Category Archives: Reviews

Review: The Furry Trap

Furry Trap

Review: The Furry Trap
by Josh Simmons

Published by Fantagraphics
Currently in-stock at The Beguiling

Review by Jason Azzopardi

When I last rhapsodized about his comics, I declared (probably ad nauseam) that Josh Simmons was a master craftsman of palpable dread, and that his first full-length graphic novel, House, was maybe the most saturated, uncomfortable example of the sensation that I’ve ever come across.  Well, that is a bit of a grandiose statement, I know, but I’ve always reveled in hyperbole and this is something I absolutely stand by.  In his most recent book, The Furry Trap, that feeling, once again, permeates everything on the page, but this time it’s interwoven with different degrees of pure raw terror that shred like fingers on a cheese grater.  It’s not so much the suffocating shadows this time, but the things that hide in them.

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Review: Brooklyn Quesadillas

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Review: Brooklyn Quesadillas
by Antony Huchette
Published by Conundrum Press
Currently in-stock at the Beguiling

Review by Andrew T

Brooklyn Quesadillas is about Joseph, a father/boyfriend/producer who is trying to figure out how to make a living off of his dream-world talk show Homemade Quesadillas. This quest is **record scratch** interrupted when Denise Huxtable (from The Cosby Show) kidnaps Joseph away to the Governors Island, where he is to direct a film to restore Denise and other sitcom starlets to their former glory. It’s the Science of Sleep for the quarter-to-mid(third?)life crisis crowd raised on early 90s TV.

I’m only a handful of years behind Antony Huchette, but even I’m having trouble not freaking to Wikipedia with every drop of a reference. And in a way, I find that to be a brave authorial choice. Huchette (himself a Frenchman living in Brooklyn) seamlessly blends Joseph’s real world life (internship, job, family, etc.) with his dream world. Watching Yves Roberts movies on an iPad as a lullaby, riding in a rowboat named Walt Kelly, or hearing “Tezata” by Mulatu Astatqé at a house party: these bits of cultural flotsam float on by as you fly through Joseph’s coming-of-middle-age journey. Sure this story can be your gateway into singing Prince songs at karaoke, or a reminder to reread Richard Scary (note to self: see if the library has any Richard Scary books…), but really it’s the reverence that Huchette silently pays to these things that matters. It’s the same reverence that Joseph is supposed to demonstrate on his movie assignment, before he realizes that these pop culture castaways are just a distraction from what really matters. He’s created this escape full of his TV crushes, a group of unattainable and unreal women who finally need him, but all he wants to do is get back to his family. Early in the book, Joseph tells Fruitor, the fox who hosts Homemade Quesadillas, that he shouldn’t worry about money because, “when you’re lucky enough to be doing what you love, it’s best to be patient.” By the end, Joseph gets that it’s not being able to do what you love that’s special, but having special people to love that makes it worthwhile.

In general, our generation is going through a thing where it’s cool to have less stuff. Whether it’s because you’ve discovered unemployment or Buddhism, being a minimalist is hot right now. And I think that also applies to how we value a renaissance wo/man. Unless you’re trying for the full Trivial Pursuit pie, the third-life crisis nowadays is more about focusing and getting better. It’s about finding fulfillment in the things that are most important to you, to really matter. The 21st century in a big city is about specializing – being specific gives you an edge. We only have so much room in our hearts and heads, and so we should fill it with only the best. And a nice thing about BQ is that at 64 pages, it won’t take up much space on your shelf.

BQ page 1

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Review: Pink

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Review: Pink
by Kyoko Okazaki
Published by Vertical Inc
Currently in-stock at the Beguiling

Review by Andrew T

Woody Allen once explained part of his process for writing stand-up in an interview. It involved starting from an absurd premise, and then exploring everything around how the mess came about. Giving an example, he describes being caught in an elevator with a piano during a blackout in New York. On it’s own, not a great joke, but there’s so much that can be expanded upon and extrapolated to get to this climatic moment (why was he moving out of his old apartment, why he didn’t have moving men, how did he manage to lift the piano, etc.). Often the material surrounding a crazy situation can be way more interesting, you just have to look at it.

And that’s how I see Kyoko Okazaki’s Pink. Midway through the book Yumi, an office/call girl, is sleeping on a futon in a tiny Tokyo apartment with her kid step-sister, Keiko, and her step-mother’s manstress Haru, all accompanied by Yumi’s pet crocodile. And while that scene is mind-boggling, it’s how they got there and where they go that makes you love and hate them. The thing that drives the main characters in Pink to this moment is sex and how it’s traded. And that’s the story.

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Review: Other Stories and the Horse You Rode In On

Other Stories Cover

Review: Other Stories and the Horse You Rode In On
by Dakota McFadzean

Published by Conundrum Press
Currently in-stock at the Beguiling

Review by Andrew T

Man, if Dakota McFadzean’s comics in Other Stories and the Horse You Rode In On are any indication, it must suck being a kid. And it must also suck being old. In-between seems…mm, dicey at best.

For example, my favourite story in this collection is “The Best Donald.” It’s a tale of two boys who are told by their grandpop that he can draw the best Donald Duck. This amazing talent is only a boast until years later, when their gramps is and old man. Turns out, he draws the grossest Donald Duck I’ve ever seen.

