Robot 6

Six by 6 | The six most criminally ignored comics of 2012

RASL #15

It’s time once again to take a look at those comics that were unfairly ignored. With more graphic novels and comic books coming out in stores than ever before, it’s perhaps inevitable that some titles slip through the cracks, not due to a lack of quality, but simply because they got lost in the Wednesday shuffle. The books listed here aren’t necessarily my personal favorite books of 2012. Rather, they’re good — even great — books that, for whatever reason, didn’t get the sort of praise — either online or in print — that they deserved.

1. RASL by Jeff Smith. It’s not terribly surprising that Jeff Smith’s follow-up series to Bone didn’t generate the same level of media attention. After all, what comic could possibly match the sort acclaim, affection and sheer mania that Smith’s winning all-ages fantasy series did over the past two decades, let alone a sci-fi noir aimed at a decidedly older audience? What is surprising, especially given Smith’s stature and reputation in the industry, is how decidedly little coverage RASL got, especially when it wrapped up in 2012. While it didn’t make my own personal top 10 list, it was a fun, trippy series and showed that Smith had the chops to branch out into other genres and modes of storytelling than Bone might have first suggested. I’m hoping it gets the full appreciation it deserves once a full collected edition comes out (sometime soon I would imagine).

2. Ripper and His Friends by Benjamin Marra. 2012 was actually a pretty good year for Ben Marra. His comic Lincoln Washington, Free Man marked some sort of tipping point, earning him a lengthy interview on The Comics Journal website and seemingly more attention in general from the comics press. Even the negative criticism Marra started receiving, as people took him to task for the racial and violent imagery in his work, seemed to mark a greater awareness of some kind. But my favorite comic from Marra this year was this oddity, which debuted at the Brooklyn Comics and Graphics Festival. It’s a peculiar, funny and very disturbing take on horrible Saturday morning cartoons of the 1980s (this cartoon show in particular) and all the sex, violence and other gross stuff that seemed to lie under the surface of those shows. In its cheerful display of scatological humor and gore, it ends up also becoming a riff (and, dare I say it, satire?) on the underground comics of yesteryear and their willingness to push pop culture tropes to their illogical ends (actually if anything, Ripper reminds me of Mattioli’s grand guginol Squeak the Mouse comic). It’s not a comic for delicate tastes, to be sure, but neither is it something to be quickly dismissed.

3. Wayward Girls by Michel Budel. Let’s face it, Wayward Girls is a decidedly weird comic. Owing as much to Henry Darger as he does Winsor McCay and Scott McCloud (who appears briefly as a character in this comic) this off-kilter ode to pre-pubsecent sexuality, comics and general pop culture weirdness disturbs as much as it delights, making it perhaps a bit of a niche thing. Still, it’s so idiosyncratic, strange and genuinely funny that I would have liked to have seen more people talking about it.

4. The Lost Art of Ah Pook Is Here by Malcolm McNeill.  Maybe this is one of those things that show how far the indsutry has come. I can easily imagine ten or 20 years ago the release of an long-lost and unfinished comic by one of the most acclaimed authors in American literature would generate a lot more heat than the release of this work, created by William Burroughs and artist Malcom McNeill in the 1970s and never completed, did. Perhaps now that comics have garnered more respect from the outside world, this sort of thing impresses us a lot less. Of course, part of the problem  is that Fantagraphics was unable to get permission from the Burroughs estate to reprint the original text, thus resulting in a coffee table book that feels strangely hollow, like it’s missing an essential ingredient. Still, there’s some amazing, hallucinatory imagery here (and in McNeill’s companion memoir, Observed While Falling), to marvel at and make you wish the project had reached some better form of completion.

