Category Archives: Hipsters

Book Review: GEEK INK

“Geek Ink: The World’s Smartest Tattoos for Rebels, Nerds, Scientists, and Intellectuals”

GEEK INK is much more than just a book about tattoos or a collection of way cool tattoos. This is truly exceptional first-rate work from some of the best talent working today around the world. GEEK INK is a book that showcases tattoos artists from Inkstinct, the world’s largest online tattoo studio directory and app. GEEK INK is published by Race Point Publishing, an imprint of The Quarto Group.

New York City tattoo artist Emrah Ozhan

Here you will find exquisite work like that of Emrah Ozhan, an artist from Istanbul, based in New York City. Ozhan is a multidisciplinary artist celebrated for his tattoo work. His portfolio includes tattoo work, graphic and fashion design, music, collaborations, and fine art.

L.A. tattoo artist Lustandconsume aka Phil Tworavens

Way across to the U.S. west coast, you can find L.A. tattoo artist Lustandconsume aka Phil Tworavens. This is very trippy and very impressive work. No wonder he’s a legend of blackwork tattooing.

The book is split into two sections. The first section covers profiles of tattoo master artists while the second provides galleries of work divided into categories. Every artist here is part of Inkstinct. There are twenty-five artists featured in lengthy features which are, I kid you not, like chatting with master tattoo artists and having them share tips and secrets. I have done a lot of research on tattoos. I am a huge fan. I simply adore tattoos and embrace the community. This book will fit right in for those new to tattoos and for longtime connoisseurs.

Examples of Fantasy Tattoo Art

The second half of the book takes just as meticulous care as the previous profiles and presents tattoo artwork in sixteen categories. This includes work in the fantasy category that includes the above example: from clockwise: Maleficent-inspired tattoo by Maria Fernandez; City in The Clouds by Jessica Svartvit; and Unicorn tattoo by Rob Carvalho, inspired by My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic.

For me, tattoos have been on my radar for quite a long time and I’m always on the lookout for resource material. I am gradually getting inked and, who knows, I may need to actually pursue being a tattoo artist myself down the road. There are a ton of books on tattoos but GEEK INK truly stands out for its high quality presentation and genuine insight. You won’t learn how to tattoo from this book. This is the sort of book that people turn to for gems of insight and inspiration. For casual observers too, this will prove a handy all-in-one guidebook on what’s hot today in tattoos.

“Geek Ink: The World’s Smartest Tattoos for Rebels, Nerds, Scientists, and Intellectuals” is a 224-page hardcover in full color and is available now. For more details, visit The Quarto Group.

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Filed under Art, Art books, Geek Culture, Geeks, Hipsters, pop culture, Tattoos, The Quarto Group

Review: SCORCHED EARTH collection by Tom Van Deusen

SCORCHED EARTH collection by Tom Van Deusen

SCORCHED EARTH collection by Tom Van Deusen

A wretched staleness in the air. Lost souls strewn about. And it’s all played up for laughs! Welcome to the wonderful world of cartoonist Tom Van Deusen. I really admire Tom’s style, in person and in his comics. Tom is a very likable and professional gent. So, it’s a unique treat to then read his comics featuring Tom’s vile and hateful alter ego. I reviewed a couple of issues of his Scorched Earth comics. You can read that here. This new collection, published by Kilgore Books, that came out this year simply goes by the same running title and contains a fine mix of old and new material. You will want to seek this out.

Tom Van Deusen’s aim is to satirize the oily underbelly of hipsterdom with a neo-underground sensibility. His characters traffic in a Robert Crumb-like netherworld where hedonism and arrogance commingle. Like Crumb, Van Deusen is both fascinated and repulsed by the hipster zeitgeist. Van Deusen’s alter ego, Tom, struggles to connect with a woman who is willing to sleep with anyone…except him. She’ll even sleep with his doppelgänger but not the original. Tom can’t even get a handle on the e-cigarette craze that all the “cool kids” have latched onto. For Tom, vaping does not involve a slim little gadget delivering dramatic puffs of vapor. No, for Tom, it involves a monstrous contraption that looks like an iron lung.

Hanging out at Glo's Diner

Hanging out at Glo’s Diner

One of the best bits in the book takes place at Glo’s Diner, located in what is the Capitol Hill district of Seattle, a densely populated area and a counterculture mecca. I curated art shows at Glo’s Diner for five years and presented work from local cartoonists including David Lasky, Ellen Forney, Jennifer Daydreamer, Farel Dalrymple, and myself. It is a small space. The food is okay. But there is something about that peculiar little oily spoon that reads authentic. It’s great to see a cartoonist of Van Deusen’s caliber pick up on that. He takes his time to capture the place’s true dimensions and spirit.

