Vaughan & Chiang's "Paper Girls" Builds a Familiar Yet Disconcerting World
Here is the latest in our year-long look at one cool comic (whether it be a self-contained work, an ongoing comic or a run on a long-running title that featured multiple creative teams on it over the years) a day (in no particular order whatsoever)! Here‘s the archive of the moments posted so far!
Today we look at Noah Van Sciver’s latest issue of Blammo (#6, to be precise)!!
The more time passes without Noah Van Sciver getting some sort of professional book deal, the more it surprises me. His work is plainly ready for a larger audience.
Blammo #6, like the issues before it, is a mixture of auto-biographical stories, madcap over-the-top stories, poignant slice-of-life stories and self-deprecating looks at the artist.
On that note, the book opens with this page…
I love the cat’s dialogue.
From the auto-biographical department, the highlight of the book is likely Van Sciver’s short story detailing his experiences at a convention…
He absolutely nails the swirling mixture of emotions that artists go through when at conventions, and he takes it one step further by actually visualizing said emotions (I particularly love the inventive “nervous breakdown” panel). Van Sciver’s peculiar mixture of self-deprecation and self-promotion also comes out in full force in a funny short strip showing Van Sciver imagining what his Ignatz Award speech would be like.
I think the highlight of the comic, from a pure “achievement in storytelling” is the short story, “Abby’s Road,” where Van Sciver creates an original character who is as unlikeable and in as depressing of a situation as any Adrian Tomine character, but has the added “benefit” of being a character that pretty much no one would ever normally find appealing. “Abby’s Road” is the tale of a young college-aged slacker who is telling us the story of his ex-girlfriend, who he dated while she was in high school and he was out of school and working as a painter with his uncle. Van Sciver makes strong use of having the narrator be an unreliable one – the narrator tries to control the story, but Van Sciver reveals the “truth” of the past, and while it is depressing, it is so well-developed that you can’t help but feel a connection to this guy who is really quite despicable and not at all charismatic. This is not a charming rogue here, this is just a dirtbag – but a dirtbag who is tremendously developed by Van Sciver.
Noah’s brother, Ethan, delivers a two-page look at what life was like in the Van Sciver household nearly 20 years ago (Ethan is about a decade older than Noah). The shame Ethan felt at the time about his family’s lower class lifestyle shines through the short story. I especially loved the ending of the story, where Ethan tries to relate to Noah through their shared interest in drawing, only for his younger sibling to rebuff this attempt at solidarity. Extremely well-handled by both Van Scivers. In contrast to this stark look at their home life at the time, Noah has an amusing series of strips depicting how odd his father was at times (like when he drops young Noah off at a new school and makes a point to tell the other children that Noah is new and that while their impulse might be to pick on him, that they should cut him some slack).
Naturally, since this is a Noah Van Sciver comic, we have to have Chicken Strips, his bizarre tales of two talking chicken men. In this installment, one of the pair dies only to be torn from heaven through the use of a cellphone battery as a pacemaker.
THE highlight of the comic to me, though, is a story starring Bob Dylan, who finds himself visited by what appears to be a demon after Dylan is rude to a fan after a concert. Van Sciver’s depiction of Dylan is hilariously over-the-top. Like Dylan sitting at home alone in his mansion bemoaning having to waste his genius on trailer trash as he bellows at his servants for not getting him his soup fast enough. It’s hilarious. I should really look into buying one of the original art pages from the Dylan story.
There’s a lot more than I even described (Van Sciver tends to pack a WHOLE lot of content into each issue of Blammo), but if all you got was what I described above, you would have yourself one fine comic book – and that’s just what Blammo #6 is, one fine comic book.
Would someone please just sign Van Sciver already? Fantagraphics? Drawn and Quarterly? AdHouse? SOMEone?!
Here‘s his website – it contains a link to where you can order copies of Blammo!
Comics Should Be Good accepts review copies. Anything sent to us will (for better or for worse) end up reviewed on the blog. See where to send the review copies.