This is a partial and rough English version of my blog Just Indie Comics (Banner by Pat Aulisio)

giovedì 23 aprile 2015

Just Indie Comics is dead, long live Just Indie Comics

This blog is closed, now you can find me at justindiecomics.comThe old posts are still on line for your pleasure or indifference. I hope to find you again at my new address.

martedì 10 marzo 2015

A weekend at the Fumetto Festival

Tardi, Norwegian artist Pushwagner, Cowboy Henk, the duo Goblet-Pfeiffer and The Swiss Art of Rock are the main themes of the new edition of Fumetto Festival, from Saturday 7 March until Sunday 15 March in Lucerne. The International Comix-Festival is happening far and wide in the Swiss city, with a small comic market and a long row of awesome exhibitions perfectly set up in museums, industrial spaces, hotels, galleries, historical buildings and so on. In this post I'm proposing a photo gallery of my two days in the country of Carl Gustav Jung, Stéphane Chapuisat and Ursula Andress, beginning with some pictures I made on the way to the festival and absolutely not related to comics...

And so I arrived at the Small Press Heaven, in the central Kornschütte, the core of the show and a place where about twenty exhibitors from different European countries can sell their self-produced comics, while Analph bookshop from Zurich provides a good choice of books from all over the world. The list of past weekend exhibitors included Ampel Magazine, B.ü.L.b Comix, Centrala, Hécatombe, Hollow Press, kuš!, Misma and many others. New publishers and creators will be in Lucerne next weekend (names available here).

Speaking of the exhibitions, the retrospective about Tardi is absolutely the most significant and also striking. The Neubad, a former swimming pool with an industrial feeling, hosts the most comprehensive collection to date of Tardi's original artworks, from the comics about the First World War to the adaptations of French crime stories by Malet and Manchette, with the beautiful work made on the reconstruction of Paris, with its buildings, bridges, shadows and rain. There were also pages from Le Cri du peuple series, from the book Ici Même written by Barbarella's creator Jean-Claude Forest and obviously from the adventures of Adèle Blanc-Sec (included the first episode Adèle et la bête, dated 1976), one of the milestone of adventure comics. Tardi is one of the special guests of the show with the musical comic reading Putain de guerre next Friday 13 March and he'll also do a session of signings Saturday 14 March.

Another special guest is Norwegian pop artist Pushwagner, with a stunning exhibition at Kunstmuseum, mostly centred on Soft City, a comic masterpiece from the Seventies. This is an extraordinary parable about human existence depicted through the regular day of a man like many others. The themes of conformism, capitalism and control are rendered with detailed illustrations of lines and lines of men caught in their obsessive daily routine, while rows of cars and buildings communicate a sense of claustrophobia and oppression. Unfortunately I couldn't take pictures in the museum, so I'll post some photos from the other exhibitions, as the two events dedicated to Cowboy Henk, the extremely funny and widely imitated cult figure created by Belgian cartoonists Kamagurka and Herr Seele (the latter, another special guest of Fumetto, is meeting visitors at Hotel Schweizerhof in the days of the show).

The set-up of the exhibition about Dominique Goblet and Kai Pfeiffer is also very remarkable. The two creators published the graphic novel Plus si entente for Fremok last year, a story centred on a mother who, after a divorce, spends her days on dating websites. This key idea is well represented in the main room, where drawings become an installation, a sort of "garden of love" populated by personal ads, profiles, faces, objects and sounds from the potential partners of the woman. The original artworks from the comic, characterized by the versatility of styles and techniques, are exposed in an equally interesting second room.

The Kunsthalle hosts Die Not Hat Ein Ende - The Swiss Art of Rock, an exploration of the symbiosis between graphics and rock music in Switzerland through the works of 19 Swiss designers and artists who made LP covers, concert posters, flyers and illustrations for prog, hard rock, punk, new wave and noise bands, from H.R. Giger to Cédric Magnin, from Dirk Bonsma to many others.

