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By Ebin Lee
A Wretch Like Me: Sad/Black/Ugly/Queer is by Portland artist Ebin Lee. Lee describes the book as “A Wretch Like Me is my visual journal of Depression/Anxiety/ and Body Dysphoria.” A gutting, stunning experience, drawn in heavy lines and fractured shadows.
A Wretch Like Me is the fifth book in the Sparkplug Minis Series, a series of short-run (500 copies) mini comics by new and/or underappreciated artists.
(20 interior pages, black and white with color cover, 5.5″ x 8.5″, Sparkplug Books, 2015)
The Airy Tales tell about the invisible threads that connect all the things around.
When you touch accidentally one of these threads in the air, it might show, as well as some other threads nearby. Then you start seeing more than you did before, you see little people who are sitting on the leaves as on balconies, a healer who lives in the house inside the rain, or a street pole in love with a crow.
These short tales are light and humorous, they aim to dissolve sadness. Airy tales are the tales that come to you easily, like from the air, that’s why they are “airy tales”. You can take a bunch of them from the air yourself.
They fall onto the nose like raindrops. They seem to exist already somewhere and as they touch the mind or the eye, they take a familiar but always surprising shape, just like snowflakes. Words and illustrations merge together in these tales, adding to their personal style which attempts to read messages from an unseen place that soars between a dream journal and a notebook.
(128 interior pgs, 9″ x 6″, color cover with full color interiors, Sparkplug Books)
The Anthropologists follows the author’s trip to Australia and subsequent reevaluation of her chosen field of study. Taylor’s expressive line work and analysis of the strange intersection of self as a person of color, a tourist and a scholar of Aboriginal culture make for an engrossing, thought-provoking read.
The Anthropologists is the second book in the Sparkplug Minis Series, a series of short-run (500 copies) mini comics by new and/or underappreciated artists.
“Taylor’s work is charming, but I like that she doesn’t try to romanticize anything. … (she) has a really strong sense of storytelling, as well. She lays out her pages with a keen eye for story. It’s really impressive.” Brian Cronin, Comic Book Resources.
(36 interior pages, 5.5″ x 8.5″, B&W with color cover, Sparkplug Books, 2014)
This amazing collection of illustrated travel chronicles the bizarre as well as the mundane experiences of a recent trip through Thailand, Cambodia and Laos. Wiping off the nostalgic “Shangri-La” mystique off of contemporary monstro-“Cities” like Bangkok; it reveals a more western smeared and embellished recent history…with a few “Bombs” dropped in between…With his flair for details, Mats!? takes us on a journey, littered with landmines , through a landscape of beauty and horror, humor and disbelief.
Witness! “Buddhisneyland” a theme park worthy of Walt’s. Albeit, on ACID!
Fathom! the horror of the “Khmer Rouge.” Follow in the footsteps of the Buddha. Down alleys where the shadows are rarely one’s own!
The text lays it on thick and is hilarious in its infantilism, and is well complemented by the stunning cartoon very tay*(TM) style that infuses it with the immediacy of a newspaper photo.The book is also illustrated with some stunning photography by Peri B.
Asiaddict is exactly the kind of guidebook you would want to read before going on a trip but not the kind of thing you’d ever find in a normal travel guide. Funny, but also really lurid.
(96 interior pgs, 6″ x 9″, color and B&W, Sparkplug Books)
Asthma is a collection of recent comics by John Hankiewicz. From story to story, even page to page, the book mixes a startling range of graphic and narrative styles to form a dreamlike whole.
“Amateur Comics” creates a wordless lyric of body, chairs, and space. “Martha Gregory” delves into the rhyming psyches of a young woman and an old man. “Jazz” charts a single day through the lens of the unconscious. Also included are the visually abstract “The Kimball House,” the autobiographical “Westmont Is Next,” the elliptically humorous “Dance” (printed in black and red), and several other ineffable pieces.
At once perplexing and moving, disturbing and playful, Asthma explores the formal and emotional reaches of the comics medium.
“For years now, Hankiewicz has explored ways of storytelling that no one else is with comics.” Tom Spurgeon, The Comics Journal
“[A] unique vision.” Shawn Hoke on “Dance”, Size Matters Blog
(104 interior pgs, 8.5″ x 11 “, black & white and color, Sparkplug Books)
Barrio Mothers is the local Portland Free Comic Book Day comic for 2014! Featuring work by all Portland artists (Nick Norman, Josh Juresko, Sophie Franz, Karissa Sakumoto, Asher Z Craw, Wally Catton, Andrew Scully and covers by Souther Salazar and Cameron Hawkey). This variety of work is but a wonderful sample of each artist’s rad skills – check it out!
(30 interior pages, 6.6” x 10.25”, black and white with color cover, published by Sparkplug, Floating World Comics, Snakebomb Comix, Teenage Dinosaur)
By Madéleine Flores
“Bear, Bird and Stag Were Arguing in the Forest (and other stories) contains the brand new 20 page title story as well as three of Madéleine Flores’s popular webcomics: Weave, Soul, and Wander.
In the days of talking animals, Bear, Bird and Stag argue over which one of them should be king. They seek the wisdom of the mystical Forest Witch, who sends them on a quest to prove how royal they are.
These four stories show Madéleine’s versatility as an artist and read with a sense of wonder often brought on by fairy tales.” – Retrofit Comics
(40 pages, black and white with color cover, 9″ x 6″, Retrofit Comics)
More of Lechner’s precise, politically-minded cartoons. This issue is all bike gags! Smart and pointed.
(20 interior pages, 5.5″ x 5.5″, black & white, self-published)
The Big Feminist But is an entertaining, thought-provoking look at what feminism means and how we relate to it in the modern age. Funded through a successful Kickstarter campaign, this anthology explores gender identity, sexual orientation, and relationships between (and among) the sexes. Painstakingly edited by Shannon O’Leary and Joan Reilly, it features comics by a wide group of incredibly talented writers and artists, including Gabrielle Bell, Corinne Mucha, Jeffrey Brown, Charlie Jane Anders, Vanessa Davis, and Dylan Williams. The Big Feminist But showcases a different facet of feminism with each selection and proves that discussions about feminism, gender, and identity are as relevant and necessary as ever.
“The Big Feminist But kicks ass . . . The stories inside — edited by Joan Reilly and Shannon O’Leary — aren’t just one-note lectures. Some stories are multi-layered essays as the contributors grapple with their own issues — accepting images of female power, potential spinsterhood, childlessness. Others are nuanced examinations of the power balance between women and men — or women and women. Some are just funny. Given the range of contributors, it’s no surprise that the contents are so strong, but such ‘theme’ anthologies are often wildly uneven, and it’s a credit to editors O’Leary and Reilly that it’s such a strong, thoughtful work.” Heidi MacDonald, The Beat: The News Blog of Comics and Comics Culture
(200 interior pages, 8″ x 10″, B&W with color cover, self-published)
Shannon O’Leary and Joan Reilly
Simply drawn and to the point, Big Plans stands out as one of the best modern self-published comics. The Xeric Award-winning series continues as Aron explores his childhood and adolescence, a retrospective on 90’s video games and siblings in trouble. Beautifully printed in heavy black ink!
(48 interior pgs, 6.5″ x 6 “, black & white, self-published)
Aron Nels Steinke