The esteemed author/editor Paul Buhle generously provides an insightful review on comics that recently arrived in his mailbox unbidden.
World War 3 Illustrated #44, “The Other Issue.” Editors, Hilary Allison and Ethan Heitner. New York: WW3, 2013. 112pp, $7.
It goes almost without saying, for radical-minded comic readers, that any issue of the venerable World War 3 Illustrated is a political flash, but no less an artistic flash, something genuinely new and interesting to look at. No left wing clichés here, no overly familiar “power to the people” art promising swift justice for the evil oppressors. That the corporate-military is malign, planet-destroying, operates as a principle, not only for the US but on a global scale, and not only the US global-military. But the artistic responses are the work of distinctly individual artists, working out their own themes, and true to the purposes of World War 3 (now publishing on a nearly annual basis since 1979), seem fresh to the reader because the work of young folks and global artists is obviously recruited.
The familiar here draws my eye. An excerpt from Sabrina Jones’ recent work on incarceration, in microcosm here the story of Kemba Smith, a young black woman caught up a scene and offered, she thought, a deal of a few months in prison—that became almost a decade. Or “A Real Hero” by fellow WW3er longtimer Tom Keough, in this case a story from his own adolescence, how neighborhood bullies dominate, racialize, brutalize and how one brave kid can stop them. A good story. Or the heavily expressionist “One City, One People, One Planet!” by master artist-agitator Seth Tobocman, wonderfully illustrating what so many of us felt, when the moment of Sandy came, how ordinary people could act with such decency and collectivity, their moment in time suggested how a whole society could operate on a different, more cooperative basis. He demands, rightly and crucially, that we keep that story in mind.
I’m overwhelmed by Sandy Jimenez, sometime. Bronx schoolteacher, who places himself, his emerging teen self, right in front of us and spiritually naked, how his own college teacher tried to teach him photography, how he realized that he had become a photographic art object, Slum Kids, for those on the way up to exhibiting their works. It’s a novelette in thirteen pages. Likewise by other work here but especially reading right-to-left saga by a Lebanese artist Barrack Rima, a dreamy recollection of a youthful encounter with Europe that becomes an encounter with his “other” self. It is neither comics nor non-comics. It is serious art.
Bravo, World War 3 folks. Keep up the hard, serious, wonderful work.
Cover art by ICY and SOT; back cover by Barrack Rima
Contributors: Ganzeer, Sandy Jimenez, Sabrina Jones, Joel Schechter, Hilary Allison, Jesse Staniforth, Dan Buller, Clément de Gaulejac, Leila Abdul Razzaq, Tom Keough, Carlo Quispe, Peter Kuper, Pat Perry, Seth Tobocman, Crystal Clarity, Barrack Rima; translations by Eman Morsi and Gretchen Virkler
Paul Buhle, formerly Senior Lecturer at Brown University, has written and edited many books, including Marxism in America: A History of the American Left and the graphic novel The Beats: A Graphic History, and is the coeditor, most recently, of It Started in Wisconsin: Dispatches from the Front Lines of the New Labor Protest. With Mari Jo Buhle, he is the coeditor of the Encyclopedia of the American Left. He lives in Madison.
Never read a graphic novel before? Haven’t read a comic book in years?
Here’s some brand new stuff that came out last week that I think is worth a look-see for someone with little to no history with comics. That means you should be able to pick any of these up cold without having read anything else. So take a look and see if something doesn’t grab your fancy. If so, follow the publisher links or Amazon.com links to buy yourself a copy. Or, head to your local friendly comic book shop.
Disclaimer: For the most part, I have not read these yet, so I can’t vouch for their quality. But, from what I’ve heard and seen, odds are good they just might appeal to you.
