More Dope Rider!

In 2017 French publisher Tanibis presented a beautiful collection of cartoonist Paul Kirchner’s work (in English) as Awaiting the Collapse. The book contained all Dope Rider strips Kirchner created for High Times magazine, as well as some other comics and illustrations for Screw Magazine.  It was a beautiful book, mostly thanks to Kirchner’s splendid linework that harkened back to a time when psychedelic layouts and storylines were all the rage. A salute to a bygone time, so to speak.

Well, turns out, that wasn’t all. In a new book, A Fistful of Delirium (again with Tanibis), Kirchner presents over a hundred pages of new Dope Rider strips, created after 2015, basically continuing where he left off in the 1980s. The strips are still a hallelujah to the benefits of marihuana use, but Kirchner now mixes his dreamlike vistas with references to recent pop culture, and Native American culture comes to the foreground more than it did in the first collection.

I guess shipping to the US may be a bit of a pain, but these two books are highly recommended (pun intended, even though it’s as dubious as most of Kirchner’s own), as are his other books, The Bus (1 and 2) and Hieronymus & Bosch (all with Tanibis).

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Le Chat A Paris

Starting Saturday, March 26, the Champs Elysées in Paris will be a veritable cat walk, hosting an exhibition of no less than twenty full-sized sculptures featuring Philippe Geluck’s Le Chat. On their Facebook page, the organising gallery Huberty-Breyne ran some pictures of the installation activities.  Now I want to go to Paris, lockdown or not.

From March 26 until June 5, a parallel exhibition of artwork by Geluck will be held at the gallery’s Paris branch itself (36, avenue Matignon), featuring preparatory sketches, works on canvas and multiples. You will also be able to visit the show (and maybe score some art) on the Huberty-Breyne website.

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Watch what you are saying

It’s been a while since I last posted something that made clever use of that most exemplary of comics-related glyphs, the speech bubble

Flemish topical cartoonist Lectrr made this cartoon to accompany an opinion piece on the limitations on freedom of speech as suggested by people like Karl Popper, and how tolerating intolerance may be detrimental to a general atmosphere of freedom. Just to stress that my daily sometimes publishes some serious stuff too. 

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Many panels: Horror Vacui

Ever since I came across his work in Instant Piano in the mid-90s, I’ve had a sweet spot for the frantic, neurotic narrative style used by Evan Dorkin, a style that is only matched by his frenetic tendency to fill the page to the brim with art.

The best example of this, is the strip, Rock Paper Scissors from the eighth issue of Dorkin’s solo comic, Dork. In a single page, with no less than twenty eight panels, he manages to have a simple game escalate to chemical warfare. Call it a metaphor, if you will, but it is first and foremost a telling illustration of Dorkin’s neurotic and pessimistic view on things. Combined with an art style that runs the gamut from sickly sweet to almost acidic, that’s a winner in my book.

In a similar fashion, Dorkin crams his pages regularly in the ongoing series Fun, that ran as a regular feature in Dork. As a twisted and nihilistic parody on the typically sedate newspaper comic page, a typical Fun page consists of no less than six strips, each with four panels, an intro and a payoff doused in pop references, cynicism and despair.

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The Brusseler, peike!

With The Brusseler (probably prononounced more like The Brusselair, I guess), the Brussels Maison de L’Image wants to pay tribute to the iconic covers of the equally iconic magazine, The New Yorker, by bringing together Belgian and international artists and illustrators from all styles and techniques to give their view on the Belgian capital, in the guise of a New Yorker cover.

The exhibition includes contributions from the likes of Herr Seele, Laurent Durieux, Delphine de Saxe-Cobourg (formerly Boël), Philippe Geluck, Serge Baeken and Mieke Lamiroy. As can be expected, they don’t shy away from referencing Tintin, Manneke Pis, sprouts, Toots, the Atomium or the Grand Place, but you’ll also find Jean-Claude Van Damme, the new KANAL museum and le Jeune Albert, and a whole plethora of facets of that town you love to hate but hate to love. Not all of them are new, but none of them are less than great.

