Choosy Beggar Books

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.

Advertisements

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.

Image

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…

Self-Portrait

Posted in Art by mvblair on January 3, 2014

Next to Frida Kahlo’s and Vincent Van Gogh’s, these are probably the best self-portraits you’ll ever see. I drew them in high school, sixteen years ago.

Image

Image

A Sad Clown

Posted in Miscellaneous by mvblair on March 1, 2013
“I remain just one thing, and one thing only, and that is a clown. It places me on a far higher plane than any politician.” –Charlie Chaplin
Another sad clown that I drew

Another sad clown that I drew

Renting Movies Was Hard

Posted in "Midville High" Comics, Older "Midville High" and "Kyle & Barry" by mvblair on December 5, 2012
A page from 1999

A page from 1999
Bruce Li was a real actor. He played Bruce Lee in several movies.

Kyles and Barries of School Years Past

Posted in "Midville High" Comics, Older "Midville High" and "Kyle & Barry" by mvblair on September 6, 2012

As the school year begins anew, I wanted to share a picture of Kyle and Barry from days of yore. At times during my long-ago adolescence, such as during Mr. Brown’s science class, I had penchant to doodle in the margins of my studiously-taken notes. That is to say, I filled entire notebooks with comics…