Last weekend I went to Comic Arts Brooklyn. I bought a lot of comics. Here are six that I think are really good, and I think you should try to find as well.
If you’re attending the Alternative Press Expo this weekend in San Francisco, be sure to check out table 523, which will be the temporary home of Rina Ayuyang’s Yam Books. The publisher will be debuting the latest haunting-yet-mesmerizing book by cartoonist Renee French, Hagelbarger and That Nightmare Goat.
As the press release states, Hagelbarger and That Nightmare Goat is “a stunning vignette full of rich imagery and comics hi-jinx that tells the tale of Renee’s favorite bulbous aquatic hero, Hagelbarger, in a perilous adventure with his pals Tiffo and Hap, battling that villainous goat.” No doubt it will be equal parts adorable and frightening.
Check out the full cover below. The Alternative Press Expo, or APE, runs Oct. 12-13 at the Concourse in San Francisco.
Is Noah Van Sciver the finest cartoonist of his generation? It certainly seems like he’s on the path to earn that title, as readers of The Hypo and his contribution to Alternative Comics #4 will attest. Van Sciver further underscores his considerable talent in Deep in the Woods, a two-man anthology published on newspaper. Van Sciver’s original (I’m assuming) fairy tale involves a hapless and poor young maiden who flees her evil stepmother and alcoholic father only to come across a supernatural benefactor in the shape of a floating cow’s head. The temptation to let the story delve into parody or slapstick must have been tremendous, especially during sequences like the one where the girl, Robin, attempts to feed the cow, only to have the stew slop out the back of its head. But Van Sciver plays it deadly straight here, keeping the comedy at a far, buried distance (though not so buried that it’s completely undetectable). Filling his pages with suffocating black ink, often in the form of nefarious tree branches that threaten to engulf the protagonists, Van Sciver has created a decidedly claustrophobic, downbeat fairy tale that is no less magical due to the storytelling craft on display.
Nic Breutzman is someone I’m less familiar with, or rather, I should say I’m not that familiar with his work at all. I like his contribution here though, a somewhat more modern tale involving a poor, meth-taking family, the level-headed young girl that serves as our protagonist, a grandfather who won’t come out of a well and a nefarious creature that lives in a hollow tree. I’m all about stories that place archetypical folk structures and place them in a modern setting and Breutzman does that well enough here that I’m going to keep an eye out for what he does next time.
This book will lead the reader into Onsmith’s funny and outlandish world, full of shady characters and troublesome shenanigans through a mix of never-published stories, favorite gag strips, and mesmerizing prints and illustrations.
No price details or page count has been released but the book is scheduled to arrive in spring 2014. Onsmith will be at the Chicago Alternative Comics Expo (CAKE) in June and might reveal more information about the book and its contents then.
Hailing from Chicago, Onsmith (a.k.a. Jeremy Smith) should be familiar to the average alt-comix reader, even if they don’t recognize the name, as his work has appeared in such anthologies as StudyGroup, Hotwire Comix, Black Eye, Graphics Classics, Ivan Brunetti’s Anthology of Graphic Fiction and many others. To the best of my knowledge, however, this is the first time any of the artist’s work has been collected.
You can read the full press release below:
I first came across Rina Ayuyang’s work with the arrival in 2010 of Whirlwind Wonderland, which collected her various minicomics in one slim book. Iwas quite taken with the warmth and good humor she displayed in detailing her life, family and relationships, and I dubbed it one of the most criminally ignored books of that year.
While she’s still putting out the occasional minicomic, Ayuyang has recently become a small-press publisher with her new imprint Yam Books. The company is off to an excellent start with its first book Ticket Stub, by Tim Hensley, which came out late last year. The book, which collects the off-kilter minicomics Hensley created while working at his former day job as a closed-caption editor is a head-spinning series of dada-esque riffs on popular movies.
Curious about what sort of challenges Ayuyang might have encountered in making the transition from indie cartoonist to indie publisher, I asked whether she’d be up for answering some of my invasive questions. Thankfully, she was more than happy to do so.