Hello and welcome to What Are You Reading? We are joined today by special guest Josh Hechinger, writer of The Grave Doug Freshley, Bear Beater Bunyan, and Robot + Monsters. Check out his blog or the R+M site for more from Josh.
To see what Josh and the Robot 6 team have been reading lately, click below …
The Return of the Magic Whistle by Sam Henderson (Alternative Comics) — Has it only been since 2008 that we’ve seen a new issue of The Magic Whistle? It seems longer. No matter, it’s good to see him back in a regular format again, doing what he does best, which generally tends to be taking a familiar comedic trop or stereotype and heaping liberal dollops of absurdity onto it. In this issue we have a hippie that disturbs a school play about the founding fathers (“You know the eye on the dollar bill? It means the government is watching you!”), a man who gets tired of having people ride around on his large ass all day and a robot duck that wants to learn about pornography. If that last description doesn’t raise your interest I don’t know what to tell you.
Ablatio Penis by Will Dinski (2D Cloud) — A politician running for governor has a terrible secret but it’s not at all what you think. Dinski uses small panels to create a fast-paced rhythm with his dialogue but he’s a bit too vague on some of the details, particularly as it pertains to the vagaries of running a political campaign. A few more specific details — what state the politician is running in, what some of the specific issues are — would have made this a richer, more believable comic.
Passage by Tessa Brunton (Sparkplug) — A young girl is embarrassed by the Iron John-esque birthday party her parents want to throw for her older brother as he segues from adolescence into adulthood. It sounds like thin gruel to hang a story on, but Brunton actually manages to wring quite a bit of warmth and pathos out of the tale, mainly due to the sharply observed details she brings about how parents and their teenage children interact. She especially nails the way kids can be be anxious and embarrassed by their changing bodies and the way adults attempt to placate that anxiety, only to make it much worse. Her art is really nice too, cluttered with detail and long, horizontal panels and cut-aways of homes and rooms. Basically this comic charmed my socks off.
Hawkeye #6 – “Great! You got more guys.” Is it weird I was legit worried about the Russians whacking Hawkeye this issue? That’s ridiculous, his name’s on the front cover, he’s in movies…but man, just for a second, I wholly bought that Bad Things Could Happen To Our Man Clint, and…and man, when’s the last time a comic sucked me in like that, y’know?
Oh yeah, it was two issues back, when it turned out Madame Masque was Kate.
Basically, I heart (with-an-arrow-through-it) Hawkeye.
Nomad Tofu – I always throw around Jim Henson comparisons when I talk this strip up; the first arc could be “Jim Henson’s Bone!” the second arc’s looking a little like “Jim Henson’s Firefly!”. And I mean well when I say that…everyone likes those things, especially combined…but that all short-changes writer/artist Harry Myland immensely.
Like, put it this way: Myland doesn’t do a strip about Muppets, but he designs creatures with a singular style and personality in the same way that you can spot a Henson Workshop job right away. I could say his dialogue’s got a really unique cadence like Achewood, but that sounds like he sounds like Onstad, when what I mean is that in the same way Achewood’s conversational voice is wholly Achewood’s, nobody quite writes conversations like there are in Nomad Tofu.
Anyway, I’m glad it’s back from hiatus. Plus, Pub’s some kind of space-stockboy now, which I, uh…keenly relate to from past work experience.
Heat Rash #4 – It’s the Los Campesinos! fanzine; kinda think it’s the last issue? Anyway, what they’ve been doing is putting out these little two-song 7″ records and a zine by the band that’s the same dimensions, which I direly want to steal for some kind of comic someday. And all the band writes articles on the issue theme, or interviews someone, or…like, I picked up a recipe for these little asparagus flatbread cheese tart things from one of the issues? They were great. Basically, there’s variety to the subject matter and nobody involved is boring, which is really all I ask from any magazine.
This one’s about touring. Travel’s one of those things that I like in theory, hate in practice, so this issue’s one of them vicarious delights or whatever…not even the being-in-a-band part, just being able to travel all over the place like it ain’t a thing. Like, they go to Spain! Man, I had four years of Spanish, I wouldn’t know what the hell to do if I was in Spain. Ask where the library is and hope they have comics, I guess.
Los Camp! are my heroes for having things to do in Spain and writing well about it.
Let It Be Beautiful – More zines; in this case, it’s the Strawberry Fields Whatever gals doing every Beatles song as either an essay or a short story. And I don’t actually own the album any of these zinesongs (songzines?) are from, but whatever, I’ve been throwing on what Beatles I have and reading these and they’re great. The site’s great, too. I know I’ve been mildly-to-super enthused about everything I’ve been yammering about, but…man. Man I wish I liked anything as much as they all seem to like all sorts of things.
(Another thing I want to steal for a comic: one of the zines, Savoy Truffle, had hairpins for the binding, instead of staples. So, y’know, look for a square, hairpin-bound comic at your LCS sometime, and I’ll see y’all at the Eisners for Publication Design.)