« I would rather sit on a pumpkin and have it all to myself, than be crowded on a velvet cushion. » — Henry David Thoreau
Have you picked out that special pumpkin for your fast incoming (dark, presumably) celebrations? If not, better get on it — someone (or something) else may be casting covetous glances and about to call dibs.
The lovely barefoot damsel is Richard Sala’s plucky heroïne (well, one of them!) Peculia. She was the star of Sala’s showcase title Evil Eye (1998-2004, Fantagraphics), as well as the graphic novel Peculia and the Groon Grove Vampires (2005). Fret not, she can fend for herself.
As you may or may not have heard, Mr. Sala was one of the many notables we lost over the course of this nearly unparalleled Annus horribilis. Let’s remember him through this heartfelt eulogy penned by his closest friend and esteemed colleague, Mr. Daniel Clowes.
Pete was born in Washington, D.C. on February 13, 1942, which makes him the doyen of the group. Like Mike “Wool Hat” Nesmith, he was a musician first, likely the group’s most instrumentally proficient. Peter wound up auditioning for the tv show after his name was suggested by Stephen Stills, who wasn’t quite right for the part… but definitely a good sport.
Peter and his fellow Monkees were featured in their own Dell comic book (is there any greater honour?), which lasted from March, 1967 to October, 1969, seventeen issues in all (with some reprinting.) That was one of Dell’s few savvy moves in their waning days, and one of their few readable titles outside John Stanley‘s output.
Update: Peter Tork passed away on Thursday, February 21, 2019, barely a week beyond his 77th birthday. Au revoir, Peter!
« In many ways, I thought, the perfect night would be a string of unanswered doors. » Dan Clowes, Immortal, Invisible
For our lucky thirteenth check on October’s calendar, we’ll stalk the neighbourhood through Dan Clowes’ eyes with his bittersweet and appropriately haunting Hallowe’en memoir, from the 16th issue of Eightball (Nov. 1995, Fantagraphics). It’s also available in their excellent “Caricature” collection.
In the mid-90s, Clowes was going from strength to strength, having gradually evolved past the vastly entertaining but immature snarkiness of his early work… he’s certainly earned full marks for being true to his muse, instead of cranking out routine variations on Zubrick and Pogeybait or Needledick the Bug-Fucker.
As an draftsman, Clowes clearly isn’t a « natural »… he had, and has to work at it. But that’s fine, because his special gift rests in his storytelling. Yet it wouldn’t be the same if he merely wrote scenarios for others to illustrate, since his writing and artwork mesh wholly and perfectly.
As a chronicle of a certain early adolescent mindset, full of turmoil and intense, unpredictable emotions, « Immortal, Invisible » is nearly without peer, matched only by its companion and issue-mate, « Like a Weed, Joe ». I figure that just about any sensitive and perceptive person who’s suffered through the stages of a somewhat solitary and awkward late childhood and adolescence can find a bit of themselves in this tale. I know I can relate to its sense of bittersweetness and longing for the fast-receding innocence of childhood.
The full story is ten pages long, and if you aren’t already familiar with it, I couldn’t recommend it more fervently.
I’d like to interrupt the regularly scheduled Tentacle Tuesday with the double whammy of tentacles and kiss-me-I’m-Irish:
Shamrock Squid, created by Clowes, is an “open source” character, which is to say that other cartoonists have official permission to use him in their work.
« While Shamrock Squid was originally featured in Clowes’s comic book Eightball as a comic companion to “Grip Glutz” in a one-page ‘gag’, he has also made surprise or cameo appearances in other alternative comics such as Peter Bagge’s Hate and Rick Altergott’s Doofus. The most detailed, epic and perhaps final use of Shamrock Squid was done by Adrian Tomine and Peter Bagge in a 7 page piece in Hate #28 entitled “Shamrock Squid: Autobiographical Cartoonist”, which lampooned autobiographical alternative comics, teen angst, and fandom. It would seem that the gag has gone as far as it can. » (source)
I’m not sure what is implied by “the gag has gone as far as it can”, but since Adrian Tomine is involved, I’ll happily agree that enough is enough.
So if you’re planning to booze your woes away this Saturday on St-Patrick’s, happy drinking!
Moving on to the goofiness promised, here’s Tentacle Tuesday in all its glory.
Many women get killed. Their corpses are covered in doughnut-shaped marks. A killer in a trench-coat sporting a wide-brimmed hat has been spotted retreating into the city’s aquarium after his crime. “Who Doughnut?”, the story’s title asks, and it is indeed a stumper.
The intrepid detective follows the killer! His mind struggles with the vital question of who or what could have possibly left such bizarre marks on his victims…
… and comes up with the answer! It’s…. (drumroll, please)…
Well, duh. Everyone knows octopuses suck blood (and have a weakness for stylish hats). « Who Doughnut? », written by Al Feldstein and drawn by Jack Davis, was published in Vault of Horror no. 30, April-May 1953. The art is glorious, and the story – while preposterous – is moody as hell, so do yourself a favour and read it here. As a matter of fact, it’s so well drawn that one forgets the farcical plot and shudders along with the protagonist.
Quite on a different note, meet an alien lifeform with an appetite for self-destruction. Which is to say: it likes to be eaten.
Canadian Stokoe is probably best known for his take on Godzilla, which comic left me frankly underwhelmed. However, I heartily recommend the unfortunately unfinished Orc Stain. As for Wonton Soup, it was loads of fun to read. Here’s a summary from Publisher’s Weekly: « Stokoe’s wittily vulgar debut graphic novel follows former-cook–turned–space trucker Johnny Boyo as he fights off space ninjas, returns to the planet of his ex-girlfriend Citrus Watts, and finally faces a cook-off duel with a pair of alien twins who’ll stop at nothing to achieve culinary victory. » That covers the gist of part 1; to which I’ll add that part 2 of Wonton Soup concerns itself largely with Johnny’s buddy Deac’s reminiscences about his mad escapades with a sex bear, which are not for the squeamish.
Let’s end this cephalopod festival not with a bang but with a whimper… the whimper of a wife who’s getting carried off by tentacles, that is.