April Staff Picks!
( April 23, 2014 ) Spring has sprung and new books are popping up all over the place. See which titles Last Gasp's book professionals are loving this month...
There are a lot of enjoyable titles this month:
I'm loving the Yurio Seki art books and notebooks.
It took us a long time to track down the stereoscopic DIABLERIES book, but it's well worth it.
The new issues of FOUND and BUST are great.
JIM CURIOUS is a terrific 3-D book, and Dash Shaw's COSPLAYERS is a fine read.
But there's just one book that made me SWOON WITH DELIGHT:
MK Brown's STRANGER THAN LIFE.
Holy shit, can she draw funny. The book is grouped into themes, "Science and Technology", "A Seedy Part of Town", including early and later work, and I've been reading it one section at a time, then starting over and reading it again. As a kid, I scoured truck stop bathrooms for old issues of National Lampoon, just to find an occasional cartoon by Brown and/or Shary Flenniken, and now there is a WHOLE BOOK of it. Thanks, Fantagraphics! MK Brown's art is terrific, her writing is unique, and this book makes me want to be struck by lightning while reading it, so I can die happy.
Jim Curious - Matthias Picard
This beautiful, wordless, large format book tells the story of Jim and his undersea adventures. The coolest part about being under the sea is that everything is in 3-D, I think that would mostly make me want to throw up after a while so I will leave the adventuring to Jim! Don't worry, this book comes with two pairs of 3-D glasses so you don't have to adventure alone.
As You Were 3 - Edited by Mitch Clem
The newest volume of As You Were is bigger and better than ever! The theme of this one is big big changes, some of the artists portrayed that in realistic ways and some of them turned into giant wolves and ate the planet. I personally have been hankering to eat a delicious planet ever since.
My Complicated Relationship with Food - Zachary Auburn
Zach is a picky eater, but he has good reason to be, and goes into all the reasons in glorious detail in this weird zine.
Adventure Time Totally Math Poster Collection - Various
This collection of posters is totally algebraic!! Full color 11 x 16 cardstock posters of your favorite residents of Ooo as interpreted by a ton of really rad artists!! You can buy it for yourself and still frame up a bunch of these posters as gifts!! It's the perfect way to be a rad friend and totally selfish at the same time, or just be totally selfish and wallpaper your room in them because they are that cool.
Be In A Treehouse - Pete Nelson
Another awe inspiring, well-illustrated coffee table book of alluring architecture among and upon our arbor brothers & sisters. A plus!
Get The Led Out: How Led Zeppelin Became The Biggest Band In The World - Denny Somach
Ask anyone who knows me, I'll take old granddad Robert Plant over just about any whippersnapper you can name that's under 30. In fact, how fancy a life it would be to live in a treehouse far from mankind with RP and a gaggle of farm animals, and of course a Marshall amp and various guitars and instruments.
The Vault of Horror Volume 3: The EC Archives - Jack Davis, Graham Ingels, Johnny Craig, etc.
This book is bringing me great joy. I've collected EC comics throughout my life but this is the best format they've ever been printed in. Beautiful deluxe hardcovers with gorgeously restored artwork and color, I'll probably keep rereading these until I'm blind from old age or just keel over. This book is from their salad days when all the artists were at the height of their talents and firing on all cylinders. This volume may have the best Johnny Craig artwork we've seen so far, his covers, corpses and ghouls are filled with horrifying yet lovely details. But you can pretty much randomly open this book to any page and see stunning artwork. "Ghastly" Graham Ingels, Jack Davis, Joe Orlando, all of them contribute stunning work to this collection. There is a degree of realistic detail and flawless draftsmanship to their art that you seldom see in comics anymore. There is a George Evans strip in this book about a man whose body is completely consumed by cancer and then he just keeps on living as a monstrous man-eating blob of cancer devouring everything around him, -it's beautifully drawn and also one of the most disgusting things you'll ever see. All the stories are wonderfully lurid and end with horrifying "shock" endings you'll never forget. These are more than just nostalgia - they're some of the greatest comics ever made!