The Best Donald

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Review: This Is How You Die

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REVIEW: This Is How You Die 
Edited by Ryan North, Matthew Bennardo, and David Malki !
Published by Grand Central Publishing
Currently in-stock at The Beguiling

Review by John Anderson

The Machine of Death started as an idea in Dinosaur Comics. Imagine a machine that tells you how you’re going to die. Its predictions are never wrong, but they are also never straightforward. So a prediction of MODERN MEDICINE means a drug overdose. PUMP MALFUNCTION? Heart attack. You can spend your whole life trying to avoid your death, but the machine’s prediction is always right in the end.

This is How You Die is the second collection of short stories based on this premise, and it’s brilliant, scary, hilarious, and a lot of fun to read. Each story takes the idea of a machine that predicts your death, and runs with it in a different direction.

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Blue Spring, by Taiyo Matsumoto (Review)

Blue Spring
By Taiyo Matsumoto
216 pages, softcover, Published by Viz Media

Review by John Anderson

The Japanese title of Blue Spring is aoi haru (青い春), which can also be translated as “inexperienced adolescence” (a more wink-and-a-nod English title might have been Green Spring). These short stories about disillusioned teenagers are funny, violent, frightening, and sometimes blue. The longest stories, “If You’re Happy and You Know It, Clap Your Hands” and “The Revolver”, with their chaotically cramped panels, convey the impression of stretches of boredom punctuated by violence and intense excitement. In the first story, a gang of teenage boys at an extremely rundown school relieve their boredom by playing a game that involves seeing how many times they can clap their hands while leaning off the school roof. Try to clap too many times, and you won’t be able to grab the railing before you fall. “It’s not as scary if you imagine there’s a pool down there,” says one boy.

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REVIEW: SUNNY Volume 1, by Taiyo Matsumoto

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Title: Sunny volume 1
Words and art: Taiyo Matsumoto
Publisher: Viz

Reviewed by John Anderson

There is a moment in Matsumoto’s science fiction epic Number 5 where one of the characters talks about what is most important to him: “The kids are playing on a hill bathed in sunset… Red bean soup and home baked bread on the table… The kids talk about their day… The sight of herons headed south… A mundane life… I’ll do everything I can to get that back.” It’s tempting to see this moment as a preview of his wonderful new book, Sunny.

But while Sunny is a sweet and thoughtful chronicle of the mundane events that make life worth living, it is also full of sadness. Its characters are children who live in a home because they have been separated from their parents. Sei vainly believes that his parents will come back for him. Kenji’s father is always drunk. Haruo doesn’t want to see his mother because when he does, he is just anxious about the moment when they will have to say goodbye.

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Review: Will You Still Love Me If I Wet The Bed?, by Liz Prince

Will You Still Love Me If I Wet the Bed?
By: Liz Prince
Publisher: Top Shelf

Reviewed by Chris Eng

There are a ton of books that cover new love. It’s fresh, beautiful, passionate, and the emotions carome off each other in an endless cascade. Similarly, there are many books that cover the end of love. It’s stark, ugly, passionate, and the emotions carome off each other in an endless cascade. What’s usually glossed over are the moments in-between. Not the mundanities and daily foibles of living together with your partner—there’s plenty of autobio comics out there if you’re interested in seeing other people’s lives—but the moments of affection, those sickeningly sweet moments that populate a relationship which no one ever talks about because how and why would you describe them to anyone else?

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Friday Film: Peter interviews director Shane Carruth about his new film Upstream Color

Film Friday . . . in which Peter urges you to go see a movie.

UpstreamColour

While posts about film adaptations of comics or ticket giveaways may crop up here occasionally, this time I am going to give a straight ahead recommendation to a film opening at the TIFF this week. I have long recommended Shane Carruth’s first film “Primer” (2003). If one wants to classify it as science fiction then it is certainly among my few favourite films of the genre. “Upstream Color” now joins that list.

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Review: Seth’s DOMINION CITY Books

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“The Speculative Whimsy of Seth’s DOMINION CITY”
Wimbledon Green, George Sprott, and The Great Northern Brotherhood of Canadian Cartoonists
By Seth. Published by Drawn & Quarterly. Various prices.

Review by Jason Azzopardi

Welcome to Dominion, Ontario, where the buildings and citizens are double-bricked with good ol’ fashioned Canadian humility.

Dominionites are a practical bunch.  They belong to cultural societies and they play bridge.  They eat boiled cabbage and cottage roll during the week but also allow themselves the luxury of a pot roast on Sundays.  They listen to radio broadcasts in the evening, flood their yards for ice skating in the winter, and go to mass without fail.

Once prosperous but now, like so many other industrial towns surrounded by farmland, close to extinction, Dominion is a place to be filed away.

But not forgotten about.

While its pace of living might be described as slow by some or “old-fashioned” by others, in Dominion you are you are also just as likely to have to dodge a hail of bullets from a mad helicopter chase between comic book collectors as you are finding a deal on a good cut of meat. 

Dominion City and its citizens exist only in the paper worlds imagined by Canadian cartoonist, Seth, as heavily-weighted, long-in-the-toothed sketchbooks and painted and glued cardboard models.  And with its delicate balance of whimsy, nostalgia and pathos, Seth’s community is well worth its metaphoric hour drive outside of Toronto because Dominion’s empty greasy spoons and dusty department stores seem to cultivate a fascinating spate of petty jealousies, betrayals, and familial abandonments amongst the larger than life personalities that populate its boundaries. 

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