In the spirit of restraining myself and limiting my usual tendency to over-write, here's a list of things I've been reading/hearing/enjoying. This is also an exercise of sorts. I'm working on writing a few small potato, self-printed comics at the moment, and am being increasingly mindful of the fact that comics are a visual medium. In other words, I can't write write as much as usual. So with that in mind...
1. Eddie Campbell's Alec: The King Canute Crowd and Alec: How To Be An Artist
Masterful use of autobiography in comics. Not so much self-serving as self-aware and conscious of the changing world around the self. Both illustrate Campbell's progression from a young cartoonist to the point where he started moving beyond youthful indiscretion toward a more earnest, mature focus. (www.eddiecampbell.blogspot.com)
I picked up creator Royden Lepp's first volume after reading the short story in Archaia's hardcover Free Comic Book Day Offering. An easy all ages read, but manages to be mysterious and poignant at times. The dust of the family farm is apparent in visuals and tone, as is the rust and grime of the machines. (www.archaia.com/archaia-titles/rust/)
This collection of three books by Norwegian cartoonist Jason are simple only on the surface. Get past initial assumption that these are simple comics and you'll see a great deal of depth. Strong visual storytelling, and an equally strong sense of story as a whole, even when the comics are free of language and dialogue. (www.fantagraphics.com/browse-shop/jason-2.html)
1. Billy Bragg and Wilco: The Complete Mermaid Avenue Sessions
Hearing these three discs of unrecorded songs will remind you of the lyrical genius of Woody Guthrie. Bragg and Wilco add original music to the bare lyrics, illustrating their own respective prowess at instrumentation and lyrical phrasing. Disc one is a classic. (www.youtube.com/watch?v=VhVXORYHi08)
It's the legendary jazz bassist/composer playing piano and singing. Titles like Hog Callin' Blues, Devil Woman, Eat That Chicken and Oh Lord Don't Let Them Drop That Atomic Bomb On Me imply a largely blues and gospel-infused record. An odd but worthwhile record to seek out for the jazz and blues fans among you. (www.youtube.com/watch?v=hEIx4kSSeVg)
It might verge on New Age at points. There's a direct/indirect connection to some of Brian Eno's ambience. Manages to evoke varying emotions and environments. Music that works well in the background, especially if you're cooking or working on a creative project. (www.youtube.com/watch?v=nlq7axDVF-E)
That's it for the first of what may become a series of attempted Abbreviated Reviews. If you check any of these books or albums out, let me know what you think.