good this week

saga #21 : things are getting slipperier for the families on both sides here. on another note, i want FRIENDO.

saga_21

ragnarok #1 : YES. walt simonson back in the saddle, with john workman bringing the BRAKKATHOOMs.

simonson-ragnarok_1

avengers 100th anniversary #1 : james stokoe. need i say more?

avengers_100_stokoe

transformers vs gi joe #1 : tom scioli pulls off a perfect evocation of all that made generations of kids spend countless hours on kitchen floors playing out action figure battles & plots.

transformers_vs_gijoe_1

batman ’66 #13 : the most enjoyable bat book of its day sees dean haspiel ride in and deliver pitch perfect storytelling chops and just the right amount of wink-wink this book thrives on.

batman_66_13

tuki: save the humans #1 : where jeff smith goes, we follow.

tuki_1

mike mignola’s hellboy artist’s edition : seeing the master’s hand unadorned packs a punch.

hellboy_artist_edition

-chris stevens

Seconds : Bryan Lee O’Malley (with great help from Nathan Fairbairn) does it again with his new, beautiful, magical realist fable.

seconds

Street Angel HC : AdHouse Books has brought Jim Rugg’s modern classic, bar-raising series back in perfect form. Street Angel changed the way I looked at comics 10 years ago, and this new, handsomely produced edition (which includes a few bits and pieces old fans might not have seen) is the one it’s always deserved. Everyone who missed it the first time around owes it to themselves to read it now.*

street-angel_wrap

-Andrew Carl

*Diamond didn’t actually ship us our order of Street Angel HCs this week, but we’ll be getting them in soon. Regardless, this roundup wouldn’t have been right without her.

Advertisements

DELUSIONAL by Farel Dalrymple

farel cover

Nothing that Farel Dalrymple has ever done feels complete. From the oddball sci-fi drama of OMEGA THE UNKNOWN to the sweet-hearted downbeat whimsy of POP GUN WAR to the inverted stream-of-consciousness high fantasy of IT WILL ALL HURT, it all seems like a glimpse, a skim across the surface. Beneath the warmly inviting illustration style, the raw childlike whimsy tempered by flawless internal storytelling rhythms, each of these books contains undepicted depths and a spectacularly detailed private universe. Farel’s worlds are icebergs, and the comics themselves are just the bit that juts out of the water, the part that sailors can see.

One of his constant visual motifs is connection – his settings tend to crawl with plugs, pipes, wires, tunnels, speakers, drains, cables. And every portal – every manhole, every powerline, every side-door and burrow and off ramp, these conduits and byzantine pathways with which his work is compulsively filled – leads somewhere into some new story, some undiscovered country: a dirty joke, a harrowing secret, a hidden community, another world containing rituals and hieroglyphs and pocket dimensions of its own. Like in a Robert Altman movie or an Thomas Pynchon novel, it’s sometimes hard to follow the central narrative – your attention is always running off in seven directions, chasing some glimmer of questionable magic that flickers across the page and flits out of view.

farel 2

DELUSIONAL, then, while theoretically a book of ancillary material, the bits & bobs of a career’s worth of restlessly inventive cartooning, seems to me to be the genuine article, the thing itself – what we talk about when we talk about Farel Dalrymple. It’s his back streets and back pages – his messy, teeming imagination, given outlet over time in sketches and illustrations and strips. The margins, the gutters between the panels – that’s where Farel really lives. And while we can’t really go there with him, we can chart his progress and receive his reports. We can eagerly await his postcards from the edge, which sometimes arrive in art books like this.

farel

As anyone who follows this site is probably aware, whatever minor success Locust Moon has had is largely due to Farel, who has been a friend and collaborator since day one. From his gorgeous ONCE UPON A TIME MACHINE cover to his sketchbook pages in QUARTER MOON to his back cover blurb in Rob Woods’ 36 LESSONS IN SELF DESTRUCTION, he has been involved in some capacity in every single book we have ever produced. He is a blood brother and feels like as much a part of Locust Moon as my own partners.

