Okay, so maybe this website was originally designed so a couple of white boys could introduce a bunch of strangers to music we thought was cooler than the lame shit that you probably listen to; and we won’t abandon that sentiment. This website was also established to commment on NEW shit, shit that’s coming out so you can find about it here first maybe, before it gets all big and popular and undesirable; well I don’t care about new things, cause lets face it–old shit is better than new shit. I mean, George Bush Sr is better than George Bush Jr (eventhough they both kinda suck), and the newest Jane’s Addiction albumm was shitty. Anyway, point is that I’m not only gonna review something that was put out in 1999, it’s not even fucking music. Is it a comic book? No. It’s a book of poetry. Do you think that’s gay? Do you think poetry is for queers and bards? Or maybe just for pretentious art students who carry around a book of Blake poetry to whip out and show off to some stupid bitch on the metro who thinks that William Blake starred in Baretta? Well, if you do think that, then tough. Poetry is cool sometimes, and this book of fucked up, quirky, googly-eyed poes should change your mind if you even cared in the first place:
Stuart Ross’s poetry is absurd. This is not necessarily a bad thing. Absurdity comes in many forms: there’s the silly Monty Python-esque absurdity, there’s the rebellious and odd Dada absurdity, and then there’s Ross’s absurdity. His is a mixture of surreal imagery, bizarre narratives, and an overwhelming sense of casual humor that allows his weird poetry to become extremely palatable. But don’t get me wrong, the “casual humor” I just mentioned does not detract from the legitimacy; Ross manages to involve and absorb the readers in his strange world and uses levity to keep them from being too uncomfortable. The Toronto poet’s second book “Farmer Gloomy’s New Hybrid” shows off his unique ability to write like an autistic gecko, and come off like a calculated genius. Is he a genius? He must be in order to convince people to take him seriously. Anyone who is twisted enough to talk about children planting pipe bombs on mechanical quarter horse rides should be shunned by society and possibly incarcerated. His genius lies in the handling of this imagery. His dark humor is kept in check by is absurd narratives, such as the image used above is in the poem “But, Mister They No Have Bowling Balls Before Christ.” The remainder of the poem talks about shelves full of products that cough in his face and mock him. After talking about his failed attempts at acquiring a bowling ball in a super market and the sight of a fainting rabbi, he “leaves empty handed.” This is the clincher, the reason this poem doesn’t slip completely into some goofy acid trip. The hopeless tone he takes with all of these cartoonish images and occurrences at the end brings you back into humanity (emotion, reality and all.) The sense of failure and consumerism is what people can relate to, but the best thing about his poetry is that his messages are not in the forefront of the poetry. The deeper meaning is covered in a pile of rotten animal carcasses and broken car parts. He uses his absurd imagery to take you away from the real but in the end you realize you never really left. He takes you on a trip, blindfolded and when you get out, after traveling for four hours, you are back where you started.
The book opens with “After The Event, But Before The Thing That Happened”, a quirky poem where he makes a list of seemingly random things he’s running from, like a legless duck, and a limp squeezebox. This sets the stage for the rest of his poetry, a long jumbled list of concepts and colloquialisms. Just like the title of this book suggests, this collection of poetry is full of dark (gloomy) imagery and motifs while combining the surreal and the mundane in an awkwardly cohesive 107-page paper-ink pastiche. The cohesion lies in his perpetual use of twisted and unusual imagery. Stuart Ross thinks up things that no clinically sane man could possibly conjure up without a secret brain tumor they were previously unaware of or some sick sexual fetish involving tire irons and leprechauns. Street cars delivering corpses, decapitated zebras, dominoes made of razor blades, fingers yelping in horror, dead rabbits hidden in jacket lining, etc.: these are just a select few images that Ross uses to drag you deeper into his world of comic decay and mutilated reality. A poem that uses this mind-warping laundry list approach is “Passed Over.” The poem follows the speaker as he rises above the earth and identifies a melting pot of human and geographical possibilities. From the “growling milkmen” and “umbrellas concealing hypodermics” to the “weeping dentists” and “devious deathclouds” he captures a dark truth about the world and compares it to a large black bug with many appendages that will travel to the desert and cannibalize. At first it just seems like senseless rambling but what seems to be buried underneath is Ross’s opinion on the state of the world.
Ross’s poetry is not all smoke and mirrors though, it is full of humorous situations and ADD tangents. In his four-line poem “Survival”, he describes wind-blown palm trees and raindrops shattering a serene lake, and then in his last line he says “The telephone rings in the next room”, taking you out of his world of pristine beauty and sends you bee-lining it back to the drab reality that is your life. Basically his poetry is a trip through his Dali-esque disfigurement of reality as we know it and gives you something so much more interesting and so much more humorous; it’s the same, but different.

