“A Tale of Christmas” by Moebius. Published in Heavy Metal, December 1979. Via the Bristol Board.
Bernie Wrightson’s Homer Simpson-as-Swamp Thing illustration.
By Bernie Wrightson, 1948-2017
From In the Shadow of No Towers by Art Spiegelman, Pantheon, 2004.
RIP Mort Drucker, 1929-2020
I grew up on MAD Magazine and always loved Mort Drucker (and Sergio Aragones) in particular. He frequently drew the film and television show parodies that I especially enjoyed as a kid. Even though I got to watch all kinds of films I probably shouldn’t have seen as a kid in the mid-eighties (where “parenting” was throwing all the kids in a spare room with a VHS copy of Robocop or Predator), I still attribute a large part of any film and television knowledge I have to the MAD parodies that Drucker drew.
Intimacy of the Void, from Architects of the Future by Chitra Ganesh (b. 1975)
The Comics Journal’s lengthy write up of “The Best Comics of 2019” is up. Here’s my entry:
I’m reading Ishmael Reed’s 2011 novel Juice! right now. The narrator, a version of Reed, is a cartoonist whose comix on the O.J. Simpson case cost him his career and family. It’s not a comic, but it’s comic, and I love it.
Reed and Reed’s narrator repeatedly evoke George Herriman’s Krazy Kat strips, and I’ve returned to their slapstick surreal ebullience. There’s an ecstatic nihilism to Krazy Kat (or do I mean nihilistic ecstasy?), a radical absurdity that seems to both diagnose and describe Our Big Dumb Zeitgeist of 2019 in the most perfectly oblique way. The strip’s (il)logic runs on a strange Dada engine, crashing into both sensibility and decorum. It’s a wonderful anarchist romp. I have no idea if there was some new Krazy Kat compendium that came out in 2019, but Herriman’s strip is the best critique of 2019 I can think of. (Also: Read more Ishmael Reed.)
Speaking of: Drew Lerman’s collection Snake Creek reverberates with the spirit of Krazy Kat mixed and mushed with the apocalypse ghost swamp of Walt Kelly’s Pogo, along with tinges of Garfield Goes Total Nihilist. (Who am I kidding? Garfield was always a total nihilist.) Lerman’s shaky strips approximate our own shaky days and shaky daze, evoking a Florida fit to sink into its own wild psychosphere.
Chris Ware’s novel Rusty Brown is a fucking masterpiece.
I loved Rat Time by Keiler Roberts. I missed one of my nephew’s baseball games because I started reading it one Saturday morning and then lied about having to do something work-related—like an emergency—because I wanted to finish up Rat Time instead. It made me feel Warm (& Fuzzy), despite how dry Roberts’ humor is. (Desiccant dry, folks.) Roberts’ autofiction is utterly real.
The collective of folks at The Perry Bible Fellowship continue to make good comics.
I also really admired Ben Passmore’s comic Sports Is Hell, a send-up of American massculture that simultaneously stings and enlivens its reader. The novel takes place during the aftermath of a Super Bowl featuring a Kaepernickesque (Kaepernesque?) star player. The Big Game devolves into a Big Riot, with its heroes fighting their way through the madness—think Walter Hill’s film The Warriors by way of George Herriman’s Krazy Kat. I hope Ishmael Reed will read it.
From The Portable February, 2009, Drag City.
Three panels from “Our History of Art,” by Chris Ware. From the 2005 Pantheon collection The Acme Novelty Library.
I got a copy of Drew Lerman’s Snake Creek strips a few weeks ago and have been reading a strip a day, or sometimes reading two or four strips a day, or sometimes reading no strips a day.
Snake Creek comprises the first volume of Snake Creek comix created by Lerman between the summers of ’18 and ’19. Lerman made one each day, as far as I can tell, which, like props.
The heroes of Snake Creek are maybe-human Dav (an altar-ego for Lerman?) and maybe walkin-talkin potato/maybe-mutant Roy, who spend their days and nights strolling the beaches, riffing on life, and extemporizing poems and songs. They take up with a dog and one point, and later encounter strange ducks. (I’m sure there’s more—I’ve been trying, like I said, to limit myself to a few strips a day.) It’s all a big anarchic kick.
Snake Creek has an absurdist and occasionally nihilist bent, flavors I love. Never too bitter, the strip’s sweetness is anchored in the weird friendship betwixt Dav and Roy, who wander and wonder along a Miami Beach that Lerman turns into a kind of desert island running on Prospero’s magic.
Snake Island’s chords and rhythms resonate with Walt Kelly’s Pogo, another Floridaish strip, as well as George Herriman’s zany strip Krazy Kat. Lerman seems like a willing descendant of Kelly and Herriman, but Snake Island is also wholly contemporary, a comic that begins with a discussion of old G-chats.
I’m really digging the collection, and I hope not to gobble it up too fast.