Tags: david aja


comix 2009 the halohalomofoko year in review

Halo, livejournal

somehow failed to notice this: Daniel Clowes is scheduled to have a new book out from Drawn & Quarterly this May. From D&Q's press release:

In WILSON, Clowes creates a thoroughly engaging, complex and fascinating portrait of the modern egoist-outspoken and oblivious to those around him, but who sincerely wants to find his place in the world. Working in a single-page gag format and drawn in a spectrum of styles, the cartoonist of GHOST WORLD, ICE HAVEN and DAVID BORING gives us his funniest and most deeply affecting novel to date.

A novel built out of single-page gags -- I'm intrigued/excited.

And now:

MZA's top 11 of 2009:
  1. Asterios Polyp by David Mazzucchelli
    I think everybody's mainly been jizzing themselves about Mazzucchelli's mindfucking design sense + formal daring, but I'm in it for the singular voice. It's a funny, unabashedly intellectual, casually warm and conversational voice; and as a comix reader since childhood, I feel as if I've been waiting to have a conversation w/ it for 30 years; and now here it is. Asterios Polyp is a comedy that pays attention to nuances of dialogue and behaviour; a perceptive inquiry into binary thinking; a devastating character study; and possibly the only great romance story I know of that's told from an alpha male's perspective. Greatest living cartoonist?

  2. Vie et mort du héros triomphante by Frederic Coché
    Exceedingly weird. Cinematic in a terrifying Lynchian manner, and also painterly (in that each panel is strong enough to be its own justification), and also a sequential juggernaut, gaining violent momentum panel after panel, page after page. Apparent moral: it sucks to be a hero.

    frederic coche

  3. Footnotes in Gaza by Joe Sacco
    Nominally the story of a 1956 massacre of Palestinian men by Israeli soldiers in the Gaza Strip, Footnotes spills repeatedly into Gaza's violent present-day reality. Sacco structures his telling as a series of interviews w/ now-elderly eyewitnesses to the events of 1956, and he struggles continuously to reconcile their distorted, incomplete memories into a coherent picture. It's an impressive, massive piece of reportage that transparently acknowledges its unavoidable flaws yet never gives up on getting a high-resolution close-up of the long-ago past. Through a miracle of some sort, his narrative fails to lose steam over 389 information-dense pages. His drawings contain a sickening richness of detail that never overwhelms the eyes, never fails to move the eyes forward. His panel-to-panel movement is masterful and even innovative w/o announcing itself. Why should anyone consume stories about the brutalities of human history? I still don't have the answer to that, but I do I know that I love comix and this is good comix. Reliable sources named Sacco's Palestine one of the 16 most essential and death-negating comix books o.a.t., and Footnotes in Gaza is Palestine taken to th next level. It's a masterpiece, it time travels like a son of a bitch, and there's nothing else like it.

  4. Driven by Lemons by Josh Cotter
    First of two "sketchbooks" on this list, but to me this one lays out a pretty clear (though nonlinear) narrative about a young man combatting mental health problems. Every object in his environment can become an enemy or a vehicle of escape, and Cotter's pen isn't sure which it enjoys drawing more.

  5. Dungeon (Early Years, Vol 2: Innocence Lost & Zenith, Vol 3: Back in Style) by Lewis Trondheim, Joann Sfar, Christophe Blain, & Boulet
    Solid swashbuckling adventures punctuated by drunkenness, sex, neuroticism, and small human moments ...... or are the adventures the punctuation?!

  6. You'll Never Know, Book 1: a Good and Decent Man by Carol Tyler
    A brilliant and disarmingly vulnerable historical memoir that converts a family's personal anguish into adult wisdom and grace. Part documentarian and part emotional wreck, Tyler examines her secretive father's WWII past and her own disintegrating marriage w/ an enviable balance between sensitivity and fearlessness. As somebody who's constantly exposed to autobiographical writing and who frequently practices it my own self, I appreciate how impossible it is to write about hurtful, private topics in a way that doesn't gross someone out; but Tyler wins against grossness by treating strong expressions of emotion as normal -- not special or heroic, neither shameful nor virtuous, not something to be danced around, just an outcome of being alive w/ other people. Rendered in earthy, painted colours, Tyler's drawings navigate widescreen spaces w/ the easy intimacy of a natural-born cartoonist.

