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Committed: 8 of my favorite surrealist authors

Recently I’ve been revisiting the surrealist comic book authors who have successfully conveyed the kind of disruption of reality which I experience in dreams. I want to pinpoint the ways in which they have been able to successfully communicate and provoke a kind of emotional dissonance with their work.

051414_sandmanNeil Gaiman (and by extension, artist Dave McKean) immediately comes to mind, specifically on his long-running and groundbreaking series; The Sandman, but also in works like Black Orchid and The Books of Magic. In many ways this is the most linear representation of  truly surreal environments that I can think of. He provides us with entire universes of insane, nonsensical, mythical imagery and logic, but he presents each story in a very direct, linear manner. His way of telling a story in this context is very much like a fairytale, with one event leading inevitably to the next, it is deceptively comfortable, almost hiding the craziness inside. When he does move the storyline towards something more evocative of chaos (i.e. towards the end of the books) he still lays all of the elements out carefully so that by the end the reader can happily piece together a logical continuity (that is to say it is logical within the context of the universe he has created). Continue Reading »

What I bought – 23 March 2011

“Fuck what is written,” Landsman says. “You know what?” All at once he feels weary of ganefs and prophets, guns and sacrifices and the infinite gangster weight of God. He’s tired of hearing about the promised land and the inevitable bloodshed required for its redemption. “I don’t care what is written. I don’t care what supposedly got promised to some sandal-wearing idiot whose claim to fame is that he was ready to cut his own son’s throat for the sake of a hare-brained idea. I don’t care about red heifers and patriarchs and locusts. A bunch of old bones in the sand. My homeland is in my hat. It’s in my ex-wife’s tote bag.”

He sits down. He lights another cigarette.

“Fuck you,” Landsman concludes. “And fuck Jesus, too, he was a pussy.” (Michael Chabon, from The Yiddish Policemen’s Union)

I'm not entirely sure what the deal is with the American flag Look, it's all Clark Kent-y! Everyone wants a thumb! Lorna doesn't spend much time in the sewers in this issue, unfortunately Yes, it's still weird! Yes, it's still awesome! More Tardi! I'm giving it another try! Best title of the week! It's all high-falutin'!
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What I bought – 15 December 2010

“You see,” Lardner said at the long bar of the Artist and Writers Restaurant, “Duke thought if his dream came true he would be a different person. He’s not unhappy about the dream. He’s unhappy that he is still the same man. Happens to a lot of us. We get somewhere we wanted and find we’re still ourselves.” (Roger Kahn, from The Boys of Summer)

'Conceived' is spelled wrong on the cover!!!!! Man, those are some big-ass thighs! 'Do you like my big gun, Dick?!?!?' You gotta love that tag line! He has a '007' on his watch - that's a nice touch So much RAGE!!! The dragon just wanted to mate with the airplane! It has a guarantee! I'm digging this cover Who doesn't love Mouse Guard?Commies, that's who! None of this actually happens in this comic! Your own ... Nuclear ... Jesus ... Let's get physical, physical! Spoooooky! Man-Thing does not appear in this comic! Look how cute they are, eavesdropping on their past selves! Yay!  They're all ready to kick ass! Oh, Thor - you can't stay mad at X-Factor! Well, that's charming! Boy, I like that logo Ellis/Conner?  SOLD! It's Ditkoriffic! Everyone loves Yetis!
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What I bought – 6 October 2010

“It’s like blue light when you touch me,” she’d say. “Electric blue light sparking between us.” She’d cry softly into my shoulder, tears of passion, because she couldn’t get close enough to me. (W. P. Kinsella, from The Iowa Baseball Confederacy)

Seeing your mom's Penthouse shoot would make anyone angry! I need me a sword like that! Those 'roids that Herc uses can't be good for him Oh, you stupid, stupid Ranger! It's all THREE-DEEEEEE!!!!! If they pour water over her, it would be just like Flashdance! He could use some calming tea or something Doll eyes freak me out, man! Bane has been hitting the Slim-Fast! Oh, the agony! I don't even want to know what that guy is doing! Dude needs to clean his ears every once in a while! They used my head tattoo on this cover, man! Firestar's breasts are oddly alluring! Fact: Nathan Fox is awesome! It's Ghost Rider-eriffic! I don't know if I'm tough enough to own this!
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What I bought – 21 and 28 July 2010

Society had tamed the erratic fellow by co-opting him into the mainstream. For its largest threats, society reserves success. (Richard Powers, from Three Farmers on Their Way to a Dance)

Giant robot runs wild!  Film at 11! Ride, Brucie, ride! There's more action on the cover than almost the entire book! That cover is just two panels from the book - couldn't they have spruced up the covers a bit? It's Jaime Hernandez!!!!! That cover doesn't make a lot of sense Continuing the grand tradition of cheesecakery!!!! Ka-Blooooey!!!!!! Man, Bisley is wacky! Buckingham is really doing a nice job on these covers Man, those pants are close to going down! You can practically hear the ringing of the hammer on steel! Who is this crazy snake bitch?!?!?!?! Cosmicky! So scary!!!! I love how the kid wants Thor to sign his copy of issue #1 Look at that wonderful cover! That can't bode well! Seriously with that cover? It's like he's leaping right at you!!!! I wish Brother Night was cooler, man! No good can come of this! Why does he have the stuff on his face? It's the Seventies, maaaaannnnn! It's all about the sex, drugs, and rock 'n' roll, man! Who doesn't love the giant tiki statue with lightning-discharging eyes?!?!?!?
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What I bought – 9 June 2010

That woman was the closest thing to himself Achilles had ever come across. But he didn’t find out until a moment after he had killed her. She was hostile, and dead: everything Achilles loved in a woman. (Roberto Calasso, from The Marriage of Cadmus and Harmony)

How does he pee? That's not a great cover, but it's a pretty neat drawing! He just read his own comic, and that's what happened to him! That table is only forty bucks at Cost Plus! You're in trouble when the palm trees start staring at you On the plus side, he's a hit at raves! McKeever writes his dates the cool way! That Darwyn Cooke - he has a future in this biz, I think They look like they're about to tango! Goin' crazy gives a man a powerful hunger! Man, I love this issue Ain't nothin' more American than shootin' guns at a football game! Now I have a hankering for some soul sushi I don't think J. Bone is capable of doing a bad cover Why, everyone loves the Tommy Taylor books! It's all ...... giant-sized!!!!! He won an award that begins with an 'X'!  That means it HAS to be good! I'm dying to read this!
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