“0.03” Is Number 1 In My Book

If I had to guess — and I don’t, but I will — I’d surmise that the title for Haleigh Buck’s self-published (on nice heavy cardstock) 2018 (I think?) mini 0.03 refers to a particular size of pen tip . Probably a very tiny pen tip. But I could be wrong about that.

What I’m not wrong about is that this compact collection of illustrations was, in fact, drawn with some pretty tiny-tipped pens — and the detail in each of them is as staggering, even as unsettling, as the subject matter they explore. Roll call : death, skulls, demonic entities, random historical settings, nature, and more death. Picking up on a theme here?

This is seriously obsessive work, and I can only speculate on how much time was spent getting every aspect of every drawing exactly right. “A hell of a lot” may not be much of a precise measurement, but it’s nevertheless obviously and undeniably the case here — rest assured, however, that it was “a hell of  lot” of time wisely and productively spent, and while I’m not one of these insufferable squares who believes that every artistic project must, by dint of some mysterious but unstated edict, justify its own existence, this one does in every tight, perfectly-placed line. That, right there, is more than enough to warrant a positive review from yours truly.

Which, fair enough, is me giving away the plot here early, but give a jobbing critic a break — there’s no actual plot to analyze or critique in this ‘zine (which at once makes the act of reviewing it less time-consuming, but more difficult, than doing the same for a traditional comic book, to say nothing of a “graphic novel” or big old collected edition of single issues or strips), and so you’ve gotta do something to fill a rather large gap that most write-ups rely upon to — here we go with this idea again — justify their existence. And you and I both know that a simple statement along the lines of “these drawings kick ass, so buy this thing” simply won’t — and shouldn’t — cut it.

That doesn’t mean such a verdict isn’t true, though — and as the visual evidence accompanying these words ably and amply demonstrates, that’s absolutely the case with this one. I mean, this stuff is just plain amazing to look at, a veritable (I’ve done a pretty damn good job of avoiding cliches so far, but that’s about to change) feast for the eyes that both demands and rewards careful and detailed poring-over on the part of all readers — errr, viewers. A solid appreciation of the effort put into these illustrations, as well as of the illustrations themselves, is something you’ll arrive at immediately, but the more time to spend absorbing these pages, the more that appreciation will grow and intensify.

“Flipping through” Buck’s little package of wonders therefore simply won’t cut it — so settle down, settle in, and when all’s said and done, be prepared to settle up. Because we owe this artist a hell of a debt for producing something this breathtakingly intense. I can’t get over how much sheer determination Buck displays here, but fortunately I don’t need to — I’ve got this thing right at the top of a stack of recently-purchased minis, and I can look at it again any time I want to. Which, as it turns out, is pretty damn frequently.

******************************************************************************

0.03 is available for — you guessed it — three bucks from Birdcage Bottom Books at https://birdcagebottombooks.com/products/0-03

And speaking of cheap purchases, please consider supporting my ongoing work by subscribing to my Patreon site, where I serve up exclusive thrice-weekly rants and ramblings on the worlds of comics, films, television, literature, and politics for as little as a dollar a month. Check out the best value in popular (and otherwise) cultural criticism and commentary (even if, hey, I do only say so myself) at https://www.patreon.com/fourcolorapocalypse

 

 

In The Know On “Bow Vs. Bow”

I don’t know if Leslie Weibeler intended to create a treatise on the dualistic nature of both art and existence with Bow Vs. Bow — a physically and aesthetically gorgeous Sonatina-published comic from, apparently, 2014 that flew so far under the radar that even I didn’t notice it upon release — but nevertheless that’s what we’ve got here, and if such wasn’t the author’s aim, it’s almost a more impressive achievement than if it were.

It might seem that a re-set would be in order after just one paragraph here — that going back and making sense would, ya know, make sense — but roll with me on this : Weibeler’s illustrations are breezy and maybe even slap-dash on a purely technical level, yet are imbued with so much weight and depth that they absolutely belie their own humble origins, and the same holds true for the poetic and experimental writing, on the surface very nearly random and haphazard, but under that surface communicating a quietly compelling narrative that’s emotionally complex and narratively simple simultaneously.

Shit — I’m just digging myself in here deeper, aren’t I?

Ah well, such is the nature of any considered analysis of a work this non-chalantly absorbing. When something immerses you without within the world it creates without your even noticing it, that’s powerful in the extreme — and the most powerful thing about this book’s immersive nature is, in fact, how entirely unforced it is. Could this entire comic, then, ultimately be a self-referential commentary? A piece of art that is about both itself and the act of its own creation?

