Tuesday, January 18, 2011

The Gosh! Authority 18/01/11

I was lucky enough to see this book in America back in November, and liked it so much I’m sticking it up top. Denis Kitchen began as an underground cartoonist in the 1960s with Mom’s Homemade Comics: Straight From the Kitchen to You!! before – as he puts it – turning to the dark side and becoming a publisher.

“As the head of Kitchen Sink, I was obligated to participate in seemingly endless corporate meetings, editorial meetings, marketing meetings, production meetings, planning sessions, and so on. To some of my colleagues in those meetings, I may have appeared rapt with attention at the head of the long table, taking “notes” on an ever-present writing tablet attached to a clipboard. And in fact I was listening and participating with a reasonably large portion of my brain. But in reality, the tablet was often flipped over and I was drawing on the “chipboard,” the term printers use for the heavy cardstock forming the base of ordinary writing tablets.”

Denis Kitchen’s Chipboard Sketchbook is a collection of the sketches Kitchen made in those meetings, having been safely filed away in a cabinet for years. His tools were simple, chosen by virtue of being all he had to hand in the office: a Sharpie pen, a Uni-Ball Micro ballpoint, the ever-present chipboard. “But then I maintained the combination for aesthetic pleasure… Under magnification, the surface of chipboard looks like a choppy, stormy sea compared to the placid waters of cold press illustration.”

The spontaneous, stream-of-consciousness doodles are totally demented and completely different to the stuff you might have seen in the Oddly Compelling Art of Denis Kitchen. The above quotes I stole wholesale from his introduction, which you can see in the preview over at Indiepulp. It’s a marvellous object, complete with chipboard cover. Of course.

Also noteworthy is the latest from McSweeney’s, a 275-cubic-inch sweaty bald head, which is, it has to be said, screamingly hideous in all its lobster-red glory. More or less life-sized, too. As usual it includes an impressive bevy of previously rejected or unpublished pieces, each in their own booklet, by the likes of John Brandon, Colm Tóibín, Jack Pendarvis, Wajahat Ali and more. Most excitingly is a 100-page annotated fragment of a doomed novel by Michael Chabon, Fountain City.

“When I began annotating it, several years ago, I planned to go all the way through the thing, with the intention of figuring out, once and for all, what had gone wrong with it. I hoped that the experience might be useful not only for me but for millions of other failure enthusiasts and fans of ruination all around the world.”

You can find the rest of that interview at The Atlantic. Incidentally, I’m currently halfway through Chabon’s collection of essays, Manhood For Amateurs (in which he also mentions the “wrecked” novel) and it is [expletive deleted] brilliant. Pick it up from a regular bookshop when you get a chance. In the meantime, here’s a video of the McSweeney’s art director sifting through his cubed head.

Friend of Gosh! Christian Ward (Olympus) and his writer pal Nick Spencer (Morning Glories) are making waves over in the States with their new creator owned five-issue mini-series, Infinite Vacation.

The Infinite Vacation is set in a world where moving in and out of an infinite array of alternate realities has become a totally commercial endeavour. You use it every day of your life; for work, for play, you name it. We follow an average joe named Mark who is very much addicted to The Infinite Vacation and all the possibilities it affords him, until something happens that makes him start to question what he's been doing and forces him forward on a journey through time and space alongside a beautiful girl who sees the world very differently than he does.” Says Spencer.

Adds Ward, “Mark is a man who, by buying into the Infinite Vacation, has in a sense ceased to live. He is so preoccupied with what's better and what's next that he doesn't live now. Free will [and] choice has pre-empted his sense of fate. He's living a thousand lives, except his own.”

More of that interview here and a preview over at Comixology. Thanks to the pile-up of delivery delays here in the UK we missed out on this one last week, so here’s a great review and here’s another one from people who got it days before we did.

Mr Benn was visiting other worlds decades before Mark in The Infinite Vacation. Out the back door of the fancy-dress shop he’d go, ending up wherever he’d be appropriately attired. Big-Top Benn is one of the four original books by David McKee, originally published in 1980 and now out in hardcover again.

The sound of children laughing made Mr Benn look out the window of Festive Road. He soon saw the cause of the laughter. Young Julian was wearing a mask and amusing his friends. “What a lovely sound,” thought Mr Benn. “It must be fun to dress up and make people laugh.” With that he remembered a costume shop that he knew, a special costume shop that adventures could start from. “There must be an outfit to make me look funny,” he thought. He put on his hat and coat and set out for the shop.

Having swapped his bowler hat for a clown costume he is transported to a world of big-top tents and circus performers. The book was supposed to have arrived some time before Christmas but now its here to cheer up the officially dreariest week of the year.

