Thursday, June 4, 2020

Sudden Infant "Wolfli's Nightmare"

(2014, Voodoo Rhythm)You got your gloomy in my creep butter! You got your creep butter in my gloomy!

Wednesday, June 3, 2020

Tork by Michael Kupperman

(2019, Longtime followers of Kupperman's comics and illustrations and animation know him for strange, surreal humor that is very, very funny, though it is not always clear exactly why. It also seems so smart that elements of satire and critique must be in there somewhere, but it is not always exactly clear exactly where. A comic in which a regular snake and a single piece of bacon (who only utters flat descriptions of his attributes, i.e. "Pat me down with a paper towel to remove excess grease") theoretically fight crime (while doing nothing), might be about the banality of comics, or the futility of the world, or bacon's deliciousness. But "might" is doing hard labor in that statement. That said, following the artist on social media his tone, while still funny and smart, is somber as his family has negotiated the economic realities of this Century and the flaws of the school systems and our country's terrible leadership and the crippling struggles of surviving as an artist. That he spent a substantial portion of his recent history creating a brilliant graphic biography of his father could not have helped his mood. Dealing so directly with difficult subject matter (the miseries his father faced as a TV "Quiz Kid" in the 50s, and his elderly father's mental and physical decline [he died earlier this year]) would be rough on its own, but the underwhelming commercial response to his masterpiece and the subpar promotions it received were no pick me ups. Anyhow, I say that to say this: Tork is an amazing minicomic about dealing with life's struggles (much of it financial, but also shitty people) and small triumphs (the satisfaction of slowly, but successfully, cleaning out a family property) and mundanities (a Peter Tork cameo). The book combines the graphic and rhythmic skills of his best comics with the honesty and vulnerability of his public reckoning with his personal challenges. While not the grand statement of his amazing book (everyone should read it, I got it for my dad who was enamored with the Chicago-based Quiz Kids when he was just a little older than them, and he was fascinated) the quiet, modest aspirations of this project are fully realized. Though the tone is not entirely akin to The Monkees series, I would even recommend this to total Tork-heads.

Tuesday, June 2, 2020

Sandy Nelson presents The Veebles

(2016, Burger) In the 60s drummer Sandy Nelson found himself in the Los Angeles galaxy of Kim Fowley and Art Laboe and Phil Spector and his sticks stuck it to some of the best 45s of the era. But his more flavorful drumming was saved for his own instrumental records which were a joy, and occasionally even popular. He was prolific through the 70s, and in 2008 Eddie Angel and some of our other friends did a great surf record with him. But what was he doing in those decades in between? Wouldya believe messing around with goofy alien visitors? This cassette presents a few slices of fun from the early 90s where Nelson did some whimsical, innovative, experimental home recordings that feature some nutty atmospheric instrumentals, but more notably one Chipmunks-sped up vocal number where wacky spacemen visit earth to spread humor and joy. Unfortunately there is no image of the Veebles so I just picture 12" tall Kim Fowleys and Phil Spectors painted green.

Let There Be Funs!

Monday, June 1, 2020

My Kind of Sound: The Secret History of Chicago Music Compendium by Plastic Crimewave aka Steve Krakow

(2015, Curbside Splendor) Mr. Krakow's deep dives into eccentric and obscure (and not so obscure) Chicagoland musicians in jazz, rock, blues, pop, gospel, country garage, psyche, punk, new wave, experimental,  metal and genres unknown is a joy to behold. A few of this cartoon portrait-meets crate digging detective biographical portrait entries are too short (this collection is arranged alphabetically so some some early strips from before he got his groove right turn up in the middle) and sometimes the text is a little cramped, but every one of these is illustrated with a striking figure somewhat reminiscent of R. Crumb's blues portraits, but with  a little more drama and whimsy. I wish the book was published way bigger to spotlight the art and give the hand-lettered biographies room to breath, but there is something solid and almost hymnal-like to this physical book that makes it feel important and holy. And it is.