It’s a possibility I’m more than happy to consider — but only one among many. And the question of “what’s it all about, then?” may, in fact, have conflicting as well as multiple answers in this instance. And it also may not. Which should, by all rights, be a confusing and confounding thing to consider — but the fact of the matter is that it’s just not. And how that works is something I’m still trying to piece together — which, I suppose, is why I’m a critic and not an artist. Because if I were capable of creating something this insular and universal at once, and to go about it in a way that made that dichotomy seem more complementary than it was contradictory, I surely would do so.

Needless to say I can’t, but Leslie Weibeler can — and has done. Which, on the one hand, exhausts everything — no doubt paltry as it is — I have to say about Bow Vs. Bow, but really only scratches the surface.

Again with the duality, I know — but this comic’s duality is an expression, as well as the backbone, of its own totality. And possibly even of all totality. And that totality both encompasses and reflects all the elements at play within it — the poetic flow and pulsating, percussive rhythm of the give-and-take betwixt and between the bow of  the archer and the bow of the violinist, a tug of war that’s neither a tug nor a war, but more undeniable than each separately or both in concert.

Plain truth : I don’t just admire and respect what Weibeler has achieved here — I’m in awe of it.

******************************************************************************

Bow Vs. Bow is available for $10 from Austin English’s Domino Books distro at http://dominobooks.org/bowvsbow.html

And if you’re in a spending mood, please consider supporting my ongoing work by joining my Patreon site, where you get thrice-weekly rants and ramblings from yours truly on the worlds of comics, films, television, literature, and politics for as little as a dollar a month. The link for that is https://www.patreon.com/fourcolorapocalypse

 

Armed — And Dangerous? Alex Nall’s “Kids With Guns” #1

Ostensibly the story of a friendship between 10-year-old Milo and his 80-year-old neighbor, Mel, the first issue of Alex Nall’s apparently-ongoing new self-published minicomics series, Kids With Guns, clearly aims to touch on much more, and goes about its business quickly but in a manner that’s no way forced — its title is as combustible as it is topical, and its interior contents are tailor-made to match. Where it’s all going is, at this early stage, an open question — but whether or not you’re going to want to follow Nall and his characters there? That’s a lead-pipe cinch early on.

Which isn’t the greatest metaphor for me to conjure up, I suppose — why bring a lead pipe to a gunfight? — but it’s late as I write this, and this comic has yet to worms its way out of my brain. Few cartoonists not named Schulz have a better, clearer, more intuitive understanding of a child’s mindset than Nall (his years as an arts educator are paying off on the printed page), but his unassuming long-form masterpiece, Lawns, showed that he was equally in tune with the contemporary zeitgeist of “fly-over country,”as well, particularly the uneasy place eccentrics hold within it — and here both of those not-exactly-polarities-but-let’s-go-with-it (again, it’s late) provide the narrative ebb and flow when such is necessary, downright tug when that’s in order. This is who we are, as seen through the eyes of one who’s been there and done that, as well as one who’s only just arriving.

What can be counted on is the absolute skill and charm of Nall’s classically-influenced cartooning, brisk and expressionistic with smartly-chosen points of visual emphasis, but what can’t be counted on is the health of the relationship between our two principals — Mel’s heart appears to be in the right place, but introducing a kid to the purported “joys” of a rubber band gun may not be the smartest move in the post-Columbine, post-Sandy Hook, post-every-other-goddamn-school shooting era. Nall’s not afraid to tackle this head on, as a new broadcast announcing yet another of these tragic events gives Mel pause to think, but is it already too little, too late? At what point are pernicious influences imprinted upon us? Was Arthur Janov right all along? Were the Catholics who harped on about “original sin” without ever pinpointing exactly what that sin was?

Yeah, we’re gonna go that deep here — I think. But it’s not like Nall’s out to beat you over the head, or even to hold your hand. Like the best of his cohorts in this beleaguered medium, he’s a master at asking the important questions, but lets you evaluate — and subsequently choose from — all the various and sundry potential answers for yourself. What that means in practical terms is a story with a message that refuses to sacrifice the former in service of the ladder. Young cartoonists, pay attention — this is how you do relevance without torching narrative integrity.

