Friday, 26 February 2010

Comic Books And Nicola Rose!

Howdy y'all

When I posted Wednesday's blog, I was really struck by how many people had checked out stuff that I was into that I'd mentioned . To be honest, I'd only ever really thought of it as a means of getting news across and reassuring people who might care that I wasn't dead, but I love the idea of it being a space in which I can share stuff that I love with my friends and anyone who's passing through.

So if you're willing to indulge me, I thought I'd share one of my other big passions besides music in today's blog. I've been pretty obsessed with comic books since I was really young, and there was a point that I really wanted to be a cartoonist. I sort of dropped it ages ago, but I still keep tabs on who's been doing exciting stuff recently and I'm always discovering older books. Here's a few people who are worth really worth reading:

1. Adrian Tomine

I first read one of Adrian's comics as part of the mcsweeny's collection, but I recently discovered his earlier Optic Nerve series. The first seven issues were hand-printed and distributed from his home, sending them out in the mail. His style really gets to me. His stories are short: normally just a few pages, but he seems to be able to encrypt so much stuff into these sparse strips. I like his more recent stuff, but I don't think he's ever topped Optic Nerve. Its great to read the set in full to see how much he developed in such a short space of time. His technique, both in terms of his storytelling and his drawing style improves so much by the seventh issue.

2. Art Spiegelman

This guy is by far more well known. You might have read or heard of Maus, a book in two parts that chronicled his father Vladek Spiegelman's experiences in a German concentration camp
during the second world war. This is quite rightly what he's best known for, because its maybe the best comic ever written by anyone and one of the most affecting and beautiful works of literature of the twentieth century full-stop. If you haven't read it, you totally should. I'll lend you my copy if you don't want to shell out because that's how strongly I believe that everyone should read it.

He's also important for a whole lot
of other reasons. He founded raw magazine, a collection of subversive arty comic strips for 'damned intellectuals' with his wife, Françoise Mouly (who's also amazing). It can get pretty fucked up, but its up there with Mad magazine for me in terms of collections and cultural significance. Its worth checking out his other recent work 'in the shadow of no towers', an account of his experience with post-traumatic stress disorder after directly witnessing the collapse of the world trade centre. Its much more life affirming and important and much less depressing than it sounds.

3. Jeffrey Brown

I think I discovered Jeffrey Brown's stuff years ago in Dave's Comics in Brighton (my favourite comic shop in the world), but it wasn't until recently that I realised just how much skill goes into creating the emotional depth
beneath his deceptively simple drawings. His autobiographical comics normally center around relationships but more recently he's moved beyond that quite a bit. There's something about the way he writes that perfectly captures the rhythms of daily life and makes being a human being a little more acceptable. He also does some really cool quasi-superhero comics and has a great book of observational drawings about his cats, which is about as accurate a depiction of how weird cats are as you can hope for.

4. Lynda Barry

I love Lynda Barry's comics. From what I can gather, she was sort of in with the same crowd that Charles Burns and Matt Groening belonged to, and although I'd say there are subtle aspects to her work that are similar to those guys, she does something all of her own. Her drawings are really engrossing and she has some really beautiful things to say about the creative disposition and the spirit of play. Her comics about childhood are a lot of fun. I find her comics really mystifying and sobering at the same time.

5. Daniel Clowes

I know you know this guy, but he's only as well known as he deserves to be. 'Ghost World' is probably the most widely-read thing he's published, but its also worth reading other, less well known books and series that he's done. My favourite book by him is probably 'Ice Haven', which is a little more stylistically varied and self-referential than Ghost World. You can talk shit about Daniel Clowes forever, and lord knows plenty of people do (he kind of mocks this in Ice Haven a couple of times), but the fact is that he's one of the best comic book writers living in the world today.

I could probably go on for ever, so here are a bunch more links of people very worthy of your attention to explore:

Craig Thompson
Robert Crumb
Calvin & Hobbes
Alan Moore
Lilli Carré
Harvey Pekar
Harvey Kurtzman
Joe Matt
Gabrielle Belle

Nicola Rose!

I finally managed to convince my ma she has a beautiful voice the other day by recording her on my laptop. I thought I'd post it up here for your enjoyment/ appreciative ears/ voyeuristic curiosity:

Nicola Rose- Moon River by Jo Rose

More soon!


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