by Noah Van Sciver
In Blammo 2, Noah Van Sciver promotes his favorite bands, tells crude jokes, and mouths off about irritating trends polluting Denver, CO. It’s a notably zine-like comic for all its variety, education and filth – and it’s kind of a hoot.
Noah Van Sciver, it must be told, is the brother of mainstream comic artist Ethan Van Sciver. It’s a funny notion that two brothers could be the yin and yang of comics – one serious, straight and published, the other comical, expressive and indie – and that’s just what Noah seems to be. He’s making indie comics so quintessential in form, they seem entirely opposed to what’s mainstream and completely illustrative of the underground with all its rage, comedy and wince-inducing details.
The book contains four real and imagined conversations with Van Sciver’s favorite artistic heroes, including Anton Newcombe of The Brian Jonestown Massacre, Kristin Gundred of Grand Ole Party, Joe Matt and Bob Dylan. The Joe Matt interview is hilarious, since it’s mostly three pages of Matt’s well-known rambling style prompted by a hand-held microphone. The Matt interview covers such topics as collecting things, the importance of Bob Dylan, and taking drugs at Comic-Con ’87.
Some of the book tackles Noah’s real-life situations, which are awkward or irritating, but not very funny on their own. It’s clearly supposed to be a fun comic book, and when he distorts reality or writes fiction, that’s where his talent is best expressed. Most of the book is fictional, including stories about strangers or strange haunted sofas or a bagel guy who hates his job or a bothersome homeless guy, but he also includes letters to the artist and the interviews – so it’s really a mixed bag in terms of content. Artistically, though, it’s obviously all coming from the same place. Personally, this is my favorite alternative to books penned by a single author and illustrated by multiple artists. The common style helps visually to tie everything together.
Noah’s pages are full of boney, bedraggled misfits that fill square panels on gridlocked pages. The drawings are cross-hatched and spot-colored with grays and everything feels very urban and filthy and underground. It’s a really nice style for the kind of stories he tells, it just fits. What’s better, is that for as packed as the square panels are, the drawings and text fit soundly together. They don’t tend to knock each other around and compete for space, which creates problems in other comics. The style and stories and design of the thing are really in harmony. I think the best step for Noah to take now is to further stretch the truth to create even more filthy and fictitious stories. Writing fiction’s a talent, but writing filthy jokes and stories is kind of a master realm of comics, where the respected legion of cartoonists dwell, and Noah’s on his way there.
The book is 6.5×10.25″, 32 pages long and available for $4 on Noah’s website.
– Sarah Morean