Big Baby by Charles Burns

Finally got my hands on Big Baby, a recollection of Charles Burns‘ horror stories from late 80s – early 90s. Man, how I like Burns and how I liked this book.  
First, it’s like childhood coming back – campfire horror stories mixed with the good old “Alfred Hitchcock presents…” and Tales from the Crypt in one bottle. Dunno about you, but I was totally hooked on monsters, vampires, the undead, all that stuff. Kind of, still am.  
Second, his drawings are impeccable and his art is a work of genius, sick minded one, but still. I don’t know how he sleeps at night if these monsters still haunt him – but judging by this very book, little Charlie might’ve had some difficulty with that back in his childhood days.  
Third, the Teen Plague story looks like a direct predecessor to Burns’ most respected and awed graphic novel called the Black Hole – which is sooo tense and gripping that it beats a good lot of decent Holly horror flicks. Erotic as well – what else would you expect from a book on an unknown decease that hits teenagers, which is transmitted only via intercourse and that starts an irreversible body mutation process. Grow a tail.  
Fourth – black and white. Black and white. People like Burns should fire colorists and always push back on publishers if they propose colored. B&W always.  
All in all, one two-pager story and three thirty page ones, barely an hour read – but so much fun. Didn’t really enjoyed as much his recent X’ed Out part 1 – but we’ll see how that turns out.  


Spent by Joe Matt

And yet again, I had no idea what I was buying. I only knew that Joe Matt is one of the three prominent comic book artists who stayed friends and put each other in their books while they lived and worked in Canada (for those not too familiar with the scene, that’s Chester Brown, Seth and Joe himself) – but just like with Chet’s last book, oh well, who knew.

They all have addictions of a sort. Chester, as I recently found out, is hooked on paid sex, Seth – on collecting comic book strips from early 20th century – and Joe – just to cut it short – this book is about Joe’s addiction to porn and masturbation – and how that drives his life. Too low on self-respect, too deep in self-dissection, too busy with porn collection, too tired from you-know-what. Quite on par with Chester’s very frank book already mentioned above on his dedication and love for the red light industry – but our friend Joe is living in a pre-www world and is focusing on his big VHS porn collection instead, which he even edits! Poor soul, a few more years and it all would come to him in all shapes and colors on the net. 

All in all, Joe is funny, he is smart and he is ruthless to himself – no doubt, I need to read more of his.

Фотосинтез Веры Полозковой

Случайная покупка из Фаланстера, ничего не знал ни про автора, ни про содействовавшую ей девушку-фотографа, ни про стихи ее, ни про награды. Так, полистал да взял с полки. Тираж 10,000 немного удивил – почище, чем у иных признанных поэтов – странно, ну да ладно.

Не знал даже, что хоть мы и ходим в Практику довольно часто, оказывается, у них даже спектакль по ее стихам идет.

Не могу сказать, что был как-то особенно поражен / обрадован / вдохновен. Ничего – но как-то не мое, мне кажется. Немного не хватает жести в голосе и желчи в словах. Выбрал так, для интереса одно – точнее, для памяти – но моя память (точно) сотрет.

Мать-одиночка растит свою дочь скрипачкой,
Вежливой девочкой, гнесинской недоучкой.
«Вот тебе новая кофточка, не испачкай».
«Вот тебе новая сумочка с крепкой ручкой».

Дочь-одиночка станет алкоголичкой,
Вежливой тётечкой, выцветшей оболочкой,
Согнутой чёрной спичкой, проблемы с почкой.
Мать постареет и все, чем ее ни пичкай,
Станет оказывать только эффект побочный.

Боженька нянчит, ни за кого не прочит,
Дочек делить не хочет, а сам калечит.
Если графа «отец», то поставлен прочерк,
А безымянный палец – то без колечек.
Оттого, что ты, Отче, любишь нас больше прочих,
Почему-то еще ни разу не стало

Buddha vol.3: Devadatta by Osamu Tezuka

By the time I moved into Buddha volume 3 territory, I already got quite used to the story – it seemed just like watching, I dunno, the Walking Dead, Friends or, as some strange people do, House M.D. on the telly. A chewing gum of sorts, of mixed Hindu and Japanese flavors.

