Nick Gazin’s Comic Book Love-In #94
Hey, comic book lovers!
You’ve probably noticed a lack of comic columns on VICE lately. I’m sorry about that; my computer broke, and I got bronchitis. Anyways, here is my weekly column about comics, art, nerd stuff, and paper goods.
The old newsstand at the Lorimer subway stop has been taken over by a store that sells zines, comics, prints, and other stuff. This is a cool, weird thing that somewhat makes up for the great stuff that’s disappeared from the city in recent years.
Keep on trekin’…
Check out this old Scientist records’ album art.
We got some of our favorite artists to create a comic book inspired by Weinstein Films’ The Grandmaster, the new film about Bruce Lee’s teacher in select theaters 8/23, opening nationwide 8/30 http://thegrandmaster.vice.com
Johnny Ryan’s Chick Tracts
A while back I was looking for a series of things to vandalize and post online for laughs. I started with photos from magazines and wrestling cards, and they were OK, but I wanted something a bit more unique. Then I discovered a few Chick tracts stored away in my drawer. For those of you who don’t know, a Chick tract is a tiny religious comic made by Jack Chick designed to scare you into becoming Christian. Jack has been cranking these things out since the early 70s, and you can find them in bus terminals and public bathrooms across the country.
The design of these tracts is pretty uniform, and perfect for fucking with. The first one I used was titled Who Killed the Dinosaurs? I posted it on my Tumblr and it got a pretty good response, so I kept going. I just used a little white acrylic paint pen, and sometimes markers, and voilá! I’d have a new and improved tract.
For a good two months I was posting a few every day. People were asking me what I was going to do with all of them, and I had no idea. My buddy Greg has a clothing store called Mishka in LA (and NYC) and was opening a small gallery in the back. He asked me if I’d be up for doing an art show, and I told him I didn’t really have time to do anything new since I was in the middle of working on my book, Prison Pit V, but I did have about 80 of these Jack Chick tracts that I had ruined. Surprisingly, he thought it was a cool idea for a show, so that’s how the world’s fucking stupidest art show was born. Oh, and there’s also going to be a book collecting all the tracts coming out soon from Monster Worship.
Comic-Con Parties Are Where Nerds Go to Feel Sexy
When I first heard about this thing called “Comic-Con” many years ago, I was told that it wasn’t just a great place to get back issues of The Amazing Spider-Man. It was also a nexus for the entire sci-fi/fantasy nerd culture. San Diego was one of the few places where a nerd could comfortably walk around town dressed like Mr. Spock without someone asking you where your spaceship was parked. Fuck those people, because you don’t park spaceships. Everyone knows that! Duh.
You can still dress up, but Comic-Con isn’t as much about that misfit community as much as it’s a five-day costumed orgy, sort of like Eyes Wide Shut, but with everyone dressed like Harry Potter, Luke Skywalker, or the legendary character, Mexican Goth Batman.
People are constantly feeding me drinks, trying to get me to take mystery pills, and pitching me their screenplay ideas. It’s like Los Angeles got in the car with me and came to San Diego. Unfortunately, Los Angeles never pays for gas and is always making me pull over for snacks like I’m made of money or something.
Comic-Con parties have hot go-go dancers, open bars, and the faint, pungent scent of sexual despertation; an odor I know too well. Actually, the name of the cologne I was wearing last night is “Sexual Desperation.” It’s a combination of fish oil and vanilla extract, which is just the kind of signature scent I’m looking for.
'Bartkira' Is the Parodic Bastard Child of the 'Simpsons' and 'Akira'
You might recognize the name James Harvey—his comics have frequently appeared on this site. James has recently taken on a bizarrely ambitious project, which he is calling Bartkira. He is having the entire 2,000 plus pages of the manga Akira redrawn with Simpsons characters in the place of series’ familiar protagonists. For example, Bart is Kaneda and Milhouse is Tetsuo.
Each cartoonist gets to pick a set of six pages to redraw and those pages will be added to the book. It is a pretty crazy undertaking considering the source material for this parody is one of the longest running comics ever and it seems to be begging for a cease and desist order from either the Simpsons or Akira.
Anyway, I wanted to ask James why he was making such a cool and stupid project.
VICE: So James what’s this Bartkira thing about? When’d you get the idea?
James Harvey: The first guy to do a Bartkira drawing was Ryan Humphries, a UK artist. He redrew these pages that showed the moment Akira destroys Neo-Tokyo, but redrawing Akira as Bart and the Colonel as Homer. His drawings were simplistic and quickly rendered, totally at odds with the super-detailed, maximalist approach that we associate with artists like Kastuhiro Otomo. But the power and the energy of Otomo’s compositions and layouts survived intact.
Something I heard recently is that a group of German sociologists did an expansive study into art and literature and concluded that the amount of major ambitious works of art being undertaken has sharply declined. I don’t know how you’d prove that, but then again it seems like a bit of a no-brainer—how many novels like War and Peace were written last year? Or in the last 100 years? As the speed of communication increases, the speed of art increases too. A lot of my favorite cartoonists are making these haiku-like micro-comics designed for a Twitter and Tumblr audience. None of the cartoonists I know are undertaking major epic works like the ones we grew up on—like Akira, which is a shame, to me.