Sweet Tooth #1 – $1.00
By Jeff Lemire
32 pages; published by DC Comics’ Vertigo
From out of the deep woods and the mind of acclaimed indie cartoonist Jeff Lemire (THE NOBODY, The Essex County Trilogy) comes a new Vertigo monthly ongoing series like no other! After being raised in total isolation, Gus – a boy born with deer-like antlers – is left to survive in an American landscape devastated a decade earlier by an inexplicable pandemic. Even more remarkable is that Gus is part of a rare new breed of human/animal hybrid children who have emerged in its wake, all apparently immune to the infection.
Enter Jepperd, a violent, hulking drifter who soon takes in Gus and promises to lead him to “The Preserve,” a fabled safe-haven for hybrid children. Along the way they’ll have to contend with science militias, deadly scavengers, rival bounty hunters, and hybrid worshipping cultists as they fight to make it to safety and solve the mysteries of this deadly new frontier.
This bizarre and haunting new series is boldly written and illustrated by Eisner-nominated creator Jeff Lemire and elegantly colored by fellow Eisner nominee Jose Villarubia. A little boy with antlers, a big man with guns, a world without hope – SWEET TOOTH #1 ships in September for only $1.00!
Yes, only $1! Jeff Lemire is very talented. You can risk a buck to check this comic out. Come on, do it already! OK, fine since you’re being so demanding, here’s a 7-page preview to twist your arm.
Three bounty hunter siblings blaze a path of death and destruction across the old west. Traveling by moonlight they rip criminals screaming for mercy from their hiding places, but none is ever given. Each bounty is torn, broken, and bled dry before they are delivered dead and payment collected in gold – no silver. The Irons are the most feared bounty hunting killers in the west, but that fear isn’t based on them being the fastest with a pistol or rifle. It’s because they’re the Walking Dead.
A lone tortured soul tracks them with vengeance and salvation driving him to end the curse upon his family. Those who he rescues call him savior but those who look upon his twisted and scarred face call him monster. Silas Irons is the only hope his brothers and sister have of salvation from the abominations they’ve become. But even the purity of his heart can’t stop the unnatural rage and bloodlust building in his diseased soul.
A black curse turned these siblings into monsters but deep rooted and twisted family history made them into the worst kind of horrors. This year’s biggest supernatural western tale is collected here for the very first time! Written by James Kuhoric (Freddy vs Jason vs Ash), illustrated by Jason Alexander (BPRD), and based on character designs and covers by Jae Lee (The Dark Tower).
Dead Irons – 99 innocent souls – 6 undead monsters – 1 shot to save the world.
If you like your comics a little bit eery and frightening, check the 12-page preview out at the publisher’s link above. Jason Shawn Alexander must be a scary man in person.
K. Westree: Teen Cat Burglar
When K. Westree arrives at Bellsong Academy, she thinks she’s left her cat-burgling past behind her. But K. soon discovers the school has a mystery of its own, a hidden treasure left behind by its founder, and she’s the only one who has a hope of finding it. As she resumes her cat-burgling in an attempt to discover the school’s secrets, K. begins to question if a normal life is really what she wants.
I have unsuccessfully petitioned Richard Sala to mate with me several times. Yes, I realize this is scientifically impossible and inappropriate. You have your dreams, I’ll have mine, thank you very much. Publisher’s Weekly has an 8-page preview for you to drool at. Wipe your keyboards.
The premiere American fantasy adventure gets the Merry Marvel treatment! Eisner Award-winning writer/artist Eric Shanower (Age of Bronze) teams up with fan-favorite artist Skottie Young (New X-Men) to bring L. Frank Baum’s beloved classic to life! When Kansas farm girl Dorothy flies away to the magical Land of Oz, she fatally flattens a Wicked Witch, liberates a living Scarecrow and is hailed by the Munchkin people as a great sorceress…but all she really wants to know is: how does she get home?
This high-end hardcover is on the pricy side (and if it feels excessive, keep your eye out for the inevitable softcover edition later in the year) but this is so charming. Skottie Young seemed to resurrect himself as a new artist completely out of nowhere and his new style is so captivating. And writer Eric Shanower is a devout Oz disciple who has released his own Oz-inspired books. L. Frank Baum would be proud. Here’s a 5-page preview along with an interview with Shanower from last November.
