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

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.