A personal diary keeping people abreast of what I am working on writing-wise.

Friday, August 27, 2010


H DayH Day by Renee French

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Coming out of any Renee French book is a process. As a reader, you have to re-emerge from her mindscape and slowly find your way back to lucidity. Jump out too fast, and you might get the bends.

It's no secret I'm a huge fan of Renee's work. Editing her early career retrospective Marbles in my Underpants was the fuzziest of pet projects for me. That book marked the end of a certain phase of her career, and since then, I've been able to watch and read as a fan as Renee's cartooning has continued to roam into new and unexpected places. H Day reads like a delivery on everything she has done this century. In comparison, books like The Ticking and the oddly delightful Micrographica appear now as if they were bathroom mirrors fogged over by steam, and H Day is the reflection we find waiting for us when the glass is wiped clean.

To describe H Day seems kind of pointless. I am only going to make it sound literal, which is wrong and which kind of ruins it, but here we go: H Day is a dual narrative, at once physical and mental. French makes use of the printed book and its left-right capabilities. Open the comic and on one side, the even-numbered pages (verso), you have images of a human being at war with her own body, a migraine headache manifesting as a physical deformity that manipulates her and that she manipulates in turn. On the other side, the right-side, odd-numbered pages (recto), you have the story of a dark and foreboding city where ants are taking over, smothering the inhabitants and covering them in some weird cocoon of bandages. Within this narrative, you have a girl and her dog who get separated from each other and the dog's journey to find her again.

Flip back and forth between the pages, compare left to right and back again, and you will see movement, like watching a silent film on an old penny arcade viewmaster machine. Indeed, silent films came to mind throughout my reading of H Day, and not just because it's wordless. The city side is drawn in heavy detail, using lots of pencil shading and texturing to create a completely solid world. The blocky buildings, dark shadows, and imposing angles reminded me of the ambitious early cinema of Josef von Sternberg and Fritz Lang. The framing and construction are expressionistic and scary. In contrast, the headache side is drawn with less detail, the figures in pencil outline, the interior sometimes shown in x-ray. For anyone who follows French's daily sketch blog, certain images that seemed random once upon a time now make sense. Now we know why she was drawing those wicker baskets and traps.

The visual metaphors aren't overly complex on the surface. The headache girl's physical agony is driving the narrative of the city. You should hopefully get that right away. It's how the images develop, how the artist pulls you along and expresses herself, that is important. Complexities emerge, deeper meanings suggest themselves to you. Rational thought is your least effective tool for interpretation, you have to let the pictures work their magic. I actually read H Day as an advance pdf on my iPad, and so I was able to scroll back and forth, click through, move the drawings at my own speed, one picture morphing into the next instantaneously without any division. Too many avant-garde and abstract cartoonists are content to just play with the flow of images, to detail their hallucinations and the psychoses without concerning themselves with whether or not they ultimately communicate anything with their drawings. Renee French is in a class by herself; indeed, a class most cartoonists would do well to take. H Day schools each and every one of them. There is meaning here, there is feeling, Renee French never forgets that her audience wants to end up with something when they close the book. H Day is devastating and wonderful and the final images are too, too sublime. Dare I say, the conclusion is sentimental in the ways that people who decry all sentimentality forget that art should be? So many alternative cartoonists depict real life as caricature, whereas Renee abandons real life altogether and ends up being far more honest. For as “out there” as her stories and images always are, she never for a second stops being human.

Fittingly, this book is due out on Halloween. Preorder it now. And if H Day doesn't dominate end-of-year lists in a few months, I'm done with the whole stinking lot of you.

* All images takes from Renee's blog, the "story h" tag, and are not necessarily the finished drawings in the book.

* The review copy of this book provided by Picturebox.

View all my reviews

Current Soundtrack: Magazine, The Correct Use Of Soap

e-mail = golightly at confessions123.com * Criterion Confessions * Live Journal Syndication * My Corporate-Owned Space * ComicSpace * Last FM * GoodReads * The Blog Roll [old version] * DVDTalk reviews * My Books On Amazon

All text (c) 2010 Jamie S. Rich

Thursday, August 26, 2010



* Mesrine: Killer Instinct, the first part of an expertly executed crime epic straight outta France. Vincent Cassel plays the notorious bank robber Jacques Mesrine.

Playing Portland at Cinema 21 this week. Part 2 starts next week.


* I Fidanzati, Ermanno Olmi's 1962 romance is a charming surprise.


* Home, an interesting eco-parable with Isabelle Huppert that kind of goes nowhere.

* John Rabe, a fairly good WWII drama set during the Nanking Massacre.

