Like the characters he chronicles in If ‘n Oof, his new book from PictureBox Inc., Brian Chippendale is prone to wandering. He just returned to his home base of Providence last week following a tour with his acclaimed two-man music group Lightning Bolt, whose sound can be best described as “What if Thor’s hammer and Loki’s helmet formed a band?” He’s also gearing up to hit the road again in another couple of weeks for a brief cross-country book tour with fellow PictureBox cartoonist CF.
But it’s Chippendale’s artistic travels that interest me the most. Each new Chippendale book feels like an experience miles removed from its predecessor. Maggots is a tiny softcover with incredibly dense pages, drawn on top of a Japanese book catalog so that even the white spaces are filled with visual noise. Ninja is a gigantic hardcover with a smoother approach to Chippendale’s trademark “snake-style” layout — you read the first row of panels on a page from left to right, then hop down to the next row and read that one from left to right, then down another level from right to left, and so on back and forth — and a healthy dose of comics he drew as a kid thrown in. If ‘n Oof is a doorstop-sized softcover in manga dimensions in which every page is a splash page or part of a spread. And while all three share Chippendale’s unmistakable rough-hewn line and love of sci-fi, fantasy, and action — an approach forged in the hallowed halls of the late great Fort Thunder collective, alongside artists like Mat Brinkman and Brian Ralph — If ‘n Oof‘s buddy-movie storyline of two lovable creatures battling their way through a wasteland in search of home (and snacks) is the artist’s most accessible work to date. Robot 6 managed to get Chippendale to settle down long enough to talk to us about the new book, how it stacks up against his new webcomic Puke Force, and the tantalizing possibility that as far as If and Oof’s world is concerned, we’ve only seen the tip of the iceberg.
Now this is a trend I can get behind! Alchemic Ale, the makers of Ron Regé Jr.’s pioneering minicomic/beer hybrid Yeast Hoist #15, have returned to the underground-comics well, this time with a bottle full of Mat Brinkman. The Fort Thunder alumnus and Regé’s fellow Highwater Books veteran has graced a 750mL bottle of Bokrijks Belgian Ale from Belgium’s Brouwerij Sterkens with a drawing entitled “Monsters,” from his current gallery show at NYC’s The Hole.
Here’s a guide to where the beer can be bought. Chug-a-lug, artcomix fans!
(via Ron Regé Jr.)
They’re gettin’ the band back together, man! Tom Spurgeon reports that members of Providence, Rhode Island’s late, great comics/music/art/noise/wtf collective Fort Thunder are planning a one-off reunion issue of their anthology title Monster, to debut at
the San Diego Comic-Con UPDATE: the Small Press Expo via exhibitor and Fort alumnus Brian Ralph. Though the Fort produced everything from installations to art-rock to bicycles, we comics folks know them best through the output of a line-up of cartoonists that included Ralph, Brian Chippendale, Mat Brinkman, Leif Goldberg, Jim Drain, and Paul Lyons. It’s tough to imagine the alternative-comics world without them anymore — their aesthetic heavily influenced or outright inspired entire publishing lines, including Highwater, PictureBox, Buenaventura, Bodega, and post-Tom Devlin Drawn & Quarterly — so for fans of comics’ outer limits, this is at least as exciting as the Faith No More reunion tour currently underway. Which is pretty damn exciting.
As 2009 draws to a close we’re practically awash in Best Comics of the Year and/or Decade lists. But when it comes to breaking down the books that made a difference this decade, there’s more than one way to skin a cat, and a pair of sites have developed novel approaches to the traditional decade-ender.
First up is Tom Spurgeon, The Comics Reporter. This year he’s aiming his annual Holiday Interview Series squarely at “emblematic” books from 2000-2009 — “by which we mean favorite, representative or just plain great” — by hosting discussions with a series of critics, each one focusing on one particular book. So far he’s tackled Mat Brinkman’s monster-mash Multiforce with writer/artist/critic/bon vivant Frank Santoro, and Craig Thompson’s rapturous romance ‘n’ religion memoir Blankets with me. Further installments will roll out on (I believe) a daily basis until the New Year. If you’re the sort of person who loves to really dig into what makes a great graphic novel tick, these are for you.
Next we have Marvel’s Ben Morse, DC’s Rickey Purdin, and CBR’s own Kiel Phegley, who collectively park their online presence at The Cool Kids Table. In their ongoing look back entitled “Our Comics Decade,” the trio take a look at one comic per year that impacted their view of the medium. So far they’ve covered 2000, 2001, and 2002, and recounted their experiences with books ranging from Scott Lobdell’s Uncanny X-Men to Jeffrey Brown’s Clumsy. Personal and aesthetic history have a tendency to mix and match in unexpected and interesting ways, and it’s fascinating to watch these guys spill the beans on how it happened in their lives in such a methodical way.
So go, click the links and curl up with (a good post on) a good book…
Origin story time: Back when I worked at Wizard, I was introduced to the concept of a themed sketchbook by coworkers like Ben Morse and David Paggi, whose Nova and Lockjaw sketchbooks celebrated their favorite obscure superheroes through the generous contributions of comics artists. My problem? I don’t have a favorite obscure superhero. The only hero I really love is Batman, and the problem there is that I’m sure most superhero artists doing sketches at cons are sick of drawing him, while most alternative artists doing sketches at cons are sick of thinking about him. Who could I choose that would fit the bill?
Then it came to me: David Bowie. He’s my favorite musician, and it’s fair to say his outlook and approach to art literally changed my life. Plus, with all those alter egos and ch-ch-ch-changes, he’s like a superhero anyway, right? And thus, at MoCCA 2007, the David Bowie Sketchbook was born.
I’ve since collected sketches of Ziggy Stardust, the Thin White Duke, Aladdin Sane, the Goblin King, Major Tom, or whatever else you care to call the former David Jones from 80 artists and illustrators. Below are the latest batches, from this year’s Small Press Expo in September and Brooklyn Comics and Graphics Festival last weekend. How must the others see the faker?