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Various Fantagraphics anthologies – The Bush Junta


The Bush Junta

I’m going to go out on a limb here and assume that I’m speaking mostly to people who are either of a progressive mindset (or why would you be reading about independent comic books?) or are Republicans smart enough to know that the current bunch of opportunists and criminals near the White House don’t have a thing to do with their beliefs. If you buy what these people have to say, nothing you see in this book is going to convince you of anything. It’s all that “liberal” comic company making stuff up, never mind the fact that the sources here for the quotes are immense, and boy there sure are an awful lot of coincidences leading up to a lot of bad things, and a lot of the people closest to this family have benefited the most from these horrible things. I have no interest in talking to you if you believe all of these things were a happy coincidence. You should read this more than anybody else, but you won’t, so why bother telling you to? This book is as complete and concise an account as you’re likely to find about all the major players in this administration, how they got there and what they did with the power once they had it. The ongoing US policy of torture is graphically documented here, with eyewitness accounts from the innocent people that we tortured and locked up for years without filing charges. And if that’s news to you, you REALLY need to watch the news more often. A lot of the best folks in the comic world have stories in here, including Ted Rall, Spain Rodriquez, Jamie o, Lloyd Dangle and Peter Kuper. Granted, this book does veer into mostly unfounded conspiracy theories at times. OK, maybe not so much “veer” as “dives right into”. Still, like I said, there have been an awful lot of happy coincidences over the years for the Bush family, and the charges in here should at least be looked into by more people with actual positions of authority. This book is at its best when detailing known facts about these people and what they’ve done, which is as damning a list as you’re likely to find in recent memory. If you have a relative of some kind who believes in the crap these people are spewing and you just can’t find a way to get through to them, you could do a lot worse than to try and get them to read this. At the very least it should start a real discussion, which is another thing this country is sorely lacking these days. This is $18.95, but it’s available at Amazon right now for around $13.

Mason, Jeff (editor) – 9-11 Emergency Relief


9-11 Emergency Relief

I’ve been sitting here, trying to come at this from an objective angle, and I just can’t. Sorry. Too many of the events of that day day are still too close to me, even though I didn’t directly know anybody involved in this and I’ve never been to New York. My fear about this book, honestly, was that it would be too much. It would stir up too many memories, the stories of what happened to various comic artists that day would all have a kind of awful sameness: panic, searching for loved ones, wondering if it was the end of the world. I guess a lot of them do have that theme, because that’s what they were going through, but these artists are way too talented to leave it at that. There are individual touches everywhere, from Dean Haspiel having burning office papers blow in his window to Jenny Gonzalez seeing the day through a haze of psych medication, to Donna Barr being too hung over to really know what was going on, to everybody else. On a purely comic level, this book shows you the insides of a lot of comic people who hide behind being sarcastic, or weird, or just plain mean at times. This benefits the Red Cross and everybody you can think of from comics is here. There’s no reason in the world not to get this, unless those events are still too close to you, because this will bring it all back. It’s worth it for the internal dialogue Tom Hart has with Hutch Owens alone. Sadly, a lot of the things Hutch was cynically talking about have come true since then, as everybody in any kind of political office is using this tragedy to shove their own agenda through, and every big business is laying off all kinds of people after taking money from the government not to lay people off, and people don’t seem to care. Before I get to rambling too much about this and the state of the world, let me just say one last thing: God bless Peter Kuper for keeping some things in perspective.

Kuper, Peter – The Metamorphosis


The Metamorphosis

There’s a reason why I don’t often update the pages of people like Peter Kuper. What’s left to say? What do I have to say about a book by one of the legends of comics that hasn’t been said before, by somebody who’s actually able to put together intelligent, coherent sentences? Then again, if I took that attitude with all these books I wouldn’t do anything, so screw it. This is an adaptation of Franz Kafka’s Metamorphosis, probably one of the most imitated books ever. For those of you who never went to a school that taught this, assuming that’s possible, it’s the story of a traveling salesman who wakes up one day to find out that he’s been transformed into a giant bug. His family and his employers, understandably, are more than a little upset by this development, and the rest of the story is a slow, painful descent into the inevitable. Kuper has adapted ome other Kafka stories over the years in various places, but he’s really outdone himself here. His dark, thick lines are perfect for the atmosphere of despair that’s so prevalent. Every character in this is adapted perfectly. The angry, bitter father, the mother in denial, the sister who cares for him but can’t stand to look at him, even his boss is nailed. If you don’t already love Peter’s work there’s probably not much that I can say to convince you, but this is an incredible, lovely book. I miss the comics he did that were more personal, but there’s a whole lot to be said for this. Check out his website, and you could probably find some of his older comics for cheap here and there, like at the Fantagraphics website.

Kuper, Peter – Stop Forgetting To Remember


Stop Forgetting To Remember

Whenever anybody only slightly familiar with comics would ask me what were some of the great uncollected graphic novels (or something approaching the nebulous term “graphic novel”) out there, I would always lead with Peter Kuper. Bleeding Heart and The Wild Life were two of the great, though short-lived, titles of the 90’s. Or was it even as far back as the 80’s? Either way, they told, in small pieces, the story of Peter’s awakening as an artist and a human being, him experimenting with drugs and sex, and were told with such brutal honesty and artistry that is was impossible not to take them as the best of the craft. This book collects those stories, wraps them around new interstitial bits, and throws in some new material from the years since those two series were widely available. In this volume Peter, loosely disguised as Walt, grows up (trying to have sex, with little success, along the way), does a lot of drugs, bemoans at least one relationship that he was clearly better off without, and finally has a kid of his own. Peter’s work is pretty widely available for a cartoonist these days, there are plenty of things on this page you can get from Amazon, a little digging will get you through to most of his other published work. Still, I’d maintain that not only is this volume the best thing he’s ever done, it’s one of the best things ever done in the medium. Many people before and after (but mostly after) Peter tried to pull off autobiography like this, brutally honest but still not completely focused on self-indulgent navel gazing, and very few of them came close to pulling it off this well. This is simply one of the best books of this or any other year, and it’s about damned time that it’s available in a “respectable” format. It’s $20, cheaper through most of the online stores, and if you like comics even a little bit there’s no chance that you’ll regret getting this.