* Laughology, a documentary on laughing that fails to contrive any mirth.

* The Square, a tense thriller from Australia that goes a few twists too far. The short film Spider included with the extras is the real gem here.

Current Soundtrack: Lupe Fiasco, "Paris, Tokyo;" La Roux, "Bulletproof;" The Drums, "Book of Stories"

e-mail = golightly at confessions123.com * Criterion Confessions * Live Journal Syndication * My Corporate-Owned Space * ComicSpace * Last FM * GoodReads * The Blog Roll [old version] * DVDTalk reviews * My Books On Amazon

All text (c) 2010 Jamie S. Rich

Tuesday, August 24, 2010


I just got word that the Spell Checkers T-shirts are on sale through the Oni Press website.

Indeed, here they be.

I'm assuming they'll have them in New York for the Con, as well. Joëlle and I will be sitting in Artist's Alley, along with all of these fine folks. Joëlle can be found in the "list view" right now, and I am nowhere to be seen, but I turned in our bio info and images for the both of us this week, so hopefully that will update soon. Plane tickets are booked, travel accommodations have been made...it's happening. Nico will be coming, too, and he's setting up at the Oni Booth.

In other news...

Been working my summer away, hammering at a new script for a new property. I think it's coming together all right. We'll see.

Current Soundtrack: Greenberg soundtrack

Friday, August 20, 2010



* Valhalla Rising, a dream-like story of Vikings in the new world, directed by Nicolas Winding Refn, the guy who brought us Bronson. I liked it, but kind of can't figure out why. Playing Portland at Cinema 21 this week.


* L'enfance nue, a compelling story of a boy struggling through French foster care, circa 1968. From director Maurice Pialat.


* Burning Paradise, Ringo Lam's dark martial arts fantasy from the mid-'90s.

* Temple Grandin, Claire Danes shines in this inspiring biopic of a woman with autism who revolutionized how we take care of beef cattle.

* Wolverine & the X-Men: Final Crisis Trilogy, the last volume in the fun cartoon series.

Current Soundtrack: Emmanuelle Seigner, Dingue

e-mail = golightly at confessions123.com * Criterion Confessions * Live Journal Syndication * My Corporate-Owned Space * ComicSpace * Last FM * GoodReads * The Blog Roll [old version] * DVDTalk reviews * My Books On Amazon

All text (c) 2010 Jamie S. Rich

Thursday, August 19, 2010


Aritst Alex-Imé models her Spell Checkers T-shirt.

You may recall Alex's previous fan art contribution. If not, here it is!

And, of course, visit her blog.

I am hoping Oni will start selling these shirts online at some point. I still haven't even seen one!

Nico is done with the first chapter of the second volume, and since we're all three going to be at New York Comic Con, I am hoping we'll have some of his work and Joëlle's to show off. If nothing else, maybe I'll have some hidden on my iPad that I can sneak you a peek of.

Current Soundtrack: Fun Boy Three, The Fun Boy Three

Tuesday, August 17, 2010


Crops of images from two things currently in production...

Current Soundtrack: Isobel Campbell & Mark Lanegan, Hawk (import version)

Thursday, August 12, 2010



* The Expendables, starring Sylvester Stallone, steroids, and special-effects blood. It's the old man movie not to see this weekend.

* Get Low, starring Robert Duvall and Bill Murray, it's the old man movie you should see this weekend.

* Scott Pilgrim vs. the World, the movie to see this weekend. Period.


* Breathless - 50th Anniversary Restoration, Jean-Luc Godard's revolutionary classic is in theatres again. Portland, see it this week at Cinema 21!

* 3 Silent Film Classics by Josef von Sternberg, an incredible trio of films from a true visionary. One of my favorites so far this year! [Also at DVDTalk]


* Helen, Ashley Judd is mentally ill, thanks to the director of Mostly Martha.

* Henson's Place: The Man Behind the Muppets, an all-too-brief but still fascinating portrait of Jim Henson made for the BBC in the 1980s.

* Pandora and the Flying Dutchman, a newly restored version of the utterly bizarre Albert Lewin romance. Starring James Mason and Ava Gardner.

Current Soundtrack: Kele, The Boxer

e-mail = golightly at confessions123.com * Criterion Confessions * Live Journal Syndication * My Corporate-Owned Space * ComicSpace * Last FM * GoodReads * The Blog Roll [old version] * DVDTalk reviews * My Books On Amazon

All text (c) 2010 Jamie S. Rich

My friend Lara Michell is having a double CD release party this weekend: for a solo record called Petals, and for her new project A Simple Colony. She has a Facebbook invite page with details here. But I will also cut and paste the press info below just to make it easy.

