Sam Ombiri on Joe Daly’s The Red Monkey – plus Frank Santoro at Naples Comicon in Italy!


Sam Ombiri here: When reading comics, or engaging with any art form really, there’s this confrontation with internal noise that I have to dealt with – that for unknown reasons I feel desperate to make sense of. I wonder…this whole comics thing…what’s it for? Different artists at different times speak to me, to help make sense of it all, and I’m certain this is what it’s like for everyone who reads comics.

For me this week, I’m not saying Joe Daly’s The Red Monkey rectified ALL of this ongoing anxiety, but reading The Red Monkey was in some ways an answer to some of my questions – in a big way, really.

This isn’t the first time Joe Daly’s book has given me a real gut punch. Daly’s comics in general feel like a really sincere reaction to the energy that comics poses. When I say sincere, I mean he makes comics that don’t seem concerned with the reception that will be given to the book that he’s made. Every drawing he made was at the service of the form, and engaging with the ideas he is engaging with, as opposed to aiming to get attention and accolades.

Telling a story means less and less for people. It’s too simple; too boring. People feel desperate to make comics more useful, and as a result can forsake the form altogether, and that’s not without its consequences – comics feel increasing impotent. With The Red Monkey, it doesn’t feel like Daly wonders how people will consume it. He engages with comics like it’s something to make things that are difficult to understand, understandable. As though comics are an effective way for any reader to be confronted with what’s not understandable.

I remember Stan Brakhage quoting Bresson (in a conversation Bresson was having with Godard) about how it’s important to convince your audience to like you – and making a thing aesthetically pleasing so that you can take your audience certain places. The Red Monkey was so easy to read, without it’s simplicity being a big deal, and the environment was so well rendered – never did I have to ask where I was or what the the character was doing. It’s this clarity that’s important when making stories.

With that in mind, I’m reminded of a moment in Daly’s Highbone Theater and how I was sucked into Palmer’s idea about 9/11 without questioning it or mocking it, because of how infectious the narrative was. It’s in the same fashion that I’m sucked into the madness going on in The Red Monkey. That’s what art can do. I keep having this recurring stupid mini revelation, or rather I had this thought a year ago, and it’s nothing impressive, but it’s really stuck with me. This revelation has to do with how potent attitude is, how it goes into making any piece of art have a certain energy that defines it.

There’s a moment towards the beginning of the story when the main character gets roped into babysitting for his neighbor. He tries to find a comic for the kid, and he tells the kid that he’s babysitting (who is a fantastic character), to be careful with the comics, and that comics are like his religion. That’s the energy I’m referring to that I find over and over in Daly’s comics. – Sam Ombiri

Get a copy of The Red Monkey by Joe Daly over at Copacetic Comics, where coincidentally there is a wicked deal on the book as Bill Boichel is also eager to get more folks hep to Daly – check it out HERE.


Sally here – the Naples Comicon Instagram account was buzzing yesterday, as famed Italian paleontologist Alberto Angela was caught at the National Archeological Museum of Naples, in Italy, looking at original artwork from Frank Santoro’s Pompeii (above). Alberto Angela is a popular TV presenter and commentator for science-based programs. He is the author of A Day in the Life of Ancient Rome, among other texts, and has lectured on the tragedy of Pompeii. He seemed taken by Frank’s depictions, or as the Naples Comicon put it, he “could not resist the charm of the show“.

There are over 30 pages from Pompeii on display at the museum, in an exhibition which is being held in conjunction with Frank’s appearance as a special guest at the Naples Comicon (April 28-May 1 2018).

The show opened yesterday (April 18th) at MANN and will continue until May 31st 2018. More details on the show can be found HERE.

During Comicon Frank will be participating in a panel with Blutch, whose graphic novel Peplum also takes a look at Ancient Rome. Details on the panel are HERE.

If you’re in the area, be sure to attend Comicon and meet Frank, and don’t miss the exhibition at MANN!


Joanie and Jordie – 4-19-2018 – by Caleb Orecchio

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