BEST BETS: "Jessica Jones," "Big Trouble/Escape from New York" & More October 2016 Highlights
The Last Lonely Saturday, by Uptight and The Clouds Above cartoonist Jordan Crane, is one of my favorite comics of all time. Why? You can find out if you read the entire beautifully bittersweet story online at Crane’s webcomics portal, What Things Do.
It’ll only take a minute or two. Go ahead, I’ll wait.
There now. Need a hankie? I figured. The story of an elderly man bringing flowers to his beloved, The Last Lonely Saturday is where I first discovered Crane’s impeccably cartoony character designs and near-wordless storytelling chops, as well as his knack for teasing both the darkness and the light out of issues of love and loss. And now the comic has been adapted into a live-action short film by director Seth Craven. The movie premieres as part of the HollyShorts Film Festival at Laemmle’s Sunset 5 in Los Angeles on August 12 at 5pm. Get ready to be heartbroken.
In the immortal words of that slowed-down Mary-Kate and Ashley Olson pizza-making video, when does a dream become a nightmare? This is the question addressed by justly celebrated young cartoonist Michael DeForge, in the context of your friendly neighborhood Spider-Man no less, in his cheerfully unauthorized, thoroughly unpleasant Spider-Man comic “Peter’s Muscle,” which you can now read online in its entirety at Jordan Crane’s webcomics portal What Things Do. Spinning out of the infamous (and in-continuity!) relationship between Aunt May and Doctor Octopus, the story finds the Wall-Crawler recounting a disturbing dream that starts with finding a face underneath a membranous sidewalk and somehow only gets more uncomfortably intimate from there. With any luck, a full-color edition of this strip will anchor a future Strange Tales installment, but for now, this will more than suffice.
Maintaining their respective recent hot streaks, cartoonist Michael DeForge has posted his 2010 Koyama Press release Spotting Deer in its entirety on Jordan Crane’s resurgent, resplendent alternative-webcomics portal What Things Do. Structured like a field guide to an imaginary animal that winds up revealing a surprising amount about its imaginary author, it’s also a rare full-color work for talented young writer/artist DeForge, who proves himself just as innovative with color as he is with creature design, typography, urban wastelands, and the rest of his usual tricks and tropes. If you’re tired of the same old same-old in comics, here’s something that feels exciting and new.
John Porcellino, creator of the long-running self-published minicomics series King-Cat Comics and Stories, is arguably one of the most influential comics creators of the past quarter century. That and $2.25 will get you on the subway, apparently. Today Porcellino blogged a series of photos of the seemingly economically depressed Illinois town to which he recently moved “in desperation” after losing his previous place of residence. “It’s times like these that make a man wonder ‘How?’, ‘Why?’,” Porcellino writes. And that is your soul-crushing quote of the day. Oh well, I suppose you could cheer yourself up by reading several complete King-Cat issues on What Things Do while waiting to hear how many Social Security cuts will be required to offset additional tax cuts for our billionaire overlords.
Another day, another link to Jordan Crane’s must-read What Things Do webcomics portal. This time it’s Dan Zettwoch’s “Crossfader,” which originally ran in the equally indispensable print anthology Kramers Ergot 6. Using Zettowch’s trademark diagram-style layouts, it’s a good-natured look at a fictional midwestern church’s Fall Festival “haunted house,” the centerpiece attraction of which is a lighting trick that transforms a girl into a gorilla. (I think this represents “the horrors of evolution.”) Chances are good you’ve never read comics quite like Zettwoch’s before — it’s no sin to check ‘em out.
Robot 6 readers seemingly can’t get enough links to cartoonist Jordan Crane’s hugely impressive webcomics portal What Things Do. Fortunately, Crane’s served up a spooky snippet of all-ages adventure that’s perfect for Robot 666. Discover “Dark Day,” the latest chapter in the saga of Simon and Jack, the schoolboy and giant cat who starred in Crane’s beloved The Clouds Above. Warning: Here be monsters!
Well, this is an unexpected delight: Jin & Jam #1, Hellen Jo’s auspicious 2008 Sparkplug debut, is now available online in its entirety at Jordan Crane’s indispensable webcomics portal What Things Do. Part Maggie & Hopey, part Tekkon Kinkreet, it’s the story of two teenage troublemakers and, well, the trouble they make, drawn with a really memorably rubbery and kinetic line by Jo.
Incidentally, you’ve all put What Things Do in your RSS readers, right? With a lineup of creators that includes Jo, Crane, Gabrielle Bell, Abner Dean, Sammy Harkham, Jaime Hernandez, Kevin Huizenga, Ted May, John Porcellino, Ron Regé Jr., Steve Weissman, and Dan Zettwoch, how could you not?
The best webcomics site on the Internet has once again expanded its altcomix all-star roster: Gabrielle Bell’s strip “Manifestation” — about her doomed (and entirely fictional) comics adaptation of Valerie “I Shot Andy Warhol” Solanas’s SCUM Manifesto — is now available for your free reading pleasure at cartoonist and designer Jordan Crane’s online comics clearinghouse What Things Do. In addition to Bell and Crane, the site boasts comics by Sammy Harkham, Jaime Hernandez, Kevin Huizenga, Ted May, John Porcellino, Ron Regé Jr., Steve Weissman, and Dan Zettwoch, as well as mid-century illustrator Abner Dean. Click on over and kill an hour or two.
The Internet is filled with comics riches, and What Things Do, the corner of the Internet run by cartoonist/designer Jordan Crane, contains plenty of them. It’s filled to bursting with new and old comics by the likes of Crane himself, Jaime Hernandez, Sammy Harkham, Kevin Huizenga, Ted May, John Porcellino, Dan Zettwoch, and Steve Weissman. But for me, the big discovery at the site is the work of Abner Dean, a New Yorker and Esquire cartoonist who specialized in anxiety-dream images of (anatomically incorrect) naked people is satirically absurd situations. What Things Do is reprinting the 1947 Dean collection What Am I Doing Here?, and the bounty is rather astonishing — the strength of both the images Dean concocts and his execution of them all but bowls me over. I’ve never seen its like, though if you’ve ever seen Matt Groening’s Life in Hell, you’ve seen a kindred spirit at the very least. The shrunken-down image above truly doesn’t do justice to seeing Dean’s stuff in its full-sized, screen-spanning glory, so click on over and check it out!