Friday, January 26, 2007

We're knee deep in HP LOVECRAFT WEEK over at MONSTER BRAINS

An astounding wealth of fucking weird stuff is being accumulated by our friend (and spiritual cousin) at Monster Brains! This week, he's posting any and all things LOVECRAFTIAN, which (of course) warms my heart. The collection of images and links is growing each day, and my favorites so far have been the gnarly Michael Whelan covers that continue to gross me out, ready-to-screenprint size comparisons of the monsters in the mythos, and Michael Komarck's paintings for a Cthulhu CCG (Isn't Magic: The Gathering that already?)... DANG!

Go over to Monster Brains now and pay your respects!


Oh, one last thing-- for another example of why Monster Brains is one of our favorite blogs, check out this massive post on The Temptation of St. Anthony. He's collected dozens and dozens of representations of St. Anthony and the beasties he encountered / hallucinated, including an utterly terrifying tryptch by Hieronymus Bosch, along with many more paintings, etchings, and murals. All that, along with some commentary on the influence of this biblical freakfrest on contemporary horror. I love it.

Friday, January 19, 2007

Thomas Ott: My current favorite horror illustrator?

As the name of the post reveals, I wanted to take a minute and write about Swiss cartoonist Thomas Ott (billed on his books as simply T. Ott). Ott's books have been released stateside by Fantagraphics, and he is one of the too-small handful of European comic artists with books released/translated in the U.S. (although :01 and others have been changing this lately, thankfully).

Do people dig his stuff? Are you over it already? Here come the cliches my geeky-alter ago uses to describe Ott's comics: Channeling the dead ghosts of silent cinema (ooh!). Macabre morality plays with contemporary settings and repercussions (oooh!). Short yarns reminiscint of The Twilight Zone blended with the hard knocks zingers of EC's horror comics (ooooh!). BANG BANG BANG-- that shit is all true!

Some of the books that should be on your shelves:

I kept running into his stuff in really odd places in 2006, and I wish I knew more about him and his earlier work (ahem, European readers of this blog--a little help?). From what I gathered, he lives in France, and used to front a band called The Playboys. His work is getting more widely distributed, it seems, and I came across this awesome shirt from a Spencer Gifts-meets-Hot Topic style shop in Berlin, below a records store where I got early Malaria! and DAF records:

Don't pretend that you don't want this t-shirt

It was 25 Euro, but STILL--- why didn't I buy it?

In addition to this, some genius at Penguin tapped Ott to do one of the covers for their Graphic Classics editions-- a series of luxury reprints coupled with covers by indie cartoonists. Radical ones include Akutagawa's Rashomon and other stories, translated by Japanese PopLit all-star Jay Rubin and illustrated by my main man, Yoshihiro Tatsumi, and Charles Burns' nasty meat slab cover for The Jungle, and Kerouac's Dharma Bums with a cover by Jason.

But the best, most-inspired edition is T. Ott illustrating the cover of Shirley Jackson's We Have Always Lived in the Castle, with an introduction by the SF-turned-literary, Philip K. Dick-evangelizing author, Mr. Jonathan Lethem. Could you ask for a better team? Shirley Jackson is one of my favorite authors (she wrote a score of creepy stories, including The Lottery, along with claustrophic novels like The Haunting of Hill House) and this is one of her best (and surprisingly hard to track down) books. When I saw the mock-up for this cover back in June 2006, at Penguin's BookExpo America booth, my response was "NO FUCKING WAY!" Check it out:

And that is my squeeling lovefest. Long live the Swiss! Any Europeans have more info on him they want to send our way?

Friday, January 05, 2007

HAPPY NEW YEAR 2007 (or, Johnny Ryan is AWESOME!)

Welcome to the future. After a hiatus for visting family and relaxing, we've reared our heads for more crazy-ass posts. We've got news, gossip, recommendations, rants and tons more original scanlations and original comics coming your way this year.

For those of you that don't know, we are big fans of Johnny Ryan. Honestly, if you're into the weird shit we write about here, you've probably already read his Angry Youth Comix (published by Fantagraphics), seen his gag strip Blecky Yuckerella in your local weekly, or seen his cartoons in Mad or Vice. My old roommate Oli first got me into Johnny's AYC, and we'd check out the newest issues over cheeseburgers and comics as part of our saturday agenda.

Evan ran into Johnny at Comic-Con this past summer, and we were flabbergasted to hear that he had checked out Same Hat! and knew who we were-- turns out Johnny is a big fan of Junji Ito, along with other underground favorites like Suehiro Maruo and Shunji Enomoto (we've put his stuff on our scanlation agenda, per his suggestion), and enjoyed our scanlation, Falling.

This past fall, I bought a piece by JR: a small painting of Chucky that now decorates our apartment:

So, for XMAS 2006, I commissioned two pieces from Johnny as presents: one for Evan, one for myself :) The first was an ensemble shot of 4 characters from a comic Evan was drawing when we were buddies in high school, called Neo-Necropolis. I tricked Evan into scanning and sending some character sketches, and Johnny took it from there. Evan was totally surprised and absolutely LOVED it:

We framed it and it's hanging by Evan's desk right now :)

For myself, knowing that Johnny had said he loved Gyo in an interview recently with The Comics Journal (and this compounded by my intense, intense fear of sharks and love of that comic), I commissioned this:

Me being eaten by the shark-machine from Gyo

Seriously, the best money I've spent in a long time. If you are interested, there are details on his site for ordering your own custom art. Thanks again, Johnny!

More posts coming soon! Hope everyone's 2007 is off to a good start!