Pop Culture Gadabout
Sunday, September 21, 2008
      ( 9/21/2008 01:16:00 PM ) Bill S.  

"I WANT US TO TAKE THIS UNCOMFORTABLE FEELING AND LET IT SIT IN THE AIR A WHILE." If you didn't have the subtitle on its front cover, you might readily assume that From the Shadows of the Northern Lights (Galago, distributed by Top Shelf) was a collection of North American alt comics. Marcus Nyblom's gloopy industrial nightmare front cover has more than a whiff of that old underground comix primitive Rory Hayes to it, while Sara Grenér's back shows the punkish influence of Gary Panter. Inside, the book tackles themes and subjects not unfamiliar to devotees of American alternatives: autobiographical stories, dour animal funnies, surreal visual exercises, stories of alienation and disaffected youth. At least three pieces in the collection center on young adults going out nights for a "good time" - showing, if nothing else, that a dull party is a dull party no matter where it's being hosted.

But if Northern Lights has the over-familiar look and feel of English-language alt comics, its individual contributors bring enough energy and enthusiasm to their work to keep you reading. (Perhaps we should think of these folks as the graphic art equivalent of the Hives?) Among the highpoints are Anneli Furmark's "A Private Place," a realistic (if your idea of realism incorporates M.K. Brown, that is) depiction of an unsuccessful artist holed up in a rustic country house; Fabian Göranson's "Monkey," which takes us into the mind of a hallucinating party chimp; Tom Karlsson's "Tell me About the Mountain," a disturbing surreal narrative centering on a grotesque pregnancy that could've come out of a Junji Ito horror manga; and Simon Gärdenfors' "Heliogabalus," which contrasts its merry art style with its real-life anti-hero's history of atrocities.

A few of the collection's artists come across as overly primitive - a common affliction in anthologies of this type - though in at least one instance, the cartoonist uses his childlike drawing style to mitigate what would otherwise be an unflinchingly harsh tale (Henrik Bromander's "The World Wager"). In general, the shorter pieces come across less intense, even when they also flirt with darker themes: Joakim Pirinen's "The Bear Family," for instance, centers on an incest joke that wouldn't have been out of place in the old Zap! Comix days.

Per editor Johannes Klenell, Galago - home to most of the artists repped in Northern Lights - debuted in Sweden over thirty years ago as an outlet for its young artists' political satire. With time, it appears, the political focus shifted to a broader more counter-cultural lens, which is what we get in this new anthology. Though I suspect much of it'll be too dated and/or regionalist to make much sense to American reader, I'd still love to see a collection of that earlier Galago work. The book's front cover, I can't help noticing, has a big ol' Volume One on it. Perhaps we can look a little further back for Volume Two?


# |

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

Sean T. Collins

Barbers Blog
Wilson Barbers

The Bastard Machine
Tim Goodman

The Beat
Heidi MacDonald

Kevin Church

Big Fat Blog
Paul McAleer

Big Mouth Types Again
Evan Dorkin

Laura "Tegan" Gjovaag

Blog This, Pal!
Gordon Dymowski

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

Christopher Butcher

Comics Waiting Room
Marc Mason

Comics Worth Reading
Johanna Draper Carlson

a dragon dancing with the Buddha
Ben Varkentine


Electromatic Radio
Matt Appleyard Aaron Neathery


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

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

Jog - The Blog
Joe McCulloch

The Johnny Bacardi Show
David Allen Jones

Dirk Deppey

King's Chronicles
Paul Dini

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

Mah Two Cents
Tony Collett


Michael's Movie Palace

Nat's TV
Nat Gertler

Ned Sonntag


News from ME
Mark Evanier

No Rock&Roll Fun
Simon B

Omega Channel
Matt Bradshaw

Pen-Elayne on the Web
Elayne Riggs

Peter David

Dorian White

Progressive Ruin
Mike Sterling

Punk Rock Graffiti
Cindy Johnson & Autumn Meredith

Revoltin' Developments
Ken Cuperus

Marc Bernardin

Matt Hinrichs

Self-Styled Siren

Spatula Forum
Nik Dirga

Tales from the Longbox
Chris Mosby


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:

Roy Edroso


Jane Hamsher

James Wolcott

Lance Mannion

The Moderate Voice
Joe Gandelman


Amanda Marcotte & Friends

The Sideshow
Avedon Carol

Skippy, the Bush Kangaroo

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

    follow me on Twitter