I've had the good fortune of hearing demos and early mixes for both projects, and I'm looking forward to hearing the final product. I've always been a fan of Lara's music, it was how we became friends (which I wrote about once upon a time). Her melodies are wonderful, and inspire all kind of rock crit' cliches like "haunting" and "ethereal." She combines a classical music background with 1970s singer-songwriting, and there is a literary quality to her lyrics that can often be missed since the words are presented so simply. And, of course, she has a beautiful voice.

Here she is performing her song "Twilight" a couple of years back.




8pm, Saturday, August 14, 2010
The Woods
6637 SE Milwaukie
Portland, OR 97202

$10 cover charge

Lara Michell – Petals

This is the fourth solo album from Lara Michell (also of The Stolen Sweets and Dirty Martini; formerly of Carmina Piranha). While this collection features guest performances by numerous Portland musicians, most of the tracks are very sparse and consist of only a few acoustic guitar parts and some harmonized vocals. Fans will recognize Lara’s unique intricate fingerpicking and ethereal lyrics on this album, which features nine original tracks and a surprising Duran Duran cover.


a simple colony – world brand new

a simple colony is a new collaboration between longtime friends Lara Michell and Michael Dodson (formerly of the Portland Gay Men’s Chorus and the David York Ensemble), who met while attending Willamette University in the early 1990’s. Generally speaking, Lara composed the music, recorded it on her laptop, e-mailed it across town to Michael who then wrote all of the lyrics and vocal parts, recording demo versions of the finished songs on his laptop. They would get together occasionally during the process to refine the arrangements and swap ideas, and ultimately recorded studio versions of the songs with local producers Ezra Holbrook and Jason Roark. Michael Dodson is an art teacher at French Prairie Middle School in Woodburn, OR, and although he has performed with countless vocal ensembles and made many jazz and classical vocal recordings over the years, this is his first foray into the recording of his own original songs. He lives in Lake Oswego with his partner and their four-year-old daughter.


As my first experiment with SwiftFM, I also posted the song Lara and I put together for my comic book Love the Way You Love. Give it a spin: http://www.swift.fm/Confessions123/song/57233/.

It's too bad this wasn't a bigger hit. Eminem and Rihanna could have sampled it for "Love the Way You Lie."

Maybe I'll write a total downer of a sequel to Love the Way You Love and call it Love the Way You Lie. Oh, tragedy!

e-mail = golightly at confessions123.com * Criterion Confessions * Live Journal Syndication * My Corporate-Owned Space * ComicSpace * Last FM * GoodReads * The Blog Roll [old version] * DVDTalk reviews * My Books On Amazon

All text (c) 2010 Jamie S. Rich

Given that I've not been very bloggy lately and have just been posting lots of lists of what reviews I have put up on various sites over the previous week, I was wondering if it would be more beneficial to do what many of the other DVD Talk writers do (and what I do on CriterionConfessions.com) by going ahead and cross-posting the full text here. In simple terms, instead of one list of movie reviews every Thursday, you'd see them at the same time DVD Talk readers do. (Like Jason does.)

Twitter followers already get links every time I post a review; Facebook gets the list every week, so that would change, too.

So, take a second and vote and tell me what you think. (Assuming this poll function works; I've never tried it; if you can't see voting options in your rss feed, click here.)

This vote is private, vote however you like, but what I do with the results is up to me. I reserve the right to ignore the results or go my own way for my own capricious reasons. If I don't get hardly any participants, I reserve the right to believe that everything I do is a waste of time.

Current Soundtrack: The Budos Band, The Budos Band III

Monday, August 09, 2010

PATRICIA NEAL, 1926-2010

Actress Patricia Neal passed away today.

She's one of those actresses that you think you don't know, but there's a good chance you've seen her. Neal was the gal you went to when you needed classy and tough. She was just as comfortable playing a socialite as she was a ranch hand, and she exuded strength in either scenario. She was the woman who paid George Peppard's way in Breakfast at Tiffany's and the one who discovered Andy Griffith in A Face in the Crowd.

But if you're going to find one movie today to watch a Patricia Neal performance, I'd go with Hud. She stars opposite Paul Newman as the woman who has long since passed the age where she will be loved the right way, and who is smart enough to know better.

The L.A. Times has a full obituary.

Thursday, August 05, 2010



* The Other Guys, a Will Ferrell vehicle that kind of crashes and burns. Yeah, I know, big surprise. But this one comes with an economics lesson at the end!

* Winnebago Man, the documentary about YouTube sensation "The Angry RV Guy." An interesting idea gets lost somewhere along the way, right around when the filmmaker sticks himself in front of the narrative.