The idea of a serialized story is one that’s coming around at the right time for this particular comics auteur, as well — having shown his artistic chops with the single-pager and the “graphic novel,” he’s clearly both ready for, and in need of, a new challenge, and this promises to be exactly that. Yeah, odds are it’ll be collected in its entirety at some point, but planning and executing a story chapter by chapter is a different beast than plotting out a 100-odd page self-contained text. The placement of key story “beats” and plot revelations are more gradual and more precise simultaneously, and when you’ve mastered everything you’re tried to the near-flawless extent Nall has, you’re in a “stagnation equals death” equation. If Kids With Guns #1 proves one thing above all else, it’s that we needn’t worry about him being a cartoonist willing to rest on his laurels. Yes, he’s keenly aware of what he does well, but that doesn’t (and in the best of circumstances shouldn’t) mean he’s not willing to play to his own strengths while moving outside the confines of his own comfort zone. There’s confidence in announcing that you know what you’re good at, as long as that doesn’t mean you’re unwilling to get better at it, or to explore it within a different framework and ethos.

All of which is me letting you know this is a serious work undertaken by someone with a serious need to keep growing as an artist. It’s an astute piece of commentary on where we find ourselves that’s determined to demonstrate both how we got here and how we might get ourselves out — or maybe that should be if we can get ourselves out.

******************************************************************************

Kids With Guns #1 is available for $8.00 from Alex Nall’s Storenvy site at https://alexnallcomics.storenvy.com/products/28630190-kids-with-guns-no-1

And while you’re in a spending mood, please consider supporting my own ongoing work by subscribing to my Patreon site, where I serve up exclusive thrice-weekly rants and ramblings on the worlds of comics, films, television, literature, and politics for as little as a dollar a month. The link for that is https://www.patreon.com/fourcolorapocalypse

 

Tana Oshima’s “Nabokova” : As Dense As A Russian Novel, But Nowhere Near As Long

There’s beauty in simplicity, as the cover of Tana Oshima’s newest self-published mini, Nabokova, clearly demonstrates. It’s stark, perhaps even spartan, but deeply communicative and precisely thought through. It imparts its message with crystal clarity and nothing by way of fuss or muss.

But there’s beauty in complexity, too, and this comic is also proof positive of that, as we’ll get to shortly. And trust me — this really only scratches the surface of the contradictions and conundrums contained herein. Bring your hardhat, folks — this one takes some real work.

On a purely physical level, this is a book that exemplifies the kind of quality artistry and craftsmanship we’ve come to expect from Oshima in fairly short order — printed in rich colors and varying tones and gradations (blue being dominant in all things — okay, almost all things) on high-quality paper between heavy cardstock covers and exquisitely drawn, it’s an object you’ll enjoy holding in your hands as much as looking at, but please do take not :  it’s a whole heck of a lot heavier than it looks and feels.

Obviously, Russian literature has been a source of inspiration for Oshima throughout her brief-but-frankly-brilliant cartooning career, but here its influence is felt in everything from the self-chosen name of our ostensible “heroine” ( a term I use, I assure you, very loosely) to the richly oblique (again with the contradictions) symbolism of the world it takes place in to the internalized struggles that make up the narrative and thematic backbone of the strips themselves. And as far as those strips go —

The connections between them are in no way hidden, but neither are they spelled out plainly. I said bring a hardhat — you might want to pack a lunch, too. Oshima mines every panel for more conceptual density than you’d think her frequently-austere imagery would provide for, but the deeper you dig, the deeper still you usually find yourself needing to go. Cliches like “lots to unpack” (or, hey, “pack a lunch”) don’t even begin to cut it here. Literary references, visual metaphors, and text that can be read and interpreted in any number of ways are all par for the course on these pages, and understanding of this book is both earned and absolutely unique to each reader. That may make it sound like a chore — which, fair enough, it is — but it’s an immensely rewarding and satisfying one, and Oshima pays you back commensurate with the amount of effort you put in.

And that may actually represent the richest contradiction in a comic that’s packed to the seams with them (starting with a protagonist that’s in no way “likeable,” but almost undeniably lovable, and building out in all directions from there) : at the end of the day, for all its depth, all its nuance, all its allegory and intimation, all its mystery,  the core philosophical conceit animating anything and everything contained within Nabokova‘s multitudes is a disarmingly simple one : the more you give, the more you get back in return. To say anything more would be to say too much — get this comic now and get to work.

