Incidents in the Night by David B.

Incidents-temp-01Last year Uncivilized Books expanded our knowledge of the enigmatic oeuvre of French cartoonist David B. by releasingIncidents in the Night. Although it is the most recent of David B.’s books to be issued in English, Incidents was initially published as three volumes between 1999 and 2002 and is thus older than everything American readers have seen so far except Epileptic, which he worked on more or less simultaneously. Like that more famous book, and indeed all of David B.’s work,Incidents is rich, complex, funny, dark—and very difficult to describe.
The opening at least is straightforward. David B.’s cartoon alter-ego dreams he is in a bookshop looking at paperbacks. He stumbles upon two books, part of a series entitled Incidents in the Night, a collection of fantastic stories based on news snippets of the 19th and 20th centuries. But the set is incomplete: he picks up volumes two and three and then finds the 112th issue. Upon waking, David B. starts scouring the bookshops of Paris for copies, eventually landing in the bookshop of Mr. Lhôm, which he says functions “like an archaeological dig.”
Thus dream gives way to “reality,” but only briefly, as Mr. Lhôm’s bookshop is a fantastical place. One of David B.’s strategies as a cartoonist is to take a verbal image and illustrate it literally, rendering the commonplace weird, funny, mysterious, or jarringly alien.

The Curious Russian Afterlife of Steven Seagal

A Kalder klassik, to coincide with Seagal's announcement he plans to run for governor of Arizona 
Long, long ago – for about 15 minutes – Steven Seagal was a big deal in Hollywood. His movie “Under Siege” made a lot of money. But that was pretty much it. Next came a string of big-budget flops followed by a lengthy and ongoing twilight spent in straight-to-video purgatory.
As for me, I don’t think I’ve ever made it all the way through a Seagal film. His stiff, tubby frame, extreme humorlessness and mystic posturing make it impossible for me to suspend disbelief. Here in the US he serves as a punch line, part of the flotsam and jetsam of trash culture. Steven Seagal – that’s the washed up ‘90s action movie guy who peddles an aftershave lotion named “Scent of Action,” right?