Cookbook comics! Penis lizards! Worm deers! One-armed men! There’s something for everyone in this edition of Comics Rack. And one-armed foodie alternative animal enthusiasts, get ready to get your socks knocked off!
Relish: My Life in the Kitchen
By Lucy Knisley
If you find a more delightful book than Relish this year, please let me know. I’ll say right now that the odds are pretty slim. Lucy Knisley shuffled together a memoir and a cookbook into a cohesive collection of short stories that illustrate her life in food, the product of two parents who seared food obsessions into her DNA. The highlight has to be the tale of adolescent rebellion colored with pink hair and Lucky Charms -- a processed food defiance against epicurean parents. Can’t say I actually went so far as cooking any of the recipes contained here -- after five years in this apartment, I’m not entirely sure my pre-war oven even works -- but the tale of traveling to Mexico with a best friend who’s forced to leave a $200 stash of adult magazines behind a airport toilet, that stuff’s universal.
My Dirty Dumb Eyes
By Lisa Hanawalt
Drawn & Quarterly
I don’t know whether it’s Lisa or her publishers who deserve a dressing down for not running with the suggested title What We Draw About When We Draw About Sex Bugs, but after reading that in the hilarious fine print of the book’s penultimate page, I just can’t say I’m so into My Dirty Dumb Eyes as a name. But that’s really my chief complaint here. Hanawalt’s one of the funniest people going in comics these days, and just about every story in this collection is a testament to that fact. Heck, she’s even managed to tame the boiling hatred for lists that this post-McSweeney’s internet world has instilled in me. And I’m not sure what the standalone painting of Superman and Wolverine holding hands is doing in here, but it’s seriously making me consider getting a first tattoo.
Side note: I mentioned to someone at D&Q that I was planning on taking the book with me on a trip as sub-10,000 feet reading, and was helpfully discouraged from reading it around small children, so I figure I’d pass that life lesson along. Whatever you do, don’t let this thing with 100 yards of a school -- unless you’re eager to teach some impressionable young minds where dick lizards really come from.
By Michael DeForge
Speaking of exercises in public health, here’s a thing that probably shouldn’t be read by anyone -- or at least not those prone to nausea and dramatic fainting. Michael DeForge’s work exists in a universe where the creative overlap between William Burroughs and David Cronenberg is the biological fabric of the universe. You know the drill, parasitic worm deer, psychedelic snowman meat slices. It’s a world where amorphous monster blob indie rock bands are the norm. Also, Aunt May and Dr. Octopus are deeply in love, much to Spider-man’s chagrin. Very Casual is always fascinating, mostly grotesque and in the case of the biker gang with cartoon character helmets, actually pretty touch in the end.
By Sammy Harkham
I find myself looking for big takeaways here, but Sammy Harkham seems to find most of his stories -- and humor -- in the void. Like Poor Sailor, about halfway through the book, which closes on a panel of a one-armed man building a house next to the grave of a wife he abandoned for adventures at sea. Okay, well, maybe the takeaway there is “don’t abandon your wife for adventures at sea.” But still, the cartoonist is far more interested in meditations than resolution -- but even devoid of greater surface meaning, Everything Together is chock full of poignance and uncomfortable hilarity. And bonus: there’s also cartoons about Frank Santoro’s father and Dan Clowes’ dog eating Kevin Huizenga’s hand. Where else are you gonna get that?
From "Everything Together"
Brian Heater (@bheater ) is a senior editor at Engadget and the founder of indie comics site, The Daily Cross Hatch. His writing has appeared in Spin, The Onion, Entertainment Weekly and The New York Press. He hosts several podcasts and shares an apartment in Queens with a rabbit named Sylvia.