A page from The Gardens of Aedena by Moebius.
“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.