For further informations about the festival and the other exhibitions, you can visit the website and the Facebook page of Fumetto, where you can also find a lot of pictures documenting the first days of the event.

domenica 1 marzo 2015

Industrial Revolution, World War and a Tetsupendium

The Italian Hollow Press is back but this time the news isn't about the new issue of Under Dark Weird Fantasy Grounds (scheduled for the beginning of April) but about two new publications both from Japanese artists debuting at the Fumetto Festival in Luzern next 7 and 8 March. The new books are Industrial Revolution and World War by Shintaro Kago, a new entry in Hollow Press roster, and Tetsupendium Tawarapedia by Tetsunori Tawaraya, already published in UDWFG
Kago's book is a dystopian nightmare where man is reduced to a machine, the brain is only a way to command him and his body a weapon, while two alien factions battle in an architecturally majestic scenery. Bodies mingle with buildings, violence with sex, horror with humor in the typical Kago's style. Industrial Revolution and World War is an A4 book, 32 pages with hardcover, limited edition of 350 copies. The pre-order is 15% off until 11 March at the Hollow Press website, where you can also buy the original artworks.

Tetsupendium Tawarapedia collects the best of Tetsunori Tawaraya's work from 2002 to 2012. If I have defined his style in UDWFG as an "underground pointillism", this time he uses a wider array of solutions. The long sequence of illustrations and short comics highlights the stylistic growth of the Japanese cartoonist, so that the reader can become more familiar with his mutant nightmares, populated by winged creatures, deconstructed human figures, monoliths, zombies, skulls, children with too many arms and legs.

The mood is very different from Kago's  book, but there is a work on the human body, redefined and sometimes brutalized, that is similar in both these new books from Hollow Press. Even the Tetsupendium - 400 pages in black and white, A5 format, limited edition of 500 copies - is available at a special pre-order price until 11 March.

martedì 24 febbraio 2015


Chris Cilla, Revival House Press, New York (USA), November 2014, 32 pages, black and white, $ 4.99. 

Labyrinthectomy/Luncheonette is a comic book by Chris Cilla published by New York-based Revival House Press. As the title suggests, this is a flip-book with two different stories merging into a two-page spread, where the characters meet in the same location. Cilla has been self-publishing mini-comics since 1987 and his work has been featured in anthologies such as Paper RodeoKramers Ergot, Studygroup Magazine. In 2010 Sparkplug Comics printed his graphic novel The Heavy Hand, his most ambitious work to date. He draws weirdos with huge noses, freaked-out cops, hippies and dopers with a typically underground curvy line. The most distinguishing feature of Cilla's comics is the way he develops the plot, using an almost literary stream of consciousness, sometimes expressed through a dadaist free association of ideas, others with a polyphony of voices that generates flashbacks, flashforwards, cross-references, catchphrases and pure nonsense. The mood is light-hearted and hilarious, but the varied formal solutions build a multilayered narrative, recalling a book by William Burroughs or Thomas Pynchon. Alluding to Burroughs, as Cilla depicts in Labyrinthectomy, the viewer is treated to such evocative imagery such as a limbless man spitting grape seeds and a walking brain coming out from the mouth of the author's stand-in character. Certain Pynchonesque-qualities seem more apparent in Luncheonette which is populated by anthropomorphic dogs dressed as detectives, hippie chefs and reactionary cops.

Eccentric theological theories and original considerations about existential themes lead to the end, set in a "minigolf maze" shaped as a "tofu cube", while a solar event spreads destruction outside. The central two-page spread rounds up almost the whole cast of the comic book, introducing a dynamic partition of the page that follows a diagonal line rather than the traditional horizontal and vertical coordinates we are used to. The final effect is unusual like observing everyday life with new eyes, without taking anything for granted. And perhaps this is the core of Cilla's comics, the marked opposition between ordinary contexts and anything but ordinary characters and situations. If you are a brain with hands and feet or an insect reading the newspaper on the toilet, you can understand what I mean.

domenica 1 febbraio 2015

15 Comics for 2015 - Part Three

Third and last part of my previews of new year's comics. If you still haven't, you can read the first and the second part.

11) Gulag Casual by Austin English - Another praiseworthy initiative of 2D Cloud from Minneapolis, which in November will release an extensive collection of comics by Austin English, a cutting-edge cartoonist with a style closer to the Avant-gardes than to indie comics. Gulag Casual collects the already published The Disgusting Room, My Friend Perry and Here I Am!, plus the unreleased Freddy's Dead, a comedic thriller where English started drawing in a new way, relying mostly on graphite, and A New York Story, which promises to combine the comics-as-painting style of the author with a strong narration as never before. A New York Story is also dedicated to friend and colleague Dylan Williams, passed away in September 2011.

