Thursday, 28 November 2013

Unwrapping Rafael Coutinho's Teen Kiss

Firstly: apologies for the slight lack in blogging: Thought Bubble was crazy and I've had a lot to do concerning that, and then I got bloody con flu, and on top of that I actually had to go to work (disgusting, I know). Anyhow, it's been over a month since I bought Rafael Coutinho's Teen Kiss from Impossible Books, and I only got around to taking it out from it's packaging this morning. Coutinho's Brazilian and this was published by Brazilian small press comics publishers, Cacholte- also of those Projeto Mil comics previously covered here. I haven't read it yet, but I thought I'd put together a quick photo-post to show you some pages and panels with brief annotations because it looks simply amazing. (I'm sorry the pictures are crap; after 3 years my photo-taking skills show zero signs of improvement).

It's actually slightly under A3 in length, 24 by 40 cm in size, I've put a clothes hanger next to it in the second picture to give more of an idea of perspective. That's the cover below- one of the things I find interesting and really appealing is how Coutinho uses geometric shapes with his fine lined loose drawing style, just inserting shafts and squares of them here and there, although not randomly- the setting of them side-by-side, along with his colours is kaleidoscopic, and make your brain's eye shift a little.

I feel like I've seen this technique before, and yet nothing springs to mind: rendering large parts of background in black and white and colouring in characters or lettering, or specific elements and objects. It makes the black and white scapes seem less alive, particularly as the pops of colour are so bright and vivid- in the page below, for example, the blues of the boys clothing against all that white immediately leap out at you. I love that he plays around with lettering so much, too- different fonts, moulding it into various shapes, experimenting with placement: below you've got the thin, yellow ominous font floating over the feral dogs, then the multi-coloured bubble font stretching over the city.

The lettering here, in the pics above and below, is fantastic: the red/black wall block grid, and that 3-D 'BANG' sound effect: again the only coloured elements on the page.

Below 2 images: I just love the colours here, the positioning and angle of the group crowd shot, the costumes is crazily good. That final image evoke a psychedelic disco dance floor theme (again with the tiled ceiling and the angular strobe lights): I find that panel in which the man is holding a gun to someone's head interesting in that colour, and therefore emphasis, is placed on the would-be victim with his bowed head instead of the shooter, which takes away his power in a sense.

Seriously, this looks absolutely superb, and you should go buy it now. Here's a brief synopsis from the Impossible Books site: 'The first volume of Rafael Coutinho's saga 'Teen Kiss' in this stunning oversized edition tells the story of a gang of kids who call themselves 'The Teen Kiss', where every member has some sort of superpower or special ability manifested early in adolescence, generally after their first kiss.'

Wednesday, 27 November 2013

Preview: The Art of Charlie Chan Hock Chye

I wrote about Sonny Liew's upcoming biography of pioneering Singaporean comics creator, Charlie Chan Hock Chye back in December last year, and it look like the book is now closer to completion, as Liew's been sharing a chunk of his pages with readers. Liew's intrepesed Hock Chye's comic pages with his own narrative recounting Hock Chye's life, and it looks superb- you have to click on the pictures to enlarge them to see the detail, especially the dynamic motion/expression lines, characters and clouds in Hock Chye's  pages which gives it great energy. Still no release date for this, but there's a brief synopsis below, and you can keep an eye on the Epigram website for further news.

'The Art of Charlie Chan Hock Chye is a biography showcasing the life and work of Chan Hock Chye, pioneering but largely forgotten comic artist in Singapore. With a career spanning more than five decades, from pre-independent Singapore through its three Prime Ministers, Chan’s work reflects the changing political and economic environment in Singapore. Containing Chan’s original illustrations, painting and sketches, this is a groundbreaking work and labour of love aimed at recapturing the portrait of an artist, whose deep passion for comics and country is given a fitting tribute by award-winning comic artist Sonny Liew.'

Monday, 25 November 2013

British Comic Awards 2013: winners

I'm going to write a Thought Bubble report eventually, somewhere (probably over at TCJ), but in the meantime, I'm just going to very briefly talk about the British Comic Awards (I'll expand slightly in the report). The second annual British Comic Awards took place on Saturday evening in the Royal Armouries Bury Theater, after the con floor closed, with the winner of the Young People's Comic award announced on the Friday. That award is voted by children from participating schools, so I was really pleased to see Garen Ewing win with his book The Complete Rainbow Orchid. Orchid is a brilliant adventure story in the classic ligne claire tradition, and it's satisfying to know that kids still appreciate that style and good, solid narrative- which is not to say that the other nominees weren't excellent also, but I have to admit it's triumph took me by surprise in a good way.

A special mention for David Monteith, who hosted the awards this year and was a fantastic host: engaging, punchy and funny. Below is a full list of nominees, with winners in bold. Congratulations to all involved.