The book is divided into two, really – a half is devoted to Siddhartha’s travel to Magadha kingdom, whose king for the first time calls the young monk “Buddha” – and the second half is devoted to Devadatta, an child exiled by people and raised by the wolves – not that much of that story gets confirmed by wiki, but still, this Rudyard Kipling bit is quite amusing.

Oh well, it was for me.

The Other Lives by Peter Bagge

Now, this was fun. Expected, I should say. Just to explain – Peter Bagge is one of the guys who got me hooked up on comic books in the first place. Quite a few years ago, I don’t remember for what reason, but Ira got me a copy of Buddy Does Seattle, a paperback collection of the first 3 black and white books (actually, 15 issues) of the Buddy Bradley saga – and I read it while lying under the effect of painkillers in CITO hospital bed after they had taken this bloody screw out of my ankle. The book was hilarious. So cynical and funny, I started to like comic books big time. Bought the rest of the Bradley’s stuff – the three books comprising a later published Buddy Does Jersey collection and the Bradleys book – and it all was all fun, but probably not as fun as the original Seattle Bradley hate saga.

This new book is a page turner as well – a 100+ page story about 4 misfits/losers/whatever-is-the-term who got hooked up on virtual reality games far too much. Acid-spitting and entertaining. The stuff that surprised me, though, was the ending – which was quite on par with the ending of The Valley of Pain performance by Vladimir Epifantsev we attended yesterday, with blam-blam-blam and blood-blood-blood. Now that was unexpected, huh?

Anyways, well done Peter – and we wait for more!

The Death Ray by Daniel Clowes

Insomnia (getting old, huh) and the fact I left my Buddha book vol.3 somewhere else pushed me to read the newly published Death Ray comic. Always liked Daniel Clowes, but rather on the small format story size, like 1-2 paged pieces, where he writes about typical loser type of guys and girls and manages to be as smart-alec and cynical as one can possibly be. Here’s a corny example, but for mature audiences only!

However, it seemed to me that adolescent nihilism that Clowes is renowned for (Ghost World and that kind of stuff) mixed so and so with the masked vigilante story here. My initial feeling is – the book got a bit clumsy, and that’s probably why, though The Death Ray first appeared in Eightball Mag in 2004, it was reissued as a standalone piece just now. However – and that must not be disregarded – that I may be too sleepy and thus not too appreciative of a true cult classic-to-be )))

All in all, Andy the masked vigilante is no Kick-ass, just to be clear – more of a Ghost World meets science fiction movies of the 50s. Wikipedia says Jack Black bought movie rights, so we’ll see.

One thing is impeccable though – art style. Need to read the Wilson book I bought some time ago that keeps lying on the magazine rack in the WC. I will.

And yes, I will continue to buy whatever new book of his that goes out.

Buddha vol.2: The Four Encounters by Osamu Tezuka

I keep on slowly reading the Buddha books, however, I more and more realize I definitely like it his less than Tezuka’s ultra gripping Adolf series, or MW (gas attacks do remind of Aum Shinrikyo – published 10 year ahead of the attacks) or my favorite Ode to Kirihito.

Why? Don’t really like this gag element Tezuka adds to drawings and text sometimes, in an attempt to appeal to younger audience – I would prefer Buddha’s life story to develop with all possible seriousness.

Overall – more dead rabbits and dead people, brutality to lower classes (the rising 99% movement, huh?) and finally – Siddhartha becomes a monk. Oh well.

Buddha vol.1: Kapilavastu by Osamu Tezuka

Embarked on a long journey – Osamu Tezuka’s Buddha series is 8 volumes long – over 3000 pages in total – and thicker than Nakazawa’s 10-book-long Barefoot Gen, so I will break my record.

Three main events in this book – suicide bunny, Siddhartha is born, Chapra dies. Oh well.

Btw, one guy made a video for the bunny sacrifice piece. Hm.

PS: Praise for Buddha in Time mag.

