Pop Culture Gadabout
Sunday, August 24, 2008
      ( 8/24/2008 06:03:00 PM ) Bill S.  


LOVE IS ALL YOU NEED (LOVE IS ALL YOU NEED) LOVE IS . . . The first collection in three years by the Israeli alternative comics collective, Actus, How to Love (distributed in the U.S. by Top Shelf) is a handsomely packaged hardcover anthology of six "graphic novellas" centered on the title theme. In the years since Actus' last group production, 2005's Dead Herring Comics, one member of the group, Rutu Modan, has gone on to greater critical notice with her graphic novel Exit Wounds. But her success hasn't led the artist into dropping out of the collection. Good thing, too, since her contribution, "Your Number One Fan," is one of the book's highlights.

The 142-page volume opens with its cover story, Batia Kolton's "Summer Story," a meticulously rendered recounting of a young girl's trip to the beach with her family and a teenaged girl our heroine has been observing from afar. Kolton's straightforward art style is especially attuned to her characters' body language: though we're never shown heroine Dorit's inner thoughts, the awkwardness of her nascent teen-hood is beautifully captured. Working similar territory is Mira Friedmann's "Independence Day," the story of another young girl who ventures across the Israel/Jordan border in a futile attempt to impress a schoolboy. Drawing in a less realistic mode - her characters possess stunted bodies that approach more traditional cartoon proportions - Friedmann still manages to convey the isolation of traveling through a culture not your own.

Two illustrated fictions work from a more adult perspective: David Polonsky's "L'Elixir D'Amour" features a series of fantastic Borges-ian vignettes about the nature of love as told by an aged decadent nobleman, while Itzik Rennert's "Love Love Love" is a catalog of a nameless bisexual narrator's less-than-satisfying sexual encounters. The first is rendered with lovingly fantastical old-fashioned illustrations, while the second is presented in a more impressionistic sketchbook/collage blend. Both approaches suit their respective stories, though I have to admit to personally favoring Polonsky's lavishly inked gray-and-white illos.

The protagonist of Modan's "Your Number One Fan" is the not-quite-deserving object of a middle-aged Englishwoman's fannish love (the echo of Annie Wilkes' obsessive mantra is worth noting - especially since it isn't the fan who erupts in a violent rage in this story). A would-be singer/songwriter, Eitan Shabtai thinks he's finally made a big step into the limelight when he's invited to fly from Israel and perform in Sheffield, England, home of Joe Cocker and the Arctic Monkeys. Eitan, who has one self-made CD to his credit, has visions of a starmaking debut, but actually he's been invited by a lonely divorcee named Jackie to play for a small crowd at a Jewish cultural center. Though the singer struggles to maintain a game face, in the end his despair and frustration spur him into violently lashing out at the pathetic Jackie.

Modan builds to this character revealing moment carefully and believably. Though her art is a trace more cartoonish than cover artist Kolton's (Eitan's wife has a nose reminiscent of the old DC Bob Hope comics caricatures of ol' ski nose), her panels are as rigorously composed. The panels where the singer opens his show to a largely indifferent crowd are quietly excruciating; in its own way, Eitan's experience isn't much different from the pre-adolescent discomfiture of "Summer Story."

Yirmi Pinkus' "8:00 to 10:00" ends the volume on a much less melancholy note. A largely wordless piece, it captures one man's early morning routine as he gets up, watches his neighbors and then rouses his sleeping male lover. Slight and sweet, it provides a suitably optimistic finish to the Actus collective's knowing reflections on love and its pursuit.

If the six artists in this collection never explicitly tell us "How to Love" (you didn't think they really would, now did you?), taken together, they provide a crisp set of snapshots of the attempts.
# |



Pop cultural criticism - plus the occasional egocentric socio/political commentary by Bill Sherman (popculturegadabout AT yahoo.com).