Mineshaft # 30 - Edited by Everett Rand
Mineshaft has been one of my favorite zines of the past 15 years. That is how long they have been in existence and their quality has always been amazing. How does this guy do it? This is another stellar issue like all the rest with original art and comics by the likes of R. Crumb, Mary Fleener, Justin Green, and Bill Griffith. It's not just comics though, many great writers have contributed to this zine as well. At nine dollars it's a little expensive for a zine, but it's over 52 pages and there's not a dull moment or a millimeter of wasted space in the book. Check it out, and all their back issues are great as well.
As You Were Volume 3 - Edited by Mitch Clem
Wow, these guys are really coming up in the world. Their first couple issues were just mini-comics but this is an actual BOOK. It's 112 pages and actually has a spine! For those who don't know, these are comics about punk rock. The first issue or two seemed to focus on being in the pit and peoples' favorite shows but this issue opens things up thematically to cover many different aspects of the punk experience. It's also turning into a who's who of contemporary punk cartoonists with people like Liz Prince, Ben Snakepit, and Adrian Chi giving us manifold thoughts and insights into the punk lifestyle. What really makes this issue interesting is the wide variety of artistic styles and literary voices on display. You see everything from sloppy scratchy scribbles to beautifully rendered realistic drawings. This is the kind of publication that introduces us to the great cartoonists of tomorrow. It's where unique new voices rise up from the underground to hopefully take wing in the mainstream.
Aurora Model Kits - Thomas Graham
This is nostalgia with a capital N. If you built models between 1950 and 1980 chances are you built some Aurora models. Certain model kits like their Universal Monsters series and hot rod cars were some of the coolest plastic models ever made. They had wonderful details and allowed one to artistically express oneself in the painting of them. Many of the sets are still being reissued by model companies to this day. This is a fascinating history of the company and a great photo-reference guide that shows beautiful finished examples of their most loved kits. You can almost smell the airplane glue as you flip through this.
Love Is Not Constantly Wondering If You Are Making The Biggest Mistake Of Your Life - Anonymous
This book is totally ridiculous but in a good way. Although the author is listed as Anonymous, this is actually a book by the guy who did How To Talk To Your Cat About Gun Safety. He seems to have his own little zinester publishing empire going and this is one of his definitive titles. It's a choose your own adventure title that alternates between a storyline about an ace starfighter pilot of the Galactic Space Force who has been shot down and taken captive by a race of giant super intelligent ants, and a storyline about a young man struggling in his relationship with his alcoholic girlfriend. It's the absurd juxtaposition between such a cosmic storyline and one so normal and mundane that makes this such a fascinating and fresh piece of fiction. It kind of takes the whole "choose your own adventure" genre and turns it on its head. This is the kind of fun, pushing the envelope type title that makes working at Last Gasp so entertaining.
Miami: You've Got Style! - Zachary Auburn & Scott
A self-published book detailing the many outfits of the Golden Girls (wait, it gets weirder) created by 2 straight guys. Although I wish it were in color (they have a disclaimer about this) and a little more loving at times, I can really get behind this crazy little book. Obsessive, weird, and funny.
Over Easy - Mimi Pond
Yes, there is a 90% chance that your breakfast was sponsored by the cocaine industry. I've been waiting a long time for Mimi Pond's autobiographical graphic novel, Over Easy - a love letter to her waitressing days as an art school drop-out in 1970s Oakland - and I'm not disappointed. A great story filled with flawed and lovable characters, sex, drugs, wisecracking waitresses, seedy dudes, and more - all set in one of my favorite diners in Oakland.
Diableries - Brian May, Denis Pellerman, Paula Fleming
These beautiful hellscape dioramas were all the rage in 1860s France. Printed on special cards that appeared 3D when viewed through a stereoscope, people could not get enough of these highly-detailed images featuring skeletons, devils, satyrs, and other things netherworldly. Most of these cards are incredibly rare, and the authors of this tome spent half a lifetime gathering all of the materials. A stereoscope is included with the book enabling the reader to view these images as originally intended. The cover features a fantastic lenticular image of devils and skeletons trotting off to war.
How could this book be even cooler? How about if one of the authors was astrophysicist/rocker Brian May from seminal '70s rock band Queen? Diableries will up the property value of your bookshelf ten-fold.