  7. Cold Heat 5/6 & 7/8 by Frank Santoro & Ben Jones
    One of the less "literary" selections on this list, Cold Heat is definitely a story, and the story might be going somewhere (still a few chapters to be released), but where it goes doesn't matter. Its protagonist is a girl who's in love w/ a dead rock star, and together they might have to fight aliens or something to that effect; but the real reason I paid the steep admission price ($40 for two komik-book-size komix) was to luxuriate in the colour-shapes, supple linework, and general trippiness of Frank Santoro. Clipped dialogue and deadpan narration complement Santoro's warm/cool visuals the way Mark E. Smith complements a deep groove.

  8. A Drifting Life by Yoshihiro Tatsumi
    An exhaustive account of Tatsumi's "adventures" making manga as a young man in 1950s Japan. Eleven years in the making, the 834-page tome pulls of the incredible trick of being a real page-turner while having its protagonist mostly sit at a table drawing cartoons and worrying about the future! It's also a history of the development of manga by somebody who was present at the inception of its presently-recognized form and who helped shape that form in a lasting way w/o becoming famous. If I'm understanding the relationships properly, Tatsumi is the Velvet Underground to Osamu Tezuka's Beatles -- if VU had worshipped the Beatles. As Tatsumi is known in the West as a creator of menacing, bleak, sexually-twisted short stories, it was a pleasant surprise to find him equally adept in a more leisurely and lighthearted environment. His cartooning remains as lean and incisive as ever, but his noir shadowiness is missing, dispelled by the light of an artist burning the midnight oil.

  9. Pim & Francie by Al Columbia
    At least one commentator has suggested that this ostensible sketchbook is actually a well-thought-out finished story -- an intriguing viewpoint, and the drawings in this "sketchbook" have obviously been sequenced w/ great care, but at the end of the day, fully enjoying this book will not depend on perceiving an intricate narrative. What matters to me is a nervous energy that begins in its first drawing and does not let up for the duration of the book, as its two nominal heroes meet and flee from a succession of their worst nightmares, exiting, panel right, eternally. Gorgeously reproduced -- rough pencil marks, taped edges, discolourations, and all -- this might be the sweetest thing to stare at, dumbly, in my whole library.

  10. Ganges 3 by Kevin Huizenga
    The undisputed emperor of suburban mysteries returns w/ his most neurotic tale, in which Glenn Ganges drinks too much coffee before bedtime, a battle against insomnia ensues, and an explanation of Glenn's mental landscape is attempted from inside that mental landscape. Huizenga conceives brilliant new methods of shorthand comix communication the way monkeys learn sign language to get the banana.

  11. Daredevil 500: "3 Jacks" by Ann Nocenti & David Aja
    Old school Mazzucchelli-esque art and a quiet, heartbreaking restatement of the title character's essential filial tragedy made me want to believe in heroes again. What a cruel trick!

Honourable mentions:
Nine Ways to Disappear by Lilli Carré
Little Nothings: Prisoner Syndrome by Lewis Trondheim
Monsters by Ken Dahl
Beasts of Burden by Evan Dorkin & Jill Thompson
The Bun Field by Amanda Vähämäki - In spite of its creepy atmosphere, dangerous driving, bloody accidents, and encouragement of child alcoholism, this was hella cute in the good way.
Gogo Monster by Taiyo Matsumoto
Uptight 3 by Jordan Crane
Squirrel Machine by Hans Rickheit
Mourning Star 2 by Kazimir Strzepek
Low Moon by Jason
Boy's Club 3 by Matt Furie
Love & Rockets: New Stories 2 by Los Bros Hernandez

Still have to read:
The Book of Genesis by R. Crumb
lots of other stuff, no doubt

Greatest year in comix thus far, you think?