* Black Orpheus, a fantastic reissue of this mesmerizing Brazilian movie.

* Presenting Sacha Guitry - Eclipse Set 22, a quartet of phenomenal films from the playwright turned film director. Inventive and fun early French cinema. [Also at DVDTalk]


* The Good, the Bad, the Weird, a modern Korean western that just could be the most fun I had at the movies all year.

* The Thorn in the Heart, Michel Gondry's touching documentary about his aunt goes to some surprisingly dark places.

Current Soundtrack: Luna, Lunafied

e-mail = golightly at confessions123.com * Criterion Confessions * Live Journal Syndication * My Corporate-Owned Space * ComicSpace * Last FM * GoodReads * The Blog Roll [old version] * DVDTalk reviews * My Books On Amazon

All text (c) 2010 Jamie S. Rich

Current Soundtrack: The Dead Weather


Oh, Christina, I really hope you know what you're doing...

It's like Showgirls meets Chicago, but hopefully more of the latter than the former.

Current Soundtrack: Taylor Swift, "Mine"

Wednesday, August 04, 2010


Oni Press is putting out an all-new hardcover comic book featuring original short stories starring the Yo Gabba Gabba! characters. I was lucky enough to be asked to contribute and collaborate on a story with Mike Allred.

The Yo Gabba Gabba! Comic Anthology is currently listed in Diamond Previews. Here is the solicitation:

Oni Press and W!LDBRAIN Entertainment, the award-winning entertainment company and producers of Yo Gabbba Gabba!, have teamed to bring DJ Lance Rock, the residents of his magic boombox - Brobee, Muno, Toodee, Foofa and Plex - along with their Story Time pals from their hit series and live stage show, to the wild world of comics books with the first Yo Gabba Gabba! comics project - Yo Gabba Gabba! Comic Book Time Vol. 1. Featuring an all-new cover from Gabba Animation Art Director Parker Jacobs and new stories from YGG animators, comic book superstars like Evan Dorkin, Sarah Dyer, Mike Allred, J. Torres, J. Bone, Jamie S. Rich, and many more, this book promises to be a party for the eyeballs of readers young and old!

Any comic book store should be able to preorder this book for you, just give them the Diamond item code, AUG101105.

There is also an early preorder on Amazon.

Brobee came by the Oni booth in Chicago when we were at C2E2 a couple of months ago, and Charlie Chu snapped this great photo of us together:

Current Soundtrack: Peter International Airport - streaming audio and free download from this Dandy Warhols spin-off, available on the band's website

Tuesday, August 03, 2010


I've been meaning to get a scan of this for almost two months now. The awesome Natalie Nourigat drew this picture of Christian Aguilera for my birthday. Quelle delicious!

Check out Tally's many sites:

Random Production
Art Blog
Between Gears - autobio comic

Current Soundtrack: Arcade Fire, The Suburbs - currently on sale for $3.99 as a download at Amazon!


Multiversity Comics have kicked off their new "Off the Cape" column with a stellar review of 12 Reasons Why I Love Her.

A partricularly salient snippet:

"While in another creators hands, the abandonment of chronological storytelling could be messy in execution and painfully trite when read. Rich has proven himself as a creator who has a wonderful grasp on storytelling, no matter how traditional (or non-traditional) it may be. Telling the story out of order immerses us in Gwen and Evan's relationship from the get go, giving us the bad to go with the good to give the story the sense of reality necessary to make it a successful venture.

The individual stories themselves range, telling tales as disparate as how they met, their first date, their one-year anniversary, and in a particularly charming sequence, the truth about Gwen's dreaming habits. There is a lot more in there, but no chapter felt more intimate and alive than Evan recounting when he first found about Gwen's dreams, or the lack there of. The language blended with the visual representation from Jones is impeccable, especially one page in particular featuring a simple but powerful image of a striking leg departing a car. I spoke about this in my review for You Have Killed Me, but I think this is an important point to note about this book: Rich and Jones work in tandem as well as any writer/artist combo out there. The images Jones creates from Rich's scripts only bolster the power of them, and vice versa, just the way all successful pairings should be."

Read the whole thing here.

Current Soundtrack: El-P, Weareallgoingtoburninhellmegamixxx3 [full album stream]

e-mail = golightly at confessions123.com * Criterion Confessions * Live Journal Syndication * My Corporate-Owned Space * ComicSpace * Last FM * GoodReads * The Blog Roll [old version] * DVDTalk reviews * My Books On Amazon

All text (c) 2010 Jamie S. Rich