Staff Picks May 2015
“Val Kilmer famously said that all we want is “something sacred.” Here it is!” - so begins Zach’s take on the transcendence of Joe Roberts’ Ninja Turtle drawings in LSD Worldpeace. Read on to find out more about Kristine’s two cents on owls getting high, Jeri’s fondness for LA pulp, Jon’s Lou Reed love, and Janelle’s exaltation of a tender gay hulk.
Worst Behaviour - Simon Hanselmann
“I’m getting back into capes.” “Is that the line from Brokeback Mountain?” Cartoon animals and a witch behaving badly - really really badly. The story would be terrible if they were actual people and that’s why comics are so great. No owls were injured in the making of these jokes.
How To Talk To Your Cat About Abstinence - Zachary, president of the American Association of Patriots
I was hoping for a pamphlet on birth control, and now here it is! Talk to your cat about saving herself for marriage. Don’t be discouraged if she falls asleep, or walks away while you’re talking - keep trying!
A nice companion to HTTTYCA GUN SAFETY & EVOLUTION, they make a perfect red, white and blue line-up.
Exploring Calvin & Hobbes - Bill Watterson
A lovely museum exhibition book, shot from Watterson’s original art. Nice sections on background, comic strip influences, and tools of the cartooning trade. Wonderful for kids, adults, aliens from other planets.
Wuvable Oaf -Ed Luce
Oaf is a hairy, cat-loving “Every Man”. He wanders the earth like a tender gay hulk, petting cats and looking for love. I’m so happy to see all of the individual issues together at last in this beefy collection.
Complete Peanuts Vol. 2. 1953-1954 - Charles Schulz
There is nothing more visually satisfying than the round-headed Peanuts characters of the 1950s. Please carve this version of Snoopy into my headstone when it’s my turn to shuffle off this mortal coil.
Optic Nerve #14 - Adrian Tomine
If you found it hard to relate to the characters in earlier D&Q-published Optic Nerve, I strongly urge you to give these past three issues a shot. The writing, which was always good, has become sharper, darker, and includes a more diverse range of complicated (i.e. fucked-up) characters. It’s gratifying to see Optic Nerve continue to be published in “floppy” single issue format, while most of Tomine’s peers jumped ship long ago to exclusively produce graphic novels. Floppies forever.
Fluke #12: Loisada - Bobby Madness, Edited by Matt Fluke
This issue of Fluke fanzine consists entirely of an autobiographical Bobby Madness comic about being a li’l teen punk shithead in NYC in the early ’80s. True tales of drugs, sneaking into shows, crazy friends, and grubby living. The drawing and writing is loose and sketchy, just like Bobby. Love it.
Lowriders In Space - Cathy Camper & Raul The Third
Lowriders In Space is a childrens book about El Chavo Flapjack (octopus), Elirio Malaria (mosquito), and Lupe Impala (cat) building a lowrider that they drive into outer space for custom detailing and then back to earth to win a contest. The art is super cute, the story is imaginative, and there is a little bit of Spanish (bajito y suavecito) sprinkled in.
Slang Aesthetics - Robert Williams
I fondly remember obsessively trying to copy Robert Williams paintings from an issue of Thrasher Magazine when I was a pre-teen. I’m far from the first or last failed Williams teen emulator inspired by his dirty dreamscapes and psychedelic greaser nightmares over his past 45+ year career. This book includes the intricately detailed paintings that are Williams’ signature, as well as oil wash pieces and super far-out cartoon sculptures that I can’t wait to see in person next week.
LAPD ‘53 - James Ellroy and Glynn Martin for the Los Angeles Police Museum
Author James Ellroy: crime novelist magna cum laude (L.A. Confidential, Black Dahlia), whose own mother was brutally slain and left on the side of an L.A. street in the late ’50s, gives us a grisly and dark-humored recounting of some lesser known crimes from the year 1953 specifically. 1953: the era of Dragnet on TV. The halcyonian days of hop heads and hep cats. Red devils and yellow jackets, and Mister Big “H.” Abundantly illustrated with B&W stock photos from the LAPD archive, Ellroy, a scholar as well as collateral damage of Lurid Los Angeles, paints the portrait like only an intimate lover can.
The Complete Peanuts, Volume 2 - Charles Schulz
The genius of Charles Schulz cannot be overstated. Every line of the strips presented within this book glows with heartwarming poetic beauty. Tracing the development of familiar characters from their raw state to their established place in the Peanuts world is wonderfully inspiring. Do yourself a favor and pick up this incredible book.
