“The Lengths” is a graphic novel about addiction, published by Soaring Penguin Press. The title refers to the lenghts to which a young man, Eddie, will go to feed his desire. Howard Hardiman has written and drawn a graphic novel about a youth out of control and in conflict. It is a very rough story about a rough subject that Hardiman navigates quite well. His character, Eddie, is a 24-year-old art school drop out who is gay and unsure about what he wants. He may want a relationship but he is also attracted to what he gets from his role as Ford, an escort. It’s a pretty lurid and gritty premise. Something like this could easily fall apart, as can happen with any story that deals with sex. But sex is only part of what Hardiman has to talk about. And to create some distance to better address and understand the content, he represents all his characters as dogs. It may seem odd at first, but it turns out to be a wonderful narrative device.
Tag Archives: Books
Pick up your copy of the new collection of work by cartoonist Farel Dalrymple, Delusional: The Graphic and Sequential Work of Farel Dalrymple. It has been my honor to have interviewed him and review his work. I have great admiration for him and can easily look back to many highlights in his growing career including working for Marvel Comics on the special Omega The Unknown project with writer Jonathan Lethem. You can order this gorgeous 232-page hardcover from the publisher, Adhouse Books, here.
Review: THE BLACK FEATHER FALLS Book One (of four), by Ellen Lindner, published by Soaring Penguin Press
Ellen Lindner has a wonderful way with prose and composition. Her intricate artwork and distinctive voice give life to her latest creation, “The Black Feather Falls.” This is a webcomic told in four parts, which you can view at ACT-I-VATE here. The first part is now collected and will be published by Soaring Penguin Press.
The beauty of Lindner’s work is on many levels, not the least of which is her dynamic composition. We begin with the main character, Tina Swift, juxtaposed by her striking view of two pyramids that act as visual and symbolic thrust. They lead us to more energetic play with geometry of body language and setting.
Take a closer look at Tina Swift. On Page 2, we see her face is a crisp collection of lines and angles with a few accenting curves. We take in the rest of the page: in the first panel, we see a typewriter rendered to the last detail acting as a still life accompanied by Tina’s sharply rendered hands. The last panel caps off with another view of those pyramids. In the span of time that we’ve read the first two pages, we already know a mighty adventure is about to be retold.
And, by Page 3, we have entered a new world. Tina is an American abroad. She’s in 1920s London. As engaging as Lindner’s artwork, her prose charms you and immerses you in the customs and logic of another time. Lindner was an American abroad herself and you sense a loving attention to her past home byway of this murder mystery. It’s as if Lindner travelled back in time and is reporting to us her observations with a fresh vitality. She provides a somewhat similar treatment of Brooklyn in the early 1960s for her work, “Undertow.” The writing for this story is quite fun and feels in step with such British writers of the time as Agatha Christie, Dorothy L. Sayers, and the Mitford sisters.
Our team of brash young American, Tina Swift, and young British spinster, Miss McInteer, are delightful as polar opposites that manage to attract. They do have quite a compelling murder mystery to solve that apparently will turn into another cold case if not for them. All the elements are in place for a delicious read.
You can read the latest installments of The Black Feather Falls at ACT-I-VATE here. Be sure to pick up the first collection of The Black Feather Falls from Soaring Penguin Press and look for updates here. And do visit Ellen Lindner at her site here.
You know that feeling when you discover something really cool? That’s what happened to me when I tried on a pair of Luna Sandals. It was inevitable that my feet would meet these sandals. I am usually barefoot and always game for a new sandal. But the big difference in Luna sandals is that you can run in them. Run? Really? If that were true, that would be quite a game changer, wouldn’t it? Well, the fact is, you’ll believe you can fly in these sandals, just as if they had wings.
Book Review: BORN TO RUN: A Hidden Tribe, Superathletes, and the Greatest Race the World Has Never Seen by Christopher McDougall
Whatever your interest or background, there is something for you in Christopher McDougall’s book, “Born to Run.” Forget about whether you even like sports, this is one of those books that encompasses more than its subject and is simply a pleasure to read. This 2009 New York Times Best Seller has reached many readers. But there’s still a legion of couch potatoes who would benefit from reading this book. I know I did!
