Monday, April 24, 2017

Love and Rockets: The easy cool of Jaime Hernandez


There's a new Love and Rockets, just a few months after the last one, and while the annual format saw a concentrated burst of brilliance in one fat package, it's always good to get a new taste of the Best Comic In The World.

The smaller format means there is a smaller chunk of story, and Love and Rockets Magazine #2 features bite-sized slices of both brothers' ongoing sagas, taking a few steps forward and underlying the slightness of the plotting with a couple of devastating emotional truths. So, same as it ever was, then.


And another thing that hasn't changed is that Jaime's art is absolutely breath-taking. The stories might be short, but the body language, facial expressions and sheer craftwork on display are as huge as ever.

And the energy is still there, in stark black and white, no panel ever feels tired or knocked-off. Whether it's the sweaty thrills of rocking out in a dingy club -


 - or the tensed-up thrills of super-beings getting ready to beat the snot out of each other -  

 

But his art is still just as powerful in the quiet moments, finding an ocean of conflicted feelings on Maggie's face when she didn't stick in somebody's mind as much as he stuck in hers -


- or having the balls to show a slumped figure in proper dejection, with sexy stomach rolls and all -


Sometimes it's just brilliantly clever, with Jaime giving a heavy dialogue scene some visual pizazz by having one of the characters clamber up a tree in immature frustration, and dangle over the other people - 


- and then reducing the powerful Vivian to a smaller, more unsure figure when contrasted to another character who has got her shit together (or is at least shows a better front of it) -


Don't worry, Viv gets her power back within a couple of pages, with the tree branch of one panel leading the eye in the next right up to a reveal of the character in all her naked glory. Back in charge, kicking ass and taking names -


Jaime has been making this kind of craftwork look effortless for years now, and it's as beautiful as ever. Knowing that there is only a few short months until the next injection of Love and Rockets is a true joy. I look forward to the day.

As long as no giant super-women come crashing through my lounge in the meantime -


***

Bonus Beto!


Brother Gilbert's art reached a kind of brutal functionality a long, long time ago, and a lot of his art is people standing around talking, but every now and then, he catches the eye with a delicate expression, or by stranding a young girl in the middle of a vast room. Nice one, Beto.

Friday, April 21, 2017

More of Nobby Clark's lost Auckland


The Howe Street Conveniences

The Cook St Market

The International Yoga Centre on Nelson St

Plaza Arcade

Parnell

The Duck Pond at the Auckland Domain

The ferry buildings

Upper Queen Street

The Higher Thought Temple on Union Street

The Pink Pussy Cat on K Road

The Victoria Street Market

The Grey Lynn Book Exchange

I remain a devoted fan of Auckland cartoonist Nobby Clark's slices of New Zealand life in the 1970s and 80s, and his portrayal of a city that doesn't exist anymore.

I've highlighted examples of his work before, but there is always room for more.

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

A Bolland walks into a bar.









Some unexpected Brian Bolland art, in a story written by John Ostrander and Del Close for Munden's Bar Annual #2.

Saturday, April 15, 2017

Brendan McCarthy's Artoons







I still don't understand a lot of Brendan McCarthy's art from the 1980s, like these one-pagers that appeared in the Crisis comic, but their beauty to always easy to grasp.

Thursday, April 13, 2017

A Wolverine gallery









When Wolverine got his first ongoing comic in the 1980s, it was so fancy they didn't have ads on the back cover, and the back page was given to some hot artist to draw some kind of Logan.

That's still my favourite Barry Windsor-Smith picture of Wolvie, right at the top there.

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Fred Dagg's Meaning Of Life (again)


RIP John Clarke


“It seems eminently suitable that we should ignore very briefly the peripheral areas – however valuable - in the wonderful tapestry of science, and I think we should have a crack at addressing ourselves instead to the perpetual cosmic giant killer - the question of what is life.

“It's been worrying scientists for thousands of years. Mind you, they're a jumpy bunch of garcons, your science boys, and they do tend to worry very easily. And I feel that the very least we can do is to spend a few moments of our very valuable time in quiet and restful contemplation, as to what it's all about and why we're here.

“And then after that we can have some lunch.”


“Now, as to the business of when life actually got going, there is very, very little argument amongst the lads who are working in that area – of course, some of them are getting on a bit now and the smallest upset would have them toppling into the afterlife, so they do like to sit around and agree with one other and knock off the departmental port.

“The actual day of the beginning of life is not known, because of course the National Geographic was in a very adumbral phase at that stage. It is known, though and generally agreed by the boys, that if the first man who ever lived was alive today, he'd be pulling around about $47 million a week in old age pensions.

“There have been several old boys located in various spots - for instance, there was bogman who was located in a bog. We don't actually know what he was doing in the bog, but he was located there.

“Now science slowly, with the help of these discoveries, has been piecing together the story of man's evolution, and there seems very little doubt that man is descended from Neanderthal Primates, as we scientists call them, or in lay terms, mummy and daddy.

“Of all the many turning points and crucial stages -  from primitive ape-like creature through to the sophisticated and marginally less primitive ape-like creature that you see about you at zoos and football matches - the most curious development of all is that of the human brain.”



