Ok, I've done my lifting for the evening.

*So I went out to see a cover band tonight with some friends. I wound up wandering backstage, since one friend knew everybody, and before I knew it I was loading drums onto vehicles. I got paid in beer, and I tried to think of it as my ‘cover performance’ of an actual stagehand. I also cut my finger on a sound case, so be aware that my very blood is in this post, dear readers.

*Holy smokes, just look at this thing.

*52 Dept: Ha ha. “Billy Batshit.” I hope you’re all following Douglas Wolk’s week-by-week blogging on 52 anyway, but I have to recommend this week’s post in particular as a nice examination of the series’ mythic/religious undercurrents.

As typical as the Black Adam ‘pushed too far - is he playing with fire?’ storyline has often been, this week has probably the best sequence we’ve gotten out of that corner of the DCU, if only for the cute work done with psycho Captain Marvel, his cornball nobility nicely pushed past the point of comfort as he staggers off a throne and starts screaming at the Seven Deadly Sins (“...you shut up now. That’s rude, Lust!”). It’s all in the service of Black Adam turning Adrianna into Isis, and while the plot itself is still refusing to head in the direction of anything interesting (will Adam be redeemed by the love of a good woman, or will she fall prey to the temptations of power - start biting your nails, readers!) it manages to flow over you with a pleasant sensation left in its wake.

Meanwhile, Montoya and the Question connect dots, Ralph’s story treads water (another confrontation with Cassie, another desire to help out), word balloons are erroneously repeated, and everything happens in one day, the time zone differences between various locations duly exploited. The story’s still 20 pages, and the back-up gets busted down to two for The Origin of Wonder Woman, in which writer Mark Waid does manage to hit all of the necessary origin highlights while artist Adam Hughes busts out one iconic image after another, along with an opening view of Our Heroine’s bust all but leaping off the page toward the reader and a little taste of the ol’ bondage. I wonder how he’ll tackle All Star Wonder Woman, where he’ll be writing too.

Meat Cake #15

I never can tell whether that title is supposed to be one word or two (and judging from their respective sites, neither can Fantagraphics or the creator), but the legal indicia says two, and I need something in life to rely on, so why not the teeny tiny words on the inside front cover.

Meat Cake is the long-running solo series from Dame Darcy, and it truly is as much of a one-person show (in both execution and spirit) as any comic I can name. Every inch of every page (there’s 32 of them, in b&w, for $3.99) screams out the persona of the author, even the bits where other people seem to be involved. In one segment a pair of additional persons, Dawn Garcia & Nora Keyes, are credited as providing bits of a conversation that wound up on the page, but we’re seeing even the words of others through Darcy’s eyes. It’s no accident that the ad page in the back is hand-drawn, or that the two pages of reader letters are written out in the same cursive that marks so much of the book - this is handmade-feeling comics, though from a prominent publisher, nothing freezer-dried or wrapped in plastic.

And that lends itself to certain risks, I suppose. Darcy writes and draws pretty much whatever she feels like; there’s recipes, illustrated prose, a one-page guide to palm reading, and strange story sketches, both comedic and dramatic. If anything, Darcy’s stories have become even more scattered and off-the-cuff since the works collected in the fine Meat Cake Companion, events occurring in a seemingly improvised fashion, sometimes involving the book’s recurring cast of characters; there’s heroine Richard Dirt and the self-descriptive Friend the Girl, having a sort of scavenger hunt among zombies, and later participating with the rest of the gang in a science fair, their antics not so much requiring any past knowledge of their exploits as drawing liberally from a well of goodwill a longtime reader might have since dug. Lots of absurd humor, yet coupled with an emphatic interest in fairytale mysticism as a means of whisking away the devils of the everyday world, the sexual exploiters and the bouts of boredom - it’s a worldview unique enough to demand experiencing, though if one doesn’t find it to their liking there’s very little else to bolster one’s interest in the book, no cunning plots or familiar comforts.

No doubt that’s the way Darcy likes it. Certain features become covered in writing, words snaking around drawings and jostling for room. There’s scads of dialogue, captions heavy with narration as images get built around them. Darcy’s art is attractive, her characters sketchy yet fully-formed, big dark eyes sparkling through an ongoing horror fable dream, the comic as a whole often looking like sheets torn from a particularly complete dream-diary sketchbook. It feels more diary than sketchbook, though - many sketchbooks say a lot about their artists, but one gets a deeper feeling of personality from stuff like this. I think it's worth looking out for.