there are 2 new books hitting (hopefully) every store in the nation as i write this, and man is it exciting: both volumes are significant works by good, good friends of La Mano, and chances are if you're reading this crappy blog you are well aware of them, but i'm not gonna let that stop me...
1) KING-CAT CLASSIX by John Porcellino
as you all very well know, John P' s "Diary Of A Mosquito Abatement Man" was the first "proper"/ non- zine book that La Mano ever produced, and John is one of my closest friends.
all that aside, though, this huge (380 pages!!!), beautiful hardcover collection of comics and stories (compiled from the first 50 issues of King-Cat) is a sight to behold.
i know that for John (and for myself, and many others...), King-Cat in its original 'zine format is...where the gold is: it is the format and the platform for where John's work really LIVES: it's simple, humble, and there is hands-down no better way to experience what John does (and has been doing for the past...what, 2 decades now?).
be that as it may, that means that in many ways, only those among us who know what 'zines are, and are willing to go search out the work, or order it from John (you know, through the MAIL...) are going to get to see this work: now, i'm not man enough to get into that discussion right now (...maybe only those people who DO make the time to search out the work and make that effort are the people that SHOULD BE getting it...hell, i don't know...)
this elegant volume from Drawn and Quarterly collects a ton of material that, frankly, John never really thought would be widely seen-- i mean, HEY YOU KIDS!! BEFORE THE INTRANET WE HAD TO MAKE OUR OWN LITTLE MAGAZINES AT THE COPY SHOP AND SEND THEM IN THE MAIL!! NOW GET OUT OF MY YARD!!...uh...what i mean is that the early issues of King-Cat had "print runs" of 15 copies. John did NOT create this work so that someday it'd be collected in some fancy assed hardcover; he created it because he lived in the midwest and was a punk rocker, and for fuck-all, BECAUSE nobody gave a hoot.
so. there's some irony there, no?
my point is, this book is a huge chunk of not only work, but TIME.
and this book is a HUGE chunk of time, not to mention pages. other folks have said it, but it bears repeating: what is baeutiful and amazing about this book is how, from the very beginning, the themes and feel of John's work (and King-Cat as a whole...) are all in place: they may be hidden beneath some layers of youth, drunkenness, and some midwestern punk-rock crust, but as you move through this book a bigger picture begins to emerge, and that picture is of a guy trying to live his life in this world as best he can.
and it's pretty amazing.
long rant aside, i realize that just about anyone reading this blog knows John's stuff, and probably buys King-Cat: let me say this: i've been getting every issue of King-Cat since, i don't know, 1992 of something (...holy SHIT...), and this book contains plenty of stuff i've never seen. and, for those of you newcomers to John's stuff (like, the last decade or so), the thing that'll be most striking is how goddamned FUNNY it is. don't get me wrong, i love King-Cat now, but in reading this book, there were a couple of times where i LAUGHED. REALLY HARD. it's easy to forget how Johnny really used to bring the LAFFS.
all right seriously, go buy it.
Kim Deitch is another great friend of La Mano: i've made no secret about my love of his work and my respect for the guy-- i've written about his stuff for magazines, i've interviewed him (for the great Comic Art magazine), and on a personal front, he's the closest thing i've ever had to a "mentor" in cartooning: his insight, criticism, and general advice about how to not go crazy making comics have been just a huge, huge thing to me.
Kim is a comic-making machine of the first order: he pours everything he's got into whatever he's working on at the time, and so any new work from him is a cause for celebration.
"Alias The Cat" is no exception: i've read the work in serialized form (as individual comics released through Fantagraphics), and, as always, Kim's stuff is even more amazing when collected: in the new world of "literary" comics, it seems that often such things as "tone" or "artfulness" are a cover for the fact that there's not a whole lot of STORY being told (again, an argument i'm not getting into here, just an observation...).
not so with Kim-- if anything, Kim's books are bursting at the seams with STORY; you get the sense while reading this book that you are careening through this thing, and couldn't get off if you wanted to. the thing is so thick with plot that by the time you're done reading it you're kind of exhausted.
"Alias..." is a story that , like may of Kim's other books, moves through decades of time and generations of humans before it's all over; and, as always, that old feeling sneaks in over the course of the narrative, leaving you creeped out wondering how much of this is made-up, and how much is true. Kim's art, as always, is so obsessively and perfectly realized as, well, KIM'S WORLD that, again, it's kind of jarring to have to leave it.
i read a review of this book calling it a "meta-narrative" and from what i know of that description, it fits: Kim weaves himself, his wife Pam, "Furry" culture, and our current never-ending state of terrorist paranoia around a tale of old silent film serials, island pygmies, New Jersey towns created for midget bakeries, illicit arms factories, and even an honest to goodness superhero.
and, as always, Waldo.
where Kim's real-life interests end and where fiction begins is always where (for me, anyway) Kim's comic work becomes like no one else's, and in that sense, he's been creating "meta- fiction" or "meta-narrative" or whatever the hell you want to call it for 2 decades now. in the end, it's the world that exists in Kim's head out on paper, and he took 10 hours a day, every goddamned day (seriously: the guy NEVER STOPS WORKING) to make it look just right for us.
this is the perfect immersive comics experience, folks. have at it. (Pantheon published it, so don't tell me you can't find it.)
in other news, i was changing my boy Isaac's diaper the other day, and there was a huge banner on the package of diapers exclaiming "baby-shaped fit!".
well, YEAH!! what the fuck is it SUPPOSED to fit-- "new Huggies daipers with PEREGRINE FALCON SHAPED FIT!!" ?!?
Labels: ALIAS THE CAT, John Porcellino, Kim Dietch, KING-CAT CLASSIX