Photos by Madd Hattere //
Are You Man Enough? - Phil McAndrew
I sure hope so. This 18-page mini-comic by Syracuse, NY-based illustrator Phil McAndrew is quite possibly - and I am pointedly not one for hyperbole - the funniest thing I've ever read. This is the sort of silly absurdism that holds up to multiple, multiple readings and, after showing this thing to almost everyone that has crossed my path while I had the book handy, is not looking to get old any time soon. The story here, spoiler free, revolves around a young artist who seeks the permission of his sweetheart's burly alpha-male father to marry the aforementioned generic love interest. After that, the title pretty much speaks for itself.
McAndrew's illustrations here are fantastic and perfectly compliment the story with his old-timey vaudeville-esque characters being mixed in with a grungy, Ralph Steadman sort of aesthetic. Of course, the added touch of the book itself having a mustache is very good and indeed, that little strip of fuzz protruding out of the otherwise nondescript red Xeroxed book only contributes to the charm of this hilarious, well-made little comic.
Check out Phil's website here.
I'm Crazy - Adam Bourret
Discomfort is a concept to rest on here. Especially after meeting the author, who really is a pleasant guy, reading what is a rather vivid diagram of his personal issues can leave you a little shaky. Even if you haven't met mister Bourret in person, many of us know a few people who share his problems. The title covers the contents within, Bourret has constructed not an apology but sort of a manual to his disturbances. His handle on reality, his connections to friends, strangers, partners and family and his fear of losing his morality to chemical imbalances. If this sounds too much of a publicized confession, and if that bugs you, Bourret does introduce the series of tales in a clever moment where his boyfriend simply asks him talk about himself, so he does. I liked that. I like that Bourret also balances the woes of his problems with the celebratory moments of overcoming him. He has some very dark thoughts, but you still like him because you know that's not what he wants to become.
I think what impressed me most about the book is how clearly he can describe what I'm sure are dense, difficult and lucid concepts. There is a chapter that is just a guide for others on how OCD feels, and it's discussed in such a way that anyone can easily relate and sympathise. What impressed me the least was the art, which felt rigid too often in my eyes, but to focus on that aspect would be me missing the point. This book is personal, deeply so, and you'll feel the connection. If you are the type who enjoyed graphic novels about the dysfunctional lifestyles of fictional characters, I openly suggest you try your hand at an existing person.
- King Frankenstein
Take Away It's Wings and Force It To Fly and Logo/Schema/Centric - Mark Laliberte
Mark Laliberte has created some my favourite possessions. Last year, at Canzine 2008, I bought a very unique red necktie, designed with the graphic of a skull and its descending spinal cord, a scientific drawing labeled “Fig. 3.” Over the course of the year the tie proceeded to make repeated social appearances, spurring both praise and uncomfortable glances wherever I went. This year, at Canzine 2009, I found myself back at the same booth, and lo and behold my tie was once again on display with a few other interesting designs.
Mark Laliberte is a working artist in several fields and, according to the lady watching his booth, the survivor of a civil suit against the explicit content of his first independent zines that he produced out of his parent’s basement. He continues to produce zines to this day, working as the managing editor of Carousel magazine, but also create his own graphic art, a few items of which I snagged from the booth. TAKE AWAY ITS WINGS AND FORCE IT TO FLY is a graphic novella in which a perspective of time becomes hard to confer to the piece. Fractured, microsecond frames pass quickly with minute image changes that often jumble with little to no explanation; the only dialogue is disjointed and confused, the characters themselves unsure of the action in the continuous, snap changes of intrusive imagery. The other item I pick is LOGO | SCHEMA | CENTRIC, a collection of graphic collages that are diagrams of disconnected, strange machines. The gathered images loosely conform to an anthropomorphic theme, and the disconnected body parts are scientifically labeled in a similar fashion to my necktie. This collage work is incredibly detailed, and has been published in Carousel, Broken Pencil, Descant and Wegway.
Mark Laliberte continues to create exciting images and emotive writing, so check out his zine and his bio.