******************************************************************************

Nabokova is available for $8.00 from Austin English’s Domino Books distro at http://dominobooks.org/nabakova.html

And while you’re running around the internet looking for cool shit, please take a moment to consider subscribing to my Patreon, where I serve up exclusive thrice-weekly rants ad ramblings on the worlds of comics, films, television, literature, and politics for as little as a dollar a month. The link for that is https://www.patreon.com/fourcolorapocalypse

 

Guest Essay : Alex Graham On Art As A Vehicle For Reality Creation

Long-time readers of this site will know that Alex Graham is an artist whose work I’ve always been proud not just to review, but to active champion. The auteur responsible for Cosmic BE-ING is consistently one of the most fascinating voices in the medium, and is an accomplished painter, to boot. I’m therefore very pleased to present her essay on “Art As A Vehicle For Reality Creation,” which offers tremendous insight not only on her process, but the overall aims of her entire artistic project. Take it away, Alex!

Art as a Vehicle for Reality Creation – 15 Years of Painting

Channeled by Alex Graham, written September 11 2019.


“Immolation,” October 2015

 I could have titled this essay sensationally –as, “Art & Witchcraft.” And the meat of the message would remain unchanged.

 In these rigid times, playful thinking is discouraged in theory discourse– and if it were to emerge, the fun of it is choked out by citations — citations of ideas that already exist, filtered through generations of scrutiny to the point of sterility. That is why this essay is unprocessed — not filtered through the conceited lens of human judgment — derived only from the mind of the author, acting momentarily as an antenna for the Divine Life Force. An unpopular style of theorizing about the human experience that some may find incorrect, & some may find dangerous, but to which practiced artists will undoubtedly relate, and which curious onlookers might find amusing and enlightening.


Alex Graham, age 22, with “Automobuito,” 2010.

 For the purpose of this essay I will be referencing my own experiences in the art of painting, as I have been fully immersed in the art form for 15 years, though these theories apply to all acts of creativity.


Reality Projection – Conscious and Unconscious

 The body emits waves of electricity, commonly known as vibrations. These vibrations have a direct effect on your immediate environment, but also continue out into space until they reach the end of the galaxy. As such, they contribute to a constant, ever-changing magnetic force that moves in a firelike pattern around the planet Earth.

 Zooming back in on the Individual, these vibrations can carry a conscious, or an unconscious force of will, that can move destructively outward (as destruction is a creative force). As these vibrations have an effect on the material world, they can summon situations, events, objects, and other beings. This is referred to as magnetism.


Stone People

 One must be aware of this life force before they are able to acknowledge it, communicate with it, or have any awareness of its effect on the course of one’s life.

 Many walk among us who, for one reason or another, refuse to acknowledge the intrinsic life force within and without each living being, and its effect on their life.

 These types of beings may act in learned patterns, have a difficult time deviating from a set path or tradition, behave without conscience, have expressionless faces and speak in monotone, try to exert control other peoples’ lives, and make calculated mathematical choices devoid of artistry or imagination. They may be whipped around by circumstance and easily manipulated by those who can harness the life source with selfish intentions

 These ‘Stone People’ are no less capable of connecting to this divine lifesource, but their inability to acknowledge it leaves them more vulnerable to its chaotic whims.

 Yes, the life force is chaotic, and cannot be contained. It is not an instrument for the individual to use — rather, it will ‘play’ the Individual as an instrument — a collaboration flesh and spirit.

 Effective art is the kind that reaches out and continues to ‘play’ the emotions of the viewer, as an instrument of sensations and emotions.


The Value of Art, by a Different Measure

 When one learns to acknowledge this life force, they can practice and measure oneself as an antenna, with radio reception that waxes and wanes depending on a variety of factors presented by the physical form. In my experience, the ability to connect to this life force depends on my level of health and deep connection to the molecular aspects of my “animal vehicle” or “body”. It also depends, strangely enough, on ‘endearing myself’ to this life force, with quiet acts of artistry, kindness, good will, and strength. The experiences of falling in love, connecting strongly with a piece of artwork, or connecting strongly with another being also create an immediate, strong magnetic pull connected with this divine lifesource.

 When I am at the height of connection to this life force, combined with the intention of my presence of mind, I find that I can turn my ego completely off, and my body becomes an instrument through which the divine life force will ‘play’. “I” – my “id” – walks to the back of my brain and takes a seat, as an observer. And the divine life force becomes the driver of my animal vehicle.

 In this state, my lines are effortless, and image concepts are plucked down from the collective conscience (ever seen multiple artists conceive similar themes at the same time? Sometimes mistaken for plagiarism, these artists were all connected to the Divine Life Source at the same moment in time.) Oftentimes, at the height of this state, I will finish one or several paintings at a time, sometimes in one session.

