A longer one, since I've been lax.



Tōnoharu Part 1 (of 4) (fiction of a young man away in Japan)

and the anime 5 Centimeters Per Second

Oh, that's all.

*Last week was pretty light on the posts. I kept getting sidetracked. Like, I had a Twin Peaks-era David Lynch film festival over the last few days. Why? It's better not to scratch at these cosmic mysteries, lest the boil of our perception rupture. How about a trip report?


Industrial Symphony No. 1: The Dream of the Broken Hearted (1990): Yeah, this might be named after the geometric mosaics Lynch created in the '60s, and it may have a filmed prologue with Laura Dern & Nicolas Cage, and lots of flashing lights and odd costumes, and a giant deer monster, and an elaborate stage setting suggestive of a bottling factory's parking lot directly following a nuclear attack, but... it's still a glorified concert film for Julee Cruise (lip-synching to studio tracks), initially staged at the Brooklyn Academy of Music in 1989, and running 50 minutes as a recorded thing. Kinda neat nonetheless, and anyone who ever saw Twin Peaks probably saw or tried to see it at some point since almost all of Angelo Badalamenti's music got reused in the show, and there's even a bit part for Michael J. Anderson, the Man from Another Place himself, but all the thunder of the concept (and the accompanying lack of cinematic flair) got on my nerves - by the time baby dolls were dangled on strings from the ceiling during a simulated bombing raid, I was ready to take my chances in the Black Lodge. Don't ask me where you might find it today.

Wild at Heart (1990): Speaking of Dern & Cage, here they are in what must of looked like an excessive chase/crime movie nightmare of genre play upon release, but now seems eerily ahead of its time in its premonition of the sort of film Quentin Tarantino and company would be making really popular, really soon. It's also kind of a feature-length spattering of the weird-dirty Americana of Blue Velvet into a portrait of a nation gone irrevocably over-the-top, and only love can save the day for Elvis and The Wizard of Oz. It was good, and some scenes (like anything with Willem Dafoe or Crispin Glover) were great, but Lynch's adaptations (this being sourced from a Barry Gifford novel) never gel quite as well as his original constructs - I think his love for improvisation gets the better of pre-existing structures. And the R1 dvd has the edited version of the big shotgun decapitation scene! I want my full-power gunshot beheading, dammit!!! [THROWS RATTLE]

On the Air (1992): I also saw the first, Lynch-directed episode of his and Mark Frost's infamous disaster of a television follow-up to Twin Peaks, a half-hour sitcom set in the world of early live television, where everything is zany and shows go wrong. Believe it or not, it's actually a lot like that old family-friendly favorite Perfect Strangers, what with its old-timey slapstick and funny-voice ethnic humor! Who'd have guessed Cousin Balki was so avant-garde? I can totally see how lots of people wouldn't find this funny in the slightest: every character is a wildly exaggerated 'type,' there's no attempt made at nodding toward the audience or pausing for expected laughs, and the physical humor is of a fantastical type unseen in live-action since late in the '20s, where it inspired the gag rhythms of animated cartoons. Even if ABC hadn't sent it to die in a summer weekend afternoon timeslot, I can't imagine it lasting very long, or sustaining much of a quality level. But yeah... I laughed a bunch. Lynch even slips in a nice creepy moment with a guy standing silently around on the set during filming, although it quickly launches into another vivid round of knockabout...

*Glad that's out of my system. God, look at all this stuff...


The Comics Journal #289: The feature interviews this time around are Robert Kirkman and Shaun Tan, Alan David Doane writes about comic shops, Bob Levin provides what is either an excerpt from his new book on Dwaine Tinsley (of Chester the Molester infamy; see below) or a new essay on the topic, and R.C. Harvey covers Mutt and Jeff. And Michael Dean reviews Marvel Zombies. And there's 100 strips' worth of Ed Wheelan’s Minute Movies. Sounds like a good issue.

Willie & Joe: The War Years: GOLDEN AGE OF REPRINTS, ACTIVATE FULL POWER. Fantagraphics may have had to recently, tragically cancel their planned reprint of Harvey Kurtzman's Trump, but they've got another big one ready: a two-volume, $65.00 slipcased compilation of every blessed one of Bill Mauldin's WWII soldier cartoons, starting from 1940 and concluding at war's end. Edited by Mauldin biographer Todd DePastino, with comments, annotations and historical details included. Amazingly, this 650-page brute is only the first in a planned series of projects relating to Mauldin's gag panels, although I suspect this one will carry the most immediate punch.

Haunted: Ahh, I've been waiting for this Drawn and Quarterly hardcover collection of Philippe Dupuy's oft-philosophic sketch comics of strange encounters while jogging and other vivid visions. Many previews available. It's 208 pages, $24.95. It should be great.

