Everything about Marc Palm’s The Fang is fun. From the alluring pocket pulp cover designs to the double entendre laden dialogue to the mythical beings in relatable predicaments, these were a blast to read and then re-read.
The titular character is a vampire and a contract monster hunter with a face like Sesame Street’s Count. Fang just wants to do her job and have fun but, you know, complications arise. In the first book she goes on a date with a hapless wolf-man who she’s been hired to kill, but their mutual attraction makes her hesitate. In the second book Fang’s livelihood is threatened when Medusa manipulates her into some unauthorized head-chopping. In between jobs she consults with a couple old witch friends, the Hash Hags, who offer advice and bong rips.
Marc Palm’s drawing is lush and lively. So many of the pages here feel like he’s hell-bent on giving you your money’s worth, on getting your jaded comics-skimming eyes to linger. A real treat to behold.
In two short stories Palm established charming characters and situations gushing with potential. Volume 2 ending on “End?” has me salivating for more.
I’ve created a new resource listing publication dates of interesting comics, accessible via a link in the Resources box in the righthand sidebar. Or by clicking right HERE.
Some notes on this feature:
The purpose of this calendar is to increase attention for the sort of art/weird/mini comics that I write about on Refreshing Rectangles. I know plenty of people who love these comics but who are constantly surprised to hear that something is out, or that something came out a year ago, and they missed it.
Every calendar item is clickable which brings up a link to the publication’s page on the publisher’s website. The calendar is also scrollable back and forth in time to see older or future releases.
The listings are a bit skimpy at launch as I’m still figuring out the best way to get information about upcoming publications. You can be sure that I will be updating it frequently from here on.
I want this calendar to be bountiful and useful, but it will not be comprehensive. Partly because this is a rinky-dink operation and partly because there are swaths of comics outside the purview of this site. I’ve got my editorial discretion too. Having said that, if you are a publisher/artist and notice a glaring omission or mistake please reach out at email@example.com.
In the spring of 2020 as we huddled in our bunkers Matthew Thurber was up on the ramparts, pen in hand. Thurber edited and published six issues of Quaranzine from May to July of 2020, while also posting to Instagram dozens of comic strips about the pandemic-times adventures of a boy named Hugo. Sixty pages of these strips are collected in this volume.
Hugo is a world-weary ten-year-old trying to figure out what the virus wants. Fantastic elements like time travel and talking cats mingle with the all-too-real 2020 backdrop of pandemic isolation and protests against systemic racism. There’s a delightful nimbleness to the storytelling that keeps the foreground lively, rules of time, space, and narrative be damned.
The drawing likewise has a spontaneous energy oozing with hilarious flourish. Each strip is a tight statement by an author creating with utmost confidence. Nothing is tossed off or merely cute.
Vector Hugo is a comedic, insightful wallow in the chaos of our times. Thurber continues to post new Vector Hugo strips as of this writing.
The Ignatz-nominatedFrancis Bacon by E.A. Bethea is a wonderful, messy stew of introspection, observation, meditation, and wisecracks. Kicked off by a friend’s comment on her resemblance to the artist Francis Bacon, Bethea jaunts through all the big existential questions with style and wit.
Each page is a chunk of text accompanied by beautifully-textured illustration. Every word and line is diamond-honed to slice deep.
I do this comic a disservice with my arid description of technical elements, but any brief summary of Francis Bacon would be a similar disservice. There is a density to the experience rare in comics. The truths in Bethea’s writing are plentiful and profound, yet there’s always a poetic wink to leaven the seriousness. It’s a unique, moving read more potent in its 56 pages than however many hundreds of pounds of chain-store grade graphic novel.
Switching gears slightly: Francis Bacon is published by Domino Books, which is an excellent online store for all sorts of art comics and other printed media. One of my great recent joys is whenever I have a little extra budget going to a site selling art/weird/mini comics and impulse-buying whatever strikes my fancy. Here’s my latest Domino order:
I post this not to brag about my sweet haul as much as to demonstrate the joy of receiving a bundle of eclectic comics by mail. I recommend the habit.