12) The Weight by Melissa Mendes - Recently a guest at Bilbolbul Festival in Bologna with Charles Forsman, whom I mentioned in the first part of this special, Melissa Mendes is the author of the series Lou for Oily Comics and of the graphic novel Freddy Stories. The Weight is a webcomic that you can financially support on Patreon, where you can also order the first chapter of the printed version. The story follows a woman named Edie from birth in 1938 in a rural area of the state of New York. Half fiction half memoir based on the diary of the author's grandfather, The Weight seems destined to become a Great American Novel-Comic.

13) Blodappelsiner by Berliac - Berliac is an Argentinean artist who started drawing manga for some time, while he made of Berlin his new home after a period spent in Norway. And it will be a Norwegian publisher, Jippi Comics, to put out next June his new comic about the story of Roar Mariero, a writer and criminal loosely inspired by the figure of Jean Genet. The 96 pages of the book will follow the main character from his childhood in Scandinavia to his travels around the world, focusing on his captivity in a Russian prison and on his biggest crime, literature. The text will be in Nynorsk, while a Spanish edition will be published later this year in Argentina thanks to Editorial La Pinta. At the moment an English version is not scheduled yet, so you have to cross your fingers if you want to read this new effort from an artist to absolutely keep an eye on (here I talked about his beautiful mini Kuš!).

14) š! #20 - And speaking of š!, after the eight issue dedicated to comics from Finland the Latvian anthology will come back next 19th February with a new book made by artist of one nation, in this case Portugal. The title Desassossego is taken from Fernando Pessoa and the theme of the comics selected by š! team and by guest editor Marcos Farrajota of Chili Com Carne is disquietness. The contributing artists are Amanda Baeza, André Lemos, André Pereira, Bruno Borges, Cátia Serrão, Daniel Lima (author of the cover above), Daniel Lopes, Filipe Abranches, Francisco Sousa Lobo, Joana Estrela, João Fazenda, Marta Monteiro, Milena Baeza, Paulo Monteiro, Pedro Burgos, Rafael Gouveia, Tiago Manuel... And from the first images published on š! website all their works seem graphically stimulating and exciting.

15) Mighty Star and the Castle of the Cancatervater by A. Degen - Next April Canadian Koyama Press will publish a 172-page book containing the complete collection of Mighty Star by A. Degen, a silent and fascinating journey into a baroque and surreal universe, combining the atmospheres of James Robinson's Starman and Osamu Tezuka's Astro Boy with the settings of Meliès, German Expressionist films or even of Tim Burton's Batman. In the meantime, you can get an introduction to Mighty Star with The Philosopher, a sort of compendium released a few months ago from Snakebomb Comix.

mercoledì 14 gennaio 2015

15 Comics for 2015 - Part Two

Part two of my previews of new year's comics. You'll notice I left out some cartoonists I already talked about several times to introduce new artists and publications. You can read the first part here.

6) Ur by Eric Haven - Adhouse Books has already started its 2015 with this collection of short stories by Eric Haven previously published in various anthologies and magazines. As I could see from a preview pdf, these are absolutely brilliant and hilarious comics, where Haven blends superheroes parody, classic underground comics, the strange worlds of Fletcher Hanks, the rhythm of newspaper strips and... explosive diarrhea. The true leitmotiv of the book is the author's fascination for absurd, paradox and exaggeration. If you want a taste of all this, you can take a look at Haven's website, where he posted some of the comics contained in Ur, and at this interview on Robot 6.

7) Infinite Bowman by Pat Aulisio - Hic & Hoc Publications will release this spring the ultimate collection of Pat Aulisio's Bowman, a sort of 2001: A Space Odyssey where "slightly dazed" astronaut David Bowman rides horses with the head of Garfield, fights giant robots and after becoming general of Satan's army performs a coup d'état. The book collects the already published BowmanBowman 2016Bowman Earthbound and a new 75-page 4th chapter that concludes the saga, characterized by Aulisio's increasingly detailed style.

8) Treasury of Mini Comics Vol. 2 - After Newave! and the first book of Treasury of Mini Comics, the new anthology edited by Michael Dowers for Fantagraphics explores the most recent ramifications of a subculture based on selling and trading handcrafted comics booklets. The new mini-hardback is already in the stores and assembles as usual more than 800 pages of comics and illustrations, with works by Trina Robbins, Marc Bell, Tom Hart, J.R. Williams, Pat Moriarity, Renée French, Johnny Ryan, Jeffrey Brown, Jim Rugg, Lisa Hanawalt, Souther Salazar and Theo Ellsworth. 

