The Cross Hatch Dispatch 12/31/07

Categories:  The Cross Hatch Dispatch

 Rebel Visions

[Above, rebel rebel, you tore your dress. Below, 2007's last Dispatch.] 

Opening Saturday, January 12th at the Fantagraphics Bookstore in Seattle, Rebel Visions: The Underground Comix Revolution, examines the UG comix work of artists like Justin Green, Rick Griffin, Greg Irons, Robert Williams and S. Clay Wilson. For a closer look at the king of countercultural comix, check out this new online Crumb museum.

After the jump, Foxtrot sheds some strips, Hickman goes off on The Nightly News, and Warren Ellis bangs his Gravel.

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The Cross Hatch Dispatch 12/28/07

Categories:  The Cross Hatch Dispatch

Comics will always be controversial.  I mean, if we’re talking about genre comics, it’s not too difficult to see why—violence, scantily clad women, etc—but what about indie comics?  Are they too poignant?  Too earnest?  Or is it, as Marjane Satrapi thinks, that we just don’t get drawing?  Who cares, it’s almost News Years!

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2007 Year in Review, With The Beat’s Heidi MacDonald

Categories:  Interviews

Heidi MacDonald 
[Heidi with SPX's chocolate fondue fountain--our vote for 2007's classiest comic snack.]

Hey, remember 2007? Man, it feels like only yesterday. From where we sit, it seemed like a pretty solid year for alternative comics, seeing the launch of this here Website (and, as a result, the loss of significant portion of our free time) and, of course, the release of a slew of high quality books, as evidenced by our recent The Best Damned Comics of 2007 survey.

But how did this year fair from the vantage are more seasoned veterans of comics criticism? For an answer to that, a look into the industry’s near future, and a boatload of a poetically deployed mixed metaphors, we turned to the queen of comics blogging, The Beat’s Heidi MacDonald.

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The Present by Sara Varon

Categories:  Reviews

The Present
by Sara Varon
Walker Art Center

The PresentHappy Boxing Day! Here’s a review of a comic about a box and the present it contained.

Sara Varon (Robot Dreams, Chicken & Cat) is a cartoonist and illustrator with a lot to do. I’m reminded of this every time I go to the Walker Art Center because her work is EVERYWHERE! I first became familiar with Varon about three years ago when I fell in love with a free promotional magnet she illustrated for the Minneapolis Sculpture Garden. Now for Christmas I just received a copy of her 2005 promotional comic for the Walker called The Present. Today seemed like a good day to talk about it.

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Interview: Alex Robinson Pt. 2

Categories:  Interviews

Alex Robinson

Sure it’s just a pitstop on the road to the next great Alex Robinson volume, but let’s face it, when someone you’ve come to know over the years as a spinner of true-to-life tales of young people in big cities takes a decided detour into the dimly lit world of dungeons, dragons, and the like, it’s tough not to keep steering the conversation in that direction, and as such, this second of out three part interview with the artist picks up right where its predecessor left off—smack dab in the middle of his Lower Regions.

 

That said, after a few more ogre- and orc-centric questions, the conversation moves back toward the more familiar territory of Robinson’s first two major works, Box Office Poison and Tricked, of course, not before asking the artist whether he’d like to give it all up and go work for the creators of Dungeons & Dragons.

It’s cool though, right? We’re all geeks here.

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Army@Love Vol 1.0: The Hot Zone by Rick Veitch, Gary Erskine

Categories:  Reviews

Army@Love Vol 1.0: The Hot Zone

By Rick Veitch, Gary Erskine

Vertigo

Rick Veitch and Gary ErskineFor a culture whose lifeblood is so irrefragably tied to the constant and immediate delivery of entertainment through infinite channels, we’ve become seemingly content to have our satire beamed in on delay, accepting at best, past depictions of historical events as allegory for contemporary scenarios, on the strength of the much reiterated adage that those who don’t learn from history are doomed to repeat it. Of course there’s a lot of truth to that ancient cliché, and there’s much to be said for the long, rich tradition of allegorical satire, but at the same time, it seems that an age so achingly devoid of subtlety demands similarly blunt satire.

There are plenty of forces at work prohibiting the delivery of instantly gratifying satire, not the least of which is the unavoidable link between corporations, politics, and the media companies that serve as the channels for our ever-important stream of unbroken entertainment. As these three seemingly divergent entities grow to depend on one another more and more for survival, opportunities for the projection of well-timed satire will likely only grow fewer and farther between.

