Update for 10/11/19

New review today for Pinky & Pepper Forever by Ivy Atoms, and that’s it for this short week of Cartoon Crossroads reviews. Happy weekend everybody!

Atoms, Ivy – Pinky & Pepper Forever

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Pinky & Pepper Forever

Where to even begin talking about this comic? It’s amazing, sure, but I’m not nearly as talented as Ivy, so how do I convey that on this page? This is the story of Pinky and Pepper (duh), two lesbian art students who end up in hell. See, that already feels like a spoiler! But it’s also in the synopsis on the back cover, so maybe it’s not a bad thing to mention. Anyway, Pepper is open about using Pinky as her muse for most of the projects, but Pinky is trying to forge her own path, which eventually leads to her final art project that ends up with her in hell. Pepper tries to live her life without her, but eventually she realizes she cannot and ends up in hell too. She thought she might end up in the other place, but alas. Naturally she tries to find Pinky, but when she does manage that things don’t exactly go as she expected. There are all kinds of clever touches here about art school life, conversations with the parents when you’re living with your same sex partner (“Again, she’s my girlfriend, not my roommate”), how they’re each seen by their peers, digging into their past sexual histories to examine what they’re currently doing… there’s a lot here, and that’s in the half of the book where they’re still in the real world. I’m leaving the entire section of them in hell for you to discover, and wow is there a lot to discover. Ivy won a grant at Cartoon Crossroads for this book (reports differed but one thing I heard was that she got $5000? I hope that’s true) and, as this is my early winner of “best book in show,” she earned it. Check it out, get in on the ground floor with this one, as she’s going to be a big comics star if she keeps this up. $12

Update for 10/9/19

New review for Couldn’t Afford Therapy So I Made This by Lawrence Lindell, another Cartoon Crossroads book.

Lindell, Lawrence – Couldn’t Afford Therapy So I Made This

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Couldn’t Afford Therapy So I Made This

Sometimes at comic conventions there are titles that stand out from everything else, even at a show like Cartoon Crossroads where there were amazing books everywhere I looked. This title? I’m not sure if I even slowed down. The money was in my hand as I said hello to Lawrence, and the comic lived up to the title. This comic is a list of his mental health disorders, how he navigates the world on a daily basis (and a few tips for friends and family to keep in mind if he’s running late or behaving “oddly”), the manic and depressive phases, personal space concerns, how he constantly relives the night he got robbed (whether he should have tried to stop them, the order he could have attacked them, how he would have fought back if he was alone but he had others to consider), and the PTSD that comes with it. He’s in a near constant state of hypervigilance, which sounds absolutely exhausting. It also reminds me that I had a long conversation with Jaime Crespo, who had a table right near him, after buying his book, and how the average con must be a very different place for him than it is for me. Still feels like I’m just scratching the surface of everything he talks about in here, so the only obvious solution is for you to get a copy for yourself. If you have any mental health issues (and doesn’t everybody, to some degree?), you’ll find some useful information in here. If you’re the picture of mental health, you’re not reading a website with reviews about comics dealing with mental health problems anyway, so I’ll just let this sentence implode in on itself now. $7

Update for 10/7/19

Well, obviously my plan to talk about Cartoon Crossroads comics last week fell apart, meaning that’s what this week is about! All comics reviewed this week came from the con, after that I’ll just be sprinkling them in with the other comics reviewed. Don’t worry, I’ll still mention which books I got at the con so you can feel shame about not coming. New review today for The Audra Show #1 by Audra Stang!