When I think of Farel, I always think of the brutally hot Philadelphia summer of 2011, and the first book ever published by Locust Moon. Farel was visiting from Portland, and we (Farel, Chris Stevens, Rob Woods, Jimmy Comey and myself) spent two weeks locked in a huddle in our failing comic shop with its broken AC, blissfully undisturbed by our as-yet-nonexistent customer base, working til all hours of the night on what we creatively entitled THE LOCUST MOON COMIC, a purposeless but joyful tribute to the imaginations of two little girls.

LMinteriorpages-5

To be camped out with these brilliant, passionate people breaking down stories, thumbnailing pages, watching a 22 page comic come together before our very eyes – it was not my first experience making comics, but it was the first time I realized that the only way to do it properly was to throw yourself at it, body and soul. It was my first great high – that incandescent thing that addicts always talk about – and I’ve been chasing it ever since.

LMinteriorpages-20

Ever since those nights watching Farel blearily sling watercolors on the couch until 6am, I have been constantly inspired by the full investment with which he approaches his work – giving himself to it completely, refusing to compromise on his bizarre, brilliant vision, sometimes to the detriment of his career, but always to the benefit of his readers and friends. He’s never tried to bring his enormous skills to the marketplace – he’s just tried to find ways to get paid for his inscrutable impulses. The mountain will come to Mohammed. And he’s found an audience that will follow him, marching to the off-beat rhythms of his weird old drum, down alleyways and obscure channels, hoping to trace every wire to its mysterious but self-sustaining power source, searching to see where it all leads.

farel 3

DELUSIONAL is a guided tour of this strange & extraordinary imaginative machinery, and we are privileged to watch it work and worry over more than a decade, knotting and unknotting, stringing and contorting itself along ideas and tensions that are never resolved, but return in new forms, speaking with new voices, adapting, vanishing and reappearing down those outlets and burrows that connect page after page. It sometimes reads as compulsion, not intention: there’s an imbalance – too much is going on in this brain and spirit, and it needs release. Farel’s characters aren’t sock puppets that he uses to tell stories, they’re not slotted into plot points – they’re organic, evolving creatures, and sometimes they need to be taken out for some light and air.

farel 4

And that, maybe, is the delusion of the title – Farel thinks these people are real. Orson & Smith, Barch & Belf, Almendra Clementine, the Regular – Hollis the pudgy sad-sack superhero, Percival the bespectacled goldfish, Emily the cool-tempered rocker – the space-suited kids with detachable hands, the robotic mice and virtual reality cats, the dorks in helmets, the barbarians with broadaxes, the astronauts in trouble – the creeping Shadowsmen that seem to slither their way into story after story – these and so many others keep returning, swimming into view, weaving in and out of the pages of this book freely, without the strictures of master narrative to pin them in place, changing forms, swapping personalities, appearing in various versions. There is no playing-pretend in these comics about flying fish and talking rats – there is just giving voice to these singular characters and their urgent, muddled messages.

farel 8

The sensitivity of this exploration and cartography, the absolute obedience to the internal voices and their various ways of expressing themselves, the willingness to follow rather than lead – that’s the true negative capability required of great artists. Above all, Farel listens, watches, thinks – lets the wind blow through him.

And I’ll be damned if this snazzy little casebound hardcover – appealingly designed by Chris Pitzer with subtly shifting colored paper and a vibrant sky-blue cover – this collection of by-definition non-essential material might not be the best place yet to see Farel’s remarkable imagination at work, absorbing everything, observing itself, processing the world into strange, moving comics and drawings.