so just buy this shit and try to impress your friends, but they probably hate you anyway so stop trying i guess…

(i think it might be out of print, get it at a library, its good)

If you haven’t heard of Drawn & Quarterly then don’t worry, it just means you aren’t as much of a nerd as you thought. D & Q are the major indie comic book publishing company in Montreal, and put out the likes of Adrian Tomine I met Keith Jones at his Drawn & Quaterly book release at the cavernous Zoobizarre in Montreal a month ago.   He sat behind a pile of his books, with the goofy smile of an autistic five-year-old. He tried to explain the purpose of his first published book, BACTER-AREA.

It’s not your typical graphic “novel”. The miniature eighty-four page book is riddled with colorful, chaotic Where’s Waldo? type layouts with the ocassional talk bubble/ absurd narrative. He also has a few photographs in this scrapbook of sorts where he has drawn cutouts and placed the in a room with himself. When I asked him to tell me about the book, he giggled and told me that it was a scrapbook of sorts. And it is a scrapbook in the sense that it is filled with an assortment of unrelated images, yet the stylized drawing of Keith are consistent enough to pull this book together and maintain a steady coherence. His art, like Richard Scary, is extremely colorful.


Optic Nerve (#9 and 10)

February 24th, 2006


Adrian Tomine is really, really good. But not good like, “Oh, there’s a really good band that features two of the guys from Depeche Mode” good but like “ciggarette after sex” good. Most of Tomine’s  I’m not gonna review them here, but his books “Summer Blonde” and “Sleepwalk and Other Stories” are some of the best shit I have ever read. His incredible lack of speed (two years went by between issue 8 and issue 9) makes him the Silent Bob of comics. Meaning, that when he does finally get around to putting something out (saying something), it is full of wisdom and wonder. His latest opus is no different.

Optic Nerve is published by the Montreal’s indie king of underground comics, Drawn & Quarterly. And don’t worry if you haven’t been keeping up with the previous issues of O.N. because issue 9 starts a new story with new characters. This story focuses on 30 year old Ben Tanaka: relationship problems, runs a movie theater, bulldike sidekick, attracted to young white chicks. I don’t want to give anything away so I will let you read the rest (not very enticing? well you should check it out ’cause i give it my seal of approval!) The best part about Tomine’s work is his ability to tell stories through the joint picture-dialouge spread that comics present. His artwork is phenomenal (his ability to capture human expression is like whoa) and his frames of wordless expression give off this early silence that says so much more than words. Bearing this in mind, his dialouge is nothing to write off: full of quips and colloquialisms, and just so motherfucking natural. Bottom line: read it. Tomine’s ability to capture realism never dissapoints.

This is the post to introduce you all (is anyone reading this shit?) to a new component of the WBG entertainment: literary reviews. But when I say “literary reviews” what I really mean is: graphic novel reviews. Graphic novels are better than books, and I think I can say that because I’m an english literature major. It’s a bound, paper book that has both story, dialouge, and art! Unfortunately, it is not really considered seriously in either school of thought and therefore slips through the cracks of scholars and gentlemen. But fuck scholars and gentlemen. The world knows of Salinger and Tolstoy, Van Gogh and the Dali, but how many are aware of Sim and Claremont? And even with the current trend of comic book movies like X-Men, Sin City, and Ghost World, many of the sincerely good books are unable to travel outside of the web that is comic book dorks.

I have no problem admitting I am one of them. No, I don’t fantasize about fucking Lois Lane, nor do I even care for Superman, but goddamn there is nothing like a good comic! And yes, I’ve been told that they talk about comic books on the O.C., but do you think the people who watch that who run out and pick up the new issue of Batman? Fuck no they don’t. So I’m gonna try to get you boys and girls turned onto comics: let you know which ones are the good ones and which ones to stay the fuck away from (cough, couch Archie, cough). So…yeah! Enjoy.