This week only, save 20% off FU Press books. Read staff picks and reviews below:
Recidivist Vol. IV by Zak Sally
Zak Sally would like you to know that he’s not sorry for making a book that’s difficult to read, because it’s a part of the process. Tilting the book in certain angles to catch the right light is the only way to read some pieces of text that’s found within this zine/comic/object. It’s self-exploratory, probing, and seeking for answers that no one asked the questions to. Straight from brain to paper, the surreal experience of reading The Recidivist is also available to download straight to brain via the accompanying CD to help enlighten your journey. Beautiful, high quality art and printing service this tale of wandering thought, and make this a stand-out addition to any art collection.
Ever been to an antique store and seen something so bizarre, so utterly unique, so unmoored from time that you have to own it? That’s what Enough Astronaut Blood to Last the Winter by Derek Van Gieson feels like to me. It’s a book about being young, but not too young. A transitional period that stinks of cigar smoke and bar-b-que, used bookstores and stale beer. Astronaut Blood makes you feel like you’ve had fun staying up way too late, taken an ad-hoc road trip, or been in on an inside joke that you don’t remember the origins of anymore. Van Gieson is an exceptionally talented dude, and this book highlights all his lived-in absurdism through photos, flash fiction, and ink flows.
It’s tempting to want to reduce Greg Stump’s utterly unique graphic novel into a nifty soundbite, about how if Samuel Beckett and Terry Gilliam had a love child and that love child was a comic book it would be Disillusioned Illusions. Or how it’s like watching My Dinner with André on acid. But really, Disillusioned Illusions is unlike anything I’ve ever experienced in comics, or really any medium. It is as chiseled as it is absurd, laconic as it is verbose, ironic as it is poker-faced. It is, at its simplest, a dialogue between two jaded silhouettes, burned out by the optical illusion racket, who decide that graphic novels are where the money is. The resultant farce is an inspired work that ultimately celebrates the very form it satirizes and I can’t recommend it enough.
When Guy Colwell had an exhibition of Inner City Romance original art at the Fantagraphics Bookstore & Gallery last year, I did something I’d never done in the nine of years of our store being open: I purchased one of the pieces. I’d love to also own one of Colwell’s brilliant oil paintings, but those are well out of my price range. So, instead, I will have to console myself with that Inner City page, and now, thankfully, Street Scenes. This hand-bound, signed and numbered portfolio of Colwell’s one-off pen-and-ink illustrations shares as much in common with his paintings as they do his underground comics. Like in all of his work, there is an unrelenting devotion to urban realism, but executed with precision mark making that feels like the perfect harmony of his comics and fine art.
Violent Girls by Richard Sala
From the moment I first laid eyes on the work of Richard Sala, I could tell he was a kindred spirit. He creates worlds that could only exist in the fever dreams of someone who also grew up reading comics by flashlight and staying up late to watch the kind of b-movie horror films only broadcasted after midnight. He possesses a singular ability to combine the macabre with whimsy and a penchant for populating his stories with strong, female protagonists- as evidenced in Peculia and most recently Violenzia. His long-form work is as atmospheric and cinematic as it is delightfully campy and he brings that same energy to a unique portfolio of knife-wielding, gun-slinging pin-ups called Violent Girls.
The 44 action portraits feature a cast of characters found in pulp fiction and across pop culture- caped crusaders, cat burglars, and princesses alongside teenage assassins, cold-blood scientists, spies and space travelers. These girls are equipped with serious side-eye, a refusal to be fucked with and armed to the teeth with their weapons of choice- from ray guns to crossbows and broadswords. They may be damsels, but it is clear they will be the ones to inflict distress.
While Sala takes inspiration from a genre that has a rather mixed track record regarding its depiction of women, the lens with which he views and draws these characters always comes across to me as one of admiration rather than exploitation. A few of Sala’s curvy girls are drawn topless, but even in their semi-nude state, they retain a sturdy strength and an unapologetic DGAF attitude. The Violent Girls are more than just buxom babes designed to titillate. One of my favorites is “Dazed slumber party massacre survivor”, a wild-eyed Final Girl double fisting an axe and a meat cleaver, dripping with fresh blood. These vignettes spark my imagination, wondering about the adventures that await each of these heroines next.
One of the coolest features of Violent Girls is its format. Sala was struggling to decide if the collection should be published as a box of prints or as a bound book and working together with Fantagraphics, found a solution that didn’t make him choose. The PadFolio format allows the owner to keep the set as a handsome volume on their bookshelf, or detach any or all of the prints for individual use or wall hanging. Violent girls is printed on 9” x 7” archival matte paper, signed and numbered, and strictly limited to an edition of 250. Get yours before they’re gone.