Weekly Reading Round-Up : 03/31/2019 – 04/06/2019, Aaron Lange And Brian Canini

Better late than —ah, let’s just get to it, with the latest from old friends of this site Aaron Lange and Brian Canini.

The insanely-talented (and sometimes controversial) Lange landed back on my radar with a package containing his three most recent comics ‘zines, issues 7, 8, and 9 of Cash Grab!, once a side-project that seems to be his main outlet now with his more traditional, narrative-driven publication, Trim, either being on an extended hiatus of sorts, or simply shuttered altogether. Sometimes less is more, and Lange, to his credit, seems to be “zeroing in” on his strong points with just one comic on his metaphorical “plate.”

Cash Grab! #7 bills itself as yet another entry in his occasional “sketchbook selections”series, but that title’s a bit misleading even if he does include obsessively-detailed portraits of the likes of “B”-movie actress Kari Wuhrer. To me, the more intriguing offerings in this issue were a moving tribute to a recently-deceased old high school friend, an “inside baseball” gag strip revolving around fellow cartoonists Ed Piskor and Emil Ferris, and “MK-Ultraman,” a bizarre mish-mash of the famous Japanese television superhero and the CIA’s supposedly-terminated mind control program — a favorite target of the great Mack White. This is a really strong installment in this series, with a shit-ton of variety — including some stuff to, of course, offend the sensibilities of the delicately-predisposed. Or, I suppose, anyone with a conscience.

Cash Grab! #8, billed as a “Deep Cuts” issue, continues the “mixed media” trend, and it continues to work — a strip entitled “The Aesthetics Of Grief,” focused on the public appearances of musician Nick Cave and his wife, Susie Bick, after the death of their son Arthur is probably the standout selection on offer, but an examination of Lange’s own alcoholism and his inability to control it really hits home, as well. Portraits of well-known comics figures, actors in the film Boogie Nights, and Janeane Garofalo round out a very strong “sampler” of Lange’s creative output.

Cash Grab #9 carries the “sketchbook selections” tag again, this one tightly-focused on the world of porn, something Lange can never seem to stray too far from. As you’d no doubt expect, this one’s a bit more — ahem! — specialized in terms of its appeal, but Lange does a nice job of balancing out gag strips and adult industry anecdotes with eminently readable profiles of porn stars he likes, offering brief “highlights” of their careers along with the reasons he likes them to flesh out the basic biographical information he supplies. Pictures of an anonymous asshole (literally) and the like might put some folks off, sure, but this is still a fascinating, amazingly-rendered piece of work.

All three of these issues — as well as Lange’s other work still in print — can be obtained from The Comix Company at https://thecomixcompany.ecrater.com/c/1133596/aaron-lange-comix

Switching gears in a big way, albeit to a small book —

Plastic People #8 is the most recent installment in Brian Canini’s very solid sci-fi series. These minis seem to come out three or four times a year, and are always a welcome read — even if #7 was, in my view, a clunker. He’s back to form with this one, though, delivering the most interesting issue to date, as we return in earnest to the murder mystery set in a plastic surgery-obsessed future LA that is the central premise of this story. We meet the victim’s boyfriend in this one, and man, what a douchebag this guy turns out to be. Canini crams a lot into eight pages here, visually and narratively, and is really at his best, I think, working within the strictures of this format — one that confounds many, but that he consistently makes the most of with his brisk, sharp storytelling. His deceptively simple line art also communicates a lot with a little, and generally leaves me impressed. Always well worth the two dollar expenditure.

You can check out a preview of Plastic People #8, and explore Canini’s other works, at his Drunken Cat Comics website : https://drunkencatcomics.com/plastic-people-8-preview/

The one “advantage” to my doing a Round-Up column late is that you don’t have to wait as long for the next installment, of course, so do come back Sunday morning for that one, and in the meantime, if you’d care to help support my work, my Patreon page is filling up with a nice amount of content focused on the worlds of comics, films, television, literature, and politics. Your support there not only keeps it all going, but also ensures a steady supply of free content both here and at my trashfilmguru movie site. I’d be very gratified if you’d take a look and consider joining at https://www.patreon.com/fourcolorapocalypse

 

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