Paying for It by Chester Brown

What a wholesome book. Best comic strip I’ve read this year, totally – many other contestants included. Indeed, it’s more than one book – it’s two, packed under a single cover.

The full title of this gem, which is the actual book that is being marketed and sold (D & Q remains the best publishing house for serious comic strips, every new title just proves that again and again), is Paying for it. A comic-strip memoir about being a john. Now, I realize how unbelievably dumb that sounds – but I have not given a single thought what this book was about until I started reading it. Really. Just bought Chester Brown’s new book on amazon, no thoughts ’bout it. Well, the usual me.

I should say, it takes a guy certain deal of courage to write and put out such a book. Why? Cause people are judgmental and mean, and there are not too many open-minded folks (and publishers) in this world who would want to market a book about its author’s 15-year long sexual encounters with prostitutes, chronologically described, and how now his life-long commitment is to paid sex only. Yes, I know Márquez put out Memoria de mis putas tristes – but it ain’t an autobiographic graphic novel, is it?

The comic rocks – it’s extremely sincere, open and truly libertarian in its views. But it’s just one half of the story. The other half – or the other book, whichever you call it – just adds to its glory. The comic strip ends on page 225, and on the next 40+ pages (called appendix) Brown expresses his extremely libertarian and pro-human-rights points of view, all aimed at disambiguation of prejudice related to paid sex industry and its proponents. Views so clearly elaborated that it would have made the good old Alisa Rosenbaum proud. Take this small piece on marriage and partner selection, for example – here goes Dagny, huh?

All in all, an absolute gem. Prior to that, I only read Brown’s I Never Liked You, but now I’m ordering whatever I can get my hands on to.

P.S. NY Times review about it – and a couple of pages from the book.

Love from the Shadows by Gilbert Hernandez

Now, I’ve never ever read Hernandez before – and I thought – well, I should. So why not start with his latest 2011 book, huh? Ummm, not.

While it’s barely an hour’s read for the mere 120 pages and little text, by god, this hour keeps you guessing – should I continue? The plot is impossible to convey – here’s what the publisher says:

The third in Gilbert Hernandez’s line of original hardcovers featuring Love and Rockets’ “Fritz” in her guise as a Z-movie actress (the first two were Chance in Hell and The Troublemakers) is a trippy thriller that stars Fritz in no fewer than three roles.

A beautiful waitress (Fritz, of course) and her hospital nurse brother (also Fritz) visit their estranged father, a once successful but now retired writer (amazingly enough, also Fritz), in order to find out the true reason why their mother committed suicide. When dad’s health fails, the siblings are then more concerned with the money he might leave them.

The story weaves in and out of reality and hallucination and possibly back in forth in time, and to complicate things further, the sister is sexually obsessed with a mysterious man throughout the tale — or is it her brother (at one point posing as his sister so that he might gain his and her inheritance) that is so hot and bothered by this mystery stud? And that’s only the tip of the iceberg. There’s also a venture into ghost territory, with frauds bilking the gullible and Fritz’s character(s) right in the middle.

To complete the pulp gestalt, the book’s cover illustration is a painting by Pulp Fiction artist Steven Martinez (he painted the portrait of Marsellus Wallace’s wife Mia Wallace [Uma Thurman] that hangs in their house and which Vincent Vega [John Travolta] scrutinizes while he waits for Mia).

Now, the memorable quote from this book is, of course, the vampire passage here – can’t help but agree 😉

What I don’t agree upon, though, is the statement above that the book’s “pulp gestalt” gets completed by an innocent cover painting (nothing to do with the book, save, well, for the bra size) – the “pulp gestalt” is a sex scene followed by execution of a guy by bow and arrows that would have probably left both Mishima and Pat Bateman in a state of frenzy – Mishima-wise, San Sebastian’s classic paintings are not even close – pages 110 to 115, to be precise. I would want to add “enjoy”, but something tells me I shouldn’t. To avoid necessity of cautionary disclaimers, I guess I’ll post the least harmful page – the rest (before and after), I leave to your (sick?) imagination.