SAM HOCKLEY-SMITH, SENIOR EDITOR
The Cabbie Vol. 1 by Marti: Sometime in the last ten or so years (probably less, really) a lot of companies started re-publishing comic strips like Peanuts and Gasoline Alley and Dick Tracy in a deluxe format. It’s about the art—most of which is phenomenal—as much as it is about the archiving. Without these editions, this stuff would be lost to time and yellowed newsprint forever. There is one weird thing about all of these reprints though: reading them has a hypnotic, disorienting effect. They weren’t designed to be read in such rapid succession. Ideas repeat themselves, themes run too long or too short; it’s a fascinating way to look comprehensively at a serial medium. Plus it makes you feel like you are on a lot of drugs. The Cabbie is an especially interesting one, though. Initially published in the ’80s, it mimics the basic comic strip format—even going as far as aping the way Chester Gould used thick black lines for basically everything with Dick Tracy—but is supremely screwed up. The protagonist, a cab driver is obsessed with money, has a tricked out cab, happens upon bizarre crimes, and even gets tortured by a family living in the slums. It is a really uncomfortable experience from cover to cover, and I am stoked it exists.
Shakey: Neil Young’s Biography by Jimmy McDonough: It is worth reading this book even if you have no interest in Neil Young. Besides capturing the turbulent times of…every decade that Neil Young has been making music, McDonough is able to create a complicated, contradictory portrait of an artist trying to find his place in the great pantheon of rock music. That means there are entire sections about a dude that hung out in the studio supplying them with Honey Slides (weed mixed with honey, for some reason) while Young and Crazy Horse were recording. It also means that there is close to a hundred pages devoted to Young’s love of model trains, but presented in context, it is fascinating. It’s a huge book, but if you make it through, there’s a good chance you’ll care pretty deeply about Neil Young, even if you didn’t before.
Acme Novelty Library #20: Lint by Chris Ware: I just re-read this for the first time, and it’s phenomenal how Chris Ware is able to track an entire life from beginning to end so completely and heartbreakingly. Like most of his work, Lint can be relentlessly bleak, but there’s a comfort in that. Lint is about life and death, but unlike those things, it’s not sloppy. Instead, it is meticulously translated to paper with—and I mean this in the best way possible—plodding beauty.