boy blue review of books

hunger by frida ulvegren beside midnight

[ frida ulvegren‘s “little furry book” with its new friends midnight and cloud. ]

the months are quiet and cold from a.p.e. to stumptown*, as long as their days are short. we get out less; we begin to miss friends in our own neighborhood, to say nothing of those who reside in the far-off lands to which our festival travels bring us. * traditionally the start of our festival season, although 2010 will begin with the month-jumping mocca art festival. likewise, we take less in, and the ‘zines and minicomics and other self-published wonders which surely would help us to pass the winter hours become considerably harder to procure. we make use of what recourse we have, and begin to mistake benjamin linus and lorelai gilmore for the friends we’ve been neglecting.

but this off-season has proven somewhat less bleak. thanks to the wave of new local comics shows and the tireless efforts of postal services around the globe, wondrous little tomes of unsung literary and graphical achievement have continued to trickle our way through the bleak midwinter, bringing with them glad tidings of acquaintance new and auld.

dense valley by mika oshima

at the brooklyn lyceum, under the auspices of the new comic-centered kingcon, i happened upon darryl ayo, in whose persistently delightful vicinity i tabled a few moccas back. i picked up just like clockwork, an unassuming collection of daydreams and reminiscences which hide their biggest payoffs in their smallest details, both narrative and visual. ayo’s trademark, a peculiar sort of abstraction which feels less like reduction than a kind of hyper-accuracy, is in full effect.

from portland came a small envelope containing a special message, a new foldy by josh shalek, table-mate extraordinaire and the full-time cartoonist behind welcome to falling rock national park. whenever a new artist concocts one of these, i’m surprised at the variety of stories this obviously restrictive format can support. josh has used it to execute a scott mccloud-style meta-comic in which an aesthitic argument is illustrated as it’s made, to great effect. and even though i’d already read it in digital form (because, you know, these sites don’t update themselves) and knew the punchlines before they came, i laughed even harder, and agreed even more, seeing it unfold before me.

dense valley by mika oshima

at the year’s final to-do, the first presumably annual brooklyn comics and graphics festival, i procured the much-anticipated (by me) second issue of mika oshima‘s mopey and magical dense valley. and while it addresses some of the questions that have been nagging at me since i discovered the first installment back in june, it does so in the david lynch-iest of ways, so that a few minutes after closing the book you realize your queries have doubled in number, and your need to have them answered has multiplied by a similar factor.

dense valley by mika oshima

on a recent drawing night, brooklyn’s own caitlin mcgurk [ website pending ] brought over the first of her series of field guides, a carefully researched** catalogue of edible roadside plants. it explains how to recognize said plants, and what steps, if any, should be taken in order to survive their ingestion, ** i.e., she’s actually eaten them all, and apparently lived to write the book.and almost (but not quite) makes me wish i still had a car, so i could be the kind of kid who drives around with this book in my glove compartment.

before frida and johan left our humble headquarters for greener pastures and softer mattresses, we decided to exchang fanzines***. ms. ulvegren, however, had drastically underestimated both her work’s appeal to american audiences and her relentless personal magnetism, selling out of what she called her “little furry book” within a few hours at mocca. i wasn’t sure quite what that meant, but, not wanting to let the language barrier get the upper hand, smiled confidently and assure her it was no problem.

*** european for minicomic
**** it should be noted that this story begins in june of 2009, which is to say, frida totally beat dave eggers to this idea.
some months later****, a tattered envelope lacquered with unfamiliar postage arrived, containing the answer to this perplexing riddle. “little furry book,” it turned out, was frida’s idiosyncratically swedish way of describing a book that was small and covered in fur. inside this fluffcover is the winningly watercolored story hunger, concerning two breadwinners whose attempts to feed their respective families bring them into conflict with one another. the textless tale boasts frida’s trademark juxtaposition of sweetness and unsettling honesty, and even proves to be furry for a reason.

hunger by frida ulvegren beside midnight

a week into january, it’s already been an archaically bitter winter*****. ***** weren’t we promised a warmer globe?
****** and steadily recovering, thanks for asking.
but we know we’re better off than most: we have a warm, sunny place to read with a peacefully purring****** companion beside a new stack of small, hand-bound treasures with which we can curl up (and, in hunger‘s case, snuggle). they remind us that, should we ever decide to leave the house, we have clever friends waiting for us with good stories almost anywhere we’d want to go.

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  1. caitlin m says:

    thanks for this, kenan! i too have been holed up in my warm room for about a month now- hoarding yarn and christmas cookies by myself until i can see some color out my window.

    thanks again for fueling my meager web presence, youve dragged me on here!
    miss ya
    c

  2. josh says:

    Hey! I’m honored to be included in such talented company. Now if you’d just stop stealing my cat…

  3. Pat says:

    midnight’s looking much happier than the last picture i saw of her. miss you all!!

scrawls

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