“Binah,” in Jewish tradition, refers to wisdom and is the uppermost feminine element in the Godhead.
“Binah” is also the title of a graphic novel and a Kickstarter success story. It has reached one goal and is still going strong. Support the campaign here.
And “Binah,” the graphic novel, is one of the great things that can happen when superhero sensibilities mix with alternative comics. Some have called this type of mashup, “fusion comics.” Call it what you will, writer Ben Malkin and illustrator Ian Densford, have created something special.
This is the story of a woman, Binah, who is tired of all the nuclear posturing in her country and neighboring countires. It is only a matter of time before there is a conflict. One day, Binah, receives what she believes to be a sign from God. This triggers her to lead a movement to relocate her home and holy land before it’s too late. Incidentally, Binah has superpowers as do her inner team.
This Kickstarter project has successfully reached its initial funding goal and is currently pursuing stretcher goals to refine the project. You can find it all under, the Kickstarter campaign, “The ‘Binah’ Comics & Solilians 7-Inch Vinyl” which you can view here.
As an accompaniment to the comic, there is a 7″ vinyl that is part of the Kickstarter rewards system. Solilians is a showcase of space rock bands that you can find out more about here.
I got a chance to have an interview with both Ben and Ian and we discussed their current project, plans for the future, and a variety of thoughts on comics. Ben has some definite favorites which include Alan Moore, Harvey Pekar, and Brian Michael Bendis. Ian’s favorites include Mike Mignola and Cyril Pedrosa.
Brandon Graham is something of a hero in the world of comics. He seems to have a magic touch that allows him to create stories with the most loopy plots full of the most absurd puns. Sometimes his art appears to function at the level of the most basic signifier, however, those basic elements have a way of building into glorious heroic structures.
Take in Brandon Graham’s work piece by piece. Let it roll around in your mouth. Savor each morsel.
“Multiple Warheads” has just completed a four-issue run with Image Comics, with a promise of more to come. In this first run, we follow the adventures of Sexica and Nikoli as they make their way to the Impossible City. Threaded throughout this road trip tale is a parallel tale of an organ smuggler in pursuit of the ultimate magical organ. For a comic that has all the signs of being made up as it goes along, this is a nicely balanced layered plot.
This is a good time to look back at Issue Four, the whole shooting match, and consider what it all means. Let’s start with a top ten list, a highlight of some of the beautiful treats found in this last and most recent issue.
1. Mysterious Books. Ah, a portal to something more or is it mostly to use on your bum?
2. Feet. Oh, so much to say about peds, a beautiful subject in its own right.
3. Maps. Maps inside of fruit, no less.
4. Whales. When in doubt, a floating whale.
5. Another arresting isolated image: The bird becomes an instant piece of art.
6. Faced with Faces: One of a variety of possible paths for our hero.
7. Another odd bit of word play that deserves a closer look.
8. More details not to be missed. Would this work as a real game? Sure.
9. Heart dissected for your pleasure.
10. Motorcycle diaries.
And then take that motorcycle sequence and add it to this complexity:
For those new to Graham’s work, or even for those with already some passing interest, the key lies in the details, the parts and the whole, on a page by page basis. Graham’s comics tend to add up more like an experience than just as a work with a driven narrative flow. It brings to mind such dreamy stuff as the films of Terry Gilliam that, for the most part, seem to be best digested as a series of compelling sequences instead of a traditional story. It works in the hands of Gilliam because he’s a master of the visual and the same can be said of Graham. And, with that in mind, there is a story, a big story, to follow in “Multiple Warheads.”
Graham reunites two of his favorite characters, two young lovers by the names of Sexica and Nikoli. The last time we saw these two, Sexica was an organ smuggler. As a last hurrah, Sexica sewed a wolf’s penis on to her boyfriend, Nikoli. It was a birthday present, you understand, and Nikoli was pleased and so was Sexica. Howwever, this fun did not come without complications. Nikoli is now sort of a werewolf. Only sort of, so that’s not too bad. He’s mostly a mechanic and a good guy. There’s also Lenin, Nikoli’s car. And there’s Pumpkin Patch, Sexica former organ smuggling boss. Our story begins shortly after everything has been blown to bits. Nikoli and Sexica must leave their destroyed Red City and head to the Impossible City.
