zine, [zeen] noun. 1. abbr. of fanzine; 2. any amateurly-published periodical. Oxford Reference


Monday, November 16, 2009

English, Austin


via Optical Sloth by admin on 10/31/09


Making a mini comic by Austin English

Christina & Charles Now Available! $10

I love a good story that throws you off of any preconceived notions you might have. I mean, obviously this is a story about two people named Christina & Charles, right? And if they're not together instantly, you know that sooner or later they will be. Well, not so much. Ordinarily this would be a spoiler but Austin sums everything up beautifully on the back page, talking about how even though these two people never met they were really quite similar and could have benefited from knowing each other. The book is broken up more or less into halves, the first half dealing with Christina. It's like a quiet conversation she's having almost with herself, talking about a moment with her Mom, trying to fit in with her richer friends in high school, falling in love, and her jealousy of the careless ease with which a group of thirteen year old kids dealt with each other. The second half is about Charlie, told from the perspective of his brother, dealing with their rich fantasy life, watching how their cousin Tim dealt with being completely in love with a faithless woman, and how every girl wanted to be near Charlie in high school. I've thought highly of Austin's stuff for years, and this still blows everything else he has done out of the water. He captures the quiet moments here in ways that would make even the most perceptive comic artists jealous, tells a variety of simple truths that I hadn't even considered and puts such obvious love into each panel that it's impossible not to be charmed. He says in the afterward that this is the first book of many and it damned well better be, because it's people like him that, despite occasional boredom with comics, keep me coming back for more and excited to see new books. And if you're thinking this isn't for you because the art turns you off, or isn't your style… no. It's absolutely perfect for what he does. This is for anybody who needs a shot in the arm to re-instill their love of comics or just wants a reminder of why they started reading these funny books in the first place. $10

Windy Corner Magazine #1 edited by Austin English Now Available! $10


Windy Corner Magazine #2 edited by Austin English Now Available! $10

Why on earth would you put out a magazine like this (as it contains brilliant and vibrant colors throughout) and give it a black and white cover?  Sorry, I just felt the urge to get my one tiny complaint about this issue out of the way early.  This is more of an anthology than a traditional magazine, if that makes any difference to any of you.  There are two pieces here that are full of text, one of which is Austin discussing the art of Lois Lenski at length and the other is an interview between Onsmith (interviewer) and John Hankiewicz (interviewee).  This interview is absolutely priceless, as who in the comics world would you want to see interviewed than John?  OK, it's possible that there are people you'd rather read about, but John's work contains so much in every panel and every issue that it was greatly informative to see him break down what he's doing (or trying to do, in some cases), how he manages to put that level of detail and crosshatching into every panel and how his creative process has evolved through the years.  Then, of course there's the comics.  This begins on the inside front cover with two short pieces by Mollie Goldstrom (contemplative pieces on the outdoors) and quickly moved to three stories by Austin.  There's a trip to the Planetarium as a child and his innocent and wide-eyed reactions, the second part of a series called Francis (and I really should have read the first issue before this), and the memory of a trip to the movies with his parents as a child.  For anybody who complains about the price of these magazines, and they are a bit steep in these times, the fact that Austin's work is able to be produced in color because of it is worth the price of admission.  That still leaves two comics: a piece by Fiona Logusch about the entanglements of relationships and how hard it is to get free and an autobiographical piece by Dylan Williams about his mail relationship with Alex Toth, what he learned from him and Dylan's own progression as an artist through the years.  As a whole it's damned near flawless, assuming you're a fan of the people mentioned above, and why on earth wouldn't you be?  Even if you're not, picking this up and reading this will make you a fan.  Don't take my word for it; a glance around this website will show you work from everybody in this issue, then you can make up your own mind.  $10



Windy Corner Magazine #3 edited by Austin English Now available! $10


The Tenth Frame #7

Oh crap, not another thoughtful, introspective book! For those of you who may be confused, well, obviously I'm joking. Even the worst of the books like this are still about people honestly examining their feelings and their surroundings, and there's just not enough of that going around in the world. This book absolutely defies scanning, as you can see from the sample I have down there. There are a couple of wordless comics in here. One is about a list of everyday things, with a sad disembodied head floating through the motions of a day. I liked it; it rang true for me. Then there's another bit about a jazz player and he Austin has a great way of communicating music through comics. Then of course there's poetry and observations here and there, mostly in the middle of the book, with various pictures, hence "comics". I liked it. His art has a casual, doodly charm that's hard to resist. It's $2 if you're interested, (plus $1 for shipping, which I haven't been mentioning on too many pages, but most people would appreciate it, and you already know that, so I'll stop now). Send money to: 2892 Cesar Chavez San Francisco, CA 94110. Or e-mail him for info, as I think he's moving soon…

The Tenth Frame #8

This man is redefining minimalism in comics. I'm sure there are people out there who'd disagree with me, and I'm not saying he's the best thing going out there or anything, I'm just saying that he does more with less than a whole lot of people doing comics today. This book is probably more than 50 pages and you can read it in about 4 minutes, and it only takes that long because you stop to think about things that he's said along the way. He has a few stories in here. The first is about how he was born, a meandering and vague tale that seems perfect for the subject once you're done with it. Then there's one about Charlie Parker, although the music is more implied than shown in this one. You also have kind of a remake of a story from the last issue, "The Story of Adele H", as well as musings about work, his personal life and more music. There doesn't seem to be much here at first glance, it takes a few minutes for everything in here to sink in. It's well worth seeking out and taking a look at, and it's pretty cheap at $2. Contact info is up there…

The Tenth Frame #9

I don't know of anybody else who could have pulled off this concept, but Austin managed it. This comic comes with a CD with "In Walked Bud" on it, a Thelonious Monk song. You're supposed to play it and read along in the comic, and there are boxes with the corresponding time of the song to keep you on the right track. There's a tremendous amount of work put into this (as you can probably tell by the cover), and every issue is hand-colored, so they're not cheap at $5. Still, this is a unique comic experience, blending music and pictures almost seamlessly, and I think he did a fantastic job. Oh, and he also made little figures of the band, and he included pegs so you can stand them up while you're reading the book and listening to the CD. Contact info is above, if you order this you might have to wait a week to let him color an issue, but it's worth the wait. Seriously. If you're looking for something new in comics, check this out.

The Tenth Frame #12

Hm, I seem to have a bit of a Tenth Frame gap in the issue numbers. In the meantime Austin has decided to go with continuing stories, which is great in my book. First up is Parts of Christina's Heart, a text-heavy piece about a girl reminiscing about her time as a child, but not the usual sappy memories about how great everything was when we were kids. This one is more about staying with friends out of habit rather then affection and overhearing them starting to lose interest in you. Then there's the tale of Abby getting married when Austin was 6 to a security guard who was also a painter, and the efforts of the family to get him a working studio. Both of these are continuing stories and, on a completely unrelated note, Austin is only 21, so he has plenty of time to really develop into something special, at least based on what I've seen of his early work. No pressure or anything. This issue is hand colored, like some of his older issues, and is a pretty good deal at $3, considering all the work he puts into each issue.Contact info is up there and I think I've been pretty clear about how much I like his stuff…


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