Showing posts with label Paul Kirchner. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Paul Kirchner. Show all posts

Saturday, December 16, 2017

Book Review: Awaiting the Collapse by Paul Kirchner

by Mike Rhode

Awaiting the Collapse: Selected Works 1974-2014 by Paul Kirchner is one of the best archival reprint projects of 2017. Unfortunately, due to it's content, both sexual and drug-related, it will not find the large American audience that Kirchner deserves.

Let's look first at the publisher's description of the book. 

After the bus and the bus 2, this third collaboration between French publishing house Tanibis and comic book artist Paul Kirchner is a collection of the artist’s works, most of them initially published in counter-culture magazines in the 1970s and the 1980s and some dating from his return to comics in the 2010s. 

Roughly a third of the stories star Dope Rider, the pot-smoking skeleton whose psychedelic adventures take him through colorful vistas equally reminiscent of Sergio Leone’s spaghetti western films and of the surrealistic paintings of René Magritte and Salvador Dalí. These stories were originally drawn for the marijuana-themed magazine High Times but were also for Kirchner an excuse to create his very own brand of visual poetry.

An other third of the book is a miscellaneous collection of comics whose stories range from the loony (the sextraterrestrial invasion of Earth in “They Came from Uranus”) to the satirical (“Critical mass of cool”) and the outright subversive (if you ever wondered what games toys play at night, read “Dolls at Midnight”).

This book also features a broad selection of the covers Kirchner made for the pornographic tabloid Screw in the 1970s.

Awaiting the Collapse finally contains a previously unpublished essay by Paul Kirchner about his career and his influences, which helps put in perspective the works published in this book.

The description which is admirably clear about the nature of Kirchner's work explains why you won't see this on anyone's best of the year list besides mine. The first reprints Dope Rider stories from the 1970s which focus on a walking skeleton attempting to acquire the best marijuana (and initially heroin). The stories are wildly surrealistic and make little sense, although Kirchner apparently did not participate in the drug culture. He also did sexualized covers for the notorious Screw newspaper, but again says in the excellent afterword that he also wasn't interested in the hedonistic adult industry world. "I too might seem an unlikely fit for Screw, having no interest in hard-core pornography... Although I drew cartoons involving leather fetishism and bondage, to me those were just subject matter, offering visual possibilities. They struck me as more humorous than erotic. So how did a sober, strait-laced fellow like me find himself drawing Screw covers and Dope Rider? I have a naughty streak that demands express, and I indulge it in my art." (p. 140)

Also Kirchner, like most of his mentors, followed the money. Kirchner says he grew up admiring Jack Kirby and Steve Ditko, two of the more surreal mainstream comics artists, and then as part of a group of young Turks in New York City in the early 1970s hung around Neal Adams's Continuity Associates and worked for Wally Wood. Wood's influences are clear in the work reprinted here (apparently selected by Kirchner, and occasionally reconstructed). Kirchner also sought Steranko's advice, and one can easily see some pages influenced by that most theatrical of comic book artists. (See the panel of the Dope Rider drawing a gun on page 22 for example). The reprint quality of the artwork is stunning also, with much of it being reconstructed by his editor or recolored by Kirchner.

While I greatly admire Kirchner's craft, the best part of the book is the autobiographical essay at the end. Kirchner recounts his working career, including working in an early comic book store, ghosting Little Orphan Annie, drawing the graphic novel Murder by Remote Control for the Dutch mystery writer Janwillem van de Wetering, working for the New York Times, and collecting and firing guns with Wally Wood and the African-American cartoonist Wayne Howard. Kirchner admits to being a slow artist, and eventually had to go to work in advertising to support his family, but recently he's returned to comics although he's now in his 60s. The book includes some of his newer material as does the bus 2, and although Kirchner says his skills were rusty, his recent work compares well to his earlier art. He's doing a new comic strip, and closes his essay on a high note, writing, "When you do commercial work, as I  did for 30 years, it pays well but means nothing.  ... Instead of anxiously waiting for the next assignment, I am how happily working on the next idea. To do creative work is good for the soul. As long as you have an enthusiasm, you have happiness." (p. 151)

While this book obviously isn't for everyone, serious comics readers, especially those interested in the underground, should acquire and read it

AWAITING THE COLLAPSE: Selected works 1974-2014
by Paul Kirchner
Tanibis Editions
ISBN: 9782848410449
Format : 9,4 x 12,2"
152 pages in full color

Tanabis kindly provided me with a review copy of the physical book.