The Rabbi's Cat Vol. 2: Being the much-awaited second Pantheon collection of Joann Sfar's series, a $22.95, 144-page hardcover tome that should bring English readers right up to pace with the French editions. More lovely adventures are in store for that talking kitty of 1930s Algiers; see a little here. Ha ha, Tintin's a fucking asshole.

Jessica Farm Vol. 1 (of 6): The new one from Josh Simmons, a fantasy adventure of pain and delight, drawn at the pace of one page per month so as to get the attention focused. The reader's too. My review is here.

Whatever: A new Alternative Comics collection of heavy realist strips and stories from The Boston Phoenix, by artist Karl Stevens; 112 pages, $9.95. Samples at that link.

Mushishi Vol. 3: Hey, it's the new edition of Yuki Urushibara's fine manga! And only a month or so after it hit bookstores! I reviewed it when the Earth was young and hot.

Hall of Best Knowledge: Batton down the hatches, we're getting flooded with Fantagraphics releases on this week of April showers. This one's a $19.99, 168-page softcover puzzle-satire graphic novel of so-called "typographical comics" by Ray Fenwick of MOME, designed as a beaten-up old journal that reveals a story through reams of expressive font. Er, maybe looking at it will help. Could be something. While we're at it, Diamond is also popping out Fanta's The Complete Peanuts Vol. 9: 1967-1968, with a John Waters introduction. However, it does not have the new Jaime Hernandez collection listed, so don't go counting on that.

Harlan Ellison's Watching: Distributed by Dark Horse, which is how it found its way into the front of Previews. It's a 520-page collection of Ellison's film criticism (an updated version of a 1989 book, with new and heretofore uncollected stuff), hopefully featuring many a broadside against 'knife-kill' movies, since that's the material I remember best. Here's a 14-page preview of the Introduction (as in, it only previews the Introduction in its 14 pages), featuring headings like "In Which The Critic Turns His Forepaw To Semiotic NeoMarxist Post-Feminist Post-Structuralist Lacanian Kristévan Uninvested Postmodern Deconstructionist Cine-Fabulist Scholarship Thingee Stuff." The toll is $19.95.

Aqua Leung Vol. 1: A new ongoing series of 200-page, $17.99 color undersea adventure comics from Image, featuring a boy who learns of his destiny and sets out to avenge his father and reclaim the kingdom from wickedness. Mark Andrew Smith writes, Paul Maybury illustrates. Looks purty.

Batman: Death Mask #1 (of 4): In which artist Yoshinori Natsume (of a series called Togari which I haven't read) draws a Batman manga that looks like this. Kind of a bargain at 48 b&w pages for $2.99.

B.P.R.D. 1946 #4 (of 5): Mignola 'n pals. Pages.

Groo: Hell on Earth #4 (of 4): The end of time as we know it. Sheets.

The Punisher MAX #56: Shootings. Papyrus.

Criminal Vol. 2 #2: Violations of statutes. Glimpses into the future.

Soleil Sampler: The French language, vanished. Free?

Number of the Beast #1 (of 8): This appears to be some sort of plate-cracking Event thing that'll rock the WildStorm line of comic books until its socks are in the hamper, but I feel obligated to point out any new series with art by Chris Sprouse & Karl Story. Written by Scott Beatty.

Most Outrageous: The Trials and Trespasses of Dwaine Tinsley and Chester the Molester: This is Bob Levin's new softcover prose book from Fantagraphics (of course!), a $19.99 account of the late Hustler gag cartoonist's trial on charges of raping his teenage daughter; the prosecution used his comics against him, which eventually raised some tricky First Amendment questions. Hopefully the questions won't be so tricky that the legal content bogs down the narrative, as it sometimes did in Levin's prior book-length work, The Pirates and the Mouse. But I love the guy's writing style, and I'm up for anything he's ready to present.

Unfiltered: The Complete Ralph Bakshi: Aw man, Bakshi. He's taken his lumps, many of them deserved, but Heavy Traffic and Coonskin were damned cool movies, and I'll take his crazy-ass mash-up episodes of Spider-Man over all the rest. Hell, I thought his late '90s Spicy City show on HBO was a sight better than that Spawn cartoon running alongside it, if we're gonna get relative. This is a new 280-page, $40.00 collection of pre-production art, sketches, animation cels, paintings and commentary, tracking the man's work through the decades. The authors are Jon M. Gibson & Chris McDonnell (the latter a founding member of Meathaus, which will have a Bakshi contribution in its next volume), and there's a Foreword by Quentin Tarantino.