Tag Archives: tumblr

Goodbye by Ben Passmore

Saw the cats from Owl Bike or whatever at the Local Color gallery’s zine fest in downtown San José and seized on the opportunity to find out whence all the commotion about Louisiana artist Ben Passmore‘s comic Goodbye.

goodbye_cover_1024x1024

Besides being surprised by the smallness of its quarter-sheet format (because the ad I got in the mail is legal size? Were they trying to impress me?), one association I made for myself when I first started reading was that both Goodbye and Pantomime Horse have a frame of this dead guy lying on the ground, who ends up representing a major conceit in the book revealed later.

I’ll give Ben this commendation: his stuff makes us want to reread it, largely because he has a skill for illustrating and talking around themes rather than hitting them on the nose, which many of us don’t, either for lack of skill, focus or confidence.

Goodbye deals impressively with values, action, and dialectic. In the comic, Passmore transports us from a somewhat startling shift in perspective about yuppie vacationing, through a mysterious and doubtlessly magical explosion, into a self-aware allegory about the conflict within a person over what counts as meaningful intentions and effective action. On the spectrum (sorry, Ben!), Passmore is much more a writer than an artist although the neat and tidy art has its charm.

In guiding us through this dialectic, Passmore wisely begins with the sense of community that we had when we were stupid, unmobilized kids with lots of time and few commitments, rather than shooting straight for self-critique about direct action against the fuckeries of late capitalism and anti-intellectualism. He makes a genuine case for the tiny sweetness found between people when partying and trying to figure it all out. He makes fun of bay area outwanderers (scheiss Auswanderer!) who impose their whatever on our scene –if only they’d move to red states in order to influence federal-level voting trends like Bernie’s meme machine said to without gentrifying our fucking domestic light beer establishments! Believe me Ben, I’m in San god damn José, where they paved the valley of the heart’s delight to make the god damn eBay, and I feel you.

goodbye_interior2_1024x1024

He then makes a joke about group sex and lands us in the lap of a local anarchist, soon to draw us into his spirit with a breath of the aging process and times gone by. Ultimately his message is for us to find the common ground and get together again. What, then, does goodbye mean? Maybe it just means that parting is not the end, but rather the beginning of many happy returns.

As noted above and in our comments on Pantomime Horse, Passmore seems always to be talking around the invisible on several levels, one of them usually comprising hilarious and true imagery from the circles of people in which we operate, and one that’s very personal and spiritual, and which colors the reportage with its tone.

Ben could be a great artist one day as long as he avoids the ironic bullshit and stays on target. Goodbye should get its due respect in the short story world. I wonder if Bird in the Hand or whatever know what they have in him. Get Goodbye! Get several copies and give it as a gift! As Ben rightly reminds us, there are no rights to reserve!

Pantomime Horse 1 by Ben Passmore

Ben Passmore is an artist living in New Orleans and of course dipshit me just now found out about him. Got an ad in the care package from Birdcage Bottom (who also distribute Those Dark New Hampshire Woods) about his apparently funny Goodbye, and now my friends at Èxitos Gnosis just brought me back Pantomime Horse 1 from Skylight Books in Hollywood. Passmore is great, to paraphrase the white supremacist and child rapist you just elected president, and you all should check out his stuff.

photo-on-1-2-17-at-7-42-am

The zine is intentionally as in-the-moment and ambiguous as possible, swinging for the purpose of explanation between two worlds that presumably represent different generations of a family. What I like most is how Passmore presents a narrative in pictures but then has the characters talk around an unspoken truth at the center of the story. Not to bring up 2666 again, but it reminded me of the toilet water circling around the void that is the narrative style of 2666. I guess I’ll have to read the rest of them to find out.

It ends with a letter addressed to someone with whom the speaker was confined to a place he or she had to flee from. It may be written by Passmore the person or by some character. All in all, a rousing and spooky zine. Thanks Ben! Visit him at Day Glo Ayhole.

Those Dark New Hampshire Woods

hampsire.jpgPropitiously, auspiciously, precipitously ran into Desmond Reed‘s work by chance on Tumblr, which for all the fat and noise is really one of the few places left one can sign on and see a ton of awesome art with relatively little digging.

A celebration of life’s will to grow, Those Dark New Hampshire Woods concerns a few weeks in the life of its denizens, rendered from all of whose perspective, looking inward and showing us how it is from over their shoulders, not unlike As I Lay Dying.
The book, like all great stories, like in Faulkner or Bolaño, distinguishes itself both through its place in a universe all its own as well as its exposition of the stories within that world in an elegant and silly spiral of nested and/or tangentially-related vignettes.
Amongst other instantly-relatable characters we meet the drifter, who drifts, the scumbag, the wild hairy uncles, the world’s smallest pervert, who seeks happiness despite being on the other side of existence.

hampshire2.jpg

The obscene god of rebirth from Those Dark New Hampshire Woods

It is in the story of the Scumbag and the Troubled Teen that we encounter the persistent theme of nature’s regeneration, presented by means of the cloning by pore of the characters, reducing the proud, complex human down to the physiognomy of the plant kingdom. The joy with which their bodies relentlessly reproduce cycles through the setting and creates a second whirling narrative wheel.
My only gripe is what the hell is going on in the New Hampshire woods, and how does one end up there?
Those Dark New Hampshire Woods is a work of modest comic art blessed with satisfying textual depth, a work of literature not to be missed in the 2016 crop.

I also got the second one but honestly I haven’t even read it yet. I’m too blown away.
The books are published by Birdcage Bottom Books, and when you buy stuff from them you get a bunch of extra stuff!
https://www.birdcagebottombooks.com