Friday, 22 May 2015

Comics shelfie: Lala Albert

It's that other time of the month, where we nosey around a cartoonist's book collection and get them to photograph their shelves and chat about their influences. This week, it's the excellent Lala Albert, author of many an excellent comic- Alien Invasion, In the Up Part of the Wave, Paranoid Apartment, Janus,  and most recently, R.A.T. (a review of which was published on this very blog yesterday)- who is taking us on a tour of her bookshelves and talking about some of her favourite books and artists. I appreciate Lala's work a lot- not only the specificity of her style which I really enjoy looking at, particularly the way she draws women, untraditional renderings that free them from the trappings of conventional attractiveness and associations so they're almost alien in nature. The main reason I like Lala's comics are that they push me- they're smart and different and I don't always understand them, but never obfuscating for the sake of it. It's nice to read things that you know you enjoy and within your comfort zone, but it's essential, too. to expand and grow. I feel, along with Sloane Leong's work, this is probably the direction comics are going in, perhaps and that these artists are ahead and already there, and at some point the rest of us will comprehend and catch up.

Over to Lala for the interesting stuff:

'Hello here's my shelf!

​I don't have too massive a collection right now. A combination of moving a few times in the last few years, only sorta recently getting into comics and also impulsively getting rid of things whenever I try to re-arrange keeps me contained to this one bookshelf in my bedroom (plus whatever piles up around (trying to keep everything I haven't read yet limited to this stool and a box under my bed at the moment)).

On the top two shelves I have some writey books, books I made and also information and guide books. I haven't been buying much lately..I usually prefer to go to the library or spend all my time on the internet instead of reading, so my collection's a mix of stuff I got in highschool and what I've kind of stumbled upon in the last few years. I also haven't finished about a third of what's on the shelf and will probably do a trade-in at the used book store once I get through it.

A prize from the top shelf is this big folder where I keep all the art and things I've gotten in the mail from friends or doodles/jam drawings they've left in my apartment. I don't visit it as much as I should but it's nice to know it's up there and is probably worth millions (just kidding I'll keep it all forever).

I found this series of books by Rachel Carson behind a bunch of stuff at this great used book store by where I live and it's been a big inspiration for me the last year or so. These three books profile different aspects of the ocean and are pretty comprehensive, and they also have some great illustrations.

The Edge of the Sea was particularly influential for me while I was working on my comic Janus and I ended up setting a lot of it in the intertidal zone as a result. It's written with this great mix of dry scientific language and poetic meanderings on coastal sea life.

​Next is my zine shelf. I try to keep it organized by size and artist so I can find everything easily, though I almost never look at anything again once it goes on the shelf unless I'm getting rid of it (so much guilt here). A pretty big section is taken up by my Michael DeForge, Patrick Kyle and InĂ©s Estrada collections. I think I have almost everything they've made in the last 5 or 6 years, my extremely productive idols.

I also have a box full of zines under my bed that I've mostly been putting off reading since I got them in November. Something about shitty weather makes me not want to read mini comics. I'll open it up soon to see what I've been missing.

I think this was a real alligator, now a decorative letter opener.

Under there I keep my tall and soft books that don't fit on a regular shelf and it's also where I've been shoving my finished comics drawings this past year. (That's Mould Map 1+2, a big book of Daisuke Ichiba's work and one from Phil Woollam.)

​My manga collection has gotten a lot smaller since I moved to New York. I either gave away or sold pretty much all of it except volume one of Battle Angel Alita which is the only one I've managed to hold on to over the years. Everything else I've gotten recently. The Brooklyn Public Library system has a great manga selection so I don't feel the need to buy much, definitely don't have the space for that kind of thing either. I think Taiyo Matsumoto's Sunny has been the one ongoing series I Gotta Have.

I also keep all the other "spine" books on this shelf, organized kind of by size. Recent standouts on this shelf for me have been Miss Hennipin by Andy Douglas Day, Impressions from Aidan Koch and Walter Scott's Wendy. Everything else there is also wonderful.

The bottom shelf is a mix of art books, too-tall comics and anthologies. These books usually escape the purges somehow.

One that I've had for years is Angel Cage, the Angel Sanctuary art book from Kaori Yuki. I got this at Otakon in 2003 I think. I used to have every volume of the manga (from ebay) that I would sit with in front of my computer and read fan-translated scripts of while I looked at the physical books. The series' romantic cyber gothy aesthetic really informed the art I was making as a teen and probably still does. Sad weirdos sitting around pouting continues to be a subject I'm very into working with.

Another used book store find, this Blake biography kind of blew my mind when I saw it. Look at that cover! The writing is super fannish but with a focus on artistic toiling. The plates are just OK but I think it's something that's had a pretty big impact on my art attitude and style the last few years in a way I'm not sure how to describe.

I realized I didn't really write much about comics. I don't know if I can really say I have a favorite comic or anything and I still feel like I'm pretty new to reading them. I'm constantly impressed and inspired by the work I see from my friends and the people I've met over the last few years and I'm glad that it makes up the bulk of my comics collection. '

A massive thank you to Lala for her time and participation. You can view all the previous installments of Comics Shelfie here. Next installment will be up in a month.

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