Lunch Break :: August 30, 2011

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Darryl Ayo writes “Freestyle Friday” for Comix Cube. He loves discovering artists that he didn’t know about before.

Lunch Break is a short round-up of favorite webcomics appearing here each weekday at noon. Here’s something for you to enjoy over your lunch break or whenever. The premise is simple: it’s another day on the internet. Here’s a new or forgotten comic that seems interesting.

We’d love to have you guest edit Lunch Break! Check out the Contribute page for more information.

  1. Lovely Day by NikkiNack // May 28, 2011
  2. New Nose by Brandon Graham // May 27, 2011 NSFW
  3. m – salatis – arrival by Sloane Leong // February 9, 2011
  4. Making Tortillas” by KickSatanOut // October 11, 2010
  5. PC: Sexy Grocery Shopping by David E. Belton II // May 27, 2011 NSFW

Sarah Morean

Paying For It by Chester Brown

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Paying For It
By Chester Brown
Drawn & Quarterly

Paying-for-it-Chester-Brown-CoverThere is, of course, painful truth in all great autobiography—even the manner that walks that thin tightrope separating itself from fantasy. So, naturally we were all thrilled to death at the prospect of a new Chester Brown book chronicling the cartoonist’s long-term relationship with the sex industry—oddly enough, I can even remember where I was when I’d first heard about the project: in some strange hotel room in Bethesda, Maryland, Drawn & Quarterly’s Tom Devlin teasing the 500-page prostitute-laced memoir from a champion of painful biography. I Never Liked You was something of a masterpiece of awkward truths, and the idea that Brown might be able to channel some of that pulsating adolescent awkwardness into a tome about less youthful indiscretions is the stuff of limitless potential.

But those hoping for a work of deep emotional resonance will no doubt get the picture pretty early on—this is not that kind of book, and Chester Brown is not that kind of artist or person, judging by the available evidence. Paying For It is, in fact, bookended by testaments to the artist’s relatively limited emotion range by two rather esteemed delegates of the art form.

Robert Crumb makes a point of drawing attention to the expressionless lines with which Brown draws his face, comparing him to the offspring of some hapless woman impregnated by the seed of space aliens. The accompanying book jacket photo is also used as evidence of this claim. Seth also devotes a portion of his footnote-based rebuttal of Brown’s ethical stance to this discussion, pointing to his ongoing reference to his close personal friend as “the robot.” “The truth is,” Seth writes, “Chester seems to have a limited emotional range compared to most people.”

It’s through this range, not surprisingly, that Paying For It is framed—the work, one gathers, of some half-alien robot sent to our world to catalog its inhabitants. This isn’t to suggest, of course, that Paying For It is a work devoid of introspection. Brown spends a good deal of time in his own head, particularly as he comes to grips with the end a long-term relationship—one of a very small number in his life—a pivotal moment that ultimately spurs his maiden bike ride into the city in an attempt to find his first prostitute on a street corner.

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The Role of an Artist in Society by Brendan Leach

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The Role of an Artist in Society
by Brendan Leach
Self-published

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Ah, art school kids.

By now we’re all familiar with the basic stereotypes, yes? I mean, it’s been five years since “Art School Confidential” was made into a movie, plus 40% of our readers have partially-completed arts degrees*.

The Role of an Artist in Society was a jarring title to read, at first. It’s so pretentious. And look at that font. Look at the way he set that type. Ugh.  Hipster as shit.

I braced myself for something painfully arty.  I remember thinking if this book was by anyone but Brendan Leach I wouldn’t have been interested in it one bit.

Luckily, to be braced for irritating pretension is the perfect way to approach this mini.  It really aids the comedy.

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SpongeBob Comics #1 Edited by Chris Duffy

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SpongeBob Comics #1
Edited by Chris Duffy
Bongo Comics

SpongeBob-ComicsWhen Nickelodeon Magazine folded in 2009, its absence was felt all over the indie comics community. Under the guidance of editors Chris Duffy and Dave Roman, the periodical’s comics section grew into that rarest of beast for cartoonists—a steady paycheck. Duffy was at the helm of the section since 1996. During his tenure, the magazine published a veritable who’s who of indie comics artists, including James Kochalka, Nick Bertozzi, Richard Sala, Sam Henderson, Kim Deitch, Graham Anable, Evan Dorkin, Jason Lutes, Emily Flake, Roger Langridge, Gahan Wilson, Art Spiegelman, and Jason Shiga, to name but a few.

I remember replying somewhat baffled upon hearing that a kid-focused magazine was printing works by the likes of Johnny Ryan, Kaz, and Ivan Brunetti. But it worked. Ryan, for instance, wasn’t trying to squeeze Blecky Yuckerella into the tiny hands of Nickelodeon’s fan base (not that Duffy or Roman would have let such a thing slip below their radar), he was tackling subjects like the tooth fairy. And the result was a sense of off-beat humor that has flavored Nicktoons at their best.

When the magazine went away, it meant more than just the loss of regular income for artists, it meant the loss of kids entertainment that’s so exceeding rare in a world where a talking mouse has a vice-like grip on what we show our children.

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Barbra in the Sky with Neil Diamonds

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Barbra in the Sky with Neil Diamonds
By Joshua Cotter
Adhouse Books

josh-cotter-barbara“[B]efore long,” Joshua Cotter explains in the ‘Outroduction’ of this limited edition volume, “I was trial and error-ing my way through the land of three to four panels…for an audience of over 500,000 Midwesterners, many of which (judging by the piles of hate mail I received), were the cranky, ‘blue-haired’ variety.” This is the story of Send Help, a strip that existed for five years, published on a weekly basis for The Kansas City Star.

