comic books

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Last week, killing time before a lecture, I wandered around the stacks of Columbia’s immense Butler Library. Each regular-sized floor of the building crams two ‘stacks’ in, low-ceilinged warrens filled with racks on racks on racks of every type and subject of book imaginable. Human presences are an interruption in the flow of books, and the absolute minimum amount of space possible is grudgingly set aside for moving through the shelves. Light is on an as-needed basis – tiny squares at the end of rows flick on a light for that row only, and only for 15 minutes. Footsteps and door slams from other floors echo up through old grates blowing stale air. It’s basically an ancient leather-and-paper scented horror movie set, and I immediately fell in love.

As I’d picked a floor, stack, row and shelf at random, imagine my shock seeing the very book I’d just given as a gift (and angrily realized I had no copy for myself to read at home (how do I do that so often?)), Julia Wertz’s ‘Drinking At The Movies’. My wish was granted by a giant sentient haunted library!

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( it looks like it says ‘ButtStax’ on the right)

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I also found it hilarious someone at Columbia must have filled out all the paperwork and request forms to formally have this added to the library’s holdings. Looking around some more, I realized I’d wandered into the ‘comics’ section – they had EVERYTHING! All the Tin-Tins, even the super-racist ones! All variants and eras of Batman! The entire run of ‘Lone Wolf and Cub’! ALL OF HEAVY METAL!

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Someone had to BIND THAT AND GOLD STAMP IT. A quick perusal and I found books by several people I know in real life:

A goodly collection of Tony Millionaire’s work:
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(wait, was this donated by a ghost?)

Koren Shadmi and Dash Shaw:

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…and Brendan Burford’s collection ‘Syncopated’ (Syncopated #2 was actually out at the time).

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Yes, I have access to ancient Medieval chapbooks, rare handwritten notebooks by prominent artists and scientists, and the full writings of the greatest philosophers in human history in every language, but the next months of my life will be spent reading all of ‘Madman’.

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Sometimes the internet does the heavy lifting for you. I was going to write an in-depth review of Marvel’s 1982 comic on the life of Pope John Paul II, but 4thletter! beat me to the punch, with such gusto that re-doing it seems moot. All I can contribute is how I even know a Pope John Paul II comic existed in the first place.

As a wee tot, my Nana kept a box of toys in the corner of her apartment for when the grandkids came over; mostly Fisher-Price, with several books and boardgames. Digging through in hopes of finding the cowboy pegman, I came across the story of the Pope’s life, as told by an unusually high-strung reporter.

Two moments from the story stuck with me all this time- the future Pope volunteering to clean a toilet used and not repaired at any point during the 2-year occupation of Nazis (ew), and the aforementioned reporter hearing the Pope has been shot, rushing out into the streets to the nearest Catholic church, and finding the only other person in the whole city full of godless jerks who immediately understands. They pray together, and the Pope miraculously survives. I don’t mean to imply causality there, I’m fairly sure the point-blank shot fired directly at John Paul II’s vital bits without causing any serious damage was in no way mitigated by the prayers of a fictional reporter.

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As I spent all my money on books comic and art at MoCCA, I’ve been without food the last few days. I only regained strength to type when this morning, as I attempted to scare pigeons away from precious crumb-piles, a kindly plutocrat tossed a half-finished kruller at me. ‘God bless ye, good sir!’ I feebly murmured, and also blessed Ronald Regan’s trickle-down economics as I swatted more pigeons away from my bountiful repast.

While the sugar rush remains I figured I’d share my paper-goods. I purchased entertaining volumes from ‘Hark: A Vagrant!’ and ‘Cat and Girl’, both also available online for your viewing pleasure. While my retinas burn after staring at a bright screen too long, I almost prefer the online format, if only because it prevents me from rushing through the entire printed volume, experiencing the book-variant of too much birthday. ‘Cat and Girl’ particularly should be enjoyed at a more leisurely pace to better enjoy the humor; beyond the initial wordplay and jokes there’s often a pointed observation that…I was going to say ‘deserves time to breathe’ but when I start writing about comics like other guys write about wines perhaps I should step back and start editing.

As with previous years I purchased everything from the Icecreamlandia table, including their latest, ‘Trash Magic’:
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Lovingly screen-printed, it delivers exactly what it promises- trashy people doing all sorts of magic.
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The two artists behind Icecreamlandia collaborated on three minibooks featuring both their styles. Flip the book and you’d get the other artist’s work:
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I veered back and forth as to whose half I liked better, but ultimately ‘Hunt’ won me over from ‘Hunt and Peck’, featuring pages of goofily unaware animals:
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You know how some people talk about how a piece of art ‘moved’ them? I always thought that was bullspit until I picked up a small booklet and came across this image:

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It’s better to let the mystery of ‘why’ remain, but at the risk of overanalyzing seeing the embodiment of everything hated about how women are perceived attacked by comfortably chunky puns made real (catty ladies) ‘spoke’ to me. Specifically it said ‘Take that, Cathy, you whiny bitch’. AACK! indeed. It came from this volume, which though more grotesque than I usually enjoy was quite entertaining:

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