Toon Time

My neighbor this weekend was having a yard sale, and local comics buffs were snapping up battered but still readable (and possibly Ebay-able) copies of everything from Conan the Barbarian to The Fabulous Furry Freak Brothers. That brought to mind a few wonderful comics titles that have crossed the desk of late.


Paul Di Filippo -- also known around these parts as The Speculator -- offers a brief review of Françoise Mouly and Art Spiegelman's new collection The TOON Treasury of Classic Children's Comics. It's a smorgasbord of samples from the funny pages of the 1930s through the 60s , including famous strips as Little Lulu, Sugar and Spike, Captain Marvel, Uncle Scrooge and Pogo plus many lesser-known titles, pulled together with "superb taste and expertise."


Equally breathtaking is Masterpiece Comics, R. Sikoyak's overdue compendium of two decades worth of short comics pieces that take great works of literature and recast them in the styles of beloved strips. Dagwood and Blondie in the garden of Eden! "Inferno Joe" -- bubble-gum-wrapper-sized Dante! And "The House of Bronte" -- a full-scale retelling of Wuthering Heights in the manner of the great EC horror books. The matches of style to subject are unexpected, but sublime.


Finally, I'm pretty charmed by a new treat from South African cartoonist Joe Daly, a duplex volume entitled The Red Monkey Double Happiness Book. I won't try to summarize this pair of slackerish, surreal adventures, except to say that they involve microwave weapons, rain sticks, breakfast cereal, hallucinogenic toads, and a wayward capybara.  And are just as entertaining as that list suggests.



April 18: "[W]ould it be too bold to imagine that all warm-blooded animals have arisen from one living filament…?"

Books, CDs, DVDs to know about now
Poems That Make Grown Men Cry

And women too.  Luminaries from Colin Firth to Nick Cave and Jonathan Franzen chose the poems that bring them to tears, and the result is a stunning collection of poignant verse from writers like Auden, Whitman, Bishop, Larkin, Neruda and many others.  Warning: choking-up hazard.

The King of Pain

Trapped beneath his entertainment system, reality TV mastermind Rick Salter reflects on his life and tries to piece together the events of the previous evening. Seth Kaufman’s romp is an outrageous meditation on pain and entertainment in a deranged world in which the two are often interchangeable.

The Good Inn

Frank Black, frontman for the Pixies, has written a transgressive historical fiction with shades of Thomas Pynchon (focused as it is on the history of explosives and cinematic pornography), all set in a hallucinatory Edwardian Europe.