“Creepy” rises from the deadRead the rest
“Creepy” rises from the deadRead the rest
When I was asked to join on with BoingBoing as a contributing editor, my first thought was, "OMG, I'm a Boinger!"
And that immediately triggered a flashback to my childhood, specifically the part I spent rifling through my father's comic collection. If you're familiar with old, classic Bloom County, then you may recall Billy and the Boingers (née Deathtongue), a heavy metal band made up of Bill the Cat, Opus the Penguin, Hodgepodge the Rabbit and Steve Dallas the Formerly Sensitive Male. If you have no idea what I'm talking about, then run, don't walk, to your nearest bookstore and purchase yourself a copy of Billy and the Boingers Bootleg, which contains all the associated strips, as well as an LP of the ostensibly hit songs "You Stink, But I Love You" and (yes) "I'm a Boinger." Perhaps, with luck, your 8-year-old will get a hold of it and the circle of dorky life will continue.
With that, ladies and gentlemen, may I present "I'm a Boinger" as performed by the Harry Pitts Band.
Dave, the main character in this graphic novel, The Red Monkey Double Happiness Book (Fantagraphics), is an illustrator living in Cape Town, South Africa. He often gets frustrated by the freelance assignments he must accept to make a living (like drawing bricks for a catalog that the client insists must be "curious," "unique," "tasteful," and "reliable). He also has feet like a monkeys, which enable him to easily climb trees and buildings.
His best friend is Paul, who seems to have been permanently altered by ingesting too many psychedelics. Dave and Paul have good hearts, but they end up getting themselves into odd and dangerous predicaments that are never quite what they seem to be on the surface.
Joe Daly, the creator of of the characters, is a terrifically gifted artist with an ability to depict an environment that rivals Herge's. I loved studying the scenery when Paul and Dave drive through the city and hills of Cape Town, while they are engaged in long, funny conversations.
The two well-crafted mysteries contain twists that tricked me until the end. The first story involves a menacing Mexican man who lives in Dave apartment and wants to kill him. The second story starts with a hunt for an escaped capybara that leads to the discovery of a plot to destroy some wetlands to make room for a housing development. Daly's fondness for absurd situations might not be everyone's cup of tea, but if you liked The Big Lebowski or Pulp Fiction, you'll have no problem with Daly's brand of storytelling.
Interestingly, the artwork (especially the coloring) is tighter and more polished in the second story, as if Daly gained technical chops between drawing the first story and the second. But no matter, both stories are a lot of fun. I'm looking forward to more from Daly, who was nominated for an Eisner Award in 2007 for his other book, Scrublands.
The Thrilling Adventures of Lovelace and Babbage (Thanks, Drew!)
Melvin Monster was the creation of John Stanley, one of the principal writers on Little Lulu, Nancy and Sluggo, and others. Melvin is firmly in the Addams Family/St Trinnian's vein, a macabre and sweet kids' comic about a monster-boy whose parents (Baddy, a Frankenstein's monster, and Mummy, a mummy) urge him to do a bad deed every day, make him play with the family's vicious pet alligator, and demand that he follow in the family tradition of dropping out of school in kindergarten.
There's plenty of two-edged humor in Melvin Monster, stuff that parents will appreciate that might go over the heads of kids who are enjoying the slapstick. The art is fantastic, in a Marc Davis/Haunted Mansion vein, and the reproduced pages have been cleaned up just enough to make them neat without being sterile, some of the newsprint texture remaining in the scans.
Seth's book design, with wonderful tessellated Melvin endpapers and an embossed cover, make for a great package, perfect for a gift or for long-term love on your shelves.
The mere fact that the Great Bearded Wizard of Albion, Mr Alan Moore, is behind a new journal, Dodgem Logic, should be enough to get a lot of us interested. But add in talents like the Josie Long, Graham Linehan, Kev O'Neill, Melinda Gebbie, Steve Aylett and others and I'm pretty much sold and I'd imagine so are most of us.Announcing: Alan Moore's "Dodgem Logic" (Thanks, Joe!)
But it gets even better - this is a new underground journal that seems to be part entertainment, part grassroots activism/advice on all sorts of subjects dear to many boingers' hearts, from guerilla gardening to making your own clothes, living on no cash (something most of us will find essential these days!), steampunk guides to rebuilding collapsed civilisation...