Stang, Audra – The Audra Show #1

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The Audra Show #1

There’s more than you might think that goes into buying comics at conventions. For example, this particular comic. It looked intriguing, Audra couldn’t have been nicer at her table (she even chased me down to get me a better copy after I was oblivious and purchased her display copy of the first issue), but it was early in the show. Do you get all three comics on display for $10, or check out one issue for $4? I went with the cheaper option, and here I am, a couple of weeks later, regretting it. Gah, I’m a dummy. Oh well, I still have one issue to review. Obviously I liked it, so let’s remove all suspense on that front right away. This is another case where I’m not sure how far I should dig down into spoilers (especially since that cover and title make a lot more sense about 2/3 of the way through), so I’ll try to tiptoe around them. This is the story of three servers at a restaurant, helpfully listed on the back cover: Owen, Bea and Jonah. Owen seems like a nice guy, Bea is an oddball, and Jonah so far seems like a straight up creep. Owen get hassled by some customers, he and Bea have a chat about scars as he tries to determine whether or not he’s getting hit on, and Jonah annoys him by badgering Owen about his hitting on Bea. Then the shift is over and they go about their evenings, leading to Bea seeing Owen alone on a pier. Just as she’s approaching him to say hello, he jumps into the water. And doesn’t come up for air for a distressingly long amount of time. Which is as far as I can get without spoilers! I will say that this particular problem was resolved by the end of the issue, but now I can’t wait to see what happens next, and I was too shortsighted to get all three issues at the con. Use me as a cautionary tale, comic readers! If you have the cash to check out the first few issues of a series… do it! $4 (or $10 for issues #1-3)

“Update” for 9/26/19

OK, this week has obviously gotten away from me, but there’s still time for a reminder to anybody near the Columbus Ohio area: Cartoon Crossroads is this weekend! There’s a ridiculous lineup of artists attending, meaning that I should have comics to review for awhile after that. Come see the show!

Update for 9/18/19

New review today for Persephone’s Garden by Glynnis Fawkes, which is the last of the Secret Acres books I had left to review.

Fawkes, Glynnis – Persephone’s Garden

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Persephone’s Garden

When I get a comic or graphic novel to review and it takes me several weeks to review it, one of a few things happened. Maybe I lost track of it and found it later. Maybe I just had a backlog of things to review and got to it as soon as I could. And, once in a great while, I’ve been sitting with a book, keeping it around so I can check on things when they pop into my brain, because I just can’t get the book out of my head. For Persephone’s Garden (which arrived months ago), that last one is the answer. I kept thinking I knew what I wanted to say, then I’d think of some story or strip from the book, go back and read it and completely lose what I wanted to say. But since I can either do that forever or say something about this remarkable book, it’s time to ramble! This is, on a basic level, the story of Glynnis, her kids, husband and parents. This book is packed with adorable stories about kids, about the crazy things they say and do, and about their perpetual suffering through vacations and meals that would awe most adults. It’s also about dealing with her mother, who has had alzheimer’s for the last few years, and how the mother/parent roles have been reversed. Her mother made tapestries for years, using incredibly elaborate patterns, and watching as her skills gradually left her was devastating. There’s also stories about Glynnis and her job, which is to travel to different locations and make illustration of different pieces of pottery so they’re not lost to history. All of these things would make for a complex and vast graphic novel, but it’s the way that she ties them all together that’s truly brilliant. It all comes together in the most natural and amazing way by the end, and once again I feel compelled to leave it the reader to find out what that means. You can read this on a surface level and get plenty out of it; by that criteria alone this should be considered one of the best books of the year. But when you get down into how it all ties together, it’s possible this book should be elevated even higher than that. Read it, in other words. Now I’m going to go back to contemplating various bits of it, possibly forever. $21.95

Update for 9/16/19

New review today for I Couldn’t Stop by Powerpaola, as the mini kus books have returned! Also happy birthday Kathie!

