New comics day is becoming increasingly depressing. Precious little new talent seems to emerging either in mainstream comics or the indie scene. Meanwhile, old favourites like Frank Miller and Gilbert Hernandez are happily churning out work that is - more often than not - utter, unmitigated crap.
Just recently, though, two excellent new titles have emerged, each of which combines a true mastery of the comic book form with some very apposite and rather unsettling observations about the human condition.
Jordan Crane's Uptight is intense and unflinching in its portrayal of human relations. The short stories are told with the skill and pacing of a master. They have an uncomfortable sting of authenticity about them and yet are carried along effortlessly by Crane's remarkable lightness of narrative touch.
Speaking of which, I notice that his wonderful all-ages book The Clouds Above just got reprinted. It's got an awesome cat in it and I commend it to your whole family.
Sammy Harkham's Crickets is similar in style and tone to Uptight but it has a more surreal, dreamlike quality to it. The closest comparison I can come up with is Ander Nilsen's excellent sketchbook graphic novel Monologues for the Coming Plague. Like that book, Crickets has a darkly whimsical Kafkaesque quality.
It's a shame - but also an inevitability - that independent auteur-created comic books like these appear so irregularly. Getting a new issue of something as masterfully done as Uptight or Crickets is a great way to brighten up a dreary Wednesday afternoon.