Guests of honor include lumaries like David Merveille, Ever Meulen, François Avril, Luc Schuiten (with an amazing take on Crumb’s A Short History of America) and, quite posthumously, Yves Chaland.

If you need an hour to fill with great art from a small-but-great country, look no further.

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How lazy can you get?

Batman: Damned is a three part miniseries by Lee Bermejo and Brian Azzarello, published in 2018-2019 as part of DC’s Black Label line, aimed at the discerning reader. It’s basically a bloated mess of pseudo-psychological blathering mixed with every esoteric character the extended DC universe has to offer, from Deadman to the Demon to Swamp Thing to Zatanna, with John Constantine thrown in for good measure because how can you do anything remotely cerebral in Gotham City without your token Brit pissing all over your pompousness? Ah, and there’s also a grimy barefoot girl with stringy hair that speaks in black speech bubbles. 

The book is clearly set out of continuity (a move that previously was milked dry during the Elseworlds glut), because –spoiler alert– Batman thought he’d killed the Joker but apparently has kicked the bucket himself. Oh, and apparently his parents had separated somehow when he was a kid and also were killed together at the same time (you can only rattle the canon so much) but so was Bruce Wayne, but in the end he wasn’t. Or something. And the Spectre also whisps around blowing hot and cold about who’s dead or not.

The story tastes like a stale bourbon that’s been drunk before. And it looks the part, with grimy “painted” art that is clearly aimed at the flesh-and-gore fan without crossing the line too much. And at one point (start clutching your pearls right now) they also showed Batman’s penis (but not on digital, though, so the kiddies are safe). Let’s just say that they were not trying to elicit elaborated or balanced reactions.

Which in turn probably is the reason why they end the splurge with a reference to that milestone of Elseworlds comics, that wagon play of good and evil, Moore and Bolland’s The Killing Joke (setting aside all earlier attempts to drag that book into continuity). Wait, let me rephrase that — they didn’t just reference it, or pay hommage to it, or retcon it. No, they just copied the damned page, as if to say, “See here? Recognise this? So this thing here is basically as good as that thing used to be, isn’t it? Isn’t it? Please?”

Lord, give me strength. Sometimes in a single day you read a book that reminds you of why you love comics so much (Atom Agency, more on that later), only to be hit in the face with this wet herring. Sometimes I don’t know why I bother anymore.

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No such thing as an accidental abduction

While perusing the comics page to the March 18 Washington Post, my eye fell on the above sequence. And I thought, is there a hidden message here? Are Price and Tatulli trying to tell us something? Is the news indeed “breaking” as in the fourth (or even the fifth) wall? Or is it all just a coincidence?

And a million voices screamed, “For the love of God, yes! It’s just a thing that happened! Now get on with your life!”

(Rhymes With Orange © RWO Studios Dist. by King Features; Lio © Copyright, Mark Tatulli 2021, distributed by Andrews McMeel Syndication)

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Fiction is stranger than truth

In 1997, the creative team behind the Betty comic (Archie Comics) had a vision of Riverdale in 2021 that could be more close to the truth than they actually imagined. “So lucky”, indeed.

(Copyright © 2017 Archie Comic Publications, Inc. All Rights Reserved, quoted for journalistic purposes. Thanks, Bart)

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Dynamite burns!

Quick question! Which of these four covers by Jacob Edgar for Dynamite Entertainment‘s not-at-all-inspired-by-DCeased-or-Marvel-Zombies crossover series event Die!namite are so outrageous that they were destroyed by Dynamite honcho Nick Baruchi? One tip – yes, it has to do with the recent Dr. Seuss brouhaha

(the answer: both covers on the left are feared to cause offence as the characters may be interpreted as belonging to certain ethnicities. I thought it was because they were just bad)

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Tintin triggered

When the above Tom Tomorrow cartoon popped in my inbox this morning, courtesy of The Nib, I couldn’t help being triggered to reach for my favourite Tintin book and rejoin this great little satirical scene.

Of course, after trying to read all the speech bubbles in the cartoon, and processing the biting satire along with the hypnotic visuals, I could very much relate with my friends at Marlinspike…

This Modern World © Tom Tomorrow, Tintin © Hergé / Moulinsart 2021

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