9) A Mysterious Process by GG - "Hi, my name is GG. I am a reclusive author. I make comics and things in my bedroom". Last May a mysterious artist called GG inaugurated her Tumblr, launching soon after the website Ohgigue, where she is also selling physical version of her "loosely autobiographic" comics. After reaching second place at last year Comics Workbook Composition Competition with Semi-Vivi, GG is now publishing on Frank Santoro's website her most ambitious work to date, the evocative A Mysterious Process, a comic in cinemascope with subtitles reporting dialogues. The printed version will be out around May, but in the meantime you can follow the developing of the story and discover the fascinating world of this enigmatic cartoonist.

10) Kovra #6 - 224 pages in Spanish and English for this new anthology, probably the best of the series according to the preview images seen on Ediciones Valientes website. Available in these days, this A5 book hosts new works by Amanda Baeza, Berliac, Cegado, Leo Quievreux, Pedro Franz, Ulli Lust, Victor Dvnkel and many others. A different look at indie comics, between Europe and South America, Kovra is at the moment one of the most intriguing anthologies of the Old Continent.

sabato 10 gennaio 2015

15 Comics for 2015 - Part One

As I did last year, but in a different way, I'm previewing some comics scheduled for the next months. I'm splitting this list in three parts, publishing them throughout January. Thanks to all the artist and publishers who sent me news and advance pictures.

1) Frontier #8 by Anna Deflorian - Youth in Decline continues to host in its series Frontier the best talents of our days. In May it will be the turn of Italian artist and cartoonist Anna Deflorian, best known for her graphic novel Roghi, who is creating a book described as "full and decorative in a 70s shojo manga vs renaissance painting way (haha)". This is another big hit for Ryan Sands, who discovered Deflorian's work thanks to her comic published in the ninth issue of š!

2) Revenger by Charles Forsman - The first issue of Revenger, the new series by Chuck Forsman published by his Oily Comics, marks a drastic change of pace for the author of TEOTFW and Celebrated Summer, now making an "action and violence comic book" characterized by the use of color and a more realistic style that can recall Steve Dillon. Set in a darker version of the USA in 1987, the story follows our "heroine", a sort of a rogue-for-hire, going in a small city to help a teenage boy who is worried about his missing girlfriend. Inspired by comics and movies from 70s and 80s and by contemporary cartoonists as Benjamin Marra (author of the back cover of this first issue) and Michel Fiffe, Revenger is already available for download, while the printed version will be out in February.

3) Terror Assaulter: One Man War On Terror di Benjamin Marra - And talking about Benjamin Marra, Fantagraphics will publish in the fall a book from the author of Night Business and Blades & Lazers, collecting mostly unreleased work, since only one comic book of Terror Assaulter was published so far. For those of you who aren't familiar with him, it's the right time to enter into the violent, provocative, ironic world of the bearded American cartoonist, stylistically reminiscent of unforgettable artists as Jim Steranko and Paul Gulacy and with a strong pop art vein.

4) Drawn & Quarterly: Twenty-Five Years of Contemporary Cartooning, Comics, and Graphic Novels - In May Canadian publisher Drawn & Quarterly will put out a celebratory book of 512 pages for its 25th anniversary, with never-before-seen or rare works from cartoonists as Chester Brown, Michael DeForge, Julie Doucet, Debbie Dreschler, Tom Gauld (author of the cover above), Rutu Modan, John Porcellino, Art Spiegelman, James Sturm, Yoshihiro Tatsumi, Adrian Tomine and many others. Besides the comics, editor Tom Devlin is also assembling interviews, personal reminiscences of D&Q staff, photographs and essays by guest stars Margaret Atwood, Jonathan Lethem and Chris Ware. 

5) Viewotron #3 by Sam Sharpe and David Goodrich - 
The second issue of Viewotron, released in spring 2013, showcased a single beautiful autobiographical story by Sam Sharpe about the relationship between the author/protagonist, depicted as an anthropomorphic dog, and his schizophrenic mother. Given the considerable level of that comic, it is legitimate to expect great things from the third output of this anthology series, which will also mark the return of the co-creator David Goodrich. The tone will be definitely lighter, as you can see from the first panel of The Orb of Mild Disappointment, one of the main stories of this new issue, tentatively scheduled for a summer 2015 release.