Full page excerpt from SCORCHED EARTH

Full page excerpt from SCORCHED EARTH

The not so sweet young things remain out of reach for sad sack Tom. He remains on the fringes of the fashionable fringe element. The beauty of it all is that Van Deusen dares to keep vigil, take notes, and then pile it all into a blender and create some very funny comics.

Visit Tom here, find his comics at Poochie Press right here and find this recent collection of SCORCHED EARTH at Kilgore Books & Comics right here.

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Filed under Alternative Comics, Comics, Comix, Hipsters, Kilgore Books, mini-comics, Minicomics, Robert Crumb, Seattle, Tom Van Deusen, Underground Comics, Zines

Review: YEARBOOK HERO by Ami Komai

YEARBOOK HERO by Ami Komai

YEARBOOK HERO by Ami Komai

Ami Komai has so much fun satirizing the cool kids. Allisa and Matt end up hanging out a lot, although it’s fairly painful for both of them. Allisa needs Matt as a sounding board and pulls him out of his art supply store clerk job every chance she gets. Matt ends up being insulted by Allisa as she goes about venting. Matt, while essential to her routine, proves to be dull-witted at every turn. But they seem to look cool together as they take in the latest scene. That, and more, is what you can expect from Ami Komai’s first issue of the comic, “Yearbook Hero.”

Reading YEARBOOK HERO

Reading YEARBOOK HERO

In such a cool kid dynamic, it always comes down to every man for himself. Allisa keeps hanging out with Matt but, in the end, she really doesn’t care about anyone or anything as much as what impression she made with a total stranger. And that easily proves to her that nothing matters. Bravo. Wonderfully pithy stuff here. Komai is on the right track. And that is only the first story, “Dead Girl Water.” Komai writes and draws this comic which is in the tradition of Daniel Clowes and Adrian Tomine: off-kilter slice of life. Her style is more pared-down, lean, and does a great job of capturing perfectly deadpan hipster moments.

Panel excerpt from YEARBOOK HERO

Panel excerpt from YEARBOOK HERO

The second story, “NASA Space Universe,” features Jean Paul, a possibly dead hipster. We overhear his friends on a road trip. They stumble upon a notice that states Jean Paul is missing, complete with milk carton portrait. They split on the idea of his being dead or still alive. This story is left unresolved. To be continued. And we end with a two-pager, “Heavy Love in Holograms,” that is concise and poetic and sums up the frustrations of a young woman. All in all, this is an elegant heavy hitter of a comic. I can’t wait to read more of Ami Komai’s work. Visit Ami Komai right here.

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Filed under Comics, Comics Reviews, Hipsters, Los Angeles, Minicomics, Satire

Review: SUGAR SKULL by Charles Burns

Welcome to Hipsterville: SUGAR SKULL by Charles Burns

Welcome to Hipsterville: SUGAR SKULL by Charles Burns

Welcome to hipsterville. If there is something that is both scary and fascinating to observe (like a train wreck) it is the activity of a hipster. Charles Burns completes his ode to the lives of hipsters gone terribly wrong in the final part of his Nitnit trilogy, “Sugar Skull.” Outside of a Stephen King novel, this new book by Burns offers up plenty to be creeped out over. Think of it as “Carrie” for the Gen X set.

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Filed under Charles Burns, Comics, Generation X, Graphic Novel Reviews, graphic novels, Hipsters, Horror

Review: X’ED OUT by Charles Burns

Charles Burns XED OUT

If you have not yet read what Charles Burns has been up to lately, don’t panic. You have options. There are two installments of his current wild ride, “X’ed Out” and “The Hive.” Both graphic novels can work as stand alones and you will do fine whether you read one first or the other. Essentially, this is a story that follows the main character mostly through flashbacks and alternates with his doppelganger in a parallel story set in a more cartoony and sinister world. Enjoy it as a multi-layered horror story. We’ll focus here on “X’ed Out,” the first graphic novel in the series which came out in 2010. And you can then proceed to a review of “The Hive” in the next post.

XED OUT Charles Burns

“X’ed Out” is as much about the angst of Generation X as it is a horror story. The two themes actually compliment each other rather nicely here. You will find equal amounts of supernatural horror and the self-inflicted horror of disaffected youth. Consider any art school crowd of a generation ago (or any generation, really) and you will find an inner core of self-loathing malcontented rebels ready to set the world on fire. What will it take? Start up a band? How about a magazine? But what will it ultimately take to make the pain go away? What happens when raw idealism and Prozac aren’t enough?