Or, as Farel more simply puts it in his detailed, conversational index, “Most of the stuff in this book is stuff that came up out of my own brain.”

farel 6

-Josh O’Neill

The Locust Moon Top 40: November 2013

40. DELUSIONAL

This art & sequential bits & bobs book from Farel Dalrymple & AdHouse made our Top 40 back when it was announced. Now that we’ve finally gotten our copies to pore over, we want to put it on ALL the Top 40s.
AD.DELUSIONAL.CVR_.150_thumb

39. The Fantagraphics Kickstarter

Because we all need our continued supply of Uncle Scrooge.

38. BOARDWALK EMPIRE

The hopeless glory of season 4 ended with no winners, only losers. Pretty appropriate for a show set in Atlantic City.

37. DISAPPEARANCE DIARY

Hideo Azuma’s autobiographical chronicle of a cartoonist dropping off the map and going on the lam from relationships, responsibilities, and sobriety is a fascinating and oddly adorable illustration of the kind of personality with which some of us can identify a little too much.
Disappearance_Diary_by_Hideo_Azuma

36. Calvin & Hobbes Dancing

We’d usually say that Bill Watterson’s opus is hallowed ground upon which fan art must not tread, but this animation of Calvin & Hobbes dancing is delightful, touching, and utterly true to its origins.

35. This Mountain Man

I hope to one day also stand in court and declare, “I AM THE NATURAL MAN.”

34. THE ART OF RUBE GOLDBERG

This book about Rube Goldberg is also an ACTUAL FUNCTIONING PAPERCRAFT RUBE GOLDBERG MACHINE! How cool is that?
The Art of Rube Goldberg Front Cover
Continue reading

heroes con 2013

we were in north carolina last week for heroes con. the con has been running for over 30 years and has a reputation for being maybe the best east coast convention, with a family atmosphere and emphasis on comics and comic creators–none of the pop culture nonsense that so many other cons have made the focus of their shows. it’s fair to say we were looking forward to this one.

josh and i left early thursday morning, hopping on a train, where we met up with our roomie for the weekend, ulises farinas. ulises is a fantastic artist and an easy guy to spend 13 hours on a train with. here’s the cover to his book coming out in july…

Image

there’s not much to say about a 13 hour train ride. we traded comics biz stories (shame on some people out there, ha) and ate lousy train food and discussed the eternal subject, women. we got into charlotte around 9 pm and headed for the hotel. andrew had flown in earlier and scouted out the bbq options, which, by the time we unwound and ulises had donned his RATTICUS costume, were limited. who’s RATTICUS, you ask?

we wound up eating at QUEEN CITY Q, a middle of the road BBQ restaurant that had good ribs, terrible brisket, and weak drinks.

friday was set-up time, and we were in INDIE ISLAND, along with the pittsburgh boys (jim rugg, jasen lex, ed piskor, and tom scioli), chris pitzer of ADHOUSE BOOKS, rafer roberts, and some other folks i’m spacing on right now. we were tabled next to chad bowers, who was from the area and a real nice guy to be stuck next to for 3 days. chad did a bunch of ‘terrible sketches for $1’ over the course of the 3 days, and they were all worth a chuckle. the show got off to a slow start, sales-wise (more on that to come), so i decided to hit the floor, say hi to some folks, and try to get creators signed on to our LITTLE NEMO: DREAM ANOTHER DREAM project.

i saw neal adams with only 1 or 2 people around him and figured what the hell, i’d give it a shot. after listening to some hilarious off-color stories about roy thomas and stan lee from neal, i pitched him nemo. i was excited and a little abuzz when, without too much work, he said yes. this kicked off a pretty spectacular weekend of recruiting creators for the project. when i got back to the table to hear sales were slow but josh had talked to–and gotten a yes from–peter bagge, the tone and type of weekend it was going to be was set. before the end of the day, tom scioli, ed piskor, nick pitarra, shawn crystal, and ben marra had all joined in. we also got to meet drew moss, who illustrated one of the stories in ONCE UPON A TIME MACHINE and is doing stuff at IDW now. drew is a swell guy, great finally meeting in person. Continue reading