Blacksad Amarillo: Sorrow Is Not An Aesthetic Choice [Review]
If you've not come across Blacksad before, created by Spanish authors Juan Diaz Canales (writer) and Juanjo Guarnido (illustrator), it is an anthropomorphic noir series, set in 1950s America, centering around eponymous trench-coated private investigator, John Blacksad, a lithe, witty and cynical cat. Wildly popular France since the release of the first book in 2000, it's equally loved around the world, having been translated in 23 languages, with Dark Horse doing the honors for English reading audiences. This fifth and latest volume, Amarillo, was published in its original French in November last year, with October seeing the release of the English language edition. It's a few rungs above, thanks to Canales' writing: mixing up the mystery with social issues at the time, but largely due to Juanjo Guarnido's breathtaking watercoloured art and the superb manner in which he amalgamates human and animal characteristics.
Deconstructing The Horrific And The Humane In Kerascoet & Fabien Vehlmann’s ‘Beautiful Darkness’
It is a truth, universally acknowledged, that Fabien Vehlmann and Kerascoët's Beautiful Darkness has been one of the undisputed standouts in the not unglorious year of comics 2014. Originating from the mind and sketch/notebooks of Marie Pommepuy (she, and partner Sébastien Cosset collaborate under the pen-name Kerascoët), the story of a group of tiny people springing from the body of a dead girl in the woods and the vicious lengths and efforts they go to to survive is appreciable on several, complex levels. One of the facets of great art is that it lingers in the mind, burrows and shifts, dredging up thought and questions, analyses, re-evaluation, and Beautiful Darkness is no different. And so, to accompany my original review, I've compiled a deconstruction of sorts presented here as various questions (answered and unanswered) and theories that dig further into the text and its potential readings.
Study Group Goes All-Out With 3D Comics Bonanza [Preview]
Were it not for the 3D -- a concept I am yet to be sold on in any medium -- it would appear that Study Group head honcho Zack Soto gazed into the musty abyss that is my head-space and fashioned the new Study Group anthology accordingly. At 96 pages, it contains comics by some of the artists I'm most excited by right now: Connor Willumsen, Sophie Franz, Mia Schwarz, Benjamin Urkowitz, Pete Toms, David King, Julia Gfrorer & Sean T. Collins, and more.
Catching Up With Retrofit: New Antoine Cossé, And Olivier Schrauwen’s ‘Mowgli’s Mirror’
It's always the way isn't it? The very day I put in my order for a Spanish edition of Belgian artist Olivier Schrauwen's Mowgli's Mirror, Retrofit announce they'll be publishing it in English next year, as part of their 2015 line-up. That's a really nice acquisition for Retrofit, who have been going from strength to strength since their inception, with their slate for next year looking especially strong with books from Andrew Lorenzi, Kate Leth, Laura Knetzger, Laura Lannes, Maré Odomo, Matt Madden, Sophie Franz, Yumi Sakugawa, and Steven Weissmann.
Meka: We Are All Cogs In JD Morvan & Bengal’s Giant Machinery Of War [Review]
Meka took me by surprise. Admittedly, this state of affairs was, in significant part, was derived from the previous JD Morvan/Bengal collaboration I'd read: Naja, and a blurb that pitched it as "giant robot vehicle crashes in war-zone leaving human pilots stranded and fighting for survival," causing my expectations of this title to veer from "very excited" to "considerably neutral." And to a point, that's an accurate summation, but a superficial one, a starting point, because what Meka essentially is, is a thoughtful treatise on the "in-between" of war, lifted into exceptional territory by the sheer, stunning power of Bengal's art.
Breakdown Press Announces Second Book In Alt Manga Line: Masahiko Matsumoto’s ‘The Man Next Door’
Breakdown Press, currently the most interesting outfit operating in UK comics, continues apace with the publication of exciting book after exciting book. Earlier this year, in June, it announced the launch of a new line of translations of classic and avant garde Japanese comics in association with manga scholar and translator Ryan Holmberg (who previously worked with PictureBox in a similar capacity), the first of which was Seiichi Hayashi 1969 'blues manga,' Flowering Harbour. The second book in the publisher's alternative manga line will be Masahiko Matsumoto's The Man Next Door, collecting four gekiga stories from the 1950s. The book will be released to coincide with the London Cartoon Museum’s Gekiga exhibition, which begins on September 23rd, and will be available online at the Breakdown Press store shortly after.
Tony Millionaire’s Sock Monkey Returns In New Adventure, ‘Into The Deep Woods’
Tony Millionaire's Sock Monkey stories are a superb example of the unparalleled story-telling that only the medium of comics can offer, so the announcement of a new book featuring Uncle Gabby, Mr. Crow, and Inches the doll is exciting news. For those unfamiliar with Sock Monkey, it's a strange but satisfying amalgamation of traditional, old school children's books (particularly in terms of narrative style), ostensibly following the escapades of a monkey made from a a sock, a stuffed crow, and a creepy porcelain doll, but crossing into darker themes and horror, as the eccentric, superficial innocence of the set-up meets a very human realism. Written in collaboration with animation director Matt Danners, Into The Woods finds the toys convinced that their human owner, Ann-Louise, has been kidnapped by a vicious monster dubbed the Amarok, and so they embark on a mission into the Haunted Woods to rescue her and bring her home.
2014 Ignatz Awards See Johnston, Tamakis, And Goldstein Triumph
The 2014 Ignatz Awards took place on Saturday evening, and were, by all accounts, a lively affair, topped off with a wedding in which Australian comics star Simon Hanselmann was betrothed to the medium itself! While what's referred to as the independent/small press comics scenes is by no means perfect, it is certainly more progressive, with the changes, representation, and greater equality that's rallied for in mainstream comics already present here to a significant degree, as can be seen reflected in the comics nominated, the nominees themselves, and the winners.
Small Press Previews: A New Way Of Keeping Up To Date With The Latest Indie Comics
One of the difficulties in keeping up with small press comics -- particularly with readers newly interested in the area -- is that it can be so bitty: a plethora of artists self-publishing with their individual websites and stores, independent imprints releasing books which aren't listed in Diamond's catalogue, and so forth. Comic readers are used to dates shifting around, but this puts the more of an onus on the reader to search out what titles are releasing when -- and that's if they're aware of the publications in the first place. So the launch of Small Press Previews, a website that brings together over 40 small press publishers, allowing them to upload information about what they're releasing each month: information, previews, where-to-purchase deatils, is a very welcome and useful resource.
For One Week Only: Read Yumi Sakugawa’s Fantastic ‘Never Forgets’ For Free
In celebration of her Ignatz nomination for 'Outstanding Mini-comic,' the fantastic Yumi Sakugawa has made the whole comic, titled Never Forgets, available to read for free -- but you only have until the 14th of September to take advantage of the offer, after which the link will be taken down. And take advantage you should. Sakugawa's a fine, fine illustrator and cartoonist, best known for her comic book, I Think I Am In Friend Love With You, and If you haven't come across Sakugawa's work before, Never Forgets is a great introduction.