McDougall is a former war correspondent and brings a no-nonsense approach to his work. This is one sharp and vigorous guy. So, when he turned 40 and his body began to ache and stumble, he set out, like a guy, to fix the problem. He wanted to run. But his doctor told him that his large frame was not suitable for running. Instinctively, McDougall knew the doctor was wrong. As if by chance, McDougall discovered the story of the Tarahumara Indians of Mexico. This is a tireless group of runners, of all ages, who run 150-plus miles at a time, cheerfully in bright colored robes and sandals. If there could be a more whimsical scene, McDougall had probably not come across it before.
To find the free-spirited Tarahumara would require entering an area just as fearsome as any war zone. The Copper Canyons have everything going against you: wild animals, intense heat, narrow gorges, rocky mountainous terrain, and a crazy maze-like environment sure to swallow you up. If a snake or a coyote doesn’t get you, then maybe a drug warlord will. But what if McDougall could find himself the ideal guide? Sure that was easy enough. He just had to find Caballo Blanco.
Caballo Blanco is painted to be somewhere between legend and ghost. He could be a fright to the unaccustomed and was so elusive as to cast doubt on his very existence. McDougall plays with the mystery and serves up a slice of detective story narrative as he relentlessly tracks down his only hope of true contact with the Tarahumara. Caballo Blanco featues prominently in this book. McDougall spends a great deal of effort in unveiling this mystery. But, even after countless attempts, Caballo remains an enigma. This makes sense as you continue to read. Caballo had been out in the Copper Canyons for far too long to ever be fully understood, labeled, and set on a shelf. What McDougall does find out, however, is exactly what he needs to know. McDougall does justice to the man in this book. Caballo Blanco passed away last year.
With great care and enthusiasm, McDougall metes out facts to make his case which involves a leap of faith back to nature. With the sensibility of a novelist, McDougall dove tails from one scene and character to another. He switches back in time and focuses on one subplot and makes his way back to advance the main plot. What he seeks is nothing less than the truth and that runs the gamut from running shoes to all of humanity. He starts out with the idea that he, along with the rest of us, have settled for less. Once he has made contact with the mystical Tarahumara, he is convinced that their joie de vivre is the key to getting his own joy of life back on track.
It’s a question of finding patterns and confirming facts. As he gets to know more ultrarunners, including legends like Scott Jurek, one thing is clear. The best runners are the happiest runners. They run because they love to run. And what is it about running? It seems to be something so basic, primal. More investigating, and McDougall finds compelling information to back up the case that we humans evolved from hunters running in packs. And when did our naked feet lose their capacity to run? Again, the facts bare out a case for bare feet. We are at our best when we run and when we are not impeded by added padding and support. It appears to be a fairly simple truth. But sometimes the easiest truth is the hardest to expose. McDougall knows that.
Simple myths can be hard to overcome. Like the myth that you reach a point when you’re too old to run. The fact is that the human body regains its peak running performance over time. By age 64, you will be back to your peak of age 19. And, thanks to Nike, we can still be swayed by our fear of injury. Nike is always ready to provide pseudo-scientific remedies of added padding and support. But there is absolutely no need to be swayed by all the hype. A simple shoe is more than adequate. The pros train barefoot and some even run barefoot. The essential takeaway from this book is that we never needed running shoes before Nike “invented” them. All that padding and support keeps your feet from landing properly and, ironically, leads to the very injuries you are trying to avoid. Here is a quote in the book by Olympic coach Arthur Lydiard:
“Those sideways flexings of the ankles begin only when people lace themselves into these running shoes because the construction of many of the shoes immediately alters the natural movement of the feet. We ran in canvas shoes. We didn’t get plantar fascia, we didn’t pronate or supinate, we might have lost a bit of skin from the rough canvas when we were running marathons, but, generally speaking, we didn’t have foot problems. Paying several hundred dollars for the latest in high-tech running shoes is no guarantee you’ll avoid any of these injuries and can even guarantee that you will suffer from them in one form or another.”
