Love and Rockets #5


Originally posted September 1, 2002. Excerpted from Cinescape online. Click pic for full review.

As legions of reviewers have noted, it’s good to have the world in order. A hated Republican leads us once again, and Los Bros are back at work publishing under the same cover. This issue of LOVE AND ROCKETS is the fifth in the new incarnation of the beloved book. Thus far, from my perspective, this issue comes closest to recapturing the magnificent experience that L&R offered a decade or more ago. Key to that experience, and I believe beginning to rear its head here, was a kind of refractory competition between Beto and Jaime, where the work of each would borrow and adapt themes from the other, as if to say, “Oh yeah? Here’s how a man does it, buddy! Stick that in your pipe and smoke it!” This spirit of exploration and competition clearly prodded the creators to the heights they achieved back then; let’s hope it gooses them now as well.

In this issue, the common theme is origins, and specifically, high school and the adolescent transition into maturity. Jaime leads off with the definitive Penny Century origin tale; Beto ripostes (or, since he began the story previously, perhaps it’s Jaime who ripostes) with “The High Soft Lisp,” covering Fritzi’s bumpy high-school days. As is often the case, Beto is reaching for a bigger topic here than Jaime appears to be. The central narrative concern in “Lisp” is Fritzi’s promiscuity.

The Complete Crumb Comics Volume 16

Master_SiteArticle284012.jpgThe Complete Crumb Comics Volume 16

Originally posted October 8, 2002. Excerpt from Cinescape.

Since 1987, Fantagraphics has been slogging through every line that R. Crumb has ever drawn; that’s when THE COMPLETE CRUMB COMICS VOLUME ONE (The Early Years of Bitter Struggle) was first published. The current volume at hand brings us up to the material that Crumb was working on at the time when Volume One was published (more or less).

The mid-’80s were for Crumb, uh, more years of valiant struggle. He and his wife were co-editing WEIRDO, nearing the end of its long run as an artistically ambitious anthology title on Last Gasp. WEIRDO was a kind of West Coast answer to Speigelman’s RAW, publishing underground and alternative veterans as well as breaking new cartoonists. Among those new cartoonists (to me anyway) was Crumb’s wife and co-editor Aline Kominsky-Crumb, with whom Robert co-authored and drew several projects in the time-honored “jam” fashion.

(Click link at top for full review)


hysteria.jpgOriginally posted November 3, 2002. Excerpted from Cinescape online. Click pic for full review.

In November, Fantagraphics releases HYSTERIA IN REMISSION: THE COMIX & DRAWINGS OF ROBERT WILLIAMS, an overdue compendium of the celebrated painter’s graphic work. Since the mid-’90s, Williams has been justly celebrated for his remarkable accomplishments as a fine artist and champion of outsider art. His large-scale gallery paintings, depicting with surreal clarity such things as hot-rod wrecks, mystical visions, and gang fights, have been correctly identified as expressions of the poetry and strangeness of the culture of Southern California, and are much sought after by wealthy Angelino art collectors. He also publishes a magazine, JUXTAPOZ, devoted to outsider art, such as custom cars and folk art. All of this has meant a crucial element of William’s long career has gone largely undocumented.

Robert Williams began his career designing advertisements for Ed “Big Daddy” Roth’s crazy tee shirts in the pages of HOT ROD magazine, and went on, shortly thereafter, to become one of the godfathers of underground comix, his work first appearing in ZAP #4. From the beginning, Williams’ tremendous gifts as a draftsman and psychedelic visualizer mark his work. Reading his stories requires more time than reading those of his contemporaries, simply because he packs so much visual information into each panel. In addition, his mastery of analytic anatomy leads in surprising directions, from the erotic power of the female forms he incorporates and distorts to the deconstruction and re-assembly of invented creatures such as his Coochy Cooty.



Originally posted September 12, 2002. Click pic for full review. Excerpted from Cinescape online.

Fuzz, the good-natured teddy bear, and Pluck, the ill-tempered, unfeathered banty rooster, continue their misadventures in what I assume to be the town of Splitsville. When we last left our protagonists, Fuzz had suffered a dog attack while attempting to deliver an order of fast food to a mansion, and Pluck had been invited to join a troupe of animal gladiators.

In the current issue, the story nudges forward by one scene each. Fuzz is brought home by the little girl of the mansion to join her collection of stuffed toys and dolls; they decide that Fuzz should have wings so that he can fly home. In order to do this they cruelly saw the wings off one of their number, a duck. Fuzz is then chucked out the window, where he is again mauled by the dog.


Master_SiteArticle283954.jpgMy review of THE CARTOON HISTORY OF THE UNIVERSE VOLUME III is up at Cinescape now.

If you haven’t read Vols 1 & 2, by all means do! Allan Bloom is crying becasue of YOU!

(What? you don’t think he was referring to these books in his hearty cries for more history in the curriculum? Could be. In that case, let him cry, cuz you should still read ’em. They might even lead you to gen-u-wine classics: I wouldn’t ever have paused for Herodotus if not for these books.)

Volume 3 is more good stuff, with less of the funny bits, I thought. The central narrative of the book is, in fact, the rise of Arab civilization and the period in which it held sway over the Mediterranean.

Lots of ground covered here that I don’t recall from History 101. Well hell, just read that review.


Originally posted July 8, 2002.

D&Q vol 3 is the best collection title now publishing in the States; this volume includes the powerful “Monsieur Jean”, 1999’s “Best Comic Album” at the French b-d awards, Angouleme. The win was clearly deserved.

Dirty Stories is Fantagraphic’s high-minded smut anthology; as such, it has a range of work, almost all of it ambitious, none of it so, um, stimulating as to make Larry Flynt express concern.

Available only as premium content – If you’re not a Cinescape subscriber, consider it. Otherwise email me and I can share the reviews with you privately.


Originally posted August 17, 2002.

Grand old man Deitch offers a thousand dollar bounty for a genuine 1920’s Waldo doll. Pretty cool.

Click image for full review.


Originally posted January 11, 2002.

Expanded reincarnation (new script, new art) of the Jodorowsky-Moebius late-eighties classic falls short despite high production values; OTOH, Moebius is a hard act to follow, yes?

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Originally posted January 11, 2002.

Labor of love and cult title suffers from lack of editorial control and too-small reproduction at digest size.

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Originally posted May 12, 2002.

Hoo boy. Um, not a complete waste of time? Uses MS Comic Sans throughout, which is reason enough to avoid, Macgruder’s Boodocks to the contrary. Strange publication choices.

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