Choosy Beggar Books

“The Tick”

Posted in Miscellaneous Comics by mvblair on May 5, 2017
The-Tick-1-cover“The Tick” is one of the most infuriating comics ever, despite being one of my favorites. That there are so many reprints under different titles and in different trade paperbacks makes it extremely difficult to follow.
Still, there are few funnier comics. From Arthur to Chairface Chippendale, from his creator Ben Edlund to his worthy successor Sean Wang, the comics I’ve read have been great. They’re slapstick and satirical. It’s been eleven years since a new comic was published. Fortunately, it looks like there will be a new “The Tick” comic in August this year.

Apparently a new show is going to air on Amazon TV and the new comic will coincide with that. Why the original show was cancelled after just a handful of episodes we’ll never know. I sincerely thought it was funny, as good as the cartoon show.

“The Tick,” like the “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles” earlier, is a success story from the ’80s of independent comics getting picked up and turned mainstream, with good reason.

Alfonso Wong

Posted in International Comics, Miscellaneous by mvblair on January 13, 2017
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An original “Old Master Q” strip

The comics world lost a big star recently.

Born in China in 1925, Alfonso Wong worked in illustration before and after his move to Hong Kong in 1956. Sometime around 1960 or 1961, his beloved character Old Master Q took shape. Old Master Q turned into a comic strip with several repeating characters, including his two buddies, a foil, and a love interest.

Although some of the strips have words, many are wordless. The “Old Master Q” comic reads like the best pantomime strips, such as the original “Ferd’nand” and “The Little King.” There is always the set up, the reveal, and the reaction. The strips were seamless, with a quick buildup to the gag. They could take place in any country, any time.

As the years passed, Old Master Q became a marketing empire, especially in Hong Kong, but also extending to other areas of southeast Asia and other areas with large overseas Chinese populations. A namesake comic was printed monthly and Old Master Q began to appear on licensed products and in advertisements.

Sometime in the 1980’s, his son Joseph Wong took over. Unlike many strips that are continued after the creator’s retirement, Joseph Wong was an able heir. Alphonso Wong moved to California where he continued making art and no doubt stayed in touch with his characters. He died this month due to organ failure.

Check out more of Alphonso Wong’s work here: Old Master Q Comics. You certainly won’t regret it!

 

Midville High #1

Posted in "Midville High" Comics, Older "Midville High" and "Kyle & Barry" by mvblair on January 4, 2017

midville-high-1-previewWhen I started this site a number of years ago, I could not find a copy of Midville High #1. I finally found it and scanned it! While most people couldn’t care less, I am very excited.

The story holds up well and I like the pacing. The art is Michaelangeloesque, as always. Right, guys? Along with all the other comics you can check it out on the Books page or download it right here: Midville High #1. All the comics are in PDF format and can be downloaded to tablets and most e-readers.

I’ve got two more Midville High comics that I made about ten years ago but haven’t published. I suppose I should just put them up digitally. I certainly pine for the days when I would go to small press comic conventions and trade my comics with strangers and acquaintances. Somewhere along the way, a job and a family happily got in the way, but seeing this now twenty-year-old comic brings back good memories.

For use with the Atari video gaming system

Posted in "Midville High" Comics by mvblair on March 21, 2015
My art has entered the realm of photo-realism.

My works have entered the realm of photo-realism.

Midville High: Digital Edition

Posted in "Midville High" Comics by mvblair on March 6, 2015

Midville High Digital Edition 3-27-15 02

Battle of Wits: We Are Chairman Mao’s Red Guards

Posted in International Comics by mvblair on March 11, 2014

Like every other guy on the planet, I consider myself a student of history. I particularly enjoy reading the history of people in turmoil. One topic which I’ve read at least a dozen books about is the Cultural Revolution in China. It was a time of torture, gulag, forced disappearances, and even famine. The most widely documented part of the Cultural Revolution is the anarchy created by the Red Guards, groups of mostly middle and high school students in the cities who organized destructive campaigns against Old Habits, Old Culture, Old Customs, and Old Ideas in the name of modernity. Mao himself encouraged the Red Guards as a way to rehabilitate his image after the disastrous Great Leap Forward.

Mao created an enormous propaganda campaign that included comic books, which helps give me something to talk about here. “Battle of Wits: We Are Chairman Mao’s Red Guards” is a fifty-four page comic about Xiao Hong, a middle school student who spies on her own grandpa and catches him in a conspiracy to send a university journal to Soviet spies. She goes through his mail, spies on him from above, and eventually gets the military police to catch him fleeing his own apartment in a rush to make a drop. It was all encouraged by Mao and the comic was all relatively mild compared to what actually happened during the Cultural Revolution.

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45. Suddenly his eyes stopped on “Technological Research”. This was the internal monthly periodical that Xiao Hong’s father edited in the university, containing published reports on electronic industry development and new technological discoveries and achievements. That guy [the Grandfather] quickly opened his back to stuff several books inside.

If you have a chance, read the English translation here at China Smack. As with most propaganda comics, the writing is terrible. It’s the typical “illustrated narrative” style that is easy to do and not exactly a comic: the book does not need the illustrations. Nevertheless, the illustrations are beautiful. The artist used lots of different brushes and pens to create lush pictures that are somewhere between “Little Orphan Annie” and a really good Japanese comic. The writing and story, well, clearly leave a lot to be desired.

On a historical note, it appears this book was published in 1976, the year the Cultural Revolution ended, along with Mao himself. This propaganda was one of Mao’s last breaths, a desperate grab to keep his movement going.

On a literary note, there is a pretty big English translation (via the French) of Chinese communist comics called “The People’s Comic Book: Red Women’s Detachment, Hot on the Trail, and Other Comics.” It’s from 1973. I’ll write a review of it soon now that I’m thinking about it. Terrible comics, but interesting culture.

“I am convinced that He does not play dice…”

Posted in Art by mvblair on February 1, 2014
...he plays dominoes.

…he plays dominoes.

Primer on Popular Comic Book Styles

Posted in International Comics by mvblair on January 15, 2014

This is going on two-years-old, but I clicked on an old bookmark of a BBC article about comic book styles from around the world. In no way is it comprehensive, but it’s a quick and fun read.

Odd that there is no mention of this extremely popular genre from the ’80s…