Tuesday 21 December 2010

Merry Christmas!

Saturday 18 December 2010

Tintin + Burroughs + Burns = ????

As big a fan as I am of Charles Burns (I sought and bought every comic book issue of Black Hole as they were published), I really struggled at first with his new book, X'ed Out. The premise -- Tintin meets William S. Burrough's Interzone -- is irresistible to me. But I gotta admit; the new book was impenetrable to me on first read.

One thing was the full-colour, something Burns hasn't done since a one-shot, one-off of his "Blood Club" story. The other issue was the sheer brevity of the book; at around 50 pages I was crying for more by the end. After a re-read and some pondering, I realised what Burns was up to. I discuss "cracking the code" of X'ed Out in today's Globe and Mail Books section

...Burns isn’t satisfied with simply emulating the look and feel of a classic Tintin. With X’ed Out, it’s as if he’s trying to replicate the emotional experience of reading such work as well; an experience that is defined by the anticipation and frustration one feels with a staggered publishing schedule.


Sunday 12 December 2010

Obsessed with 'Obsessed With'

My previous post (the first in what seems like a light-year) got me thinking about stocking-stuffers for the book-obsessed weirdoes in your life. And that got me to thinking about these Obsessed With books by Chronicle—in my mind, the grand-daddy of quirk-rich, off-beat mainstream publishing—that boast a bumper crop of good old-fashioned nerdiness.

If I have a single weakness, it’s for the sweet pop-culture of my younger days. And a goodly part of this brain candy is comprised of Star Wars and superheroes. I know – the twin titans of dork culture; but I can’t help it. Between you and me, I blame it all on my kids (7 and 4) who have been in the thrall of Batman, Superman, The Flash and the Skywalker family for a couple of years now. 

So it was with joy that I opened up one of those great cardboard mailers the other day to find copies of Obsessed With Star Wars and Obsessed With Marvel. Packed with hundreds of questions about comics and Star Wars eclectica, these books fairly drilled into the nerdy spinal cord of my shame-filled soul. They even have a little doo-dad that allows you to choose a question, and have the answer pop right up – saving all of the annoying time of flipping to the back of the book for the answer; or flipping the book upside down and spilling your whiskey on your lap.

The point here, is that as entertaining as these books are I would feel too nerdly to buy them myselves – especially when I own a pile/stack of great comics and graphic novels waiting to be read. But, if someone were to buy one of these for me (or ship them to me) I would be absolved of any guilt and dive right in. So, thank you Chronicle books, from the bottom of my pop-culture heart.

Tuesday 7 December 2010

A Potatoe in your stocking

Last year The Globe and Mail became the target of a heap of online scorn after they published their Globe 100, a curated list of the best books reviewed in their pages in the 2009 calendar year. The issue? They chose only three comics work, Asterios Polyp, R. Crumb's The Books of Genesis Illustrated and Logicomix -- none of which was Canadian. This in a year that featured major release by Seth (George Sprott) and a massive reprinting of one of the country's greatest cartoonists.

I think we're all pleased that this time around their choices comics-wise were a bit more inspired, considering they included the Doug Wright Award-winning Hot Potatoe by London, Ontario's Marc Bell. A stranger more inspired choice out of the past 12 months I cannot think of at the moment. Can you imagine the stunned look on your Great Aunt Lou's face when she cracks this beautiful chunk of weirdness out from under the Festivus pole this year? Thank you Martin and crew! Well done.

The bastardized Family Circus cartoon above is pulled from Marc's site.