Sunday, December 23, 2012

Best Comics of 2012

The Libertarian- Nick Maandag

I read this book on the way home from the Kazoo small press comics expo in Guelph, Dalton Sharp had picked up a copy and it had just won the award for book of the show, so I was very curious. The Libertarian is one of the funniest books I’ve ever read. It is unrelenting. The simple style of Nick’s drawings had with his first book, Streakers, kept me away but upon reading a few pages of The Libertarian I became very charmed by his drawings and found them an engaging partner to the incredible writing. Very smart, sharp cutting dialogue and a scathing response to extreme politics make The Libertarian one of the very best books of 2012.

Fuckitor Jason Karns

I discovered Fuckitor like the rest of the world because of this article on the Comics Journal by comic superman Jim Rugg (who draws great comics and also hosts one of my fave podcasts). Fuckitor is the first comic that my girlfriend has told me she hates and it is easy to see why. It is all the same reasons I love it. Fuckitor is an ongoing anthology comic; each issue has two to three short stories inside. All of the stories are roided out versions of 80’s horror/fantasy/ sci-fi direct to VHS movies. They are generally about monsters, Nazi’s, zombies or whatever else that enjoys eviscerating teenagers. The language in the books is intense, they feature nudity and violence which can be sexual and is always very graphic. The presentation of Fuckitor is one thing that my lady and I both agreed on. It is awesome. Karns uses a tricked out printer to print out every issue himself in full colour. The paper he uses and the colour settings combine to make Fuckitor look like a book that was released in ’78 instead of being printed a week before you got it in your mailbox. Which is another thing that makes Fuckitor awesome, the effort required to get it. Karns is from all indications, essentially a comics recluse. A modern day Ditko. Karn’s likes Rugg’s work, with whom he shares many of the same sensibilities, but he thinks most comics are shit. He doesn’t do conventions and shows no real interest in getting his work out there to a wider audience; his stuff is only available through mail order. This added challenge of getting his work and his rock star apathy add a mystique that is very rare in comics today.

Love and Rockets- New Stories Vol.5 Jaime/ Gilbert Henandez
I have always been super curious about Love and Rockets, specifically Jaime’s work which really appeals to my sensibilities. Over the years I have read a few volumes here and there but this year with all the hype of the 30th anniversary I went out and bought every volume of Jaime’s work right up until the most recent New Stories Vol. 5 and plowed through them all. It is an amazing body of work. It is easy to imagine how connected to Maggie and Hopey someone would be if they started reading all the way back in ’82. Even for someone who read their entire story over a month and a half let me assure you the connection is still very strong. By the time I got to the final pages of New Stories Vol. 4 climatic Love Bunglers story line there were a lot of emotions going on through my heart and mind. Vol. 5 is the volume that came out this year. In it Jaime is setting up more stories with newer characters as the main story of Maggie seems to be done. Vol. 5 is not the strongest of Jaime’s work but the great wealth of material that I read this year that makes up the Locas storyline is incredibly rich and fulfilling and makes me have to include this book on my list to make up for all the years of missing it. Especially last year’s incredible Vol. 4 which had I read it then would have likely been my book of the year for 2011. As for Gilbert’s work, while it has never appealed to me as much as Jaime’s, I am preparing to begin his Palomar stories from the beginning and am hoping to be similarly transfixed.
Dungeon Quest vol.3 Joe Daly
Dungeon Quest is a fantasy book but it is might be a coming of age story about early twenty somethings in Suburbia..I really loved the first two volumes of Dungeon Quest so I had high expectations when I grabbed a copy of volume 3. I was pretty stunned when I picked it up. This thing is twice the size of volumes 1 or 2! So, lots and lots of content. Dungeon Quest is about two friends who seem to live in a seemingly ordinary world who decide to go off on an adventure. The book borrows many of the conventions of role playing games, for example walking through their town they get into fights with street toughs and level up. At the point in the story where vol. 3 picks up the real world elements are far behind us in favor of full blown fantasy. Lots of fight scenes, awesome relics and also a very heavy serving of penis. The boys at one point get robbed of all they have and are forced to adventure in the buff for a good hundred pages. Daly has a lot of fun drawing the penises. Lots of character. Seriously, he is having a great time drawing all these penises. Another thing I love about the adventure in Dungeon Quest is the journey. I think in fantasy comics getting across the length of the journey is a real difficult thing when you only have so many pages. This can often make epics in comics not feel so epic. Daly is not afraid to use five pages to just show the party wandering. It really adds meat to the world building and the journey. I am not sure how many more volumes Dungeon Quest is going to have, I loved this entry and hope for many more but I don’t want it to fall into the going on for too long trap some series get into. I worry that this could end with them finishing the adventure and it is revealed that the adventurers have been around a D&D table the whole time, but I hope not.

By This Shall You Know Him Jesse Jacobs

Jesse Jacobs’ books are so strange, his design sense so unique and his stories are so evocative. This one is about three god like creatures and their arguments over their creations. Their creations allow Jacobs’ to showcase his love of isometric design and allows him to use his unique two tone colouring style to great effect. There is something I think about his imagery that gives his books this great sense of mystery. By This Shall you Know Him is Jacob’s first book with Koyama and they allowed him to do some sexy things with the paper stock. The Books features a really nice feeling carboard-ie stock that make you want to have it in your hands as long as possible. It becomes a really nice part of the reading experience. This is a great book. If you like some mind bending challenging work with a unique visual language this is the one for you.
Pope Hats #3 Ethan Rilly
Pope Hats is about a law clerk and her actress roommate. The Clerk is the responsible one, seeming to have everything figured out while the Actress is more relaxed about things. This issue seems to be an Empire Strikes Back type issue for Pope Hats. The Actress has a big job offer that will see her leave Toronto and the Clerk is in the middle of some alarming office politics which seem to be making her question her life choices. The tone overall is much darker, but Rilly’s humour and charming drawing never make it a slog to read. Pope Hats #1 was awesome but with #2 and now #3 we have seen Rilly raise his illustrative game dramatically. The strength of his line and his deceptively simple looking compositions make Pope Hats one of the easiest to look at books out there. The writing is also fantastic. Very funny and hints at depths that I am hoping will be fulfilled by the completion of the series. Adhouse is the publisher of Pope Hats and I am glad they are supporting the single issue format. I feel like a lot of publishers would of wanted to "wait for the trade", but I think here the single issue format really works nice. And it lets us get more Rilly covers which are always very strong.


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