Friday, March 30, 2012

Broken Pencil Reviews Issue 53

Fabula Nebuculata: 
A Compendium of Picture Stories from The Royal Alberta Illustrated Literature Society Comic Marvic Adecer, Leopold McGinnis

The Royal Alberta Illustrated Literature Society is not what you may think it is. RAILS, as creator Marvic Adecer describes in his introduction, is a collective of (currently) two people dedicated to making comics. RAILS' first comic compilation Fabula Nebuculata (Latin for “comic strip”) features the work of its progenitor Adecer and Leopold McGinnis, and is an ambitious debut. Using the magazine-size format, the 32-page, black-and-white behemoth blends stories of identity, presumptuous black bears, revealing dick-discussion and other factual stories. McGinnis contributes a gem of auto-bio comics with “Dick Tales”, a recounting of his hilarious adventures and explorations using his longsword. There is also a one-pager comic where “'Pold” shows his finesse for the classic gag-strip. Adecer's works fill the rest of the pages, with everything from “Black Bear”, about a hard-to-get-rid of bear that emphasizes the strain of living with roommates, a relationship snippet, and a reflective space-story that concludes with a love that is still rocketing its way through the universe. An impressive result from a group that went through a high-turn over, a few rough starts, and a fateful run-in with Dylan Horrocks to produce their first collection Fabula Nebuculata, with (hopefully) more to come.

Retain Parts, Destroy Parts Zine
Matt Abramson 
Issue 5, March-ish 2011

It takes a certain amount of self-deprecation with just the right touch of wordsmithing to craft a decent angst-
zine (or what I'll call “zaingst”). Matt Abramson's Retain Parts, Destroy Parts has perfected this formula in this fifth issue, with 32 black-and-white pages of punk poetry and random story fragments. Retain Parts is the perfect cocktail of Trainspotting-era cynicism mixed with working class reflections of society entrapment a la Last Exit To Brooklyn. This angry little zine is fully aware of how negative and self-involved it is, and yet is clearly incapable of concealing or glorifying it's photocopied existence. Retain Parts is rhythmically raw, and begins with a poem about the death of all things, moves through ruminations of suicide and puking, and towards the end gives an admonishing quote of “Be a man and deal. Seriously. Shit.” The poem “Important Questions” begins with “would you rather” and includes head-scratchers and nut-clenchers such as: “bone a 400 lb chick (or dude) or punch yourself as hard as you can in the balls (or pussy) and immediately run a 1/4 mile?”, while the only (mostly) blank page in the book infers “this is what everything (poems, songs, paintings) starts as:”. Retain Parts, Destroy Parts lives up to its name, dredging through personal history and mistakes to glean only the most essential fragments of truth and self-realization. Abramson pulls you through his shitty existence until it becomes your own, and then somehow makes you proud of it.

Graeme Clark
Printed by Horse of Operation
Toronto,ON 2011

The lit-zine Abraxia by Graeme Clark is what happens when a dystopic world dresses convincingly like our own. From the beginning we are drawn into the buzzword mantra of a man on his way to a job interview: I pay close attention to detail. I work productively alone or with others; supervised or on my own. I listen well. Following the first-person narrative of Adam Cadmaun arriving for his interview with giant conglomerate Abraxia, the story soon becomes a mystery with a questionable suicide of another character, Edgar, who's third-person narrative ends the tale. This circular structure not only allows a rich development of different characters, but manages to encapsulate the story's suspense in it's 24 pages, broken into three chapters with titles such as “I Listen Well”, “The Bifurcated Man” and “Wires”. Where real-life issues meet surrealism lies Abraxia, cyborgism, corruption, and a man literally torn in half. There is a theme of blood, and its inescapable relationship to humanity and the organic. Wires, and their connective capabilities, transform and become blood, forming new conduits for impulses. The image of work and corporate culture infiltrates into the personal like never before. Abraxia is bound in a simple sheet of black cardstock with glued interior pages, a haunting image of the universally familiar, anonymous office building on its cover.

His Beautiful Beautiful Ugly Hands
Art Zine
Javier Lozano
Pogobooks #25/120 editions

Lozano's half-page zine is a sketchbook collection whose contents are as whimsical as its title. Bound in cardstock and printed in plain black and white, it's 24-stapled pages are absolutely crammed with tiny drawings, sketches, maps and various sketchbook flotsam. The front cover borrows these images to create perfect little white silhouettes of a few dozen animals, human heads, mermaids, body parts and creatures against a black background. Reminiscent of the famous sketch diaries of Matisse, Lozano's delicate contour drawings explore people, places and things, and the textures and movement of each. There are no rules that separate each figure, bird, tree, angel, dragon, siamese twins, from the others surrounding it, creating a visually exciting and overwhelming landscape of possibility. This is the sort of artistic vomiting up of ideas that is at once unfinished and rudimentary while at the same time being brilliantly original and impressive it its own right. Lozano's sketches are about working the kinks out, taking form, seeing what happens, and magically appearing out of a clear necessity to just draw. This book is exactly the sort of thing that excites and motivates other artists strictly by virtue of existing, and its glorification of random doodles and drawing practice. His beautiful's true beauty lies within the perceived ugliness of the unfinished and the unperfected, and points to a deeper connection to the process and determination required to draw what is obviously only a small part of a larger body of work.

The Misadventures of Paranoidman #4 A Shaky Shakedown
Mario Mathieu
Translated by D. Bennet ISBN 978-2-98-06222-9-8

You can't help but be impressed by Mario Mathieu's dedication to his creation, Paranoidman of The Misadventures of Paranoidman (#4): this DIY comic has its own ISBN number! With a skull trademark that looks like a cousin of the Last Gasp publications emblem, Mathieu's homage to the early underground comic aesthetic is flattering and on point. With a drawing style that puts me in mind of Sergio Aragones and a comedic timing that could stand up to the Wonder Warthog, Paranoidman's adventure in issue #4 A Shaky Shakedown defies convention and good taste while employing running gags, corrupt cop hijinx, all while peppering in the frequent sexual escapades that the genre demands. Paranoidman, a subversive superhero with a mohawked-head too small for his body, is undercover at a strip club when things start to get hot and heavy. After getting the 'full-meal-deal' from one of the dancer's, Paranoidman refuses to pay and calls in the rest of the cops to check out the “illegal activity”. After hauling all of the strippers to jail, Paranoidman creates his own impromptu club- with the cops as customers! Bonuses such as a full-colour cover and a page count made up of tiny beer bottles at the bottom of each page also help to make issue #4 a unique and fun read. Nothing is lost in the translation, as any occasional lapse in grammar in this 32-page comic only adds to the humourous dialogue.

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