Monday, October 12, 2015

Titan Comics of early October 2015 and The Bus 2

Titan Books continues its aggressive Titan Comics line expansion with a wide variety of material. They just sent ComicsDC a wide variety of books, ranging from children's to greatest generation readers. Text in italics is a blurb from their website.

[Cover Art Image]
Dreamworks Home Vol. 1 Hide & Seek & Oh
Writer Max Davison and Artist Matt Hebb
Fresh from DreamWorks Animation’s new film Home, Titan Comics bring you the all-new adventures of the friendliest and most inept world dominators you’ve ever seen! The Boov are an alien race trying to make Earth their home, but they really don’t get human culture... In these two original stories, Tip and the Boov alien Oh attempt to play hide-and-seek – with inter-dimensional consequences! And Oh faces the perilous pitfalls of job-hunting!

This is really aimed at a very young reader, as it has a cameo by Where's Waldo in it. I haven't seen the movie, but in the comic, the girl Tip takes the lead of solving the problems that Oh the alien has gotten them into.

[Cover Art Image] Dreamworks Classics Vol.1

Andy Lanning
Dan Abnett
Tom DeFalco

Brian Williamson
S L Gallant

From the hit movies to the comic pages, Titan presents classic DreamWorks tales starring Shrek and the Madagascar gang! Shrek faces a bunch of Trolls and then takes part in a pie-eating contest (against Fiona, no less!). Meanwhile over in Madagascar, the gang try to build a new house – with disastrous results – and then they go to a party at Prince Julien’s!

I wasn't paying much attention to this comic collection of Shrek and Madagascar stories, until I saw the artist - our local Dupont Circle denizen Shannon Gallant, who also pencils G.I. Joe.. So everyone should by this collection and wander the Circle until Shannon signs it for you.

[Cover Art Image] DreamWorks Penguins of Madagascar: The Great Drain Robbery
Andy Lanning
Egle Bartolini
Lucas Fereyra

This collection packs together Titan's complete Penguins of Madagascar comic series, presenting hilarious and dangerous hijinks with everyone's favourite flippered friends from the Madagascar movies. It's penguins vs. rats in 'The Great Drain Robbery', the fellas face a cunning new circus performer in 'When In Rome', have an adventure on the red carpet in 'Big Night Out', engage in some clowning around with ferrets in 'Big Top' and finally travel to London to visit the Crown Jewels - with hilarious consequences - in 'Operation: Heist'.

I'm surprised by the variety of styles of art in this collection. DreamWorks obviously did not provide a staid model sheet, and it makes the collection more enjoyable. The characters of the Penguins have been well-established by the movies and tv, and the writers have turned in perfectly acceptable plots for  a children's comic. Anyone looking for a comic for the 10-and-under set could consider this, although at $20 it's price point is more like a standard superhero collection.

Doctor Who: The Eleventh Doctor Archives Omnibus: Volume One 

by Tony Lee (Author), Dan McDaid (Author), Tim Hamilton (Illustrator), Mark Buckingham (Illustrator), Matthew Dow Smith (Illustrator) 

The journey starts here, with the first installment of Doctor Who: The Eleventh Doctor Archives! Join the Doctor, Amy and Rory as they explore the wonders of time and space - where nothing is ever quite as it seems! Collecting the first three complete story arcs of Doctor Who Series 2, don't miss out on these fantastic adventures!

I'm turning this one over to my daughter for review as she's a fan. Hopefully she'll get back to us with a review. Again, as with the Penguins, I'm struck by the wide variety in artistic styles.