As we noted in our recent review of the Iraqi war satire, Shooting War, the graphic novel is one of the last bastion for such notions of self-expression. Even books arriving from the largest publishing houses in the medium (take, for example, the AOL-Time Warner-owned DC), are seemingly not bound by as strict a set of political dogma are our other primary channels for artistic expression.

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Albert and the Others by Guy Delisle

Categories:  Reviews

Albert and the Others

By Guy Delisle

Drawn & Quarterly

Guy DelisleWith the fantastic travelogues, Pyongyang and Shenzhen under his belt (2007’s Chroniques Birmanes, so far as I can tell, has yet to see an English language release, sadly), Guy Delisle has made a strong case for himself as a candidate for the title of Canada’s next great cartoonist and one of Quebec’s most gifted heirs to the Franco-Belgian comic tradition.  

Release last year by Drawn & Quarterly, Aline and the Others showcased another side of the artist. Light on narrative, the book was instead comprised of a series of 26 vignettes, each devoted to a different woman whose first name begins with a subsequent letter of the alphabet.

If the short and largely wordless stories shared anything with Delisle’s previous book’s, it was the artist’s keen sense of juxtaposition between the cartoon and the real, but where Pyongyang and Shenzhen saw fit to illustrate the artist’s largely serious and true-to-life travels through foreign lands via the artist’s pronounced cartoon style, Aline took matters one step further, utilizing equally cartoony storylines to illustrate larger abstractions of the human condition, with limb removal and other acts of cartoony self-mutilation oft serving as metaphors for female obsessions with body image.

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The Cross Hatch Dispatch 12/21/07

Categories:  The Cross Hatch Dispatch

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=x9Yw7J8JjG0&rel=1]

Now that Christmas is upon us—looming like a sea gull about to snatch a fish from the water—it’s a good time to remember how great comics really are. No, not as presents—as marketing tools! It’s no mystery that the long life, and popularity, of the superhero is due to licensing (how many lunch boxes has Spider-Man moved since the 60s), but, as you’ll see below, not even Charles Shulz could deny shilling out his characters. Now that you mention it, I could use a new car… More Dispatch, after the jump.

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The Best Damned Comics of 2007 Chosen By the Artists

Categories:  Features, News

Lindsay Spider-manHaving launched The Daily Cross Hatch last February, I don’t feel especially confident making any sort of overarching statement comparing the comics of 2007 to years past. While I’ve been reviewing the medium for years, they have, without a doubt, become a far more significant aspect of my life this past calendar year than I could have ever imagined, and as such, it seems unfair to suggest that 2007 was somehow better or worse than, say, 2006 or 2005.

I will say this, however: the more time I spend seeking out new works, the more clear it becomes that, as cliché as such a sentiment surely sounds, we are truly lucky to be living during this period of such overwhemingly tremendous output. One would be hard-pressed to cite another field in which so much unadulterated creativity flows forth, largely unchecked.

Attempting to whittle down my top picks to a list of five or ten was nearly impossible. So, in order to take a bit of the spotlight off of me—and to give back to some of the patient folks who have sat by and smiled as we here at The Cross Hatch saw fit to spend the year waxing critical, I’ve put the listing to some of the artists, writers, publishers, and culture jammers who have helped make this site what it is today—and god damned, it’s a long list indeed.

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Bluefuzz the Hero by Jesse Reklaw

Categories:  Reviews

Bluefuzz the Hero
Jesse Reklaw
Self-Published

bluefuzzThe creative mind of Jesse Reklaw has come up with yet another brilliant idea. The man who brought us Applicant and keeps up regularly with his syndicated comic Slow Wave is also in the habit of making outstanding minicomics. It’s hard to imagine a four-time Ignatz-nominated artist like Reklaw coming out with a book that’s less than impressive, so I set my standards high, and I still think it’s one of the most satisfying minis I’ve ever read.

Bluefuzz the Hero is a comedy written in a folkloric style about a guy with a blue fuzzy head and an epic life. He tries to do right but he’s generally pretty feisty and in the first few pages this gets him exiled from his village. The rest of the mini is about Bluefuzz’s adventures in the wild as he climbs mountains and faces innumerable challenges all with the hope of going back home again. But does he, friends? Does he? It will cost you $4 and and some postage sent to Mr. Reklaw to find out.

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