Best Comic:
The Absence #5 – Martin Stiff (self published)
The Listening Agent – Joe Decie (Blank Slate Books)
Mud Man #6 – Paul Grist (Image Comics)
Soppy – Philippa Rice (self published)
Winter’s Knight: Day One – Robert M Ball (Great Beast/self published)

Best Book:
The Gigantic Beard That Was Evil – Stephen Collins (Jonathan Cape)
Judge Dredd: Trifecta – Al Ewing, Rob Williams, Simon Spurrier, Henry Flint, D’Israeli, Carl Critchlow and Simon Coleby (2000AD Graphic Novels)
The Man Who Laughs – David Hine and Mark Stafford (Self Made Hero)
Mrs. Weber’s Omnibus – Posy Simmons (Jonathan Cape)
The Nao of Brown – Glyn Dillon (Self Made Hero)

Young People’s Comic Award:
Hilda & The Bird Parade – Luke Pearson (NoBrow)
The Sleepwalkers – Vivianne Schwarz (Walker Books)
Cindy & Biscuit #3 – Dan White (self published)
The Complete Rainbow Orchid – Garen Ewing (Egmont)
Playing Out – Jim Medway (Blank Slate Books)

Emerging Talent: 
Isabel Greenberg (The River of Lost Souls)
Dilraj Mann (Frank Ocean VS Chris Brown, Make You Notice, Turning Point)
Will Morris (The Silver Darlings)
Jade Sarson (Cafe Suada)
Lizzy Stewart (Solo, Four Days In Brussels, Four Days in Iceland, Object Stories)

Hall of Fame:
Leo Baxendale

L-R: Adam Cadwell, Glyn Dillon, Will Morris, Robert Ball and Jacky Fleming who accepted the award on behalf of Leo Baxendale. Photo taken by Sarah McIntyre, whose Thought Bubble report you can, and should, read here

Friday, 22 November 2013

News, views and Oddities #23

News, Views and Oddities, where we link to various bits and bobs which have grabbed our attention, encompassing comics, books, illustration, design and film. Clicking fingers at the ready; this week's edition is going to be a bit of a whiz-around, as it's the cumulative 2-day convention of the Thought Bubble festival tomorrow.

Box Brown reveals the cover for his Andre the Giant comic, due to be published by First Second in May of next year- that should make for pretty interesting reading.

Improper  Books are on fire at the moment: they've just announced another Benjamin Read and Chris Wildgoose book: Briar, in their chosen genre sandbox of dark fantasy/fairytale, which follows the story of the cursed Princess Layka, and Kaye, The Knight of Thorns, who searches for a way to break the curse and set her free. As has become tradition, Improper will give the book a limited UK indie edition of Briar is scheduled for release in 2014. However, if you're headed to Thought Bubble, you can pick up a free colour preview of the first part of Briar from tables 51-53, and copies of the free preview will also be available from supporting retailers.

People are pretty excited about the news that Hayao Miyazkai is (apparently) working on a new samurai comic in his retirement. I love that I have seen this endlessly, breathlessly reported, and the sheer enthusiasm with which this 'news' has been embraced- all from a few pictures and some comments from a friend of a friend. It speaks of how loved and respected Miyazaki and his work is.

Nice art: Tyson Hesse fulfills a childhood dream by drawing a fantastic Sonic the Hedgehog cover, while  Bryan Lee O'Malley  shares a character glimpse from his upcoming book, Seconds.

(free) Comics you should read:
The 24 most popular professions in comic books.

There are so many opinions and thoughts surrounding crowd-funding, but here are two very worthy comics projects that you may want to consider. Roman Muradov is kick-starting issue #4 of his Yellow Zine- the goal has been reached, but I'm alerting you to the opportunity of getting your hands on some beautiful original art for very, very low prices in addition to Muardov's beautiful comics. Mould Map 3, a comics and narrative art anthology, has some amazing artists involved: Sammy Harkham, Kilian Eng, Lala Albert, Sam Alden, Angie Wang, Aidan Koch, and so many many more. They're at the halfway point, with 8 days remaining, so please take a look at that if you're able.

Joe McCulloh on CAB and comics from CAB. 

Ian Rankin reviews the new Asterix book which is set in a pseudo-historical version of Scotland. I haven't read Asterix since I was a kid and it was still written by it's original creators, but this one is garnering some positive feedback.

And finally, if you're Thought Bubble-bound tomorrow, like everybody else in UK comics, I helped Steve Morris put together a handy list of books you should check out. 

Wednesday, 20 November 2013

Exclusive: previews of the new mini kuš!

You get a whole load of rubbish sent to you by way of promotional emails, press releases, teasers and other tosh from comics publishers and people, but the best ones (needless to say) are from people whose work you're actually interested in. Which is why I'm always happy to receive an email from the lovely folk over at kuš! komiks, especially when it includes exclusive previews of their upcoming publications. For November, they have four new mini kuš! lined up with as diverse a range of offerings as ever, this time from Michael Jordan, Berliac, Renata Gasiorowska and Jean de Wet. 

