Weekly Reading Round-Up : 06/09/2019 – 06/15/2019, Josh Pettinger And Some More Brian Canini

New stuff in the mail this week from the always-intriguing Josh Pettinger, who has a new issue of his self-published Goiter, plus I was finally able to track down the first ish through the auspices of a kind reader of this site — and one more new item from our friend Brian Canini that’s a hold-over from last week. So, yeah, plenty to get to —

Goiter #4 sees Pettinger return to black-and-white after the full-color third issue, but fear not : he’s trying a magazine format this time around, and the enlarged art looks great. As always, the Ware and Clowes influences are pretty strongly felt here, but I dig a cartoonist who wears his artistic lineage on his sleeve, and Pettinger is taking the ethos established by those earlier artists in new and intriguing directions — that direction this time being the story of “Wendy Bread,” a silently-suffering housewife with a philandering pro wrestler for a husband and an alt-right asshole with a hentai fixation and a very active right hand for a son. An uncomfortable study in how to become alienated and estranged from one’s own existence that comes dangerously close to victim-shaming, but avoids it rather deftly by not zeroing in too closely on title character Wendy’s gender specifically and instead utilizes her as a vehicle to get inside the whole “enabler” mindset. The back-up strip about an all-female fire department brigade than ends with then running away from danger is enough to make you think that Pettinger himself may have absorbed (inadvertently or otherwise) some of the Jordan Peterson bullshit he had to subject himself to in order to convincingly write Wendy’s son, but on the whole this is the sort of borderline-problematic book that forces you to think about what it’s presenting rather than actively promulgating for any particular point of view. Certainly well worth the $8.00 asking price — and hey, Pettinger’s got one of the most distinctive lettering styles around, as well, something he never seems to get enough credit for, but might now that it’s reproduced nice and big.

Going back a couple of years, we’ve got Goiter #2, which is in standard comic-book format and carries a $6.00 price. I’d never read this one before but it’s pretty clear this is where Pettinger really started coming into his own. “Henry Kildare” is the story of a ventriloquist whose relationship at home is on the rocks, so he takes a gig out of town and has a potentially life-changing experience — or maybe just an experience that shows how fucked-up his life really is. Comparisons to Clowes’ Caricature are inevitable, I suppose, but this comic does a lot less hand-holding of its readers and makes you puzzle things out, most notably how you feel about the whole damn story, on your own. Order it from the same place you order issue four, namely https://www.etsy.com/shop/Goitercomics

Goiter #1 carries a $5 price tag, but I don’t know where the hell you’re going to find it. This one has more of an Ivan Brunetti vibe to it, albeit with a clinical, dispassionate twist in terms of its narrative POV : a workaday schmuck turns to an internet message board for assistance in pursuing a very particular — and very peculiar — sexual fetish that involves a fake mugging as part of its premise, and from there, shit gets even weirder. Unintended consequences and the like have been done to death before, so while this is a very solid read that raises some troubling questions, it’s less unique than Pettinger’s later efforts and likely of far more interest to completists and bound-and-determined fans of his work than it would be to, say, a casual reader. I still dug it, but you can tell he’s still very much in the process of finding his own voice here, and doesn’t always manage to pull it off.

Finally, we check in with Brian Canini one more time, who had last week’s column all to himself — but at that point I hadn’t read this particular book, Glimpses Of Life #6. I’ve had an up-and-down relationship with this autobio title, feeling like it too frequently lacked a distinct focus and consequently came off as a hit-or-miss affair, but I’m pleased to report this latest issue is a direct hit, charting Canini’s evolution as a comics enthusiast and cartoonist. His efficient, no-frills drawing style really lends itself well to this material and helps Canini achieve the quietly remarkable feat of communicating his love for his medium of choice without sliding (or maybe that should be falling) into complete hagiography. Certainly the most accomplished installment of this series to date and a veritable bargain at $2.99. Get yourself a copy by heading over to http://drunkencatcomics.storenvy.com/

And so another week has come and gone, but I can’t finish up (okay, I choose not to finish up) without reminding you that this column is, as always, 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. Lately, in fact, it’s been a lot of politics. I recently lowered the minimum tier pricing to a dollar a month, so seriously — what are you waiting for? You get terrific value for your money (there’s a ton of stuff up on there already), and your support also helps ensure a steady stream of free content both here and at my trashfilmguru movie site. Please take a moment to check it out over at http://drunkencatcomics.storenvy.com/