Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Sparkplug Highlight: The Sky In Stereo #1 & #2 by Mardou

Sky in Stereo follows protagonist Iris, a sweet girl living her life in Manchester during the 90s. While it seems to be built around the general theme of everyday life, these books are so well executed and relatable, I can't help but believe they must be partially autobiographical. Running alongside the coming-of-age feel is the topic of casual drug use. Cover your eyes, kiddos!!
Iris' life is rather unremarkable, but completely realistic and unapologetically honest. She works fast food, hates her step dad, likes jerk boys. You don't need to know a lot of the relationships between Iris and her peers, as you understand all the complicated feelings through Mardou's excellent character writing. The cuteness emanating off of Iris as she tries to figure stuff out is heartwarming, as well as all the intensely raw emotions expressed from panel to panel. The freedom and self-imprisonment of youth runs rampant though the pages as Iris reflects on each moment. 

Both Sky In Stereo #1 and #2 are available here!

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Sparkplug Highlight: Rum Lad #4 by Steve Larder

When I was a young'n, my favorite zine was Cometbus. I read each issue with fervent punk pride, seeking new knowledge of bands, rad places to go and general silliness. Reading Rum Lad gave me a similar feeling - but I realized right after finishing it, that Steve Larder was the same age as me (24) when he wrote this. He also started making zines because he spent days reading punk journals and comics, and it shows through his interview with classic zinester Marv Gadgie. This entire issue revels in the spirit of traditional punk values, as well as nostalgia for being driven by them. 
In this issue, Steve attends a far-off zine festival in Germany and meets a lot of new people. While things don't always work out, he makes it home and wonders about the purpose of wandering off the beaten path in life and what it means to be afraid of embracing change. Alongside all these thoughts, there are very precise and detailed drawings of places and people Steve sees along the way.
Anyone who enjoys a traditional zine style with handwritten words, as well as black and white drawings should check out Rum Lad - it's a long and good read!

(36 interior pgs, 5.5" x 8.5 ", black and white)
You can visit Steve Larder's website here!
Rum Lad #4 is available here!

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Sparkplug Highlight: Eschew Issue #1 and #2 by Robert Sergel

There really isn't anything quite like a beautiful black and white comic. Sergel's simple, completely structural linework makes the world uncanny, but also incredibly pleasing. Whether drawing parallels between events and concepts, or simply retelling an odd memory, Eschew gives me a sentimental feeling about my own awkwardness. The human and silly aspects of these comics make an interesting contrast to the highly technical art; the pages seem like an instruction manual from an airplane explaining how to bail out of the plane in case of emergency. 
While Eschew doesn't give us any explanation on how to cope, it shows us how one person does. Sergel's collection of embarrassing or simply synchronistic tales was a good read and left a lasting impression on me with his incredible use of simple black and white. Really, it has something interesting and relatable for anyone!

Eschew 1, 2 & 3 can be purchased here!

Tuesday, June 03, 2014

The Sparkplug Website! It Lives!

Our site is back up and running!  There are still a couple things that are a little wonky, but the shop is running and ready for your orders.  Thanks for your patience!

Sparkplug Highlight: Solipsist's Doodles by Jason Overby

Overby's sparse, scratchy drawings make me appreciate the title of this book. Since comics are typically so visually driven, it's not often that I find myself looking at almost blank pages. Instead, these comics are driven by text, cell size, and my ability to fill in what I'd like. Overby's drawing style carries the story well when it's present - an assortment of dots and lines move you forward from panel to panel, with almost complete figures. Each thought carries over into the next panel with nontraditional breaks, just as one gets lost in thought - in between thoughts - and has to come back to what was before. 

A small collection of stories, these autobiographical tales do more than focus on Overby's life - they engage the reader on topics like human honesty and contemplation of the universe. Even if you are a solipsist, there is kindness to allow yourself and others. Even in philosophical discussions, there is lightheartedness to be had. I found myself reading them over and over again, interpreting and reinterpreting conversations. 

Solipsist's Doodles can be purchased here!