A flower as a counterpoint in Mondrian’s studio

Sometimes, therefore, one puts an album aside several times, with the desire to prolong the pleasure and delay the end of the story. With this comic about an episode in the life of the Dutch modernist painter, Piet Mondrian, French scenarist Jean-Philippe Peyraud and Italian illustrator Antonio Lapone let us immerse ourselves in it and sympathize.

Mondrian, portrayed as a loner, spends what little free time he has dancing, but refuses to show any other emotion or even love. He hates the color green and uses women only for dancing and venal sex.

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The Snake and the Coyote

A coyote, a dilapidated camper and a tramp are touring the desert landscape and canyons of Arizona and Nevada in the 1970s. Hippie it is none, because to it the flowers, the long hair and the guitar are missing.

We only slowly learn who Joe used to be when a couple of sinister characters start following his heels. As a former mob boss who, having ratted out his partners and enemies, is now under the U.S. government’s witness protection program, he has to be on his guard. But the murder of the only key witness for another trial forces Joe to return to the past and leave his camper life. But that’s exactly what his enemies are waiting for.

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The Impudence of Dogs

The Count de Dardille has a little problem. His wife, the Countess Amélie de Figule, demands a divorce after only six months of marriage. The Count has no choice but to ask his friend, the Marquis, for advice. What is the reason for the broken marriage? The decommissioned officer and battle leader simply does not want to succeed in fulfilling his marital obligations in bed together.

The marriage bed will be the battlefield of the coming century.

It is understandable that the countess in this tragicomedy in four acts no longer wants to stand idly by. She wants children, and if her husband is unable to impregnate her, she wants to have the marriage annulled in order to try her luck in a new marriage with a capable man.

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Gotcha! I’m still alive!

What is typically only the reading of judges, police and prosecutors became an unexpected bestseller in 2006. First in Italy and then worldwide, Roberto Saviano’s first book Gomorrha stormed the bestseller lists. In it, the Neapolitan described the workings of the Camorra mafia organization in his hometown from his own experience and with a great deal of research, naming the leaders and perpetrators by their full names.

Because of this attention, he became a target of the mafia and has lived under constant police protection ever since. And it is precisely this, his own threatened and isolated life, that is depicted in the comic strip “Je suis toujours vivant” (“I am still alive”), impressively staged by cartoonist Asaf Hanuka.

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Shoot Ramirez Already!

The mute vacuum cleaner mechanic Jacques Ramirez wants nothing more than to do his job in peace. And he does it very well. For this, he is named employee of the year after years at his company Robotop, shortly before the building blows up along with his boss and the journalists gathered there.

Ramirez has been caught up in his dark family history, which he never wanted to have anything to do with and had taken a completely different path. But a Mexican drug cartel, a cold-blooded killer and the two Thelma & Louise characters Chelsea Tyler and Dakota Smith cross his path and leave a bloody trail. But Jacques Ramirez’s past is not quite so blameless either, and the story complicates.

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A Magazine for the Delicate Male Mind

If you appreciate The New Yorker or The Chicagoan as magazine lovers of the jazz age for their excellent reporting and artistic covers, you will enjoy the two-volume Gentlemind comic album series.

The story is set in the 1940s, where showgirl Gina Navit serves as muse and love interest to aspiring illustrator Arch Parker. Plagued by money troubles, Arch decides to go to Europe to cover the war. Gina, who can’t save herself from admirers, breaks heart and marries wealthy entertainment magnate Powell. When he dies, Gina inherits his estate, including a moribund men’s magazine, which she turns into a success by successfully altering its reports and graphics.

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Dry Cleaning In The Rain

François, a loner, works for a laundry cleaning service as a messenger driver and leads a very unexciting and routine life. His happiest moment of the day is a visit to single mother Maryvonne, who runs a newsstand and to whom François hands in his lottery ticket and buys the newspaper.

He has been playing the same lottery numbers for 17 years, promising to buy Maryvonne and her daughter, who suffers from asthma, an apartment by the sea from his lottery winnings, which he hopes for every week. His routine changes when he has to train a new driver named Alain, who causes him some nerves. Then, when they have to make a delivery to a place outside Paris, François’ whole life tips over in one fell swoop.

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2021: My Year In Books

Already last year I presented a few books I read during the first pandemic year 2020, and in 2021 I could add one more. The pandemic is still here, new variants come and dominate, and that leaves time for reading.

So this year I read 87 non-fiction books, 109 (mostly French) comics, a few picture books, children’s books and lots of magazines. I also acquired about a hundred old Mickey Mouse issues on ebay, which I’m halfway through.

I have the (almost) entire list of comics and books on Librarything, where I’ve been maintaining this content for years.

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The Man Who Loves Comics

How a wacky comic, our French teacher, and a chance find reawakened my comic collecting passion.

In the Floridsdorf district of Vienna, on the eastern side of the Danube, near our apartment at the time was a so-called Gemeindebau, a housing complex built and operated by the city of Vienna in the 1920s that had stores, kindergartens, doctors’ offices and a farmers’ market. Such community buildings were small villages in the city, and as a child these were our places where we gained experience and where our whole world lay.

In the arcades of this municipal building there were business premises, among others a novel exchange store. This has long since ceased to exist, but here is a photo from Google Maps of what it currently looks like.

The Schlingerhof in Vienna’s 21st district, with storefronts in the arcades that housed a novel exchange store in the late 1970s, which I had the privilege of frequenting once a week.

In one of the arcades there was a comic exchange store, and in it I, then still an elementary school student, could exchange 10 old used comic books for 10 new used comic books. For 10 shillings, which at the time was about 1.5 deutschmarks, and according to the conversion rate was equivalent to 71 cents, which adjusted for inflation would be about €1.90 today.

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