Perhaps Caballo Blanco will just have to remain an enigma. But McDougall learned what he needed to know. Despite the fact that Caballo’s choice of actually living in the Copper Canyons was far more poetic than practical, McDougall can understand why that would have been enough for Caballo. Along the way, McDougall learned to trust himself and develop a light running technique. In the process of writing his book, he got his life back. He can run. He can run as much as he wants and not have to answer to anyone. That seems to have been all that Caballo Blanco ever wanted.
You can visit Christopher McDougall at his website here.
Puck Magazine, an impressive collection of some of the leading comix artists and much more, launches its crowd funding campaign today. This is truly an international collection. If you are a fan of offbeat humor and you’d like a taste of it from around the world, then this is for you. Join the campaign here. It runs from November 26, 2013 thru January 4, 2014.
What follows is an informative essay on the Apocalypse, the history of alternative comics, and how that relates to Puck Magazine:
Welcome to the Apocalypse
Historically speaking, the Apocalypse is always now. By that I mean that at every period in human history, someone somewhere was certain that the world was about to end. Whether it was the author of the Biblical “Book of Revelation” (or “Revelation to John”) — surely one of the most mischievous tracts ever written — or some Vedic bard predicting the Kali Yuga, or urban street corner prophets ranting that “The End is Nigh,” the human imagination has repeatedly fixated on the end of the universe and the end of life as we know it.
It is not difficult to figure out why this is. At some undetermined point in time, for each of us, the universe will end. Death awaits us all, whether in a sudden accident or heart attack, or in a long lingering illness. That this is so seems like a monstrous joke, and so we repress the thought or, for many of us, we project it upon the world at large, finding solace in the thought that if we must die, so must everyone else, preferably all at the same time.
And yet, life goes on. Every prophecy of the End Times is, in some sense, a false prophecy. Predicted dates come and go, and true believers’ expectations fizzle out, only to be succeeded by new expectations which will eventually fizzle out as well.
Much of this apocalyptic fervor has been driven by religion, especially fundamentalist Christianity and Islam, which share similar scenarios of a Final Judgment. But there are no lack of secular apocalypses to choose from: catastrophic climate change, nuclear war, the end of Capitalism (a particularly elusive apocalypse), an impending police state, and the list goes on.
All of which brings us to the volume you hold in your hands, a smorgasboard of personal apocalypses conjured up by a stellar crew of cartoonists from around the world. For most comic artists, apocalypse looms as the rent comes due at the end of each month, so this theme was one that the assembled artists could really get their teeth into. As you will discover, some took the challenge lightly, producing humorous strips (including the inevitable Mother In Law joke), while others dove into full-fledged horror and paranoia.
The result is a well-balanced collection of unique visions that you will not find anywhere else. The locations change from strip to strip, usually manifesting the apocalypse in the artists’ own locales. If you’ve ever dreamed of making an Around the World Tour, but know you never will, this volume is a suitable substitute, albeit with rather more demons, cannibals, black holes, and Avenging Angels than you would likely encounter in hopping from country to country.
Sadly, I am told that this is likely the last PUCK volume for years to come, so it represents an apocalypse of sorts for the whole PUCK enterprise. PUCK’s staff has beat all odds in uniting cartoonists from numerous countries in its group projects that are done for the love of free and uncensored cartooning.
The Underground Comix movement was launched in the U.S. during the Sixties and spread its influence to England, the Netherlands, Spain, France, and Italy (among others), in the following decades. PUCK has been one of the most energetic recent manifestations of the underground impulse and Ivan and the rest of the PUCK gang deserve a round of applause for keeping the torch held high.
The Apocalypse is always now. Enjoy it while you can.
Jay Kinney was a participant in the Underground Comix movement of the 1960s and 1970s. He edited and co-edited Young Lust, Occult Laff-Parade, Cover-up Lowdown, and Anarchy Comics, and contributed to many others.
He has since been a magazine publisher, book author, and antiquarian bookseller. Recently published is: Anarchy Comics: the Complete Collection (PM Press), a retrospective anthology of the hard-to-find four originals issues, plus never before published strips and sketchbook pages.
