Normally Yellowed Pages is a column devoted to critical analysis of single works that have been unjustly forgotten and left to mold and decay. But this week, RJ Casey wanted to try something different, offering up a batch of blurbs on a group of weird old comics he found. Enjoy this detour!
Flashmarks by Carel Moiseiwitsch
Flashmarks conveniently collects the ’80s work of Canadian cartoonist Carel Moiseiwitsch. That’s not to say the convenience makes it easy to read — each page looks rubber stamped with dense black sauce, each bulbous character lasciviously leering or being leered at.
These are short, factual accounts of murdering cops, third-world occupations, and the increasing threat of war hopscotching its way to your front door; even more relevant today than the year it was published. And Moiseiwitsch gives it to you raw.
Four- or six-panel grids are full of Ralph Steadman-esque splatters and god-awful people with mouths taking up three-fourths of their faces. Punch-drunk and wobbly, the caricatures of various authority figures take turns making a mess of their lives and the world, but Moiseiwitsch displays enough mastery to keep the facts straight and the stories steadily swinging on their inky hinges.
Moiseiwitsch draws dangerous comics — true life reporting that doesn’t rely on a menagerie of medium shots and humdrum talking heads. Flashmarks is non-fiction with no regard for wit, preciousness, or even anatomy. It only gives you the truth.
Art d’Ecco #1 by Andrew and Roger Langridge
You might know Roger Langridge from his work on the Muppets or writing the only Marvel comic worth a good goddamn in the last ten years — Thor: The Mighty Avenger. In this book, he teams up with his brother and plants you firmly in a world full of well-developed banana-slippers and straight foils. Understanding that everyone has obvious prior relationships, habits, and ticks is no small feat in a first issue and, with this in mind, you might compare the Langridges to the Hernandez brothers for the vaudeville set.
If you take all of your Family Guy/Deadpool crossover T-shirts and throw them in the trash, they’ll most likely be nestled next to what’s traditionally been most comic readers’ propensity for wit. And that’s probably why this series only lasted four issues — it’s too good at telling jokes. The Langridges write and draw their hairy, triangle-shaped ogre and suave, right-angled dapperman Martin and Lewis-ing their way through all manner of gags. The hand-lettered banter (uniquely altered for each character) joyfully whips around the pages resulting in smart humor done with great aplomb and plenty of plops.
Death Warmed Over by Krystine Kryttre
Cat-Head Comics 1990
It’s easy to get caught in the wake of Krystine Kryttre’s momentous pull. Each story in this book is short, intense, and teetering on the brink of collapse. Kryttre draws her gothy runts and gutter punks naively cradling each other with a big-eyed twinkle in one scene and like violent, jittery lightening bolts in the next. Her narratives are just as unpredictable and fragmented, told like one might remember only certain events in the morning after riding a train of boilermakers all night.
Death Warmed Over is a comic about coping. From the first page autobiographically depicting the demise of Kryttre’s best friend, to the last, about turning the temptation to succumb to sadistic tendencies into an endearing ghost story, it can be frustrating read. You get the feeling the characters never learn anything, never get any relief, and never escape their cycles of addiction and manipulation.
Kryttre’s go-to ending is a slight, ironic “Ain’t I a stinker?” quip. I don’t know if laughter is the best medicine, but maybe a flippant wink at the reader is just as effective — a gutsy way to get by and manage another day.
Note: RJ Casey is currently on the Fantagraphics staff, but was four-years-old when these comics were published. He wanted to let you know because when it comes to full disclosure, he’s a good boy.
RJ Casey is a writer and co-founder of the small comic book publishing behemoth Yeti Press. He lives in Seattle and works for Fantagraphics Books. His musings on art can be found on his blog “I Like That” and follow him on twitter at @rjcaseywrites