This post is a public service announcement to give a little visibility to the artists nominated for the Small Press Expo’s Ignatz Awards. These awards have been around since 1997. A small panel of comics professionals produces the list of nominees. A few items:
In normal times Ignatz Award ballots are cast in person at the Small Press Expo. As there is no in-person event this year the voting has been opened up online. You can request a ballot here.
As someone who tries to pay attention to small press comics I am humbled by how many of the artists and works on the list are unknown to me. Whether it’s my own out-of-touchedness, actual obscurity of the work, or (hobby horse time!) the fragmented, absentee media landscape, I cannot say. But now I have a list of recommended comics to hunt down, and really that’s the clearest, ultimate purpose for comics awards.
I was surprised and delighted to stumble across this anthology of comics about freestyle skateboarding. Freestyle is a small but vibrant sliver within larger skate culture. Freestylers eschew ramps and obstacles to dance upon their boards, performing stylish, creative feats of agility. It’s a testament to the creative disposition of freestylers that a relatively niche pursuit yields a squad of cartoonists this capable of beautifully illustrating their shared obsession.
This anthology bursts with passion for the subject matter. While that passion is the fuel, these artists have the chops to channel it into highly-readable, aesthetically-pleasing comics. Each piece is charming and beautiful.
Aside from the common thread of freestyle skateboarding, there’s a spirit of introspection throughout. What is it that drives us to hang out in empty parking lots flipping around on our wheelie sticks?
I don’t know if this is 100% true, but I get the sense that these artists have never met in person. They’ve formed a little community within a little community, defeating the potential loneliness of their solitary pursuits. I admit that this book has added appeal for me as an aspiring freestyler (gravity and feet willing) but in general I love a positive, D.I.Y. subculture working together to stave off the darkness.
I’m continually fascinated by the glut of independent comics that spewed forth in the 1980s following the breakout success of the Ninja Turtles. It turns out my friend Brian David-Marshall was surfing that wave as the teenaged founder of Eternity Comics. I jumped at the opportunity to talk to Brian about his time in those inky trenches. Highlights of our conversation include: shady dealings at NYC comics shops, Jerry Siegel in the slush pile, and witnessing the birth of Evan Dorkin’s dairy products gone bad.
Congrats to Michel Fiffe on wrapping up his big, cosmic Ochizon storyline in Copra #41 and also on the graceful pivot from Image Comics back to self-publishing (Fiffe discusses the switch here). For the uninitiated: Fiffe is the sole creator of this misfit, super-team title which had a glorious self-published run then a sojourn at Image and is now back to wreaking independent havoc. More than anything this post is to inform that Copra is alive and thriving.
The most noticeable change in the transition back to self-publishing is the return of Copra‘s signature extra-heavy paper stock. The chunkiness of the pages pairs well with the nearly palpable texture and grain deployed throughout the art.
Fiffe is fascinating in his commitments to both genre and disregarding genre convention. Copra doesn’t suffer from obligatory sequences that suck. He’s a lifelong student of comics with well-formed opinions of what works and what doesn’t, but still stretching, taking chances, and exploring. Any given spread is an instructive journey.
In among all the cosmic razzle-dazzle Copra is very much about the characters with their myriad hopes, dreams, and flaws. The stories don’t end with neat bows on top. Everyone must cope with the fallout. The Ochizon Saga is over, but Copra tromps along. With Fiffe in command of every step of creation I’m excited to see where it goes next.
Apologies for a pause in the highly-ethical community uplift to hustle my own work for a minute. At the beginning of the year I set a goal to produce one new print publication per month and here we are eight months and eight issues later.
This August 2021 issue is a split zine with flip covers: Side A is slice-of-life strips set in an all-too-familiar dystopia and Side B is a few strips about what it’s like to be an aged skateboarder.
These are basic minicomics: short, simple, black-n-white photocopies. I haven’t done any continuity between months. Each one is a new, self-contained thing. I’m enjoying the schedule and the freedom. Here are some links if you’d like to see more.