Along the way, Sexica tries to relax on her impromptu vacation but there are lingering regrets over having retired from organ smuggling. To contrast that with what she’s missing, we have this other story going on about another smuggler who has been assigned to find the most magical and powerful organs yet to be smuggled! What is magical and powerful is sort of relative in this world but it’s best to just keep moving toward the next big thing until further notice.
It’s at the first chance to get back into the game that Sexica takes the bait. Some weird little penguin-like creature is in search of a wizard’s larder and that’s good enough for Sexica. She admits that once an organ smuggler, always an organ smuggler: “I’ve always been like this. I need to see what I can get away with to feel like I’ve got freedom.”
That pretty much sums it all up. We all would like to see what we can get away with so we can feel like we have freedom!
Brandon Graham and “Multiple Warheads” will stir up your subversive side and inspire you to pursue your own freedom. Okay, so that takes care of this first batch, “Multiple Warheads: Alphabet to Infinity.” The next batch is to be entitled, “Multiple Warheads: Ghost Town.”
Find Brandon Graham here. Find “Multiple Warheads” here. Find our friends at Image Comics here.
“COPRA” is a 24-page monthly comic, full of handmade goodness, and a force of nature. And it proves that sometimes the best thing to do is to do it yourself. That is what Brooklyn cartoonist Michel Fiffe has concluded. He is on a quest to create something different and compelling. It is a journey that began with aspiring to the work of Steve Ditko and led to a deeper understanding of Ditko and beyond and…”COPRA.”
Working at a breakneck pace, Michel Fiffe is currently doing what he can, with all his heart and talent, to bring you the very best in monthly original superhero comics. If you like the more balls-to-the-wall offbeat stuff, you’ll love this. Think “Suicide Squad,” for instance. Or “Doom Patrol.” Well, that’s some DC Comics. On the Marvel side, think “Doctor Strange” or…well, you get the picture. Fiffe is after carving out his own niche within that wonderful world of ragtag heroes taking on sinister forces.
Fiffe is aware of what he’s trying to conjure up. The world of independent alternative comics and mainstream superhero comics are two separate worlds that, over the years, have made some very compelling interconnections. The term, “fusion comics,” was coined by Frank Santoro to define this melding of indie with superhero. Fiffe writes about it here.
As a fusion cartoonist, Fiffe rides the new wave with just the right understated gusto. Characters, for example, in his hybrid of indie and superhero are decidedly uncharismatic. They are everyday people, at their core, rather than glamorous and sexy. You might think of Peter Parker, for instance, as being a classic everyman but no, he’s not really. He’s just too likable. He’s just too cute and well put together compared to what’s possible. This is not to needlessly slam Spider-Man since the love for the guy remains for Fiffe and, most likely, for you, dear reader. It’s more a desire, I think, to subvert expectations and insert something raw and new that motivates Fiffe.
Art is a complicated thing. It is not delicate. It is not aloof. Art is heroic and dramatic as well as purposeful. Fiffe is answering that call. “COPRA,” I suspect, is intentionally messy and cluttered. Just like a house packed with housemates, and their uninvited friends, creating confusing and frustrating chatter, random and unfiltered, so goes “COPRA.” This comic welcomes that mundane reality. The characters are constantly bickering like malcontents, like run of the mill housemates. No one stands out. The plot takes on that shaggy dog vibe too. It can be hard to follow all the way and that, according to your taste, can be fascinating or not. Too much text crammed into too small spaces doesn’t help the cause either. That said, I tend to want to fall in with being intrigued by it all.
