Monday, January 27, 2014

Lale Westvind's Favorite/Best Comics Of 2013

As is our annual tradition, we invited a number of our friends who are also cartoonists, comics publishers and editors to tell us what their favorite comics of 2013 were. We'll be publishing them all over the next few weeks.

Lale Westvind's books include Hot Dog Beach and Titus And The Cyber Sun. She also edits the amazing anthology Chromazoid. Visit her website.

These are my favorites so these are all gushing rave reviews, please excuse me. Almost more in chronological order of publication than by preference.

1. School Spirits by Anya Davidson
The energetic flow of the drawing in this book is almost overwhelming. Torquey electric lines bring to mind both EC-era comics and Raw Magazine; classic contours with punky edges. Garf and Oola are two high school girls phasing in between their bizarro classrooms and their wild daydreams. Once you get used to it the telepathic spectacle is smooth and undulating. You're riding shotgun on the character's thought waves as their fantasies reveal deep primal knowledge worth the price of the book to be sure .

2.Infomaniacs by Matthew Thurber
Post-tech revolution, the digital wave is crashing on our heads. All our musings contorted into alien txt-linguish abreves. This book will take a hammer to your
iPhone, and a dagger to your web identity with its endless parade of wacky modern absurdity. The frustrated spasms of its weirdo heroes are heart warming and reassuring. I laughed a lot reading this.

3. Big Busty Psychic Celeb Votes Satan by Ben Urkowitz
Like Infomaniacs, Big Busty is rippling with contemporary web-angst and it's fun! TSee the celebrity deity and her force of global digital media influence... Linework flows around hyper-flexible character designs, model sheet not required, better to show the data with. It's a short comic at 13 pages and 5 x 7 size but it's got so many things happening at once. The narrative scheme is like the web's greek chorus; the torrent information display of an index search; but it's easily absorbed, or observed. Every single line is hilarious if not provocative or so-true-it-hurts.  Also check out Urkowitz' awesome Real Rap minis from Oily Comics.

4. Viewotron #2 by Sam Sharpe
Tight, clear and concise cartooning matched with reserved writing serves a difficult narrative well in Sharpe's moving description of a young man's last interactions with his schizophrenic mother. Anthropomorphic dog characters belie the seriousness of the subject matter while making them more relatable, much like in Spiegelman's Maus. A truthful retelling of personal experience damn well done. Pacing makes for natural reading, the works subtleties transferred to the subconscious seamlessly in tact. Seriousness in comics can be so damned difficult but Sharpe has achieved this without glossing over details or simplifying complex issues.

5. New Comics (#1 and #2) by Patrick Kyle
These collections of short comics have brilliant design and drawing reservation with story lines that feel improvisational and sure footed at the same time. In both books I felt that the drawings were spontaneous yet dictated the realities presented, something like magical drawing surrealism akin to the road runner drawing a tunnel on a wall and then running through it. Every time I look at these comics I get itching to draw.

6. Treasure Island Part 1 by Connor Willumsen
This guy is a hell of a draftsmen and these drawings are gorgeously rendered. The characters, Dr. Joy and Doug Irving Ray, are two vastly different individuals described extremely well by their expression, gesture and dialogue as they struggle with personal issues while waiting for a job to start. The comic has serious emotional weight throughout and I sympathized with the two characters almost immediately. Without a doubt this guy is going to be a star cartoonist if he isn't already. Check out the other comics on his website.

7. Keep Fresh by Zejian Shen
Surrealist psychological horror might best describe this comic written in Chinese with English subtitles. It'd be funny if it weren't so gruesome. The unhinged yet razor sharp inky drawings and details make it worth the re-reading necessary to pick up on exactly what the #$%^ happened. Delightfully sinister, strange, and peppered with subtle nuance. Also check out Shen's Party Plans comics.

8. Late Era Clash #25 by Mike Taylor
Screen printed cover and black and white guts with pink highlights contain a lovingly inked "artist's tale" divided into 3 parts with an intro comic! Wild and beautiful drawings that are highly expressive and eye-catching, worded by real life poetics. Too familiar and too funny makes me laugh out loud, absurd... like life
you knowww? Best line, "The Artist" staring at canvas looking deflated and holding what is probably a warm beer, "Is anything good? Why am I alive? Why does the new iTunes suck?" Words and pictures that describe a story so well I might have been watching a movie. Best part, there are 24 other Late Era Clashes around all as good as this one.

9. Paranoid Apartment by Lala Albert
A stylishly spooky and memorable comic as alluring as Albert's illustrations. Risograph printed in black and yellow with smart usage of print gradations and color that look great and clearly depict the overlapping realities of the Apartment. A neat portrayal of the abstract emotions of solitude. Albert is a master of contour and her lines pair well with the quiet of the story.

10. Rav 9 by Mickey Z
Mega-chaotic style combining sketchy minimalist character design with extreme abstraction while still managing to be readable. Motion lines lend clarity to the form floating in a sea of marks and squiggles, as if all energies and "vibes" and air currents were made visible. The ninth installment in a narrative saga that has branched out too many times to count. I desperately wish for things to be explained. Instead there seems to be a sadistic snowballing effect taking place with no end in sight. The laws of physics no longer apply. Alternate realities are coexisting, nothing is unchangeable, anything is possible. Rav is a highly addictive supernatural epic which I've been told will go on forever.

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