3.15.2011

"Trust In Blammo. You Love It. It Loves You."

Blammo #7 (Kilgore Books & Comics): “Ignatz Award Loser” Noah Van Sciver returns for the latest issue of his best-known foray into the field of alternative comics. Van Sciver is making a noticeable effort to stretch his artistic muscles here and offer something beyond quotidian autobiographical comics. There’s something subtly dangerous and unflinching about Van Sciver’s work as his strips continue their self-effacing diatribe. The work captures the spirit of DIY creators and seems to playfully mock the passive navel-gazing hallmarks most associated with this type of small press effort.

I think Noah may have sacrificed a tiiiiiny bit of the opportunities for BIG LAUGHS in his attempt to vary the pieces, but the results are equally impressive. Noah has much more to say about the human experience than guffaw-inducing lines that make you stumble off your treadmill routine and draw curious glances from everyone else at the gym (true story, as told by my friend Ryan), and he does so with depth and panache. Noah gives us a plethora of stories that begin to shift away from straight-up autobio; there’s Bill the Chicken, the karmic morality play of Jesus and his working class foibles, along with the faux news reports that humbly deride his own work. They’re all funny, yes, but amid the Robert Crumb-style sweat beads and scintillating murder mysteries, these character focused pieces all carefully examine the world around him. His authorial voice appreciates the history of what made alt comics thrive originally, but also drips with modern sensibility. Noah might be using ciphers here to explore, but self-image and the way the world perceives people and their actions is still a central theme connecting most of the pieces. It’s why his comics are a more heady blend of consideration about the human experience than Those Other Books.

I most appreciate the bold visual style of pieces like “Foreword” and “Afterword” that highlight Grant and Veronica. Grant is a particularly effective character. He seems to leap from the page and transcend his comic book origins. Whether purely fictional or perhaps semi-autobiographical, he attempts to navigate the real world that we inhabit, not the false perfection of a made-up one, and he has no illusions about morality, or honesty, or the precocious nature of kids, or the inherent decency of people, or even the occasional need for violence to resolve conflict.

Noah’s work seems to pull you away from following a predictable path in life and desire something more unique for your troubles, almost like it’s the antidote to a middle class rote existence in suburbia. There are times as a critic that make me want to weep for our future and the majority detritus that our beloved field is capable of producing, there are also those minority times when I feel a glimmer of hope regarding the future of the industry. Those rare instances of encouragement are usually felt right after I read Noah’s work. Noah Van Sciver could save this sub-category of art for future generations. His work will endure because he possesses one of the sharpest voices and most instantly recognizable aesthetics working in indie comics today. Grade A.

3 Comments:

At 2:53 PM, Anonymous Courtney said...

What a great review! Very thoughtful and intelligent. This is definitely Van Sciver's best Blammo to date!

 
At 3:31 PM, Blogger Justin said...

Hi Courtney, thanks for stopping by. Nothing cracks me up like Noah drawing John Porcellino, but yeah, this was a great issue!

 
At 10:43 AM, Anonymous Rick Parker said...

I can't wait to read Noah's next offering!

 

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