cover image Gnartoons


James the Stanton. Silver Sprocket, $29.99 (272p) ISBN 978-1-945509-41-4

This boisterous collection presenting Stanton’s long-running alt-weekly and online comics offers a heady mix of underground comix experimentation, punk anti-style, and wry observations on the Seattle alternative scene, all seasoned with a dash of MAD Magazine. It’s a trip into a psychedelic world of drunken forest gnomes, jaded cartoon animals, gloopy space aliens, and junkyard hobos. The cast includes the Squatters of Trash Island and the deeply tongue-in-cheek Radical Dinosaurrr Pizza Brunch (“Dinosaurs’ voices sound exactly like wicked guitar solos”). Weird adventures through weirder landscapes are punctuated by drunken arguments and stoned conversations about ephemera. Stanton’s squelchy art, often drenched in eye-gouging colors, shows a strong R. Crumb influence, and much like Crumb, he’s a more disciplined artist than his visual excesses and gross-out humor might suggest at first glance; he plays with optical illusions and fourth wall–breaking visuals, making creatures crawl and sprawl over panels. (One character complains, “These 3D panels can really mess with a cartoon character’s sense of space.”) He’s equally comfortable drawing precise pen-and-ink illustrations of the foliage in the Pacific Northwest and a comic about a punk band carried off by rats. Swarming with monsters and madness, this retrospective captures a volatile talent. (Mar.)