Dressing (2015), Michael DeForge [Koyama Press]
this book is a little fuzzy to me now. i remember it being quite surreal and strange. many of the characters in this book take on different forms, abstracting their bodies into inter-dimensional shapes. the book is a handful of stories, each delving into the fluidity of our environments and our being. the first story was one of this blob slowly transforming into another type of blob, and the ways in which that transformation effects those it knows around it. it reminded me of dying, or what i imagine could be dying. many of the other tales deal in themes like this and are similarly dark and cosmic. a cosmic comic. i'll leave it at that.
this one i've known for a while because the cover art always drew me to it. having read it, the cover now did not prepare me for what was inside. this is Alice in Wonderland meets The Borrowers meets Edgar Allen Poe. the beginning shows all these little people who crawl out of the decaying corpse of a little girl. it's a fairy-tale that doesn't shy away from death. not only does it not shy away from it, it passes it off absurdity, an aside to a larger narrative. this book made me physically react from the brutality of the story, and some of the images in here i will never forget. an excellent read for those how like their fairy-tales a darker shade of Gothic.
this book is crazy. it's told in only images. no dialogue. enter 3 men onto a train. no one knows their intentions, not even the reader. we watch as these characters make their way to the back of the train, exchanging looks with the frighteningly expressionless passengers aboard for the ride. the lack any sort of direction gives this book the intensity of a great thriller. the introduction of the book relates it to the Alfred Hitchcock movie Strangers on a Train (1951). there's something sinister that is not being told, and as a reader we wait for the tension to release somehow. the notion of the train ride means eventually that the ride will at some point end. the question of when though makes this an exciting read. please find yourself a copy of this book. it's one of the most cinematic experiences i've had outside of movies.
i loved this book. this graphic memoir (a form i really enjoy) tells the tale of the author after her mother, living across the country on the West Coast, loses her house to a fire and how this moment grows and deepens the relationship between the two. it's told in vignettes, like little mini-chapters. it's very slice of life but still Gabrielle manages to synthesize those fragmentary bits of humanity during even a menial task of picking out a new stove. it's also delves into the duty of being an author, about taking part in other's suffering for the sake of art, and whether we do this for unselfish reasons or for our own personal gain and experience. a very full, memorizing, and satisfying book. it will make you want to call up your mother and tell her you love them.
Heavy-Handed (2018), Chelsea Martin [PSA Press]
i love the work of Chelsea Martin. many of these works were originally published on TheRumpus.com in 2013, and has just now been released physically. i bought my copy from her directly during a recent crisis where she, allegedly, needed her phone bill paid and was selling copies of this book for $10 via Venmo. despite the bargain, this book reads similarly to Everything is Flammable, but in even more miniature form. i like the way she shows panels of people's shoes or hands and the small details of human interaction that go unnoticed. this book is about communication and miscommunication, and the lack of difference between the two. the printing of this book is very well done and nicely renders her hand-painted art. highly recommend this and all of Martin's work.
a very cute and humble story about a cop on the moon. nothing happens on the moon. there's no crime. mooncop goes around looking for meaning in his (literally) empty life, occupying it in the meantime with whatever random problem needs solved on the moon, like helping an elderly resident find her dog. a sad, quiet read, but undeniable charming and uplifting by the end (if you read it as such). the emptiness of the setting gives the quality an floating through space, but the quirky style of the book makes it so that you never feel overwhelmed by the expansiveness of it all. read right before bed, like i did, to keep your mind thinking about what it means to be happy as you drift off into the stars.
[Honorable Mention: My Favorite Things is Monsters (2017), Emil Ferris [Fantagraphics] - i had to read this for a horror movie class with the ever-incredible Professor Joan Hawkins (author of Cutting Edge: Art-Horror and the Horrific Avant-Garde (2000)). as i did in college, i procastinated, only read half the book, and aced the quiz we had over it. i tried to check-out this book again from the library, but every time it had a waiting list that had like 20 people in it's queue. unforunate because the art in this book was some of the best i've ever seen for a graphic novel and, what i read, was a fantastic, landmark book. will read someday. sorry professor.]