what I’ve been reading these days

I’m really behind on reading these days, at least when it comes to comics. Writing and teaching eat up a lot of time, and a nice chunk of my personal library didn’t quite make it with me in my recent move. Still, I’ve been trying to read more stuff these days besides re-reads, with mixed results.

BLACKBURN BURROW is by Ron Marz and Matthew Dow Smith, a free comic based on a screenplay that’s being made available from Amazon Studios/12-Gauge Comics. It’s a pretty standard as a “supernatural horror Western,” I guess, but Marz is one of those writers that can put a really unique spin on any idea in terms of how he approaches dialogue and pacing. Smith’s one of my favorite artists as well, he does this amazing super-stark line and shadow thing reminiscent of Mignola (he’s also a writer as well, a very awesome one). Two issues are up for free to read and vote on at the Amazon Studios site, which I always do.

QUESTIONABLE CONTENT is a webcomic I’ve talked about before, but I’ve been more actively re-reading older strips and thinking about. Jeph Jacques has been doing this comic for a long time, longer than I’ve been reading it. Jeph’s relationships, character development, and weird humor have been pretty spot-on the entirety of the comic’s run so far. There have been some low points I think, but for the most part this is the only webcomic left of the ones I got into reading in college, when I started reading about a dozen at the most at one point.

BLOOM COUNTY by Berke Breathed is a comic I love. Love it love it love it. Recently I’ve been reading a lot of the older and more obscure pre-Opus the Penguin strips, including the run of the Prince of Wales Charles and Diana honeymooning in Bloom County, Binky and Milo, the super-early boarding house strips that are basically the-“Doonesbury”-commune-era, and the introduction of Cutter John. I’m almost old enough to get just about every reference to 80’s insanity in the comic, so there’s that.

The Sirens of Titan is by Kurt Vonnegut (my edition’s old enough to have him credited as “Kurt Vonnegut, Jr.”), who is one of my favorite writers of all time. Yeah, not a comic, whatever. I like to re-read my Vonnegut books once a year, I read Slapstick a few months ago and before that at the beginning of the year reread Cat’s Cradle, so now it’s time for The Sirens of Titan. Vonnegut’s approach to drama and tragedy through a comedic and occasional sci-fi lens makes him pretty impossible to touch or even effectively replicate. I adore him, and will always recommend him to anyone looking for anything “different.”

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