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Wednesday, December 28, 2016

(Some of my) FAVORITE COMICS OF 2015

They say that timing is everything, and in this age of nanosecond attention spans and constantly refreshing newsfeeds that's more true than ever. So it's with great delight that I present here a brief and certainly incomplete list of Some of My Favorite Comics of 2015.

Every year more and more cool comics are released in droves, and every year I have less time to read them. But I buy them, and they stack up in boxes and overflowing shelves waiting for that moment when I can retire from the daily grind and sit down and read all those DeForge books. And mark my words, friends -- That day shall come.

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Extra Good Stuff by Dennis Eichhorn and Various (Last Gasp) More from the genius storyteller Dennis P. Eichhorn, released shortly before his death. Extra Good Stuff (like 2014's Real Good Stuff) teams Eichhorn up with some of the hottest, brightest cartoonists going today (Noah Van Sciver, Max Clotfelter, Tom Van Deusen, Aaron Lange) as well as old time favorites like Mary Fleener and Triangle Slash. A blast from the past blowing open the doors of today! Or something. Excellent.

The Complete Hairy Who Publications edited by Dan Nadel (Matthew Marks Gallery) It's hard to wrap my mind around the sudden increase in interest, or at least in publication, of the Hairy Who, some of the most influential but underappreciated artists of the late 20th Century. Decidedly unhip at a time when conceptual and minimalist art was in fashion, in the late 60's and early 70's this Chicago based artists group produced work that was funky, emotional, bright, weird and graphic, drawing inspiration from everyday life, including comic books. For each of their exhibitions, they produced a catalog that was more of a comic, featuring work from each of the members, Jim Nutt, Karl Wirsum, Gladys Nillson, and this books collects 'em all in ravishing full color.

Big Pussy by Gina Wynbrandt (2D Cloud) A hilariously self-abasing and brilliantly acerbic comic from young wunderkind Wynbrandt depicts the artist negotiating life, lust, and love in the Internet Age. Smart, wickedly funny, and transgressive. More comics like this, please!

Remember This by Disa Wallander (KUŠ) This funny and gently sardonic story examines our memories: why do we have them, why don't we have them, what do they mean? How does art encapsulate time? That sounds stuffy, but this comic is anything but. A delight.

My Hot Date by Noah Van Sciver (Kilgore Books) This one could just as easily have been Noah's St. Cole or Fante Bukowski (Fantagraphics), I Don't Hate Your Guts (2D Cloud) or Blammo #8.5 (Kilgore). The fact is, no one in comics right now is blasting away skill-wise as breathlessly as Noah Van Sciver. His writing continues to get even better, his drawing effortlessly depicts a real, tangible, livable world with ease and understated power, and now that he's figured out his secret coloring technique, in which colors pop and ebb with distinct and beautiful shadowing and tonal effects, he's simply unstoppable. Noah will bury us all, but at least we get to come along for the ride.

Ikebana by (Retrofit/Big Planet Comics) The silent protagonist of Ikebana guides us through a humorous look at the foibles of art school and then moves into the "real world" with a ruthless clarity before climaxing in wonder and surreal ambiguity. This short comic is endlessly surprising and deeply affecting, and stayed with me long after I read it.

Terror Assaulter: OMWOT: One Man War On Terror by Benjamin Marra (Fantagraphics) Marra's ridiculous and pitch perfect satire of masculinity and violence is odd, funny, disturbing, idiotic, and brilliant.

Hey America! Wake the Fuck Up! by Ron Regé Jr. (Self-published online) As Amerika® descends deeper into cruel stupidity and vacuous self-absorption Art can still remind us of who we really are, and who we want to be. Regé's brief response to modern life does not mince words or ideas, but is still full of compassion and heart. Fantastic, powerful, and much-needed. Link

Stroppy by Marc Bell (Drawn and Quarterly) Marc Bell's first extended foray into comix storytelling in some time is a savagely funny and absurd look at hyper-capitalism and corporate control. Poor Sap Stroppy unwittingly gets mixed up in a Capitalist Poetry scheme, while his evil boss Monsieur Moustache plots his fiendish creative coup. All with Bell's trademark nuttiness and surreal good humor, natch.
 

Recidivist IV by Zak Sally (La Mano 21) Harkening back to the fuck all days of alternative comics, when the integrity of one's personal expression was the all-consuming goal of our art, Recidivist IV is a deeply intense, dense, and difficult guide to one person's battle with his life and art. Reading the book requires that you sweat it out in the trenches with the author, and when you finally come out the other side you've had an undeniable taste of his struggle. A real achievement in a world where many cartoonists actually seek mediocrity, and ho-hum is often the most one can expect.

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