Sunday, December 12, 2010

Comics 2010

1. BodyWorld
A graphic novel that straddles dimensions as radically yet effortlessly as it does genres, Dash Shaw's BodyWorld feels like an artifact from an alternate reality—one in which post-apocalyptic teen drama and telepathy-inducing drugs magnify a deeper narrative about the malleability of symbols, logic, and consciousness. On a strictly visual level, though, it's stunning: With a dizzying command of paint, pixels, paper, and sheer spectacle, Shaw writes and draws rings around not only his competition, but the very fundamentals of comic-book linearity and language. Even better: It's a hell of a flesh-crawler.

2. Artichoke Tales
In clear, unfussy green-and-white, Megan Kelso depicts the fictional world of Artichoke Tales as an agrarian, allegorical land scarred by war but gripped by deep roots and desperate love. That love—romantic, familial, ecological—is played out in quiet, graceful episodes that somehow encompass everything from cooking to lovemaking to childbirth to military campaigns. But amid the epic and cyclical turmoil, Kelso's intimately soft yet barbed storytelling renders her elfin Quicksand Family potently, poignantly human.

3. X'ed Out
X'ed Out, the first installment of Charles Burns' new, not-yet-collectively-titled project, sees the Black Hole mastermind branching out into an even eerier domain, one that mixes his horrific surrealism for what appears to be hard science fiction—that is, with a heavy dollop of dream-logic and shout-outs to Burns inspirations like HergĂ©, Moebius, and William S. Burroughs. But rather than simply namechecking these influences, he works them into the fabric of his warped and hyperlinked narrative. And then applies some gorgeous full color.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Prose bath

Seriously, I could take a long, hot soak in Catherynne M. Valente's prose. Her latest, fragrant vat of verse-worthy fiction: The Habitation of the Blessed, the first installment of a new trilogy titled A Dirge for Prester John. Shimmering, poetic, and approaching the alchemical, her language spreads through my skull like blood through water. Sheer fucking magic. Cat, you're a demigoddess.