Tales from Outer Suburbia is the latest book from uber-talented artist Shaun Tan, following his wordless graphic novel, The Arrival. Tan is not really an experimental cartoonist - these are highly satisfying books that don't really feel like they're pushing formalist boundaries and yet his two books each refuse to stay within the expectations of the "graphic novel" format. I'm not sure Scott McCloud would concede that either one is actually a comic!
Sara Varon is becoming hopefully a bit more well known at this point having several published comic books released now. Although she has a nice website she has not really published anything in an online format. Given her interest in telling tales most interesting to young children I'm not sure whether the lack of a web presence is a bad idea or not.
In this month's installment of "The Travels of Dr. Haus" our intrepid hero travels abroad to review the webcomic Mistakes of Youth.
With the news that Faith Erin Hicks is getting close to completing a new graphic novel, The War At Ellsmere, it might seem odd to be running a review of her previous graphic novel, Zombies Calling. Really I should have reviewed this when it came out last fall from Slave Labor Graphics or more recently when it won a Joe Shuster award for Hicks (although I did get a chance to interview Hicks right after that news came out so I guess I'm not a complete slacker.) But you know what, I'm doing it now. So um, there! I mean over there... look over there!
Oh, you're still here I see. I guess a little bit of Grover-style misdirection isn't going to work with you, is it?
I've had You So Loco: the Second Crying Macho Man Collection book by Jose Cabrera to read and read again this summer and it's about time I get on my ass and write the review for it. I interviewed Jose Cabrera about his comic earlier this year and my impression of his work hasn't changed much. He likes to take bits of pop culture (and political figures as well) and mix them up, usually with a visual pun.
I have never met the man named Bleedman, but I imagine that if I met him in real life, he'd be bursting with an epic amount of jittery energy. Like his veins are filled with an unholy combination of Vault, Red Bull, Pop Cola, and Nestle Crunch. His anime-insired drawings are always kinetic ... maybe even hyperkinetic, threatening to throw Newton's First Law of Motion to the ground. An object at rest doesn't stay at rest, boy-ee! With that in mind, you'd think that Sugar Bits, a webcomic about sugar, treats, and mountains of candy would be right up his alley.
Back in January of this year, I reviewed Runner's Paradox by Steve Peters. I think it's fair to say I didn't love it. Very recently, I received a review copy of Peters' newest book, Awakening Comics #0. You can read a preview of it here.
Randy Reynaldo is back with another issue of his all ages adventure comic, Rob Hanes Adventures. Issue 11 is titled "Rob Hanes and the Pirates" and is a quick-paced adventure story putting the main character Rob Hanes through an adventure in a thinly veiled version of North Korea and its movie-obsessed dictator. There's a preview up at ComicSpace here.
How to Draw Stupid and Other Essentials of Cartooning by Kyle Baker is one of the more entertaining how-to books I've read this summer. The somewhat thin volume (clocking in at 111 pages) is really well written -- if a little thin on practical tips and guides to actual cartooning techniques. I mean well written in the sense that it's an enjoyable read, even if you don't learn a thing from it. Baker is just funny, especially in his cartooning, but even in the straight-ahead text portions of the book.
I have a lot of reviews of how-to books on tap for August but Facial Expressions: Babies To Teens; A Visual Reference For Artists by Mark Simon is probably the most unique and possibly the most valuable. It's a big book, 256 pages (with a free Internet supplement available), and entirely filled with reference pictures of, you got it, babies to teens. Each model tends to get between 2 to 4 pages of 2 1/4 inch to 2 1/2 inch square head shots with a tremendous variety of expressions and poses. Other chapters include a skull gallery, hats and headgear, a phonemes gallery (mouth shapes for various sounds), and an age-progression gallery (shots of the same model over a wide range of years).