Tuesday, February 24, 2015
It was a long year for me, that 2014, spent mostly drawing and prepping my own book The Hospital Suite (D+Q), and then travelling around the country promoting it. By the time I got home it was December, and I had a lot of catching up to do.
I barely managed to do any comics reading last year, though that didn't stop the weekly onslaught of great, interesting, beautiful books. So there's a lot of stuff that no doubt would have made this list had I had a chance to sit down and read it. Well, that's what 2015 is for. Meanwhile, here's a small and by no means comprehensive list of some of my favorite comics of 2014:
Black Light: The Art of L.B. Cole (Fantagraphics)
I waited for what seemed like forever for this wonderful collection of LB Cole's eye-splitting, weird and wonderful artwork: Proto-psychedelic covers for pulps and comics, pin-ups, men's magazines and more, all printed on deliciously oversized pages.
Dessins by Pascal Girard (Editions Pow Pow)
Chronologie by Dominique Goblet and Nikita Fossoul (Fremok)
At SPX I immediately went up to her table and introduced myself. She turned and pulled the book out of her suitcase. VOILÀ!
Chronologie is a series of daily portraits she did every morning with her daughter Nikita, where she drew Nikita and vice versa. The drawings are in a variety of media, from simple pencil studies to lush painted portraits, and move through ten years, so, in effect, we see Dominique's daughter grow up before her mother's own eyes. A remarkable book, and one I'm very glad to have on my bookshelf!
Powdered Milk (series) by Keiler Roberts (Self-published)
What Nerve! ed. by Dan Nadel (DAP)
Hairy Who documentary, and this great show curated by Dan Nadel, which combines the work of the Imagists with other outsiders like the Cailfornia Funk Artists, HC Westermann, Jack Kirby, Destroy All Monsters and the Fort Thunder crew. I was lucky enough to see the the exhibit in Providence when on tour last fall. The show was overwhelming to me, and I was happy that the accompanying catalog was as good as it was, allowing me to take the exhibit home to peruse for years to come.
Heroical # 1 and 2 by David Plunkert (Spur Design)
I saw these at Jim Rugg's house and had to have them. (They're available online.) Plunkert's designerly but raw and charming comics and art harken back to the glory days of RAW, when weirdness and smart production skills combined to form the first real Objets d'art of the comics world. Full of robots, Lucha Libre, cut and paste, and action lines, these comics are a breath of fresh air-- fun, funky, unpretentious and amazingly well-done.
Facility Integrity by Nick Maandag (Pigeon Press)
Rudy by Mark Connery (2D Cloud)
Strange Growths #16 by Jenny Zervakis (Self-published)
I Don't Hate Your Guts by Noah Van Sciver (2D Cloud)
Recidivist IV by Zak Sally (La Mano 21)
Art of the Simon and Kirby Studio (Abrams)
La Rêve Américain by Laurent Lolmède (Alain Beaulet)
The Lonesome Go by Tim Lane (Fantagraphics)
Monday, February 2, 2015
Hal the Groundhog
Thoreau famously sat with one until it felt comfortable enough to let him touch it, but the closest I ever got to a groundhog in recent years was probably ten feet or so.
So it was much to my delight when Stephanie told me that the Big Run Wolf Ranch in Lockport, IL was holding an upcoming open house, at which their very own Hal the Groundhog was scheduled to make his first Winter Prognostication.
We drove in towards the city, picked up my pal Ray, and headed down to Scenic, Historic Lockport. (Lockport was headquarters to the Illinois and Michigan Canal, which I wrote about in King-Cat #60.) We pulled in at the Wolf Ranch and walked around, over the stream and past the weird ducks and chickens. We met Charlie the Cougar and Khan the Siberian Tiger, and a bunch of lovely wolves. Two delightful porcupines, and a skunk named Kirby (!).
The porcupine's nose was very charming.
Kirby the Skunk
He put his cheek against mine!
JP, Kirby, and Ray Rehayem; with volunteer.
Hal wasn't scheduled to make his appearance until 1 PM, so we got back in the car, drove downtown, and had a great lunch at the local raw, organic, gluten-free cafe (!!!). It was so good we had Key Lime Pie for dessert and had to hustle back to the Ranch for Hal's appearance.
When we got there, Hal was in his Pet Carrier, and the volunteers were explaining the habits of this wily creature, including a brief history of the lore behind the only major* holiday named for a rodent. Finally they opened the cage, and coaxed Kirby out onto the tabletop... did he see his shadow? I don't know, but he did leap off the table and hustle across the yard, past the barbecue, and into the open garage. Presently they rounded him up again and brought him back out for all the kids to see.
Hal enjoying some string cheese.
He was just a little guy, about 10 months old, a Minnesotan by birth. He was very cute, and seemed nonplussed by all the goo-gooing children. After some time with the kids, he went back inside to relax, and then... the main attraction:
A month or so before out visit, Stephanie had gotten in touch with the Ranch Manager, Renee, and had arranged for me to have a bit of private time with Hal afterwards. We huddled in the cold garage while Renee went back and brought him out. He was adorable. We fed him some string cheese to calm him down a bit and Renee picked him up. I got to pet him a little, stroking his neck and ears. He was soft. I wasn't sure whether I'd be able to actually hold him, but she held him up for me and I picked him up.
He was lighter than I expected, and felt just like a big squirrel-- soft, loose fur, and a warm muscular body beneath. He trembled a bit like a squirrel. His nails felt long and quite sharp, as he held on to my jacket and squirmed. It was all happening so fast! Renee took him from me again to calm him down, and then I got to hold him one more time. This time he felt a little more settled and I got to look down at him and really try to remember the moment.
She took him from me once again and brought him back inside. He'd had a long day. And so had we...
We said our thank yous and got back in the car for the ride home. A dream of mine, come true.
*If I say it's major, it's major.
All photos by Stephanie Dorman
Special thanks to Stephanie, Hal, and Renee
Special thanks to Stephanie, Hal, and Renee