On Sale Now!
Measure by Measure:



A Romantic Romp with the Fat and Fabulous
By Rebecca Fox & William Sherman

(Available through Amazon)

Measure by Measure Web Page







Ask for These Fine Cultural Blogs & Journals by Name!

aaronneathery.com News
Aaron Neathery

American Sideshow Blow-Off
Marc Hartzman

Arf Lovers
Craig Yoe

Attentiondeficitdisorderly
Sean T. Collins

Barbers Blog
Wilson Barbers

The Bastard Machine
Tim Goodman

The Beat
Heidi MacDonald

BeaucoupKevin
Kevin Church

Big Fat Blog
Paul McAleer

Big Mouth Types Again
Evan Dorkin

Bloggity-Blog-Blog-Blog
Laura "Tegan" Gjovaag

Blog This, Pal!
Gordon Dymowski

Bookgasm
Rod Lott

Cartoon Brew
Amid Amidi & Jerry Beck

Cartoon Web Log!
Daryl Cagle

Clea's Cave
Juana Moore-Overmyer

Collected Editions

The Comics Curmudgeon
Josh Fruhlinger

The Comics Reporter
Tom Spurgeon

Comics.212
Christopher Butcher

Comics Waiting Room
Marc Mason

Comics Worth Reading
Johanna Draper Carlson

a dragon dancing with the Buddha
Ben Varkentine

Egon

Electromatic Radio
Matt Appleyard Aaron Neathery

Estoreal
RAB

Eye of the Goof
Mr. Bali Hai

Fred Sez
Fred Hembeck

Greenbriar Picture Shows
John McElwee

The Groovy Age of Horror
Curt Purcell

The Hooded Utilitarian
Noah Berlatsky

Hooray for Captain Spaulding
Daniel Frank

The Horn Section
Hal

The House Next Door
Matt Zoller Seitz

Howling Curmudgeons
Greg Morrow & Friends

The Hurting
Tim O'Neil

I Am A Child of Television
Brent McKee

I Am NOT the Beastmaster
Marc Singer

In Sequence
Teresa Ortega

Innocent Bystander
Gary Sassaman

Irresponsible Pictures
Pata

Jog - The Blog
Joe McCulloch

The Johnny Bacardi Show
David Allen Jones

Journalista
Dirk Deppey

King's Chronicles
Paul Dini

Let's You And Him Fight
One of the Jones Boys

Mah Two Cents
Tony Collett

Metrokitty
Kitty

Michael's Movie Palace
Michael

Nat's TV
Nat Gertler

Ned Sonntag

Neilalien

News from ME
Mark Evanier

No Rock&Roll Fun
Simon B

Omega Channel
Matt Bradshaw

Pen-Elayne on the Web
Elayne Riggs

PeterDavid.net
Peter David

(postmodernbarney.com)
Dorian White

Progressive Ruin
Mike Sterling

Punk Rock Graffiti
Cindy Johnson & Autumn Meredith

Revoltin' Developments
Ken Cuperus

Rhinoplastique
Marc Bernardin

Scrubbles
Matt Hinrichs

Self-Styled Siren
Campaspe

Spatula Forum
Nik Dirga

Tales from the Longbox
Chris Mosby

TangognaT

The Third Banana
Aaron Neathery & Friends

Thrilling Days of Yesteryear
Ivan G. Shreve, Jr.

Toner Mishap
B2 et al

Trusty Plinko Stick
Bill Doughty

TV Barn
Aaron Barnhart et al

Unqualified Offerings
Jim Henley

Various And Sundry
Augie De Blieck

Video WatchBlog
Tim Lucas

When Fangirls Attack
Kalinara & Ragnell

X-Ray Spex
Will Pfeifer

Yet Another Comics Blog
Dave Carter



A Brief Political Disclaimer:

If this blog does not discuss a specific political issue or event, it is not because this writer finds said event politically inconvenient to acknowledge - it's simply because he's scatterbrained and irresponsible.




My Token List of Poli-Blogs:

Alicublog
Roy Edroso

Eschaton
Atrios

Firedoglake
Jane Hamsher

James Wolcott

Lance Mannion

The Moderate Voice
Joe Gandelman

Modulator
Steve

Pandagon
Amanda Marcotte & Friends

The Sideshow
Avedon Carol

Skippy, the Bush Kangaroo
Skippy

Talking Points Memo
Joshua Micah Marshall

This Modern World
Tom Tomorrow

Welcome to Shakesville
Melissa McEwan & Friends



Blogcritics: news and reviews
Site Feed



Powered by Blogger



Twittering:
    follow me on Twitter