What I’m Reading 2/23
I didn’t get the following to Chris in time, so instead of being posted at the Robot 6 “What I’m Reading” roundtable, I post it over here where nobody’s looking for it.
JOE’S BAR – Jose Muñoz and Carlos Sampayo.
Sinuous and gritty urban drama. Not exactly a crime book. Not exactly a slice of life drama. Not really urban horror, but if you plotted a triangle with those three points, JOE’S BAR would fit neatly in there somewhere, though it would have a habit of sliding around. There’s a lot of ordinary madness here, made extraordinary by Muñoz’ cartooning, shifting easily between moments of mundane joys and sweaty, nightmarish desperations. I’d seen some of this work in THE MAMMOTH BOOK OF CRIME COMICS, which led me to picking up this collection on a recent trip to the Big City, and I’m glad I did. Though the stories themselves are bleak to the end, they squirm with a dark, smoky vitality. Worth reading and examining again more closely.
THE UNKNOWN SOLDIER 1 through 4 – Joshua Dysart, Alberto Ponticelli.
Joshua Dysart reinvents the DC war comics character, transporting him from WWII and beyond to a Unganda ground down relentlessly by war without end. And not just war, but war fought by children, holy war, and ultimately the war within one man. Mr. Dysart’s one-sentence pitch for the book at a Vertigo panel a couple years back ran along the lines of “By the end of issue one, a die-hard pacifist will become a murderer.” My interest was piqued then, enough so that I sought out a chunk of the issues once they came out. I wasn’t disappointed. It’s not an easy book by any stretch. This isn’t a black and white war comic, though the action on the page is stark and unflinching. But it’s not an adventure book. Much like FEAR AND LOATHING IN LAS VEGAS was one of the best anti-drug movies to come out ever, THE UNKNOWN SOLDIER sucks the myth of the war book dry, and yet it trades on the thrills of those books. Recommended. But I’m going to read it in trades, thereby dooming it.
Started reading the METAMORPHO Showcase collection. Man, that’s a lot of crazy on the page there, and Ramona Fradon’s art is so perfect for it. But this stuff is largely review proof, you either love it or loathe it. Though I’d say there’s a very mannered artcomix vibe to the illustration here, not sure what it is, for it’s as intangible as a cloud of Fluorine gas. But it’s there for sure.