In a world of genetic engineering, rampant corporations, gentrification, and political corruption, a love affair between a luckless community activist and a biotech executive leads to the creation of Hypermutt, a bio engineered mass of primal dogginess.
Hypermutt is like a monad (or franken-archetype, if you will), a dog so mixed in its ancestry, it transcends space and time, becoming the very formative blueprint from which all dogs in all times and all places arise.
That’s the starting point for a series of rather oddball, careening stories. Mystery, kidnaps and time travel abound.
The artwork, too, seems to constantly be in a state of play with the idea of form and formlessness, creation and flux, regularly breaking up into cubist planes and abstract geometry before coalescing back into more familiar representation. It’s something of a theme, I reckon.
This visual dismantling and reconstitution leads to moments of satisfyingly expressionist cartooning. Observe below the villainous figure’s shadowed face as it suggests an executioner’s hood, also his victim’s wretched countenance.
You read Ryan Carey’s review of Hypermutt 1-4 here.
You can purchase copies of Hypermutt via Max Huffman’s site.
Last week (or the week before?) we took a look inside Nate Garcia’s Plum Pocket. Now, Gecko, his second full length comic, is back in print. A story of sadness, trauma, karma, E-Coli, geckos, and horse love. You can get a copy by heading over to Nate’s store.
Nearly a month in, alternative-comics.com is rebranding. Henceforth, it shall be known as The Comix Report. Along with the name change comes a shift to a once-a-week posting schedule. Different name. Same address. Longer. Better. Once a week. Links at the top. Extracts and further joys after. Onward!
Man, I love Nate Garcia. He and Hanselmann and maybe in a different way Josh Pettinger, that little crew, they’re the true modernized sons of the 60s underground. Nate’s work hits every mark: Funny. Gross. Clever as hell. Plus his artwork is so gorgeous and beautifully colored, you can spend time just basking in it. Plum Pocket includes a full page exclusive painting by Hanselmann.
Plum Pocket by Nate Garcia. 32 pages. Full color. 3 Stories.
Back in January, Andrew White began posting a series of work-in-progress comics adaptations to his newsletter and website. The adaptations in question are various works from the canon of the late Italian novelist and short story writer Italo Calvino. Calvino is known for having had an interest in old newspaper cartoons, claiming them as an influence on his narrative style. His writings really burst off the page in the most joyous, quite moving way. Real moments of aesthetic wonder. For me, Andrew’s work often has that same kind of beautiful but hard-to-pin-down effect. So this should be great. The first instalments show a lot of promise.
Since this is such an interesting project, and maybe a comics-literature crossover made in heaven, I was thrilled when Andrew offered to answer a few questions via email. What an opportunity to try and get some insight into how and why one of the top names in poetry comics decided to tackle Calvino.
Andrew White on Italo Calvino, adaptation and process.
I first came to Calvino through If on a Winter’s Night a Traveler, many years ago, and his work has been an influence since that time. I’m inspired by the way many of his book-length works are essentially short story collections, where each chapter can be read individually but the whole is greater than the sum of those parts. I’m inspired by the way he integrated formal play into his fiction while retaining an emotional and narrative core that kept the work compelling.
I first adapted a Calvino story in 2012 (A Beautiful March Day, from the Numbers in the Dark collection) and have considered returning to Calvino over the years. As you noted in your initial write-up of this project, there are also a number of Calvino-comics connections that made the prospect even more appealing.
But I’m also skeptical of adaptation, both as a reader and as a cartoonist. Adaptations that I’ve read, that I’ve considering making, or that I’ve actually made often leave me wondering, even suspecting, that the exercise is pointless. What does the adaptation offer that can’t be found in the original work? Is it losing more than it’s gaining?
As some readers might know, I’ve worked intermittently over the last several years on comics biographies of Gertrude Stein, Georgia O’Keeffe, and Virginia Woolf. That work has been on my mind because I’m revising it for a forthcoming single volume collection, Together and Apart, to be published by Fieldmouse Press. Those comics have a strong element of adaptation as well, actually, because the text is drawn primarily from the subject’s own words in diaries, letters, etc. So I wondered if I was done with biographies, or if I could find some way to continue that project without repeating myself. Calvino, among many possible subjects, crossed my mind.
Calvino was known for being reticent about his personal life and even misstating aspects of his biography (most notably, he often said he was born in San Remo, where he spent most of his childhood, rather than in Cuba, since the former felt more true to him even if it was factually incorrect). So, I suddenly realized, simply adapting a selection of his stories was the best way to produce a Calvino biography. While some of my adaptations will be fairly straightforward, I’m hoping the answer to question I posed above–what is gained by adaptation?–is that the juxtaposition of unrelated Calvino works masquerading as a biography will reveal, to readers and to me, new insights about his work and his life.
The first step was (re)reading all of Calvino. I was reading in English which excludes a few things, very possibly some key piece of material that would have pushed the project in a different direction, though to be fair Calvino’s bibliography in translation is fairly complete.
I took notes and did a bit of drawing as I read, looking for stories or moments that seemed like a good fit. Phrases that suggested more than they said or sequences with a strong visual component, for example. Calvino was fairly open about the formal constraints he set for his work, so in reading about that I soon decided on a structure for the project as well. This meant that at a certain point I had some organizing principles in mind and began to seek out stories that filled specific gaps.
