I’d like to use this intro to personally thank comics for helping me get through the last several plane rides, spending the sub-10,000 feet portion reading books like Victor Kerlow’s Everything Takes Forever. Really, what better way to make friends with your seatmate than fielding questions about the weird book about the guy with a taco for a head? I didn’t have any good answers, really, but I will say that, if you do find yourself walking through life with such a condition, don’t be ashamed to eat a taco. You’ll get some strange looks from people concerned about cannibalistic connotations, but ultimately they’ll appreciate your connections. And even if they don’t, who’s gonna mess with someone who has a taco for a head?
By Jim Rugg
Man, Jim Rugg is so good. Supermag plays out like a collection of some hot new comics talents, until you realize that they’re all drawn by the same immensely talented individual. As with Afrodisiac, Rugg gets some help on the writing side, but the cartoonist’s breadth and competency of style is pretty intimidating, from the page of Vanilla Ice trading cards, to Duke Armstrong, the world’s mightiest golfer, who blows up a plane while scaling a cliff with a pair of clubs. Rugg distills erratic pop cultural juxtaposition into extremely enjoyable and crazily stylistic chunks. Ten bucks is a lot to pay for a floppy, sure, but can you really put a price tag on the continuing adventures of patriotic primate US Ape? Don’t let the terrorists win.
You’re All Just Jealous of My Jetpack
By Tom Gauld
Drawn & Quartely
What can I tell you that Mark didn’t already cover in his review? Not a ton, probably, so I’ll just pile on the praise. Tom Gauld is great. We all loved Goliath, right? Oozing sublime charm out of its minimalist line work. Add to that some extreme literary smarts and distill it into a single panel strip and you’ve got the makings of an entry in this collection of Guardian strips. We’re talking actual funny smarts here, by the way -- not just the sort of knowing chuckle you too often get from learned comedy. Sure it helps to have read a book or two to get a number of these jokes, but Gauld’s humor is far more hearty than a winking reference.
Also, I’m thinking of writing him a letter to inquire about pricing on the “Street Tom Waits Grew Up On” strip, so I can hang it on the wall and invite people over to my apartment stare at it in wonder. Seems as good a way to spend a Thursday night as any.
Eye of the Majestic Creature #2
By Leslie Stein
I want to live in a world where Leslie Stein goes home to a chain-smoking, anthropomorphic guitar. There’s a strangely friendly comfort to be had here, once you’ve navigated your way around the strange jolt of her universe’s internal logic, where the occasional individual can walk the streets with a flower for a head, largely undetected. There’s a seriousness in these pages, in amongst the cartoon imagery, but Stein navigates heaviness with a grace, as in the trip to a parent’s NarcAnon meeting, with attendee intros juxtaposed with pages from her learn-to-draw book. It’s a sort of childlike forgiveness of life’s darker corners, which carries on into grown up stories, as in the opening story of a retail existence with narration borrowed from the early pages of Dreiser’s Sister Carrie.
Stein’s is a welcomingly unique take on the well-trod world of autobiographical comics, and once you’ve excepted her rhythms as your own, it can be a hard world to step away from.
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.