but Skelly really illustrates such drama, that it’s hard to not feel like each comic was much denser than presented. Skelly has a gift for using great body language and facial expressions with her simplistic art style, expressing way more from each character than presented in its dialogue. It seems way more natural, and in a way, its simply cinematic.
There isn’t one character in Operation Margarine that I didn’t enjoy seeing. There was never a time while reading the first three issues of Operation Margarine where I felt dissatisfied. To simply put, Katie Skelly’s Operation Margarine is a fantastic mini-comic series that I cannot wait to see unfold, starring two bad bitches and some fantastic motorcycle action, similar to seeing those hardcore femmes in films from the 60′s, and combining it with class of the Mods of that era.