 When I am in a low vibrational state, attempting to create can feel like drudgery — because I am relying almost completely on my mortal vehicle to complete tasks that are measured against acts of divinity.

 Even a layman unaware of the metaphysical aspects of art will unconsciously feel the emptiness and meaninglessness and superficiality in a piece of artwork derived purely from flesh and bone, and filtered through the lens of the ego, until it is sterilized of all life.

 The value of art can be measured by the volume of spirit that exists within its elements, and whether or not it is ‘alive’. But, who can know? And how is it measured? In this way the value of art remains subjective.


Living Art
“The Opening Act,” 2019

 Why do we cry when great artifacts are destroyed? When an artwork is heavily affected by the ‘hand’ of the Divine Life Force, like all other living things it is ‘born’ into the material world and deposited into a vehicle, in the same way that other beings are ‘born’. Like all other living things it contains a singular self, and emits an energy. Great artworks can emit vibrations and magnetism, just like other living beings.

 Like the humble Human Being, this invisible life force simply wants to be acknowledged.


Reality Creation Through Art

 After many years of practice and experience, an artist will begin to see the patterns of this life force emerging in their work — but also in serendipitous life events. For example, if one is channeling the grand life force of the universe into a painting of togetherness, a situation may arise in which the message of the painting is subsequently ‘lived’ by the artist.

 On December 22nd, 2015, I committed my second-to-last work of art of the year – a spontaneous live portrait (marker on paper) of my friend, A. — a regular at the Jazz bar where I was a waitress. I walked up to him, asked if I could draw his portrait, and he posed for me at the bar. (Unfortunately I did not photograph this portrait.)

 Days after that, on December 29th, 2015, I painted a live portrait of my cat, Leche, who kindly, lovingly and intentionally posed for me for 30 minutes or more.

 These portraits were the last two acts of creativity I had committed in the year of 2015.

 Almost a year later, in early December of 2016, both of these beings passed away unexpectedly (to my knowledge), of natural causes — their dates of death were separated by the same number of days that had occurred between the portraits, but in the reverse order that they were painted. Leche died on December 1, 2016, and A. died on December 7, 2016.

 Yes, they are only anecdotes, coincidences from the life of one artist. But I doubt very much, that I am the only practicing artist who has experienced these serendipitous, tangible, mystical effects of creation.

 Another mysterious act of reality creation is the story behind my two Serpent paintings, unwittingly conceived right in the same moment that my neighbor was being murdered 20 yards away from where I sat. To read this story in full, click here.

 In these instances of creative intention affecting reality, I can only hope that my creative acts had not somehow caused or contributed to these tragic events, but rather foretold, or were transmitted from the energies of my subjects. It stands that I will never truly know the answer.

Signed, Alex Graham
Seattle, Washington

Terror In The “Woods”

“There is another world. There is a better world,” Grant Morrison famously informed us (in a scene that still coaxes a tear from my eye every time) in the final issue of his celebrated Doom Patrol run, before qualifying things by stating, “Well — there must be.” But what if there isn’t?

The “city slicker” couple at the center of cartoonist Mike Freiheit’s new graphic novel, Woods, moved to a remote cabin hoping to find that better world after the election of a certain unnamed right-wing demagogue helped engender a complete mental breakdown in one of them, but they soon discovered that going “off the grid” looks a lot easier on YouTube videos than it actually is in real life.

That being said, Freiheit — who self-financed and self-published a limited edition of this book in preparation for SPX (I’ve swiped a couple images off his facebook, which hopefully won’t upset him too much, in order to show how much sheer effort he put into this thing) — doesn’t concentrate too heavily on the “survivalist” aspect of his story, focusing instead on the thin and fraying line between (dark) fantasy and reality in a troubled mind, albeit one that’s troubled for entirely understandable reasons and may not even be so troubled after all at the end of the day.

If that sentence makes no sense to you, rest assured — the comic will.

As far as horror yarns go, then, this is as topical as they come — and as eminently relatable. You get where these people are coming from because you know these people — you may even be these people. Their desires, motivations, aims, and problems all hit home. Their struggles are our struggles, their quiet triumphs and less-than-quiet tragedies not so much “ripped from the headlines” as ripped from the stories that will never make the headlines. Two people who want nothing more than to outrun an encroaching darkness from which there never really was any escape.