5. You’ll Never Know Book 3: Soldier’s Heart by Carol Tyler. Those of us that have viewed Tyler as a great, underrated cartoonist, the arrival of her three-part saga about her father and the damage wrought on him by World War II was not only met with high anticipation, but also the hope that it would be a work that would garner her greater recognition. Yet while the first two volumes received some praise (and a couple of Eisner nominations) the release of the third and final volume doesn’t seem to have met with much attention (beyond a sizable interview with Tom Spurgeon). While Tyler’s discursive, homey storytelling style might not appeal to everyone, she proves in these pages she is a cartoonist capable of producing sequences of exquisite beauty and deep emotional heft. It’s a book — and a series — that deserves more attention than it’s gotten so far.

6. Young Albert by Yves Chaland. The high price ($90!) and limited availability (only 550 copies!) might have been what led to  the near-deafening silence surrounding this Humanoids release. There’s also the fact that the late Yves Chaland, like so many great European cartoonists, isn’t exactly a household name on North American shores. And yet what an amazing, stellar artist Challand was and what a vibrant, wonderfully snarky piece of work Young Albert is. A series of strips that ran in Metal Hurlant back in the 1980s, Young Albert featured a insufferably cruel know-it-all who lived in a world made up of fools or equally cruel people (and a world that — for no explicit reason — some how shifts to World War II devastation just because). A commentary on the Franco-Belgian comics Chaland grew up with and just a pure fun riff on the traditional comic strip structure in its ow right, Young Albert deserves a wider audience than it got this year. Hopefully, Humanoids will follow their usual pattern and release a smaller, less expensive edition of the book later this year.

News From Our Partners

Comments

24 Comments

Dude, Rasl really is medicore at best. Very forgettable.

I disagree with Chap.
RASL had many great ideas woven into a cool interdimensional story: Tesla’s inventions, the Philadelphia Experiment, inter-dimensional avatars, american indian mythology and a decent love story.
It also had the moment of the year in my opinion – the panel in which we are told the freaky little girl who keeps popping up is God !

Due to the time between issues there were occasions where the pacing didn’t quite work, but re-reading the issues in three issues lots worked perfectly.
I am looking forward to the other oversized trades, they are the perfect way to showcase Jeff Smith’s amazing art !

Regarding ‘Young Albert’. A creator that decides on producing such a limited edition at $90 a pop, clearly doesn’t want any attention.

I can’t help but observe there’s a sense of an over-priveleged navel gazer, producing work for their navel gazing friends to enjoy.

At $90 a pop, I’d suggest there’s a need for a serious dose of reality.

Drumanespic, I suggest you reading the article again. The creator is already deceased, and the price is, obviously, determined by the publisher.

Re: YOUNG ALBERT, Humanoids also has a habit of doing expensive, limited editions of works initially then following them with regular, affordable editions of the same work. I understand the intent is for the limited edition to help pay for the print run of the less prestigious edition that follows. See their recent treatment of THE INCAL, for example.

Sometimes, if the name of the series seems to make no sense to a person who has no prior knowldge of it, or it just sounds ridiculous, the series gets passed over. I could never get past how ridiculous “RASL” sounded inside of my head, so I never bothered with it.

Similar books that have been passed over by me because of an ‘unfortunate’ series name choice: “Chew”, “Mind MGMT”, “Perhapanauts”, “Hip Flask”, or any title with the word (or word-part) ‘Rex’, ‘Blood’ or ‘-pool’ and (you can imagine how underwhelmed I was by “Bloodpool” back in the ‘glory days’ of the Liefeldverse)…

so. I must be the only person reading the COURTNEY CRUMRIN ongoing series. What a major bummer. No local comic shop racks copies of this and no Comic news site seems to mention it. 9 issues of awesome, so far.

You know what’s even more “criminal” about this list? The fact that, aside from “Young Albert,” not a single publisher was mentioned.

Joseph — The links in the story lead directly to the individual publishers’ websites, but OK, point taken. They are, in order: Cartoon Books, Traditional Comics, Secret Acres, Fantagraphics, Fantagraphics and Humanoids.