LSD WORLDPEACE - Joe Roberts
Val Kilmer famously said that all we want is “something sacred.” Here it is! High-art minimalism and New Age sycophants, pretenders to “outsider art,” pop-culture gods and everything else is equally decimated by the trash altar Joe Roberts has built within these pages. The coat-of-many-colors imagined by Chris Johanson and the like is swallowed up, regurgitated and buried in a thousand smashed up, charred and smeared ninja turtles. Disney’s high-on-acid mouse winks from the cover! Irresistible? Great.
The Oaf - Nick Mandaag
This comic is basically a one-trick pony, but it’s a highly enjoyable trick. The physical and moral decay represented here will prod your heart with fear. Great bathroom reading.
LAPD ‘53 - James Ellroy, Glynn Martin
The moments captured in this book— criminals, criminal acts, relics and scenes of criminal behavior from Los Angeles circa 1953 reek with mythology. I can’t wait to read this thing. Accompanied text by the incomparable James Ellroy!
The Spectators - Victor Hussenot
I haven’t read this but it looks beautiful. The art is reminiscent of early-twentieth century WPA and socialist-oriented artworks (Wanda GÃ¡g, etc.). The highly evocative image of light emanating from the eyes of strangers in an urban landscape is incredibly stirring and resonant; medieval concepts of perception combined with social conscience. Excited to read this.
Worst Behaviour - Simon Hanselmann
I haven’t read this either but the little bit of research I did revealed that Simon Hanselmann is a total weirdo. As someone who used to drain bottles of cough syrup and wear nightgowns I respect where this freaky person is coming from. An anthropomorphic owl pissing uncontrollably? Okay. Nicely colored cover.
Mineshaft #31 - Edited by Everett Rand, Gioia Palmieri
Mineshaft has always been one of my favorite zines. For years they have managed to consistently rope in a staggering list of contributors. This issue is no different. Front cover by Jay Lynch, back cover by R. Crumb, how can you go wrong? The insides are just as great as the cover. Sketchbook drawings by Art Spiegelman and R. Crumb, woodblock prints by Billy Childish, comics by Jay Lynch and Kim Deitch, this is an underground comics lover’s dream. Yet another excellent issue. If you can get your hands on any back issues check them out as well, this magazine has been great since their first issue.
Slang Aesthetics - Robert Williams
A new Robert Williams book is always an artistic event. The master just gets better and better. This book covers his most recent work and latest traveling show. The paintings are equal parts LSD, Salvador Dali, and pop culture mash-up but the end result is all Robert Williams. Nobody can paint a busy delirium like he can. Certain canvases in this book are among his best works and the record album sized pages display them beautifully. The book is a gorgeous forty dollar hardcover and a must have item for any fan of lowbrow art or underground comics.
Fluke Fanzine # 12 - Bobby Madness
Bobby Madness is my favorite punk cartoonist. His autobiographical comics perfectly capture the fun and free wheeling anarchy of day to day punk living. I was introduced to his work by Aaron Cometbus who devoted an issue or two of Cometbus to his comics. Ever since then I’ve been hooked and try to read any Bobby Madness strip I can get my hands on. This is a compilation of stores he drew about life in the lower east side of Manhattan back in the glory days of the early 80s when NYC had one of the best music and art scenes in history. The strips revolve around three shows Bobby saw at the time: The Cramps, The Ramones, and Stiff Little Fingers. It’s all about drugs, girls, and punk rock and perfectly captures the naive joy of the times.
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Transformer: The Lou Reed Story - Victor Bockris
Lou Reed was one of the cornerstones of rock and roll. A few years ago I was involved with the publication of a book called Women Of The Underground: Music which included an interview with Mo Tucker, the drummer for the Velvet Underground. In the interview she talks about how she knew Lou Reed since she was a teenager. Even then she knew he was going somewhere and that is why she hitched her wagon to the Velvet Underground. The band hadn’t even had their first paying gig but she already knew the songs were amazing. History has proved her correct. Lou Reed wrote some of the best two to three chord hooks in the history of rock and roll. Years ago, I had the pleasure of seeing him live at the Warfield. As soon as he hit the opening chords of “Sweet Jane” it was pure magic. His wrist just possessed some kind of celestial harmony. The songs were simple, yet so perfect. This book came out years ago, but after Reed passed Victor Bockris expanded it and updated it to tell the complete tale. At 548 pages, it’s a big read but it takes that long to tell an amazing story.