The way Cotter tells it, it’s the story of a young cartoonist given a broad and far-reaching forum with which to hone his craft—a rather rare unfamiliar tale in this day, in which the aging-out format that is the newspaper comic seems almost entirely off limits to all but a small and elite club. For the cartoonist, it was something of a dream come true—after all, the format was Cotter’s only insight into the world of comics. He grew up on a small farm, relying upon syndicate strips at an age when many of us had noses buried in X-Men books.

It’s clear, of course, what Cotter’s editor’s saw in the young cartoonists—while he admits in the book that this collection represents something of a Send Help “greatest hits,” with an unspecified amount of material glossed over for aesthetic reasons, what’s present is, at least visually, on-par with Cotter’s Skyscraper’s work—in fact, there’s a deal of timing overlap in the creation of both titles.

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Drinking at the Movies by Julia Wertz

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Drinking at the Movies
by Julia Wertz
Three Rivers Press

drinking-at-the-movies-20100902-082424There’s something to be said for having goals. For being responsible and readying yourself for the next big challenge and having your ducks more or less in a row. For growing up smart and successful and being in a good position to take advantage of opportunities whenever they are presented to you in life.

That sounds like nice work if you can get it. But is there any help or advice for us poor fuck ups?

Drinking at the Movies says to me, well, if you can’t put yourself together the best you can do is hang on and see what happens.  Rings true enough.

After a string of bad jobs and empty bottles of bourbon Julia Wertz finds herself, by the end of the book, in a pretty good place. After not so much learning and growing as just staying true to herself and, frankly, being lucky.

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Mister Wonderful by Daniel Clowes

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Mister Wonderful
By Daniel Clowes
Pantheon Books

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Wilson wandered and meandered and generally spun its wheels until somewhere near the midway point, when, thankfully, things congealed. It was almost as though the artist didn’t truly recognize an objective until the book was well under way. Now granted, such an approach doesn’t always spell disaster, and surely some of our greatest works have begun life largely devoid of purpose, but in the case of Daniel Clowes’s last book, the result felt downright aimless at moments in that first half, as though the cartoonist were content to let the book exist largely as canvas for showcasing different styles, a skill on which he has seemingly never had to work too hard.

Perhaps part of the book’s failing (which, of course, is not to suggest that the book was a failure, per se), was the fact that, aside from the its strip-per-page format (which was certainly a point in its favor), Clowes didn’t seem to have imposed too many restraints upon himself, which resulted, ultimately, resulted in a slight loss of control over the story’s direction.

Mister Wonderful, on the other hand, is a book defined by its own constraints, beginning with the serialized format with story was originally presented—as 20 installments, which first saw publication in The New York Times Magazine, a format that shares a sense of finite space per issue with Clowes’s own Eightball, a series that gave rise to the artist’s tightest and best work.

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Usagi Yojimbo: Special Edition By Stan Sakai

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Usagi Yojimbo: The Special Edition
By Stan Sakai
Fantagraphics

Usagi Yojimbo Special EditionThere is, it turns out, a marked downside to turning something you love into a job. After a while, it begins to feel like work. That includes even so enviable a path as reviewing comic books for a living. Complaining will get you nowhere, of course, because there’s likely not a soul on earth outside of the field itself who would empathize with your privileged moanings—and besides, most of the folks I know who toil over comics reviews day in and out still have a fundamental love for the medium.

It’s just that it’s often difficult to divorce yourself from the work enough to remember what it is read for sheer pleasure—not analysis, not context, not criticism—just a pure love for the material. If you’re lucky, however, a book comes along every so often that kicks your critical ass, bringing you back down to earth for a second and reminding you of more innocent days reading comics on school buses and under bedspreads.

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Scenes From an Impending Marriage by Adrian Tomine

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Scenes From an Impending Marriage
By Adrian Tomine
Drawn & Quarterly

adriantominescenesfromimpendingcoverThe news of Adrian Tomine’s new book no doubt sent a wave of excitement out amongst the cartoonist’s loyal fan base—not only due to the fact that his comics output has seemingly slowed over the past several years, it also promised to offer a certain level of insight into the psyche of the man himself. Tomine, after all, has largely stayed away from overt autobiography in his Optic Nerve series, and while readers have, no doubt, attempted to read flashes of his own person into the rotating cast of characters, such connections are largely the fabrications of amateur psychoanalysts.

Scenes from an Impending Marriage promised both glimpses of the man behind the work and a belated invitation to one of the biggest moments in his life, as a mass produced reprinting of a wedding favor created by Tomine at the best of his soon-to-be-wife. The news of the extremely limited run mini-comic hit the Internet around the time of the artist’s 2007 wedding, and no doubt drove many a fan a bit crazy with the knowledge that there was non-Optic Nerve work out there that they would likely never actually see.

But while the book’s title is a tongue-in-cheek homage to Ingmar Bergman’s much-beloved, but utterly devastating 1973 film, Scenes from a Marriage, the book doesn’t offer much in the way of stripped naked critiques on the state of matrimony in contemporary society—a fact that likely won’t come as a revelation to those aware of the book’s origin. After all, stripped naked critiques on the state of matrimony in contemporary society make for lousy wedding favors.

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