What the Postman Bringeth! #7

The OTT, oversized characters of professional wrestling make such obvious subjects for the comics medium that it’s something of a surprise there’s not already a slew of biographies detailing their exploits. But Box Brown’s Andre the Giant: Life and Legend stands pretty much alone.

But much like its subject, it deserves to. This is an accomplished work from someone who has put a lot of time and effort into researching Andre René Roussimoff, and who clearly has a lot of affection for him. Brown doesn’t allow that to blind him to the harsh realities, though, and isn’t afraid to portray Andre in a less-than-positive light. As a result, the graphic novel serves as an honest look at a flawed, complex individual, one whose condition brought him both joy (in terms of his wrestling career) and pain (because of the ridicule others subjected him to).

The black-and-white artwork is unfussy yet striking, with the simple thick lines emphasising Andre’s larger-than-life physique but also capturing the smaller moments when he didn’t feel like such a giant. And as you’d hope, the scenes depicting in-ring action feel both physical and kinetic, carrying a real sense of weight.

For First Second Books, 2014 is proving to be a banner year, and this is another release the publisher can be proud of. And for Box Brown, it’s a work that will make people sit up and take notice.

What the Postman Bringeth! #6

There is something deeply satisfying about receiving post. Indeed, this series exists to pay testament to the fact. Whether it be the pleasant interruption of the working day or a nice surprise upon returning home, there’s always pleasure to be taken from tearing a package open and gazing upon its contents. This is true even when you know exactly what it contains; it’s even more exciting when the contents are a mystery.

That’s one of the reasons the monthly subscription offered by Oily Comics is such a great idea. The second is the quality of the material. Having signed up for three months through to December, my first month’s package dropped through the mail slot the other day. It contained the following six mini-comics:

  • Missy
  • Noise #3
  • Real Rap #5
  • Teen Creeps #4
  • Tell God To Blow The Wind From The West
  • Word and Voice #8

The standout is Teen Creeps #4, by Oily Comics publisher Charles Forsman. It offers a window into the life of Dawn, one of the teens of the title, and her attempts to navigate the complications of adolescence. Forsman has received a lot of praise for The End of the Fucking World, and Teen Creeps is of a similarly high standard. His simple linework emphasises emotion, and his sparse panels ensure the characters are always the focus. He does a great job capturing the language of teens too; Dawn’s attempts at profundity are clumsy but earnest, while a phrase like “get your dick wet” highlights how burgeoning sexuality and immaturity are inextricably linked at that age. It’s enough to send me scurrying off to buy the first three issues, whilst eagerly awaiting the fifth.

The other five mini-comics suggest that the American underground comics scene is in rude health. In particular, Tell God To Blow The Wind From The West – based on 9/11 victim Kevin Cosgrove’s final moments – marks Nick Drnaso out as one to watch, with the heart-wrenching desperation of Cosgrove’s last words set against images of an empty cityscape. The symbolism is obvious, but that doesn’t make it any less effective.

Comics Alliance recently recommended an Oily Comics subscription as a gift. If you can bear to sign up a friend rather than yourself, you’re more generous than I could ever hope to be.

Further reading
Oily Comics
Holiday Gift Guide: Oily Comix Subscription
Oily Comics at Impossible Books

What the Postman Bringeth! #5

For various boring financial-related reasons, it’s been a few months since the last What the Postman Bringeth! But fear not, for he’s been extra kind to me in the last few weeks. Let’s start by focusing on today’s delivery.

Firstly, there’s the Avengers: Endless Wartime original graphic novel. Quite why I’ve received it early is a bit of a mystery; last month Bleeding Cool revealed that the book had shipped early by mistake, but at the same time noted that Marvel had instructed retailers to hold onto their copies until the October 2 release date. But hey, I’m not complaining!

Arriving at the same time: a comic I backed through Kickstarter. Published on newsprint to evoke the funny pages, Ocular Anecdotes marries minimalist art and a skewed sense of humour, unfolding a handful of slice-of-life stories with a surrealist bent. Following the success of his crowdfunding campaign, creator Peter Cline launched Otto Press as a vehicle to publish Ocular Anecdotes and other titles; I’ll be keeping a close eye on the publisher over the coming months. In an industry dominated by a handful of large players, it’s always important to support small presses.

What the Postman Bringeth! #4

Just the one delivery this time, but it’s a special one. Launched in October 2004, DC’s Solo was a bi-monthly anthology that gave some of the industry’s finest artists a 48 page platform to showcase their work. What this meant in practise was a handful of short stories that were eclectic both in style and genre. Some of the artists collaborated with writers whilst others went it alone; either way, the emphasis was firmly on their creative vision.

I’ve got an issue or two somewhere amidst my vast collection (the Darwyn Cooke and Jordi Bernet instalments, if memory serves), and remembered them fondly enough to order the collected edition the day after I learnt about its publication via The A.V. Club’s review. DC is sometimes all-too-easy to mock (not to mention fun to mock), but this deluxe edition hardcover is an absolutely beautiful release, and they should be commended for putting it out.

The artists featured are (deep breath) Tim Sale, Richard Corben, Paul Pope, Howard Chaykin, Darwyn Cooke, Jordi Bernet, Michael Allred, Teddy Kristiansen, Scott Hampton, Damion Scott, Sergio Aragones, and Brendan McCarthy. Which should be all the incentive you need to buy it!

What the Postman Bringeth! #1

This week I went a little crossover crazy. Firstly, I bought the entirety of the X-Cutioner’s Song crossover, spanning Uncanny X-Men, X-Men, X-Force, and X-Factor. Brilliantly, all 12 issues were still in the sealed bags they were originally packaged in, way back in 1992-93. Secondly, I picked up the four issues of the untitled X-Men/Ghost Rider crossover from 1992, which ran through X-Men #8-9 and Ghost Rider #26-27.

Now, the 1990s X-Men era is not a popular one. Dropped plots, endless crossovers, editorial interference, and the over-expansion of the line resulted in a lot of comics that are not fondly remembered. Nevertheless, it’s my era – the point at which I first came to comics – and so naturally I have a certain affection for it.

Back in the 21st century, with people raving about the new Hawkeye series, I figured I’d pick up the first volume of the trade to see what all the fuss is about. It’s always exciting when a couple of talented creators take a B-list character and craft a viable ongoing series, so Matt Fraction and David Aja deserve a lot of credit. Here’s hoping it lives up to expectations.

Finally, I’m not entirely sure what inspired me to buy The New Eternals: Apocalypse Now, a spur-of-the-moment purchase of a title I didn’t even know existed until I stumbled across it on eBay. I guess developments in Rick Remender’s Uncanny X-Force and Uncanny Avengers have reinvigorated my interest in Apocalypse as a character, and hopefully this one-shot will delve into the complicated minutiae of his existence.