Sammy Harkham (creator of Poor Sailor and the mastermind behind the groundbreaking anthology, Kramers Ergot) began an ongoing series years ago called Crickets. Issues #1 and #2 came and garnered excellent reviews as they went, then last year, Harkham announced on his blog that due to Diamond Distributors minimum-order threshold, Crickets #3 would be the last. Much like Fantagraphics’ Ignatz series, it’s an oversized two-colour magazine format, and features his longest story to date: Blood of a Virgin, about a filmmaker in L.A. in 1971. As a way of getting around the whole minimum orders thing, Harkham’s published this one himself instead of Drawn & Quarterly (though there’s still no word on whether or not there’ll be a fourth issue). Here’s an early review.

Over at Vice Magazine you can read Harkham’s interview with Charles Burns, for which he even provided the above portrait.

Speaking of self-published things, there are a couple of new small press books downstairs on the racks. Marc Ellerby (Ellerbisms) dropped off the latest instalment of Chloe Noonan, along with the two previous issues. Here’s an interview with him at the Comics Bureau from last month.

We’ve also got Sean Azzopardi’s (Twelve Hour Shift) Ed, a book five years in the making. He talks about it here and has a preview on his website. Azzopardi’s sketchbook stuff is also good, so go have a look at it over on his blog.

The last chunk of MySpace/Dark Horse Presents is out this week in Volume 6 of the series, featuring the likes of Jaime Hernandez, Gabriel Bá, Art Baltazar, Stan Sakai, Evan Dorkin, Scott Morse, Andi Watson, and more. And you can get a double-dose of by picking up Matt Fraction’s Casanova TP Volume 1: Luxuria.

Rat Catcher HC is the latest in the Vertigo Crime line, by Andy Diggle (The Losers) and Victor Ibañez. “It’s a tight little action thriller about the hunt for a hitman who specialises in silencing snitches in the Witness Protection Program,” says Diggle in an interview over at Newsarama. Preview if you fancy it. Diggle’s also in the driving seat for the new four-issue miniseries Daredevil: Reborn, starting this week. Preview here and since it was another one we were supposed to have last week you can even have a review too.

In trade paperback we’ve got supernatural Western The Sixth Gun Volume 1, by Cullen Bunn and Brian Hurtt, which comes highly recommended by Comicbook Resources. If you’re still not convinced you can read the entire first issue online over at Oni Press. There’s also Garth EnnisBattlefields TP Volume 6: Motherland, sequel to 2009’s Night Witches, reviewed at Shiny Shelf. Kookaburra K TP by Crisse Mitric is worth picking up for art by Humberto Ramos, and Kurt Busiek’s Dracula: The Company of Monsters TP Volume 1 sets the infamous vampire against the big cheeses of a major corporation. He’s interviewed (Busiek, that is) at Newsarama and Comixology have a preview.

Speaking of vampires, Kathryn Immonen and Phil Noto give you Wolverine & Jubilee #1 (of 4) in which only Wolverine can save the fledgling vampire from her path of destruction. Interview and a preview too.

A new B.P.R.D series starts this week, Hell On Earth: Gods #1 (of 3) by Mike Mignola, John Arcudi and Guy Davis, being the first arc of their pivotal Gods and Monsters saga. Preview at Dark Horse. Next to it you’ll find B.P.R.D. HC Volume 1: Plague of Frogs, a 400-page behemoth collecting Hollow Earth, The Soul of Venice and Plague of Frogs. It even includes the very first appearance of Lobster Johnson and Johann Kraus, don’t you know.

Storyboard artist Ricardo Delgado’s long out of print Age of Reptiles is now available in a great big omnibus edition. Delgado worked on stuff like Men in Black, The Incredibles, Wall-E, and the Matrix, but for his first foray into comics he went for dinosaurs. And why not? This collection includes three Age of Reptiles stories, the last one never collected before now. Comixology have a preview which is all very nice but rather obviously contains not a single stegosaurus which everyone knows is the best dinosaur. Scientific fact. Maybe John Byrne (Next Men) will put one in Jurassic Park: Devils in the Desert, his new four-parter which someone said “sounds like Tremors only with dinosaurs in.” Preview of issue #1 at CbR.

Memoir #1 (of 6) by Ben McCool (Choker) and Nikki Cook (Girl Comics, DMZ) is a new series, which can best be described as Twin Peaks by way of The Twilight Zone according to its creator. "In a nutshell, the story takes place three years after an alleged incident in which everyone living in the town of Lowesville woke up with no idea of who they are, where they are or what's happened. The entire town's memory had been completely erased. It was a big media sensation and everybody was talking about it, but over the preceding three years, interest dwindled. People thought it was a hoax to generate attention for a small farming community." More of that at CbR, and Fangoria reviews it.

That appears to be your lot. If you’ve forgotten what the piece of string tied around your finger is all about it’s probably got something to do with New Comics Day being Wednesday again.

-- Hayley