And while we’re on the subject of darkness — Freiheit saturates his images with black tones that evoke Lars Von Trier’s Antichrist and accentuates them with graphite-smudge grays that bring to mind criminally underappreciated UK cartoonist Carol Swain. This feels like a terrifying story, but even more importantly looks like one — and it represents a quantum leap outside his comfort zone for a guy who’s best known for poignantly self-deprecating autobio work. Much as I loved Monkey Chef — and love it I surely did — this is a beast of an entirely different sort, and demonstrates a visual and narrative versatility that frankly wasn’t even hinted at in the past. if you think you know what to expect from a Mike Freiheit comic, think again — and then think yet again after that.

It shouldn’t be too difficult a task, because this book excels at making you think. About where we are as a society, how we got here, how or even if we can possibly get out. It offers no easy answers, but hell — these aren’t easy questions. They are, however, essential ones.

And Woods is, dare I say, an essential read.

******************************************************************************

This review, and all others around these parts, is “brought to you” by my Patreon site, where I serve up exclusive thrice-weekly rants and ramblings on the worlds of comics, films, television, literature, and politics for as little as a dollar a month. At that price, you’ve literally got nothing to lose, and your support also helps ensure a steady supply of free content both here and at my trashfilmguru movie site. So please give it a look, won’t you?

Oh, and I suppose a link would come in handy. Here you go :https://www.patreon.com/fourcolorapocalypse

 

You Can’t Pass On “Can’t Breathe Without Air”

The second of two recent self-published minis from the sublime mind and pencil (and pen, and brush, and —) of Angela Chen that we’ve had the pleasure to read in recent days (the first being The Review, the cover of which is shown near the bottom of this review and which I sincerely hope you, dear reader, have already availed yourself of the opportunity to order), Can’t Breathe Without Air may sound on paper like it treads pretty firmly in “been there, done that” territory — it is, after all, a 32-page ‘zine composed entirely of diary comics — but in the right hands, even the most over-worked of premises can still be interesting, no matter how absent the “fresh” and the “new” inherently are from the equation.

Besides — I still think diary comics serve an important function for cartoonists. There’s utility in just keeping yourself busy, honing your craft, working for the sake of working. And Chen’s diary comics definitely work.

Which is in no way me saying that they’re not fun — sure, Chen tackles the usual heavy topics in life, particularly those that loom large in the lives of those with a more introverted personal inclination — but there’s a playfulness of tone here, and a willingness to formally experiment within the self-imposed confines of her four-panels-per-strip format. Her illustrations range from the rapid-fire to the nearly-woodcut, her stylistic choices evoking everyone from Debbie Drechsler to Julie Doucet to Penny Moran Van Horn to — any random kid with a piece of notebook paper and a ballpoint, I suppose, and her judicious interjection of color from time to time turns out to “up” the evocative quotient in just the right strips. Again, Chen deserves accolades every bit as much for her smart choices as she does for her sheer talent.

Now, I realize that for those of you burned out on diary comics, no amount of superlatives I heap upon this collection is likely to change your mind, but it’s my solemn duty to at least try to convince you that Chen’s book is worth a shot. Not since Laura Lannes’ By Monday I’ll Be Floating In The Hudson With The Other Garbage has the diary “sub-genre” (if you will) felt imbued with a newfound sense of creativity, even urgency, like this. There’s a real sense that Chen isn’t just doing a rote series of exercises here, but communicating something of import to both herself and, crucially, readers.

And you know what? She is. The beating heart at the — errrmmm — beating heart of these strips is undeniable, their engaging approach to self-examination both refreshing and entirely welcome. This is serious stuff that knows precisely when to not take itself too seriously, and that’s a lesson any number of cartoonists would do well to pay attention to and, in a pinch, maybe even emulate.

With each release, Angela Chen establishes herself as a creative force to be reckoned with and a unique and distinct voice in the cartooning wilderness. In a year or two she’s going to be the person everyone else is talking about. You can say you’re a prescient genius if you do the smart thing and start following her work now.

******************************************************************************

Can’t Breathe Without Air is available for $5 from Austin English’s Domino Books at http://dominobooks.org/cantbreathe.html

Also, this review — and all others around these parts — is “brought to you” by my Patreon site, where I serve up exclusive thrice-weekly rants and ramblings on the worlds of comics, films, television, literature, and politics for as little as a dollar per month. At that price you’ve literally got nothing to lose, and your support also ensures a steady supply of free content both here and at my trashfilmguru movie site, so please give it a look at https://www.patreon.com/fourcolorapocalypse