“Working has been a book, a radio drama, a Broadway musical, and now a gripping graphic novel. I can’t speak for Studs, but I suspect he would have been tickled to see it adapted by a former government file clerk and wage slave, who knows all about working.” –Roger EbertIn the thirty-five years since Pulitzer Prize-winner Studs Terkel’s Working was first published, it has captivated millions of readers with lyrical and heartbreaking accounts of how their fellow citizens earn a living. Widely regarded as a masterpiece of words, it is now adapted into comic book form by comics legend Harvey Pekar, the blue-collar antihero of his American Book Award-winning comics series American Splendor.
In Studs Terkel’s Working, Pekar offers a brilliant visual adaptation of Terkel’s verbatim interviews, collaborating with both established comics veterans and some of the comic underground’s brightest new talent. Here are riveting accounts of the lives of ordinary Americans–farmers, miners, barbers, hookers, box boys, stockbrokers–depicted with unsurpassed dignity and frankness. A visual treat with a visceral impact, Studs Terkel’s Working will delight Terkel fans everywhere, and introduce his most powerful work to a new generation.
As the economy continues to threaten the middle-class, this is a great way to take an unfiltered look at the middle-class of 1974, to see how far we have (and haven’t) come. Includes contributions by Pablo Callejo, Gary Dumm, Danny Fingeroth, Peter Gullerud, Bob Hall, Ryan Inzana, Sabrina Jones, Peter Kuper, Terry Laban, Dylan Miner, Pat Moriarity, Emily Nemens, Joan Reilly, Sharon Rudahl, Nick Thorkelson, Anne Timmons, and Lance Tooks. Edited by Paul Buhle.
Sadly I can’t find a preview of this book online. If anyone knows of one, post a link in the comments or email me.
So to give you something to look at, and because I’m a pathetic JT freak, this gives me an excuse to post a video from YouTube. James Taylor wrote the beautiful song “Millworker” for the Broadway musical adaptation of Working. Here’s a cathartic rendition by Bruce Springsteen (if you want, skip to about 2:00 to get past the intro):
Don’t Go Stir Crazy!
Break Out the Duldrums!
Danger! Intrigue! Stupidity! locks up a collection of crazy clashes between those two bumbling MAD Spies!
“Spy vs. Spy” was the brainchild of Cuban-born political cartoonist Antonio Prohias, who fled his country after receiving death threats from Fidel Castro. Prohias settled in America, and in 1960 he began a 26-year run of Spy misadventures in MAD Magazine. This book by Prohias, long out of print, showcases his genius as an artist, storyteller, and graphic designer.
Classic fun and great for kids! If you enjoy this, there are two other books that have also been released, and have similar cover designs.
Stitches: A Memoir – $24.95
By David Small
336 pages; published by WW Norton; available at Amazon.com
The prize-winning children’s author depicts a childhood from hell in this searing yet redemptive graphic memoir.
One day David Small awoke from a supposedly harmless operation to discover that he had been transformed into a virtual mute. A vocal cord removed, his throat slashed and stitched together like a bloody boot, the fourteen-year-old boy had not been told that he had throat cancer and was expected to die. Small, a prize-winning children’s author, re-creates a life story that might have been imagined by Kafka. Readers will be riveted by his journey from speechless victim, subjected to X-rays by his radiologist father and scolded by his withholding and tormented mother, to his decision to flee his home at sixteen with nothing more than dreams of becoming an artist. Recalling Running with Scissors with its ability to evoke the trauma of a childhood lost, Stitches will transform adolescent and adult readers alike with its deeply liberating vision.
David Small has a site up to help promote the book, which has a slideshow of pages from the book, reviews, and other buzz and media. Now isn’t that convenient! What else could you need to entice you to check this out? A trailer, you say? OK: