Guest Strip: Noah Van Sciver

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noahvctzNo doubt, the recent Cross Hatch review of Noah Van Sciver’s Blammo 2 hangs fresh on your brain.  So I’m happy to report that not only is the lastest issue – Blammo 3 – available through Van Sciver’s website, but just below the cut is a fresh Van Sciver comic, penned exclusively for the Daily Cross Hatch.

Julia Wertz, it should be noted that Van Sciver wants to be friends with you.  As do we all.

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The Cross Hatch Dispatch 1/28/09

Categories:  The Cross Hatch Dispatch
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[Above, Eleanor Davis gets Stinky. Below, the smell of Dispatch in the morning.]

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Tales From Outer Suburbia by Shaun Tan

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Tales From Outer Suburbia
By Shaun Tan

shauntantalesfromouterPublished in here in late 2007, it was the fittingly-titled book The Arrival that truly established Shaun Tan in the States. Over the years, the Australian artist’s work has navigated the nebulous space between graphic novel and picture books. That book, a fantastical take on the traditional immigrant story, landing firmly in the latter camp, eschewing the written word altogether, save for the occasional reliance on an entirely made up alphabet—another striking element in Tan’s attempt to import the reader into his newly conjured strange land.

In that sense, Tales From Outer Suburbia falls staunchly on the other side of the fence. While Tan’s always-stunning illustrations still play a vital role in the book, they have been largely decentralized. In the above, perhaps false, dichotomy, Tales unquestionably exists in the picture book camp. In some sense, however, even that broad descriptor seems somehow false. Rather, for the most this is most accurately a book of short stories supplemented by graphical representations.

A collection of 15 fictional memoirs, Tales From Outer Suburbia is, arguably, too wordy to be a picture book.  Together the stories frame the young life of an unnamed narrator, coming of age in a fantastical town that might easily exist on the outskirts of the city mapped out in The Arrival. The texts and images are largely situated on opposing pages, though Tan does, from time to time, construct clever methods by which to incorporate the two into a single piece of art, such as the extended poem ‘Distant Rain’, which takes the form of a scrapbook and ‘The Amnesia Machine,’ which sits the typed story in the middle of a newspaper.

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Interview: Lilli Carre Pt. 2 [of 3]

Categories:  Features, Interviews

In addition to the comics work that has recently garnered her acclaim through titles like The Lagoon and Woodsman Pete, Chicago-based cartoonist Lilli Carre has also produced a handful of animated shorts, many of which can be streamed on her site (as well as the above video for the Tim Fite song, “Big Mistake,” which she co-directed with her sister, Claire). The films, most of which were produced while Carre was a student at Chicago’s School of the Art Institute, maintain a very similar feel to her sequential work—quiet, hypnotic, timeless.

In this second part of our interview, we discuss her work in animation, her time at the Art Institute, and what exactly one does with a degree in sound art.

[Part One] [Part Three]

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Guest Strip: Geoff Vasile

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mbtzAngry-looking people are a total crack up, agreed?  Which is why Geoff Vasile‘s mini-comic Geoff Vasile is Real will forever remain a favorite of mine.

Lately, Vasile has busied himself in the world of comics by (quote) “losing the prestigious Ignatz and Maise Kukoc awards to more deserving (if less handsome) cartoonists, being published in some low-profile anthologies and exactly one super-tacky magazine, and alienating a number of [his] contemporaries.” Bravo!

In parting, Vasile would like to report that someday he’d like to draw Daredevil or the Classics Illustrated adaptation of Journey to the End of the Night. Not sure what we at the Cross Hatch can do to propel that dream to reality, but for those of you out there with money and power, consider giving the boy a hand.

On the Guest Strip menu for today: a wallop of talent, sprinkled with tragedy.

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Interview: Lilli Carre Pt. 1 [of 3]

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For a book so invested in the poetry of sound, The Lagoon seems somehow quiet. Siren songs and metronomes and the whooshing of wind fill the its pages, but the book’s important moments, more often than not, seem to exist in the spaces in between, those quiet panels when its cacophonies have been temporarily extinguished.

It’s fitting then, in a sense, that when I first approach the book’s author, Lilli Carre, about doing an interview, she was a bit hesitant. She soon admitted that she had never actually done one via phone, and while I finally convinced her to give it a shot, I largely expected that, like The Lagoon, Carre would keep many of her answers to herself.

As it turns out, however, for all of her fears of coming across as muddled, Carre had plenty to say with regards to her methods and works, from The Lagoon to its predecessor Woodsman Pete, to the more sporadic work she’s done in the field of animation.

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Motro #1 by Ulises Farinas

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Motro #1
By Ulises Farinas

ulisesfarinasmotrobloodypanel“Think about how big the world is,” writes Ulises Farinas on the inside front cover of Motro’s first issue. The brief note appears to be handwritten in every copy of the book. It’s a small print run, of course. The mini is, for all intents and purposes, something of an teaser for Farinas’s Act-I-Vate strip of the same name, pulling together the first several pages of the online series—an teaser, mind you with a fair amount of thought put into execution, with a fold-over cover that opens to reveal the titular hero lying unconscious in a pool of his blood. Closed, the puddle makes up the deep red of the single letter “M.”

The quick reveal soon proves an overarching theme for these first pages of Motro, the inside cover inscription more foreshadowing than friendly philosophical aside. Pulling back the proverbial camera to reveal a larger world is a something of a reoccurring motif for Farinas. The first few pages begin simply enough, centering around a young native in a bloody but heroic battle with a fierce lion. He takes a beating, to be sure, replaying the gorey scene hidden beneath the front cover flap, but his actions prove bold enough for him to be deemed the legendary Motro, by his father, the chief.

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Interview: Bob Fingerman Pt. 3 [of 3]

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Of course Bob Fingerman is kidding when he suggests that the title of this article ought be “Bob Fingerman: Portrait in Self-Defeat.” Well, mostly.

Fingerman doesn’t go out of his way to please all the people all the time—after all, that’s what syndicated Sunday funnies are for. In the most simplistic terms, his work often reads like an adult What If? comic. What if zombies took over an elementary school? What if a black man’s brain was transplanted into the body of a white teenage girl? What if vampires had a conscious about the whole killing people thing?

The results are strange, warped, hilarious, occasionally disturbing, and, above all, aggressively unique, which is no doubt one of the main reasons why the artist’s short-lived stint on the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles book wasn’t exactly a match made in heaven.

But, while Fingerman has seemingly been less than eager to compromise his work for the sake of wide-scale acceptance, over the years, the industry has largely come around to his unique vision.

In this third and final part of our interview with Fingerman, we discuss the artist’s brushes with the mainstream.

[Part One][Part Two]

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Moulger Bag Digest by Brent Harada and Rusty Jordan

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Moulger Bag Digest
by Brent Harada and Rusty Jordan

mbdWhen a book like this arrives in my mailbox, it can become a terrifying experience once I start to review it.

To a point, there’s a procedure I try to follow in writing about another person’s work: 1) resist comedy 2) talk about positive points 3) be honest about what doesn’t work 4) give the project a little exposure. It’s just that sometimes people get daring and create work that can’t be adequately assessed on these terms.  Sometimes people send what could arguably be categorized as art zines.  I like art zines, but it complicates the reviewing process for a Mini-Comics Editor, you’ve gotta admit.

As such, I’ve been sitting on Moulger Bag Digest for a few months and don’t know what to do with it.  I like it.  The pictures are pretty.  Some of the pictures have words that are funny, like “fucking right.”  It’s got good points, and I want you to know about it.  In fact, I bet plenty of people would probably call it a comic if they bought it at a small press convention.  It’s just that in the greater scheme of self-made books, it’s far more like an art zine than it is a mini-comic – and I’m gonna tell you why.

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Forecast: Nozone X, Ed. by Nicholas Blechman

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Forecast: Nozone X
Ed. by Nicholas Blechman
Princeton Architectural Press

forecastxAs humans, we have a collective obsession with predicting the future. From utopian and dystopian novels to doomsday movies to TV programs where families drive space ships instead of cars, our concerns about the government, technology, and the unknown territory of outer space have forever driven us to guess, predict, and resolve our way into the next century. But these days, as we expedite global warming with our bad habits and the planet increasingly goes to shit, it seems like an especially pertinent time to look into the future and try to predict what’s coming—for the sake of showing people that we must try to stop (or at the very least, delay) it.

Enter Forecast: Nozone X, the 10th and latest installment of Nozone, a graphic design and comics zine launched in 1998 by Nicholas Blechman. Blechman is an illustrator-designer and the art director of the New York Times Book Review, so Forecast is inevitably more design- than comics-focused. It also looks much more like a book than a magazine, or whatever you might expect from something called a “zine,” a word which conjures up images of DIY, stapled booklets in this writer’s mind.

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