Comics are a disturbingly quiet place to be, these days. Here's a few things that've come to my notice in what is otherwise a grey fog of a time:
Craig Thompson's BLANKETS came out with a little fanfare. Much of it passed me by because I simply don't enjoy Thompson's work that much, and tuned it out. I'm very much in the minority there, and decent people look at me like I'm some kind of freakish mouth-rapist when I say so. BLANKETS is, at six hundred pages, possibly the biggest original graphic novel published to date (books like FROM HELL were originally serialised). It's an autobiographical love story, and a significant mainstream work produced with commitment and great skill. I believe we still have a preview of it on the front page, so go and take a look for yourself.
I understand Fantagraphics have released an excellent retrospective of the seminal drama-comics artist B. Krigstein, whom many of us continue to steal from; his illustration of the short story "Master Race" is a highwater mark of formal invention. At some point, we need to expand our coverage of solid works about the medium, and I suspect this'll be first on the pile.
Dave Sim is into the last lap of his berserk genre-eating magnum opus CEREBUS, a three-hundred episode serial that has taken some twenty-seven years to complete. It began as a Seventies fantasy parody, swapping Conan The Barbarian for a sadistic aardvark stomping on the bones of the genre Howard The Duck-style. Over the course of many thousands of pages, it's also been a detailed political novel, a comedy of the court, a drama of the church, a vision quest, a biography of the last days of Oscar Wilde, several deeply strange attacks on feminism and women in general, and an exegesis of Sim's own bizarre personal take on religion. It fascinates because Sim is an absolutely brilliant maker of pages, a sublime cartoonist with total control of the form... and because, during the progression of the work, you can clearly see his mind crumbling under the pressure of his immense undertaking and twenty-five years of increasing solitude in which he can only express himself to the world through the agency of a talking anteater. It's almost a shame that the big 500-page collections don't include the personal notes that fill out the serial singles in which the work sees initial publication, in which Sim details the entirety of life on Earth as a war against the evil of women and proclaims that "if you learn to leave your penis alone, it will learn to leave you alone." For a while now, people have been taking bets on whether Sim will commit suicide immediately after CEREBUS is complete.