The criminal thing here isn’t that Young Albert was overlooked, but that Humanoids is on this kick of making books that cost $80 dollars. I really love Chaland, and wanted this, but who the hell can afford Eighty flippin’ bucks for *a* book?! I also would have bought their Monsieur Jean book this year, but it is something like $65. I would have loved the Nicolas de Crecy book they published this year, but it’s $70.
Humanoids did it to themselves. I have no sympathy for them.

P.S. I loved Rasl.

Young Albert is actually 70 dollars, not 90 (69,95 to be precise). Not cheap, but worth every penny in my opinion.
Hopefully Humanoids will print up more of Chaland’s stuff (besides Freddy Lombard)…

The Celestial Bibendum (The Nicolas de Crecy book) is also available in an English edition published by Knockabout in the UK. It’s the same dimensions, has no slipcase (I personally don’t care about slipcases) and is MUCH cheaper (I paid about 30 euro’s for my copy).

The only bad thing about RASL, to me, was the wait between issues. I thought that it was an absolutely fantastic series.

DOMINIQUE LAVEAU would be on my list…

Oh and Eric: you and me, brother.

As Rich mentioned above, Humanoids has actually been doing a great job of making a lot of rare comics available to North American readers by publishing oversized, hardcover limited editions first, followed by less expensive, but still very well produced editions for the average reader. For example, I bought The Metabarons: The Ultimate Collection limited edition HC for over $125, and then The Metabarons: Supreme Collection for $37.99 on Amazon.ca.

Why? Because The Metabarons, like most stuff Humanoids publishes, is extremely difficult to get ahold of. Jodorowsky’s comics have basically been OOP ever since the DC/Humanoids deal broke down, and even then, those DC reprints were censored, resized, and in some cases (Technopriests, for example) never completed.

I don’t have any problem with Humanoids charging what they will because honestly, if you’re into The Metabarons or Young Albert or whatever Franco-Belgian comics they decide to publish, you’ll pay the price to get your hands on a quality copy of it.

I love Courtney Crumrin!!

My LCS doesn’t order any of these titles. Never heard of them before.

Rasl was very good, but yeah not great. Tesla always fascinated me and Jeff Smith did a hell of a good job dissecting his work and fame/life/notoriety and combining it into his at times fascinating story.

I’ve found the ongoing Courtney Crumrin book disappointing after all the mini’s, which made me sad as I loved all the mini’s.

RASL was constantly delayed.I lost interest after the first three issues.

*Actually*, Aaltomuoto, according to Humanoids’ own site, Young Albert is USD 89.95. That’s where I got my price from, but even $70 is WAY too much to spend on only EIGHTY PAGES of content. That’s more than a dollar a page.
(http://www.humanoids.com/album/276)

But thanks a *million* for the heads up on the cheaper Knockabout version of the De Crecy book! I owe you for that!

@superman1930: RASL was NOT “constantly delayed.” There were some shipping delays among the first 6 issues but, beginning with #6, the series shipped roughly every 4 months (and if you “lost interest after the first three issues,” I can understand why you’d think the book was “constantly delayed”). On the other hand, Smith’s original plan *was* to release the book every three months.

@Christian Hardy , Humanos didint release the ‘Jeune Albert Edition Deluxe’ for the sole pleasure of american readrs,

The French (european) edition is roughly the same price (80€ so a little more thant the 70 $) For 80 pages, and a slipcase ???

The previous edition of ‘le Jeune Albert’ (Edition revue et augmentée by the Humanios) wich was published in ’95, was only 10 €

And, regarding collected editions, last thursday, was published in France (and Belgium, and other countries where Dupuis Publishes) the ‘Spirou, l’integrale Rob-Vel , 1938-1943′ (Spirou, the compelte Rob-Vel Edition)

Reprising all the strips done by Rob Vel From ’38 to ’43 , wich hadnt been reprinted since 1975 , and no edition whatsoever was findable ( only a 2 book German edition dating from last year), so this book on real quality paper and having 270 pages, is only sold for 25 €
(Only regrets, the color schemes are from the actual scans on old magazines.. no reworks to clear them)

Leave a Comment

 



Browse the Robot 6 Archives