This week I was mightily impressed by comics both very familiar and anything but, and since I’m feeling slightly adventurous we’ll start with the “anything but” part of the equation —
Sufficiently intrigued by Philadelphia-based cartoonist George Wylesol’s mysterious, abstract, and multi-layered Avery Hill book Ghosts, Etc. last year to give a couple of his self-published minis a go (belatedly, I admit, but hey, I’ve been busy), 2017’s Porn stands out as the “must-buy” item of the two that I did, in fact, buy. Eight bucks is admittedly a bit spendy for what you get here in terms of physical product, but it more than carries its weight thematically, artistically, even philosophically. A series of disparate, perhaps even discarnate, drawings paired with coolly bland texts expounding upon vaguely harrowing scenarios with a disturbing level of clinical detachment, this is astonishingly confident stuff with an utterly unique point of view that frankly will leave you feeling somewhere between “desolate” and “haunted.” I’m still not entirely sure precisely what it’s “about,” but it leaves such prosaic concerns well in its rear view as it establishes a new conceptual territory firmly and entirely its own. One of the most wholly original things I’ve read in goddamn forever.
Considerably less successful — but, oddly, no less intriguing — is Tunnel Vision, a 12-page ‘zine composed of two-color drawings Wylesol apparently did on “his last day on the job as a TV repairman at a hospital.” No connective tissue appears to exist connecting one image to the next, and the brief “statement of purpose” at the end actually serves to reduce whatever cumulative impact one may intuit from the project as a whole, but as nominal “failures” (at least as adjudicated by yours truly) go, it’s nevertheless a fascinating one. I remain more than open to the distinct possibility that my view of this may change and improve over time as there could very well be some sort of “outsider” genius at work here that I’m simply too dim-witted to fathom — but even still, five dollars is a bit much for something this, sorry to say it, slight. Your mileage may vary, however, so it’s worth at least considering tacking it onto your order of Porn when you go over to http://wylesol.storenvy.com/
Our excursion into the realms of “high weirdness” over and done with, then, we return to the tried and true — and blissfully tried and true, at that — with our old friend November Garcia’s Malarkey #3. If the cover doesn’t put you off, you’re sure to be more than charmed by November’s latest collection of poignant and funny slices of life, this time presented in full color, and while her subject matter doesn’t change, I’m forever amazed by Garcia’s razor-sharp observational skills and her ability to see the funny side in just about anything. Each issue of this series has been stronger and more fluid than the one before it, and this is no exception. The esteemed Ms. Garcia sent me this when she was stateside in Seattle for Short Run last weekend, so no idea what the cover price is as it doesn’t appear to actually be for sale anywhere yet, but bug her for a copy at your earliest convenience and blame me for sending you her way with your pesky fucking questions.
Also in my early November package of goodies from — errrmmm — November was her first comic, the Hic & Hoc-published Foggy Notions, which I am embarrassed to admit had been missing from my collection to this point despite it being released early last year. This was the book that drew all the comparisons to Julia Wertz, but aside from some similarities in art style I really don’t see it. These strips chronicle events in Garcia’s life in San Francisco prior to her relocation to the Philippines and are, of course, a series of endearingly-related bad nights out, bad days at work, bad drunken escapades, and bad decisions. Equally interesting both for what it is (or maybe that should be what it was at the time) and for where it stands in her larger body of work now that she’s got her feet more firmly under her as a cartoonist, I would give it a very strong “buy” recommendation if it were still in print and available for purchase anywhere. Maybe when you’r pestering her about how to get ahold of Malarkey #3 you can ask her about this one, as well. Might as well find out by directing your attention to https://novembergarcia.com/comics/
And with that, we come to the end of yet another Round-Up column. Next week I have something a little bit different in store for y’all, but I’m not going to offer any clues as to what that might be since I may end up changing my mind and reviewing an entirely different batch of books than I’m planning on. Guess you’ll just have to come back here in seven days and find out, won’t you?