In honor of this weekend’s New York Comic Convention, I’m going to take an opportunity to briefly recommend a couple cool comics that I have come across over the past year.  More as I discover [or am introduced to] them.




The Alcoholic


From Vertigo Comics came this graphic novel from novelist Jonathan Ames and artist Dean Haspiel.  It’s a funny and provocative not-a-memoir that is not ever going to make Oprah’s reading list.  The Alcoholic is the story of a young writer as he stumbles towards middle age through various misadventures, a likable character who drinks too much, and fucks up a lot, and may or may not have some resemblance to the author.  I wasn’t familiar with Ames’s anecdotal storytelling or his long-form work, but I enjoyed what I read here, and I like his attempts at “emotional truth” or “emotional autobiography” over slavish stabs at depicting reality.  And whether the story is taking its turns towards tragedy or comedy, on every page the art is a blast.  Haspiel’s style, best described as Jack-Kirby-battles-the-underground, would make any comic readable – let alone one as honest and respectable as this one.  Jonathan and Dean are still making promotional appearances all over for the book, and I can attest that their readings of certain scenes are as worth your valuable time as the book itself is.




Three Shadows


A small family lives in joy and peace on a farm, until one day three riders appear on the horizon.  When the father finds out that they have come for his young son, he takes the boy on the run to protect him.  Their journey takes them across land and sea, through and to some surprisingly cruel places.


Three Shadows is a story that only comics can really capture.  It’s a parable that would be too obvious as a novella or a film, and though it captures its world vividly, even as animation it might fall short, since imagining the voices and sounds of the characters, rather than hearing someone else’s idea of them, is what makes it so affecting.  The book has the fantasy-world charm reminiscent of Jeff Smith’s Bone, lively linework reminiscent of Craig Thompson, and an epic scale and a darkness reminiscent of the best childhood fables.  Pedrosa was a Disney animator, and while the style here is all his own, his work reflects that school of training in the way it conveys character and emotion in deceptively simple brushstrokes.


This one was recommended to me; I read it sight-unseen and was glad I did; so I now pass the recommendation on to you. 


More information here:




Pigeons From Hell


Pigeons From Hell is a short story by Conan The Barbarian creator Robert E. Howard.  I have not read that story, to my dismay, so I cannot say how drastically the comic diverges from the original prose.  I can only mention that the adaptation was written by Joe R. Lansdale.  If you haven’t heard of Joe Lansdale, an extended rave-like appreciation will be in this space eventually – just let it be known that his most recent novel Leather Maiden was among my favorite books of 2008, just as most of his books are among my favorites of most years.  Few authors working today are as great as Lansdale is at evoking a sense of place, at crafting prose and dialogue that are equally clever and crass, and at coming up with absolutely insane yet strangely believable scenarios. 


These talents, among many of his other abilities, come in handy here, as Lansdale depicts the story of two girls who arrive with a couple of friends at their ancestral home in deep Louisiana.  The house of course has a terrible history, which comes to murderous life fairly quickly.  The artwork is by Nathan Fox, who has a swirling, extra-inky style reminiscent of Paul Pope.  This is a treat for horror fans from whichever direction you look at it – backwards, sideways, upside-down, even right-side up (if you have to).