Basically, you’ve got a bunch of the most strange and unlikely heroes doing battle with another bunch of the most strange and unlikely villains. That alone, can be a lot of fun. Yes, this comic has a certain something about it. I was about to say, “energy,” but it’s of a subversive kind. These characters, this plot, the action, the ass kicking, all move at a snail’s pace. Is it offbeat simply for the sake of being offbeat? Well, try it on for size and see what you think. The lack of clarity will prove a stumbling block. Based on his observations on the back page of “COPRA,” Fiffe states that he’s not afraid to run with an idea and just go with, not edit himself. To create on the fly is like walking on a tight rope..without a net.
Getting back to “fusion comics,” Marvel and DC Comics, to their credit, have brought in cartoonists from the “underground” and put them behind the wheel of some awesome stuff. It doesn’t get any better, for instance, when DC Comics gives Paul Pope the keys to the Batmobile. One of the most notable experiments was some years back when Marvel Comics did a remake of “Omega the Unknown” with Farel Dalrymple as artist and novelist Johnathan Lethem as writer. Most unusual and yet it has become an accepted practice to mix things up, from time to time, when finding talent for mainstream superheroes. Maybe it is just a matter of time before Marvel and DC Comics come calling Fiffe. Frankly, it probably won’t be soon but you never know. Whatever the case, Michel Fiffe should come out alright.
In conclusion, “COPRA” is a highly imaginative and daring comic. The plot remains too insular, seeming to follow its own internal logic. It should be opened up more for readers. I am betting that will happen. And I welcome your viewpoint if you believe that to already be happening. Experimental comics are a unique nut to crack. That said, I also believe this comic deserves a continued look. Who knows where “COPRA” or Michel Fiffe, for that matter, will be in a few years. No doubt, it will be some place interesting.
Visit Michel Fiffe’s site here. You can order copies directly through Fiffe. And to make it more fun, let your comics shop know about “COPRA” if they haven’t gotten the word yet.
Fusion comics is where it’s at. That’s the bigger point here. Don’t let the title “Sex” distract you too much. As Joe Casey so eloquently expresses on the back pages of the first issue of “Sex,” he is seeking to create work in the spirit of the times. The sophisticated reader of comic books today is not really going to be a hardcore fan of any particular character or title. Well, maybe somewhat, but that reader is too aware of the big picture, the wide spectrum of comics out there. So, how do you create superhero comics that are truly relevant? Well, it all comes back to being yourself, a pretty basic concept, that the world of alternative comics is all about, maybe even to a fault. Anyway, Casey states that he is writing fusion comics. It is a term that has been gaining more favor, coined by Frank Santoro, and beautifully explained in depth by Michel Fiffe, a fusion artist himself, at The Factual Opinion. In a nutshell, yes, indie and mainstream are two different things and, when the two mix, awesome stuff can happen.
If you’ve wondered what Comics Grinder is really into, let’s just say that fusion comics is a wonderful thing. As for “Sex,” it’s not about the sex, it’s about the fusion. Keep that in mind, and you’ll dig “Sex” because, well, there is sex in this comic. Just putting that out there for anyone who would have a problem with that. Sorry to spoil that for anyone but, yes, the cat is out of the bag. Look at it this way, there is more fusion than sex. Think, Moebius, just to give you a highly credible visual. That said, the art by Piotr Kowalski is very impressive, a wonderful tight expressive line. Of course, I am singing to the choir for most of you readers out there. What matters is that this comic has a nice kick to it.
The main character is Simon Cooke, a billionaire playboy a la Bruce Wayne. For this starter, we find Simon returning to the home office at Saturn City. He is easily bored, must remain constantly stimulated. There are signs that he has sacrificed much, too much, and it wasn’t in support of his company. No, there is some hint that he might be a superhero of some kind. And, not only that, but a superhero who has denied himself and does not know how to look out for himself. There are some big hints that sex alone is not the answer for this guy. So, we shall see.
“Sex #1” is a March 6 release. Visit our friends at Image Comics.