Kus! are incredibly prompt with their deliveries, so if you're looking for a nifty present or extra for Christmas, these full-colour, A6-sized, beautifully produced comics make a great gift, and with them being brand new there's no danger of buying something that's already been read. I can't think of a comics fan who wouldn't appreciate a selection of mini-comics wrapped nicely or tied with ribbon (okay so I'm not good at this, but truly). Below you can find a synopsis and 3-page preview of each:

Michael Jordan, mini kuš! #18 ‘This No Place to Stay’: 'This No Place to Stay' is a semi-fictional, semi-biographical story by the German artist Michael Jordan. His bearded alter ego travels through a coffee cup into a labyrinth inside a hospital laboratory. Hopefully the wound in the nurse's hand can rescue him...

Berliac, mini kuš! #19 ‘Inverso’: In the midst of a marital crisis, an unnamed zoologist is assigned to investigate the possible case of a "negative jaguar". The deeper he delves into the Amazonian jungle, the more he steps into the other side of reality. Is it too late to go back? Find out in Berliac’s Inverso.

Renata Gąsiorowska, mini kuš! #21 ‘Jungle Night’: It's the biggest celebration of the year all friends have been waiting for, but Lili just prefers to be alone sometimes. Put some leaves on your head and join her through Renata Gąsiorowska's Jungle Night.

Jean de Wet, mini kuš! #20 ‘Crater Lake’: Jean de Wet’s Crater Lake is a panoramic portrait of space and time, capturing moments of tranquility, paranoia, invasion, rebellion, indifference and ultimately salvation-all taking place within a volcanic crater community, during an unusual cosmic event.

You can pre-order the books here for $6 each, inclusive of shipping worldwide, or $20 for all four.

Tuesday, 19 November 2013

Secret Acres announce books from Mucha, Dawson, Fake and Ellsworth

The Secret Acres crew wrote up their report on CAB (Comic Arts Brooklyn) last week and in amongst the discussion of Fantagraphics Kickstarter and the difficulties of comics publishing, there were nestled a few book announcements for the upcoming year. If you read this blog even semi-regularly, you'll probably roll your eyes whenever I say I'm excited about a new comic or book, but, you know, there's honestly such a vast amount of very, very good to great comics out there, so much so that it's difficult to keep up with them all. Having said that, I am super bloody excited that Secret Acres will be publishing a new book from one of my favourite cartoonists, Corinne Mucha.  Mucha will be producing 'Get Over It,' a continuation of sorts of the themes and issues discussed in her excellent mini-comic 'My Every Singe Thought,' which explored the perceptions and prejudices surrounding single women.

Along with the second installment of Theo Ellsoworth's 'The Understanding Monster,' Mike Dawson will be publishing his first book since Troop 142, and like Mucha, this one will be targeted more at an adult audience. Titled Angie Bongiolatti, it promises to 'feature explicit dongs, cooters and hooters with healthy helpings of sociopolitical commentary and philosophy.' The final announcement was an art book from Edie Fake, based around his exhibition Memory Palaces, a series of patterned, architectural drawings which journeyed through imaginary and real locations in Chicago, detailing it's queer history .

So there you have it: a glimpse into Secret Acres' 2014 catalogue, and what looks to be a stellar year. As a citizen of the rainy isles, the only downside is tracking their books down; the publisher don't have a UK or international distributor at the moment, but their books can be found in select comic and book stores such as Forbidden Planet, Gosh! and Nobrow.

Discover: Jamie Coe

Last week, I came across Jamie Coe's work (thanks to a tweet from Paul Harrison-Davies- thanks, Paul!). Coe, a recent first class graphic design graduate from Central Saint Martins, blew me away with his work and is a hugely promising talent. Which is not to say he isn't pretty damn good already- he is- but when you think of his age and the fact that he can only really improve from here, that's exciting and daunting stuff. There's two things that particularly struck me about his comics: his art style, which carries a clear Crumb-y influence: an emphasised thickness, an ugliness almost, which Coe has refined and made cleaner and clearer, so that while it still has body and meat, it's attractive too, a style which I think offers something a little new and different to UK comics. 

The second thing is the range of subjects he covers: perusing his website you'll find Inflation Nation, a short story concerning the rise of university tuition fees in the UK, Bite Da Dust, a comic based around the opera ‘Don Giovanni,' which follows Giovanni in the queue to hell, where he attempts to jump into the neighboring queue to heaven, Patience, a tale in which a western businessman on a trip to Sydney finds himself instead in a remote town in India. He also does a nice line in political editorial cartoons.

My favourite (and the one I've included images from below) is his House of Freaks comic, centering around twin brothers in a circus, one of whom is human in appearance and the other beast-like. The London-based Coe say he aims to 'create a sense of atmosphere and narrative in my illustrations, often distorting reality to emphasize aspects of reality,' and I think of House of Freaks illustrates that tendency nicely. It's beautifully drawn and just amazingly coloured, particularly Coe's use of blues and greens and the manner in which he creates lighting and flashes. Those characters are nicely interesting as well, I'd love to see them in a longer form work, but I'm looking forward to anything Coe produces really.

UPDATE: Colin Bell tells me Coe is currently working on his graphic novel, 'Art-Schooled' for Nobrow Press, so we'll get to see a published book from him sooner rather than later. (Thanks, Colin!)

You can find Coe's website here, and follow him on Twitter here