Alan's daughter Leah and hubby John Reppion (themselves excellent comics writers) have the official release describing the first edition (which will come with a segment designed to take local content so it can be reworked for different areas - a great idea), which comes from Tony Bennet's great Indy comics press Knockabout (home to Hunt Emerson & Gilbert Shelton as well as UK publishers of the new League of Extraordinary Gentlemen). Is it just me or is this the perfect sounding journal for BBers?
Doctor Popular says,
Image: snapshot from 24HCBDay in New Mexico in 2006, by baaadasssscomics. Also, here's a Flickr pool.Today is 24hour Comic Book Day. Cartoonists all over the world will be taking part in the challenge of creating an entire 24 page comic book in just one day. Robots Don't Know Anything About Twitter, which was featured on BB a few weeks ago, was created as part of last years 24HCBDay!
Zombies Calling fits nicely into the Scott Pilgrim mode: rich with pop-culture reference, snappy dialog, and a delightful disregard for the boundary between reality and fantasy.
Hicks has got lots going for her -- great illustration and writing style, funny dialog and likeable characters -- but what I was most impressed by was her cinematic talent for making a zombie chase-scene come alive with real tension through clever panel-layout and illustrations. I didn't expect to have my heart thumping over a funnybook about zombies, but thump it did.
The pamphlet depicts (in the style of an airplane emergency card) office workers snapping, destroying their workplace and turning into carnal, hunter-gatherer communards.
Love this -- it's like one of those Sharpie pen murals crossed with the back of my Junior High notebook.
Trotsky was an amazing figure: brilliant and fiery, an impassioned rhetorician and propagandist, who fought fiercely with Lenin on ideological grounds -- but eventually reconciled -- and was purged (and then assassinated) by Stalin after Lenin's death. The unlikely story of how Trotsky -- the son of a wealthy landowner -- became a revolutionary fighter and general is improbable, exciting, and thought-provoking, and Geary's comic-book retelling does it great justice.
From his theory of "permanent revolution" (the idea that the Soviet Union could only sustain its revolution by bringing on revolutions in every other country) to his doomed affair with Frida Kahlo, Trotsky's genius, hubris, frailty and strength are well covered in this volume.
(Actually, my dad takes some issue with this, "Geary's facile description (which, by the way, echoes the Stalinist perception of Trotsky's theory) really misses the point: Yes, the theory did have something to do with the extension of the revolution abroad, but that was merely an aspect of it. Trotsky's theory, influenced by Parvus, was that the historically distinct stages of social evolution (barbarism, feudalism, mercantile capitalism, capitalism) was not so distinct any more. In the age of capitalist expansion (primitive accumulation), capitalism was penetrating social systems of previous historical stages and combining with them. Russia, characterized as a form of feudalism, had by the time of the rolling in of the 20th century been penetrated by some very large scale capitalist enterprises by foreign investors. So, here was a society in which serfdom had only been recently abolished, still with an absolute monarch, overwhelmingly peasant and illiterate, but also experiencing the growth of a nascent industrial proletariat as a result of foreign capital. Trotsky's view was that the historical tasks normally assigned to the bourgeois forces emerging within the bosom of feudalism could not be accomplished by the Russian bourgeoisie. They were too weak, already bypassed by foreign capitalists, and therefore unwilling to carry out the democratic reforms appropriate to the normal development of capitalism. So, Trotsky said, the new revolutionary forces would have to do double duty, carry out a bourgeois revolution and a socialist one.")
(That said, Dad adds, "I did enjoy reading his graphic bio")
The only thing really missing from this is Trotsky's own words. He was an incredible and inspiring writer, and his autobiography, My Life (written while exiled in Turkey) is an excellent companion to this introductory text.
When I was a kid I was often reprimanded and sometimes even kicked out of class for drawing comics in school. Now, research has shown that comics are a great way to turbo-charge literacy in reluctant readers (especially in boys), and comics are suddenly being welcomed into classrooms all over the world.
With this in mind, my partners at Bitstrips and I have developed Bitstrips for Schools, an educational comic-making service. We piloted it last spring in a handful of Ontario classrooms, and the kids went crazy for it, creating almost 3000 comic strips in six weeks time (see video). Their creativity has astounded me, as have the incredibly cool and dedicated teachers I've had the chance to work with (link).
Bitstrips for Schools has since been licensed by the Ontario Ministry of Education, which means that 2 million kids now have at their fingertips the tools to make their own comics.
We also just introduced a "self-serve" option that lets teachers outside of Ontario buy cheap one-classroom licenses.
So yes, in interests of full disclosure, this is a plug for a website I have an interest in. But it's also a website I'm super proud to be a part of!