Charles Burns XED OUT Pantheon

We begin with the cartoony doppelganger. He is sitting up after a restless sleep in an old fold out bed. He has a bandage across the side of his head which can’t be a good sign. He has no idea of where he is. And, once he makes his way out into the outside, we see that this is a very strange place he has found himself in. As we progress through the story, we see that this world is more real in some ways than the hipster world that Doug and his girlfriend, Sarah, are so enthralled by. It’s as if the chickens have come home to roost, as if all those extreme misfits staying up late at night have finally summoned up the Devil. There’s a hint that Sarah may have actually done something like that. And then there’s that strange bandage across the side of Doug’s head.

It really is easy to enjoy both of these installments in either order. Although you can sense the force of the narrative progressing from the first book to the second, the numerous transitions in both books can act as so many elements building up, providing clues. Who is the old man in the creepy cartoon world that Doug’s doppelganger is spying on? Wait, now we have a scene with the old man followed by a scene with Doug and they’re all wearing the same purple bathrobe . Is it a much older Doug in one scene? Maybe. But, in another scene, we know the old man is Doug’s father. “X’ed” will definitely leave you wondering about what will happen next, who is who, and what is what. It’s when the last book in the trilogy, “Sugar Skull,” arrives in 2014 that the sequence will be clear and the resolution unmistakable.

“X’ed Out” and “The Hive” are available in bookstores, comics shops and online. You will find in many shops that both books are neatly displayed side by side. Visit Pantheon Books.

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Filed under Charles Burns, Comics, Generation X, Graphic Novel Reviews, graphic novels, Hipsters, Horror, Pantheon

THE DEVASTATOR #6 Review

“The Devastator” is the kind of quarterly humor magazine I had always thought of putting together back in college. My best friend and I did put out an issue of something that was a combination of his aspirations towards sytle and my aspirations towards wit. In a lot of ways, I see that tension, which can work really well, in the pages of this 56-page magazine. This is what people in search of stylish snark are really looking for and this mag pulls it off nicely.

In this issue, the theme is “Indie” and what that means. It will mean something different to each new generation. But, as R. Sikoryak and Michael Smith’s parody of “American Splendor” makes clear, whatever batch of 18 to 35-year-olds you belong to, you can be just as clueless as the one that came before.

I’m from the Gen X batch and, as is fully documented, we are a good-natured but uniquely alienated group, always demanding authenticity from others. Same darn thing can be said for the latest crop. In “Stat Attack!” by Lesley Tsina, a mock survey of college radio listeners reveals that the most compelling reason to tune in to college radio is to “fight the powers that be.” In Noah Van Sciver’s comic elegy to those who haunt indie bookstores, again, some things never change. That same baby soft cutie with her fingers crumpling up the ends of her sweater is still not going to give you the time of day. But the weirdo covered in aluminum foil will stick to you like glue. Such is the life of the young artist with a shit job.

How better to soothe the pain than to be a poseur? This activity is explored by Micki Grover and Matt Taylor in “Barry’s Time Machine,” where it’s not good enough to know all the names of obscure techno bands but you need to hop into a time machine and literally be the first to “discover” Nikola Tesla, right after his birth, and be the first to declare dinosaurs are cool. For an even closer look, we get a detailed analysis of the many, yet limited, facial expressions of the hipster. You can find that in “Ace of Face,” by Amanda Meadows, with art by Bryan Wolfson (see above).

And if you look way above, you see the cover art by Andy Ristaino, the lead designer on Pendleton Ward’s “Adventure Time,” seen on Cartoon Network. I feel it necessary to give that long description because what Andy Ristaino and Pendleton Ward, and all the other great talent that bring you the animated adventures of Jake, a magical talking dog, and Finn, the human boy, are saying something important. They’re talking about a whole new generation of chill people (no haters allowed) who are sensitive and enlightened souls. These are the grandchildren of John Lennon. And the brothers and sisters of Michael Cera. They’re flower people without the flowers, since flowers have feelings too.

I think that sentiment carries over significantly to something like “The Devastator.” It’s got a vibe like “National Lampoon” and “The Onion,” which is a good thing and makes sense, but it’s definitely cultivating its own unique laid back voice. It has tapped into the all the good stuff coming from the punk and zine scene from yesteryear and found itself quite relevant and much needed. Sweetness is cool and sweet, especially when sprinkled with just the right dash of sarcasm.

You can get your copy of “The Devastator #6” starting on October 16 for only $8. Save with a subscription by getting four quarterly issues for $30. Visit our friends at The Devastator.

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Filed under Entertainment, Hipsters, Humor, pop culture, The Devastator, Youth Culture