This feature was originally posted at Your Chicken Enemy. Go there for more great small press comics coverage.
Highlighting some great small press comics criticism being published, as well as other random things that have caught my eye over the past week.
* Robin Enrico takes a deep dive into ONE DIRTY TREE by Noah Van Sciver, “a work that speaks to complex ideas in a subtle voice. It is a brave approach to take in a genre that is frequently didactic. Yet Van Sciver’s gamble completely pays off here. He masterfully evokes frustration and joy in a way that respects how inseparable the two are from the human experience. Leaving room for the reader to connect to his experience through the parts of it that remind them of their own struggle to create a future for themselves in the face of an ever-present past. In stepping out into difficult territory and handling it with grace he further cements his status as one of the foremost cartoonists working today.”
* Michelle White on SHEETS by Brenna Thummler, “a lovely read that sneaks up on you, crafting a beautiful and recognizable world that’s full of personal history”
* Julia Alekseyeva reviews CARTOON DIALECTICS by Tom Kaczynski, writing “The past cannot return, the present cannot be “great again,” but, with a critical mindset and a healthy dash of reflective nostalgia, it can help soothe the alienation of our increasingly alienated lives.”
* Andrea Tessie looks at SONG OF AGLAIA by Anne Simon, “a timeless tale, filled with a witty, feminist agenda that openly showcases the protagonist’s triumphs and failures. Aglaia’s story highlights the universal truth that there are many people who lose sight of their values when dealing with everyday life, simply because they let their emotions take over. There is wisdom in trying to control these emotions, however, sometimes it’s not always possible.”
* Henry Chamberlain reviews A LIFE HALF-FORGOTTEN by James Burns, writing “The murky world of memory is evoked quite well and Burns manages to snare some of his childhood ghosts. He manages to sit down with them, talk to them, play with them, and reach some sort of closure. This book invites the reader to do the same.”
* Rob Clough on the Taneka Slotts edited anthology, ELEMENTS: FIRE, “an ideal survey of the current generation of genre comics artists mostly working on the web or for smaller publishers.”
* Scott Cederlund reviews POOCHYTOWN by Jim Woodring, writing “Following the plot of one of Woodring’s story is following Frank discovering something new in his world, trying to figure out what it means for him as he experiences it and then having to deal with the consequences that usually leads to something new in this world.”
* Dan Schindel on BERLIN by Jason Lutes, writing “It is timely not just in our current tumultuous era, but for as long as societal deprivations build until clashing ideologies come to a head. The characters in the book frequently speak as if their fight will definitively settle the direction of world history. The events of the ’30s were not a specific warning for us, but part of an ever-in-motion cycle of consequences. “
* Andy Oliver takes a look at SPINNING by Tillie Walden, writing “Heartbreak, loneliness, devastation, trepidation and quiet moments of childhood joy are just some of the feelings that will engulf the reader with an undeniable potency as they journey through Spinning‘s pages. It’s simply a masterpiece of comics narrative and an outstanding graphic memoir.”
* Ryan Carey on issues one through four of Robert Sergel’s BALD KNOBBER.
* John Seven reviews Nathan Gelgud’s debut graphic novel A HOUSE IN THE JUNGLE where “Each moment becomes a building block for what follows, and Gelgud peppers these depictions with some calm psychedelics to bring outwards what we couldn’t possibly see otherwise. He also maps out a wonderful, colorful narrative space, filled with luscious jungle land that at times takes over the pages with extreme and forceful beauty, hinting that what might be at the center of all this is nature itself, with ourselves as just creatures merely touching the surface of a much deeper, more complicated secret.”
* Over on The MNT web site, there’s a reprint of Steve Morris‘ interview with ZAINAB AKHTAR, publisher of ShortBox
* Tara Booth has a new comic up on Vice called MOTEL and, since it’s a Tara Booth comic, you know I had to include it here.
* Philippe LeBlanc has another SMALL PRESS AND INDIE COMICS GALORE round-up column over on The Beat. Someday I’ll remember if I post these under the “Comics Criticism” or “Whatnot” sections. Regardless, Philippe consistently does a much better job of this sort of thing than I. I hope he’s privy to some of that sweet Lion Forge cash for his efforts.
* Christine Ro writes about Matthieu Gasfou’s photography collection H+: TRANSHUMANISM(S).