“The human brain has got man into a lot more trouble than has previously been supposed and unless we come up with some way of putting the brain out of commission or obviating some of the more ludicrous effects of the brain, then I don't think life's going to get any better.

“Now the main shortcoming of the human brain is that it has led to all this discussion about the meaning of life. Which is not really very healthy. It's quite a dangerous business, because the more you think about life, the less likely you are to reach a conclusion. That is, if you don't count including that you aren't going to reach a conclusion as an actual conclusion.

“Now, of all the attempts to work out what life is actually about, one of the more interesting ones were the boys that reckon that you don't know anything. You can't know stuff, these guys reckoned, because when you think about it – and you'll just have to accept the term think about it there until the man arrives with the official phrasebook - all your so-called knowledge about the world is based on your perceptions, and your perceptions are just a touch more fallible than people have cared to admit.

“It has been suggested by some that you can't know things because your perceptions are notoriously fallible, for instance, the visual sense has been known to play tricks. Sometimes when you think you see something you don't actually see it, and sometimes you don't see something or you say you don't see it, and it's common knowledge around the village that you saw it. And of course that can lead to trouble.

“Now you can't go drawing on any conclusions – that's what these garcons reckon - from that sort of thing or you'll make a monkey out of yourself in open court. Now, this is what Bishop Berkeley  reckoned and this argument applies to all the senses.

“Now Samuel Johnson, who was, well, kind of a... well, he was fat. Let's face it. He was a fat person. He reckoned that he'd cleaned up the problem one day when he kicked a stone, and he stated with relative certainty that he was rewarded with a godly sharp pain belting through his bunion. Now, of course, you could say that Samuel only thought he kicked the stone, when he in fact he was home in bed eating crumpets and thinking up some one-liners for a 21st speech we was writing for Saturday.”



“The whole business of doubt was perfected and refined a little later on by a character named Rene Descartes, who was a member of the French nation, and after he'd finished with it, there wasn't a whole lot of mileage left in it. And the up and coming apprentice thinkers decided to give the whole area a swerve and get onto something with a bit more class where they could show off a bit better.

“What Rene did was he started doubting things. Now once you start doubting your perceptions, you get on to realising you can't be sure if you're here, or maybe you only think you're here. Which is a bit of a worry and it's only a matter of moments before you're picking spots of light off the wall and putting them in a basket, and pretty soon you'll find yourself in a tight white overcoat in a room full of Napoleans and Lord Nelsons. Which is the principal fallacy of Rene's idea.

“Of course, in the 20th century, we have produced a fair array of theories about what life's actually about and probably the existentialists take the butt of confection for getting closest to thinking they had it all worked out. They used to hang about in the Paris area, which is in what we used to call Gaul, and talk about how terrible life was and how they didn't know if they'd really get to the weekend. They reckoned life was a pretty dreadful business and was filled with a thing called ennui.

“Now, ennui is a terrible thing, and seems to have roughly the same effect as terminal boredom. Ennui actually is a French word meaning Henry. And the story goes that once you get a touch of the Henry’s, it's all downhill and the only way to relive the symptoms is to whip down the harbour and pull a wave over your bonce and call it a day."



“From these examples you can see the dangers of thinking too much about what life is about and whether or not it's worth living. Now I have studied most of the better known theories and if I understand them at all, which is a pretty dubious proposition, and if I'm here at all, which again, there is some doubt, not to mention cold water being thrown on that at the present point in time.

“I must say that they're not very helpful, all these theories, not really very helpful at all. Now a mate of mine – bloke named Bruce Baylis who's lived up the road from us ever since he moved in – he reckons that he exists. He's quite positive that he exists, and if he doesn't exist, he reckons why does he have to pay tax?

“He reckons that even though he does get the Henry's a bit, now and again at the end of the financial year, he's convinced that he's here. And if some people reckon they're not here, well, that's fine with Bruce and they can buy their own beer.

“He seems to have – in his terms at least – dispensed completely with the traditional worries about his own existence, although there are those who claim that Bruce is a wee bit closer to the simian primates than most people reckon.

“Now Bruce is called a na├»ve realist and I don't know that he's not right, myself. I've seen a few existentialists in my time - I've been to funerals - and they don't seem anywhere near as happy about things as Bruce does. And if we're all imagining we're here until we're all imagining we've bitten the dust, then I think it's a lot easier on the wife and kids if we imagine ourselves to be a bit happy about it.

“I'm not suggesting we all become like Bruce. Wouldn't do to revert completely to being chimps, but somewhere in between Bruce and the rest of the scientific world, there lurks a workable hypothesis which I reckon we should all get our teeth into.”

Sunday, April 9, 2017

Unexpected Adams



And then, every now and then, I find a piece of Art Adams artwork from the 1980s, featuring something X-related, that I have never seen before, and all is well with the world.

This page was from a Marvel Age annual. The hype in that in-house mag was once unbearable, and is now kind of clumsily charming, but the exclusive art it would sometimes publish was always gold.

Thursday, April 6, 2017

Unexpected O'Neill



And then, every now and then, I find a piece of Kevin O'Neill artwork from the 1980s, featuring Nemesis the Warlock, that I have never seen before, and all is well with the world.

This page was from one of those charity comics that were designed to raise money for famine relief. I have no idea if any of them actually raised a lot of cash, but they left some lovely art behind.