Monday, May 24, 2021

Reviewing the Mail: Week of 5/22/21

Have I mentioned how annoying Blogger's current interface is? There are no keyboard shortcuts for labels or publication time - arrows, tabs, whatever; none of it does anything, so you have to click your mouse like a monkey - and it inserts a space at the beginning of every single post for no damn good reason.

It is horrible, and I suspect it's to do with responsive design somehow: Blogger provides a horrible experience on desktop for a text-based long-form content-creation platform so that it can also provide an inevitably horrible, in different ways, experience on mobile. This is me shaking my fist at the clouds, and insisting that tools should be designed to do specific things in specific ways, not to be loose collections of stuff that works everywhere, sort-of, maybe, kind of.

Anyway, I have some new books this week. I actually have more than this already, but I'm rationing so I have stuff to write about next week and to keep from spending too much time in a basement on a sunny Saturday morning. So I will tell you about one book I bought and six more that came from the library.

The book I bought is Stories from the '90s by Rick Geary, which explains itself very well in its title. It contains stories by Rick Geary, which were written and drawn and published in the 1990s. There's no table of contents, but the credits at the end list twenty-seven issues or publications, so I'm going to guess it has at least twenty-seven stories in its hundred-and-twenty pages. Geary is a fun, quirky comics creator, and his short stuff has always been his quirkiest. This is the period when I think he transitioned from doing a lot of short strips for various outlets (in this case: Heavy Metal, Dark Horse's Cheval Noir anthology series, Dark Horse Presents, a few Geary one-shots and odder places) into doing the book-length explorations of historical murders, which I have to assume paid better and was more dependable. So there may never be a similar book for the Aughts - even if so, this one exists, which is great. The only way to get it is right from Geary himself; he published it and sells it in his webstore. He's been Kickstarting books for about a decade now, and the package is entirely professional  - my only quibble is that the spine has no words on it.

And the rest are books from the library:

The Loneliness of the Long-Distance Cartoonist is a major memoir from Adrian Tomine, who previously mostly told stories about people like him. (Though I should mention Scenes from an Impending Marriage from a decade ago, which was an expanded version of the comics-format favor from Tomine's own wedding.) I think Tomine himself is as conflicted and confused by his life as his characters are about theirs, so I'm not expecting vast changes in style - though the tone looks to be more conversational and the style more personal.

All Together Now is a YA graphic novel by Hope Larson and the sequel to All Summer Long; it came out last year and I realized it existed while poking through some library lists recently. The first one, as I recall, was very clearly not about romance - thirteen-year-old Bina wasn't interested, wasn't ready, and had better things to do - but this one looks to be set during the school year and to see that romantic world affect Bina, whether she wants it to or not. (I'll have to see whether she wants it to when I read it.)

The Man Without Talent is a single-volume manga by Yoshiharu Tsuge, originally published around forty years ago. It's on the literary side - this edition is published by New York Review Comics - and it looks like Tsuge basically stopped making comics soon after this one. I've heard about this for a while, and it sounds like my kind of thing, so a library copy is exactly perfect.

The Contradictions is a graphic novel by Sophie Yanow, about a young American woman in Europe, ostensibly to study but really looking for herself - for the person she wants to be, was meant to be, wants to become, yearns to turn into. I believe it's already won an Eisner award, so I'm expecting something good.

Ascender, Vol. 1 begins a new series by Jeff Lemire and Dustin Nguyen which some people, having seen my post on Descender, Vol. 6 a couple of months ago, will be surprised to see me read. Well, I do have to admit I have the usual human moth/flame attraction, and that I am not above hate-reading something if it turns out that way. To be more positive about it: I've liked literally every other thing I've read that Lemire wrote, and Nguyen is a talented artist. I'm willing to give them another chance after the "let me just murder 99.9% of all sentients in this universe, just to do a fun different story next!" bullshit ending of Descender. One chance.

And last is Derf Backderf's doorstop Kent State, a major non-fictional comics look at the famous massacre. This book has had lousy luck: it was scheduled to come out on the fiftieth anniversary, which was May 4 of last year, and a certain health crisis meant the book was delayed and the publicity tour was (as far as I can tell) entirely cancelled. I hope it's still doing well; Backderf has matured from an interesting alt-cartoonist (The City, which ran in alt-weeklies for a long time) to a solid graphic novelist with an engagingly lumpy drawing style and a working-man viewpoint rare in comics.

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