Once I knew which stories I wanted to adapt, I could–inspired by Calvino–simply tackle each one individually and let the work accumulate. I’m still engaged in that process now, using the self-imposed monthly newsletter deadline to keep myself on schedule as I finish up the latter stories and return intermittently to the earlier ones. One real advantage of comics, something that could work well here if I deploy it carefully, is the way that repeated, refracted images and sequences can convey a sense of synchronicity that’s also present in Calvino’s various texts. The way his ideas are repeated or rhyme, but also evolve, as he explores them over time. So I’m sometimes returning to the stories I’ve already completed with that goal in mind. But it’s a balance, one never wants to be too obtuse or overbearing with that sort of thing…
Swag 5: Ballad of the Black Sun by Cameron Arthur.
The latest instalment of Cameron Arthur’s one man anthology series. Swag 5 is like a throwback to the golden age of cinematic Westerns. Slow boil simmering. When the narrative cracks, its like a rifle round going off. The artwork, the dialogue, the pacing are all slightly on the sparse side, creating a sense of vastness, of solitary desert wilderness and pitch-black nights. Wonderful. Very engaging. 3 Stories. 80 pages.
You can get a copy of Swag 5 by emailing Cameron directly.
Domino Books hit a number of milestones in 2022. $40,262.15 paid to artists. That’s up $6000 from 2021. Also $13,577.09 spent on postage. Austin English. The guy’s a one man old-school underground distro machine.
Online micro retailer. Owner says he tries to make everything available at prices that allow readers to take a shot on a book–even foreign language titles. He’s enjoyed bringing in various small collections of Japanese work from the likes of Suehiro Maruo, Shintaro Kago, Katsuhiro Otomo, Kazuo Umezu, Yoshikazu Ebisu, Takashi Nemoto, and Teruhiko Yumura. Plus some screen-printed books from publishers Le Dernier Cri and Bongoût. Great collection. Well curated. Gorgeous stuff.
Gonzo genre brut: Republished 90s indie marginalia from partnership between Floating World and Power Comics. Metal sensibilities. Determinedly intense artwork. Bang-bang-bang story telling. The superheroes vs aliens genre stripped down to its adolescent core. Great fun.
The first and so far only issue of off-and-on WW3 contributor and editor Ethan Heitner’s zine has been around for a few years now. It’s still hot and fresh. Politics. Comics. Interviews with Joe Sacco and Eleanor Davis. Yiddish modernist poets. Abolitionist writings paired with art. You’ll know whether or not this is your kind of thing. If it is, highly recommended. All profits donated to the Rawa Cultural Communities Fund.
36-page zine, magazine size (8.5 x 11), b & w, saddle-stitch stapled.
In starting a new print magazine about comics, it’s my hope that some ideas and conversations might be preserved with an ounce of the dignity that the mediums art offers. Online criticism and discussion is important, but fades away extremely quickly and seems driven by argument rather than reflection. Early issues of The Comics Journal offered quiet pages for artists to study, piecing together the practices and ideas of favorite artists in lengthy interviews. After a month of thinking about what a cartoonist said in a discussion, some debate of those ideas would appear in the next months letter column. The weight of a cartoonists words could be digested, embraced, rejected and most importantly THOUGHT about, rather then reacted to.
Issue #4 is set to feature original comics and art, as well as written pieces, long form interviews, et cetera. Including: covers by August Lipp and Mollie Goldstrom, comics by David King, Victor Cayro, Chaia Stratz, John Mejias, a long interview with Chris Cilla by Tim Goodyear, a feature on David Lasky by Megan Kelso, and lots more besides.
But is it…Comic Aht? #4, edited by Austin English and August Lipp. $8, 72 pages, newsprint, 8.5″ x 11″.
The Machine Detective: A Friendly Wager is a heart-warming comedic tale of murder, mystery and dystopia, the outcome of an art and printmaking collaboration between brothers Dustin and Nick Holland. Writing for TCJ, Ryan Carey called it “…a comic absolutely bristling with creative energy and intent…” And so it is.
The second edition, I’m told, is selling out quickly.
Who says punk’s dead?
The Machine Detective: A Friendly Wager by Dustin and Nick Holland. 60 pages. 8.5″ x 11″. Black and White interiors with color covers. Handmade.
Black Phoenix is, at its core, a contemporary comics magazine featuring original characters and stories of various comics genres—all dreamed up by its sole author, Rich Tommaso. Don’t be fooled by the pseudonyms inside—he changes names as often as drawing styles. But, the magazine is also like a walk through comics history itself. Each volume of these golden age, pulp styled digest anthologies is headed up by a long-form comics adventure which is backed up by a bunch of short-form comics—all in the same genre or flavor.
Black Phoenix Vol. 1 by Rich Tommaso. 136pages. Color. Due 28th Feb 2023. Pre-orders available at various online retailers.
The fifth issue of Cameron Hatheway’s Clusterfux Comix anthology is out now, including a sheet of Flippitoons trading cards designed by James Fletcher.
Contributors: James Fletcher, Alex Daikaiju, Miguel Elias Aguilar, Umberto Tonella, Catalina Rufín, Samuel Cleggett, Tanha Comics, Dylan Henty, Dave Neeson, J. Webster Sharp, Cameron Zavala, Jason Covelli, Ryan King, mattchee, Isaac Roller, Anthony Aiuppy, Jacob Fleming, Charlie Sisemore, Cameron Hatheway.
Printed in a limited edition of 500, fantastical and absolutely gorgeous, Andy Barron’s Om chronicles the adventures of Om, an archetypal innocent, as he pinballs his way through an uncompromising world of primal cause and effect.
Children of Palomar and Other Tales by Mario and Gilbert Hernandez, the fifteenth volume in the Complete Love and Rockets Library and the eighth Gilbert volume, includes the graphic novels Julio’s Day and The Children of Palomar, as well as never-before-collected work. $24.99. 280 Pages, Paperback / Softback, Black and white, 7.6″ × 9.3″.