Comics Rack: Boing Boing's comics picks for September

It’s September, and what better way to mark back to school season than with a little bit of mind-rotting comic bookery? We’ll try to keep the grey matter melting to a minimum with the following selection. We’ve got two bits of autobiographical excitement, some cardboard-come-to-life for the kids and something for the omnipotent cosmic deity in your life. Also: calendars!

Gabrielle Bell: The Voyeurs (Uncivilized Books)

I don’t know that I’ve ever seen Gabrielle Bell without a sketchbook in her hand. Such things are, naturally, common accessories for indie cartoonists, but Bell seem to don hers like a pair of eyeglasses, as though the world might be headache-inducing and blurry without them. Her autobio strip “Lucky” is the fruit of those sketches, and The Voyeur is the bunching of those fruits, as ever with Bell, at its best when the lines between mundane realities and magical realisms become ever more entangled, the further one ventures into a story.

No better when the cartoonist relates an attempt to adapt Valerie Solanas' infamous SCUM Manifesto into sequential form, unraveling into a tail of adult movie theaters and Japanese assassins, related by Bell’s infinitely interesting mother. Not that the realities themselves are entirely mundane, of course -- particularly in the wake of the artist’s rise to an indie comics celebrity of sorts. There’s the stormy relationship with filmmaker Michel Gondry, the mind-numbing trip to San Diego Comic Con (as highlighted in the first iteration of this nascent column) and the mattress-on-the-floor living that comes with living on an artist’s paycheck in the Big Apple. It’s simultaneously nakedly honest and whimsically untrue (like getting called out by Gondry for skinny dipping merely for the sake of comics fodder), because being a voyeur doesn’t always mean you can trust what you see.

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Comics Rack: Boing Boing's new monthly comics round-up

Photo: Ryan Hyde (cc)

"Comic books are cheap, shoddy, anonymous. Children spend their good money for bad paper, bad English, and more often than not, bad drawing." -- Dr. Fredrick Wertham, 1950s anti-comic book crusader, quoted from his book,

Seduction of the Innocent.

You know, Dr. Wertham was almost right. If he'd added the words "Ninety-nine percent of…" to the beginning of his blanket assessment, I'd enthusiastically agree with it. I receive dozens of comic book titles in the mail each week (sent to me for review), and I toss almost all of them in the bin because they suck. Once in a while, a gem appears, making it worth opening the packages instead of tossing them straight into the trash.

That's why I'm happy to announce our new monthly roundup of comic book recommendations by Brian Heater. Brian's a senior editor at Engadget and the founder of a wonderful comics blog, The Daily Cross Hatch. In his column, Brian will be presenting lesser-known comics that made it past his crap-filter. Please join me in welcoming Brian! -- Mark

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