Caption for Mavrides-Kinney Armageddon panels…
The “End Times” erupt in “Armageddon Outtahere” by Paul Mavrides and Jay Kinney in Anarchy Comics #4. This story and all others from the comic series can be found in Anarchy Comics: the Complete Collection (PM Press).
Press release follows:
Fantagraphics Books Publisher Gary Groth invites you to invest in the FB spring season and be a part of the company that has published “the best cartoonists in the history of the world.” Check it out here.
No kidding, Fantagraphics Books is responsible for putting alternative comics on the pop culture map. Think of such great talents as Jim Woodring, Los Bros Hernandez, Daniel Clowes, Peter Bagge, Chris Ware and Joe Sacco, and you are thinking of FB artists.
The Fantagraphics 2014 Spring Season Kickstarter campaign begins today and runs for 30 days: November 5 thru December 5, 2013.
As any publisher of comics will tell you, the business can experience some rough patches. For Fantagraphics Books, the loss of its Co-Publisher, Kim Thompson, in June of this year, was greatly felt. In practical terms, Mr. Thompson left a roster of books he was editing still in progress, not ready to meet the upcoming schedule. This takes a big bite out of the next line-up of books. To make up for the loss in upcoming revenue, Mr. Groth is taking it to the people with a $150,000 Kickstarter campaign. Visit the campaign here.
“Boobage,” is a mini-comic by Monica Gallager that covers, or unveils, a very personal preoccupation with a lot of wit and humor. So, what do you instantly think of when you put such greats together as Kate Hudson, Clare Danes, Gwen Stefani, and Bridget Fonda? The one thing that Gallager used to have trouble with was their (and her own) relatively small breasts, or “tits.” It’s okay, she says “tits” a lot. Gallagher isn’t afraid to tackle the tit issue, large or small. This won’t really be of interest to those who objectify and sexualize but it may give them some pause. Hey Jimmy, or whoever, those hooters you salivate over belong to a real human being.
“Short Run” is a gathering of small press in Seattle with some added attractions this year. There’s the main event, the Short Run Small Press Festival at Washington Hall on Saturday, November 30, 2013. But, for those who want more, there’s plenty more starting with an event on November 1. Check out the Short Run website for details here.
Press release follows:
What does the Mexican Revolution mean to you? It began in 1910 and raged for well over a decade. In the end, the great social experiment of the 20th Century wrought very mixed results. But it clearly had its heroes and at the top was Pancho Villa.
Here in the United States, we have gotten a lot of American Civil War books, graphic novels, movies, television programs, and re-enactments, observing the 150th anniversary of various milestones. Mexico is doing the same with milestones related to the 100th anniversary of the Mexican Revolution. One distinguished graphic novel you will want to consider is “Pancho Villa Toma Zacatecas,” written by Paco Ignacio Taibo II, drawn by Héctor de la Garza “Eko,” and published by Sexto Piso. This will appeal to readers interested in graphic and fine arts, history, and Mexican history in particular.
On June 23, 1914, the Battle of Zacatecas, the bloodiest battle of the Mexican Revolution, saw Mexico’s most iconic hero, Pancho Villa, and his rebel forces, defeat the Federalist General Barron. This graphic novel provides an inside look at Villa and his men. It is a story told in stark black and white which is becoming of the dark and gritty theme. The dialogue sounds authentic and is peppered with salty language which would not make it suitable for younger readers. This is something more appropriate for young adults and up. The artwork and the narrative are what adults would expect from any high quality graphic novel.
Eko’s woodcut style evokes a feeling of blunt urgency. Taibo breaks up the narrative with informative passages alternating with extended scenes such as Pancho Villa with his men on the battlefield. If you don’t happen to speak Spanish, don’t let that stop you. It never stopped me from buying comics by Tardi before Fantagraphics Books translated the French. There’s an idea. Perhaps Fantagraphics would be interested in translating this book. It would definitely be well worth it.
For the convenience of some our readers, you can purchase “Pancho Villa Toma Zacatecas” through Amazon here.
Comics Grinder welcomes all our Hispanic readers to provide any feedback, if you’ve already had a chance to read this book, or anticipate reading this book. You can learn more at the Sexto Piso website here.