[Cover Art Image]

Universal War One Vol.1 

Denis Bajram

THE WHOLE WORLD IS AT WAR. AND IT’S ABOUT TO GET WORSE. Humanity has colonized our entire solar system. In the middle of a civil war between the core planets and distant outlying planetary settlements, an immense black wall appears, cutting our solar system in two. The black wall absorbs all light and matter, and it's up to a band of disgraced soldiers to investigate the phenomenon.

This is a goodly-priced collection of six French albums. Bajram's art is attractive. European SF rarely engages me, but I'll try to get back with a review.

[Cover Art Image]

Don Moore
Austin Briggs

Continuing the space-bound adventures of Flash Gordon, the original guardian of the galaxy as he strives to save us all from a slew of super-villainy hell-bent on domination, destruction and devilment; including the ruthless, seductive, Storm Queen of Valkir!

 Once upon a time, in our local galaxy, Star Wars didn't exist. Instead, we had Flash Gordon. This is a big meaty reprint book of color Sundays of the comic strip from the 1940s and it's going to be good. 

[Cover Art Image] Minions Vol.1 Banana!

Renaud Collin

They’re the most loveable evil henchmen ever created… Stuart, Kevin, Bob and the rest of the Minions return for laughs and gags in this hilarious comic collection. Collecting together Minions Comic Issues #1 and #2, laugh along as the Minions unleash their unique brand of mayhem on the world.

I just saw the movie the other day, and liked it. I think this collection, which is mostly wordless as you'd expect, should be a fun read. It's in European hardcover album format and should be a good present for pre-teens.

The Bus 2

Paul Kirchner

Tanibis, 2015, $25.

One of my favorite comic strips is Paul Kirchner's The Bus which appeared in alternative newspapers in the 1980s. I reviewed the collection that reprinted them, and figured that I'd seen it all. But Kirchner had returned to the strip and I'm looking forward to diving into his return to the wordless surrealism of commuting. I can't recommend Kirchner's strips highly enough. These two books would make great holiday presents.

Here's the publisher's blurb:

 During the years 1974 to 1986, after working as an assistant to Wally Wood, Paul Kirchner created several comic strips such as Dope Rider for High Times magazine and the bus for Heavy Metal. In 2012, French publishing house Tanibis published an anthology of the bus strips that was nominated at the Angoulême International comics festival, proving that even a 30-year old public transportation vehicle can take part in a Grand Prix. In 2013, Paul Kirchner surprised commuters when he decided to start working again on the bus. He fixed the old vehicle up, took it out of the garage and called its iconic passenger in the white overcoat back on duty, waiting to be taken on new, exotic adventures. The bus' unpredictable personality causes him to mimic classic pop culture icons such as King-Kong or Steve Martin while in turn analyzing or teleporting his passenger. And that's only when it's not cheating on him with other commuters. Kirchner's new ideas are on par with the original strips, proving that his creativity didn't end with the 80's. The crazy cartoon logic of the original strips is still present, and wackiness is the norm. Some details, such as the so-called « smart » phones or the passengers' looks, root the stories in the 21st century, but Paul Kirchner's universe retains a timeless vintage aesthetic that blends eras, lending these new stories a hint of nostalgia. The Bus 2 will be published in hardcover horizontal format identical to the previous collection published in 2012. Back in that twilight dimension he calls home, it is rumored that Paul Kirchner is at work on new material for his psychedelic western Dope Rider. After all it seems that the bus' passenger is not the only one who gets caught occasionally in strange time warps... Parts of The Bus 2 material have previously been published in magazines in north America and in Europe.

Friday, April 11, 2008

OT: Underground comics mag find part one - A Secret History of Comics Special

I picked up a couple of underground magazines - well they were probably ground-level for the time - that are going to be passed along to MSU's Comic Art Collection soon. Before I do that, here's some of the more famous underground cartoonists from Apple Pie May 1975.

Neal Adams art on this.

Terry Austin, the great inker, apparently did editorial cartoons too.

A couple of one-pagers by Justin Green.

Paul Kirchner did the surrealist strip The Bus for alternative weekly newspapers, until I seem to remember that he came into money - Ninja Turtle money maybe?

And a three-page strip by Kirchner: