Welcome to Food or Comics?, where every week we talk about what comics we’d buy at our local comic shop based on certain spending limits — $15 and $30 — as well as what we’d get if we had extra money or a gift card to spend on a splurge item.
If I had $15, it’d be an eclectic bunch featuring Jesus clones, retired spec-ops workers, environmentalists and Batman. First up would be Punk Rock Jesus #2 (DC/Vertigo, $2.99), following Sean Murphy’s big-time foray into writing and drawing. Murphy’s delivering the art of his career, and while the story might not be as great as the art, it still has a synchronicity to the art that few other mainstream books have these days. After that I’d get Dancer #4 (Image, $3.50); Nathan Edmondson seemingly made his name on writing the spy thriller Who Is Jake Ellis?, and this one takes a very different view of the spy game – like a Luc Besson movie, perhaps – and Nic Klein is fast climbing up my list of favorite artists. After that I’d get Massive #3 (Dark Horse, $3.50), with what is disheartedly looking to be the final issue of artist Kristian Donaldson. No word on the reason for the departure, but with a great a story he and Brian Wood have developed I hope future artists can live up to the all-too-brief legacy he developed. Delving into superhero waters, the next book I’d get is Batman #12 (DC, $3.99), which has become DC’s consistently best book out of New 52 era. Finally, I’d get Anti #1 (12 Guage, $1). Cool cover, interesting concept, and only a buck. Can’t beat that.
If I had $30, I’d jump and get Creator-Owned Heroes #3 (Image, $3.99); man, when Phil Noto is “on” he’s “ON!” After that I’d get Conan te Barbarian #7 (Dark Horse, $3.50). I’ve been buying and reading this in singles, but last weekend I had the chance to re-read them all in one sitting and I’m legitimately blown away. The creators have developed something that is arguably better than what Kurt Busiek and Cary Nord started in 2003 and shoulder-to-shoulder with the great stories out of the ’70s. This new issue looks to be right up my alley, as Conan takes his pirate queen Belit back to his frigid homeland in search of a man masquerading as Conan. Hmm, $7 left. Any other Food or Comic-ers want to grab some grub?
If I could splurge, I’d excuse myself from the table dining with my fellow FoCers and get Eyes of the Cat HC (Humanoids, $34.95). I feel remiss in never owning this, so finally getting my hands on the first collaboration between Moebius and Alexandro Jodorowsky seems like a long time coming. I’m told its more an illustrated storybook than comic book, but I’m content with full page Moebius work wherever I can get it.
• David Welsh asks the people who know what sort of scary manga they’d recommend for Halloween reading. As expected, his panel comes up with a lot of good picks.
• Meanwhile, Ten-Cent Plague author David Hajdu reviews Robert Crumb’s adaptation of Genesis for the New York Times:
For all its narrative potency and raw beauty, Crumb’s “Book of Genesis” is missing something that just does not interest its illustrator: a sense of the sacred. What Genesis demonstrates in dramatic terms are beliefs in an orderly universe and the godlike nature of man. Crumb, a fearless anarchist and proud cynic, clearly believes in other things, and to hold those beliefs — they are kinds of beliefs, too — is his prerogative. Crumb, brilliantly, shows us the man in God, but not the God in man.
Over at Comics Comics, Dan Nadel calls BS on Hajdu’s review: “One wonders why an author would persist in writing about a subject he clearly disdains and isn’t interested in actually learning about, but I guess that’s between Hajdu and his own idea of the sacred.”
Go read the whole takedown; it’s fun.
Stitches: A Memoir
by David Small
WW Norton, 336 pages, $24.95.
I sometimes suspect that part of the reason some critics (if I can use that term) are hostile towards the recent spate of comic book (sorry, graphic novel) memoirs is due to a mistrust of the genre itself. There’s a tendency when someone is chronicling a dramatic, personal event, to exult praise merely for inherent drama of the story, particularly if it’s a traumatic one, than the skill in the telling. Some folks, in other words, get swept up in the idea of the story itself and the bravery of the person in coming forward to tell it, and ignore whether or not the work succeeds as art.
Certainly the success of books like Fun Home and Persepolis has resulted in publishers unleashing a number of bad or mediocre memoirs on the public. So perhaps it’s not surprising some folks are wary when a buzz-heavy memoir gets released.
Two such books hit the stands recently, David Small’s National Book Award-nominated (but kids only!) Stitches and the Ken Dahl’s Monsters. The good news is that both books deserve at least some, if not all, of the positive attention they’ve been getting.
The Book of Genesis Illustrated
by Robert Crumb
WW Norton, 224 pages $24.95.
It’s a pretty safe bet that whatever book you pictured in your feverish little brain when you heard the phrase “Robert Crumb adapts Genesis” will never match, or perhaps even compare to, the actual product. When surrounded by as much anticipation and hype as this book has been, (virtually every blogger on the block has declared this the de facto “book of the year,” or at least the “book they’re most looking forward to”) there is bound to be some disappointment.
That’s especially true if what you were expecting was anything more than the all-too-literal, note-for note interpretation that Crumb has ultimately produced (indeed, except for a phrase here and there, he seems to have left the sacred text intact). If you were hoping to see some sort of sly, satirical take on the Bible, sorry, but that’s not here. If you were expecting googly eyes and big feet, go elsewhere. There is the occasional bit of flop sweat, but otherwise, Crumb keeps his cartoony vibe in check. There’s not so much as an ounce of irony to be found.
I had the distinct pleasure this past weekend of finally getting around to reading David Small’s chilling memoir Stitches and It’s definitely deserving a lot, if not all, of the praise that it’s been getting. To help promote the book, publisher WW Norton has created six Vimeo videos excerpting the book, all narrated by Small. The first one’s below; the other five can be found here.
As Tom Spurgeon reported on Friday, WW Norton is offering a limited edition slipcase of Robert Crumb’s highly anticipated adaptation of The Book of Genesis that comes with a signed print. The cost? A mere $500. Amazon.com has the book listed for only $315, a relative bargain by any standard (it also seems to be the cheapest price on the Net right now based on my admittedly quick perusal). There will only be 250 copies of this edition available, so order yours now. You are going to be ordering one right? C’mon, confess, who among you is going say ‘heck with fixing the washer and dryer’ and pick one of these up instead?