Comics Notes 1/21

Hello and welcome to what will, I suspect, be a daily feature on this site, namely a quick roundup of comics news and some notes on whatever it is I’m reading.

• The big French comics festival Angoulême has awarded its Grand Prix to Emmanuel Guibert, author of The Photographer among others. I’m excited to read his stuff.

• Somewhat annoyingly, the Keanu Reeves comic on Kickstarter has sold out immediately. I’m all for comics but cmon guys. It’s Keanu Reeves. He’s not a cartoonist.

• The collection of Alan Moore/Kevin O’Neill short stories from Avatar’s very weird and good black-and-white anthology Cinema Purgatorio was supposed to come out this month and did not. If you look on Amazon it says it’s postponed until 2022 but on the Comics Cavalcade site (and CC owns Avatar), you can pre-order it for March. Probably the last new Alan Moore comics we’ll see for a while, maybe ever.

• Warren Ellis has announced he’s restarting his newsletter. I’m not excited about this, I’ll tell you that for free.

• Matt Fraction’s November and Elsa Charretier’s November is one of the better books I’ve read in a bit; Fraction is such a wonderful writer and the book feels perfectly planned in a way that really makes me relax and let myself fall into it without worrying I’m going to be disappointed by it. Fraction is one of the writers in contemporary comics who can really stick the landing. Charretier is one of those Image artists who seems to have sprung from Zeus’s forehead fully formed—I’m shocked I didn’t know about her before. She’s so good.

• Casting for The Sandman on Netflix continues to ramp up; the choices veer between wild reimaginings (Gwendoline Christie as Lucifer) and JK Simmons-as-Jonah-Jameson stepped-off-the-page perfection (Charles Dance as Roderick Burgess). Tom Sturridge is a great choice; he feels like he falls solidly into the latter category.

• One of my least acceptable joys is old Euro sex comics from the 80’s and 90’s; Humanoids recently rereleased a bunch of Milo Manara’s work from the era in really nice editions and I picked up his adaptation of second-century writer Apulieus’s The Golden Ass, a surprisingly complex story—novel, really, though it predates what we think of as the form by more than a millennium. Manara removes all the inset stories and just focuses on the main narrative; it’s still quite complicated, made moreso by the fact that Manara’s work often provokes the reader with explicit images, sometimes away from interrogating the narrative’s intentions, sometimes toward it. Anyway, good book.

• Thus far I’ve really enjoyed Jason Aaron and rm guera’s The Goddamned, a book about life on earth before the flood of Genesis, so I figured I’d see if the pair’s previous series, Scalped, was worth reading. It’s a bit of a disappointment so far—very violent and sneery and drenched in testosterone, redolent of a lot of stuff Vertigo has published over the years, which is to say that it’s kind of a shaggy dog story with a lot of lurid stuff thrown in to give the author some leeway to learn his craft. This worked really well for stuff like The Invisibles, cringey as a lot of it is now, and Transmetropolitan, which is cringey for other reasons, but there are negative examples, too (I hated Y: The Last Man) and . I can see some seeds of strong character work in Scapled, which is good, and guera’s art is amazing.

• There’s also going to be an Usagi Yojimbo series on Netflix, which is terrific—I love Stan Sakai and I love Usagi Yojimbo, one of the comics my little boy also adores.

• Speaking of kids, I am reading Dog Man to Lev in the evenings, which he enjoys. I like it, too; it’s a very odd book because of course we’ve also read Dav Pilkey’s Captain Underpants books and the former are drawn in a style he attributes to George and Harold, the heroes of the latter (they also show up in the bookends to the Dog Man books). It’s very scratchy and wiggly and misspelled and written with childlike “bad” grammar; I have no idea how he did it. It’s perfectly childish but it’s also a cohesive narrative that goes on for hundreds of pages. Really remarkable books; we’ve read three so far and I’m sure I’ll be expected to read more.

Author: samthielman

Sam Thielman is a reporter and critic based in Brooklyn, New York. His blog is samthielman.com, his twitter handle is @samthielman, and if you can't find him you should check The Strand.

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