Powerpaola – I Couldn’t Stop

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I Couldn’t Stop

Could this be the most straightforward of the mini kus comics? Nah, the ending alone blows that idea out of the water, but it’s bad form to talk about the ending of a book, so I won’t do that. But the bulk of it is a narrative that’s easy to follow, so maybe this is the mini kus book you should keep on your coffee table to get people hooked when they come over and thumb through the random comics you leave out. Anyway, the story here is about our hero, as she just wants a night out after a rough week of working on a comic about sexual abuse. She meets up with a friend, they get a drink, move on to another location and meet up with a couple of guys (it’s not clear if they were waiting for the ladies to show up or were just friendly strangers; it also doesn’t matter a whole lot). After they’re seated they have a fascinating conversation that’s interrupted by some cops with their guns drawn, looking for a burglar. Finally the evening comes to a close and the three other people take an Uber together, while Paola heads home on her bike. This is where the mildly confusing ending happens, but I think I’ve figured it out while I was writing this. Maybe. Give this one a look, if you’re bothered by how open to interpretation some of these mini kus books can be, this one should ease your worries. $6

Update for 9/12/19

New review today for Double Dip #2 by Dale Martin and Tom Cherry. Each one of them covers half of the comic, in case you were wondering.

Cherry, Tom/Martin, Dale – Double Dip #2

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Website for Dale

Double Dip #2

When I saw in the intro for this book that it had been 8 years since the last issue, my first thought was simple. Did I review the first issue 8 years ago? Yep, I sure did! OK, so did I like it? Yes again! OK, so what do I remember about it? Um… not much. Hey, you try remembering every comic you’ve ever read when you write at least a few reviews a week (and five a week for several years). Anyway, one thing I mentioned in the last review was that I had no idea how to follow Dale’s Watusi story, as he referenced several things that were clearly part of a past series. Well, this time around he uses footnotes to explain exactly when the past action happened, so at least it’s a mystery that can be solved now. The man has 39 issues of his Watusi series out (not to mention his other comics), so it’s easy to see why things get hard to keep track of. His story picks up directly from #1 and deals with the shape shifting creature, how he got here, what he did on previous trips to visit, and a demonstration of his skills. Next issue we get his full origin, so here’s hoping it’s not another 8 years before that happens. There’s also Tom’s story, which is a self-contained story about a boy who invents his own curse word to avoid getting into trouble. Throw in a giant robot that’s out to destroy the world and things end up coming together quite nicely. It’s a measly $2, give it a shot you cheapskates!

Update for 9/10/19

New review today for I Like Totally Know What You Did Last Summer by Sarah Romano Diehl and Brandon Lehmann.

Romano Diehl, Sarah & Lehmann, Brandon – I Like Totally Know What You Did Last Summer

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Brandon’s Website

I Like Totally Know What You Did Last Summer

Is this still a movie that can be parodied in 2019? I’m genuinely curious if the kids today remember a movie that came out in, what, 1995? It just occurred to me that I’m connected to the internet, so it turns out it was 1997, with one sequel. Eh, who knows. I thought it was terrible when I saw it (full disclosure: in the theaters; yes, I’m ancient), but it’s not like that’s enough to stop a movie from becoming a cult classic. Anyway, you’ll get more out of this comic if you’ve seen the movie, but either way it’s a fun little romp of teenage panic, unsupported assumptions and mistaken identity. I can’t say much more about that without giving the whole plot away, but I will say it’s not just a retelling of the film, this comic has its own thing to say. I laughed a few times, I didn’t see the ending coming, what more can you ask for? I am curious about what exactly happened to Tom, but it’s irrelevant really, and me finding out would have ruined the surprise a bit earlier. Give it a shot, especially if you’re as amazed as I am to find out that that movie has any kind of staying power. $6.90

Update for 9/6/19

New review today for So Buttons: Slice of Cake by Jonathan Baylis and a gaggle of artists. Happy weekend everybody!

Baylis, Jonathan & Various Artists – So Buttons: Slice of Cake

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So Buttons: Slice of Cake

It’s a convention compilation! What that means is that a number of these stories appeared in previous issues. Maybe all of them, although at least a couple of the artist names were new to me. This is all just a warning to say I’ve reviewed several of these stories already, and if my opinion has changed in the meantime, it should be a good reminder that you’re reading reviews from a mush brain. I thought they would all be about food, but it about the CAKE convention in Chicago, not literally cake. Still, about 2/3 of the stories are about food. Most of the rest of it is the various stories (drawn by Marvel legend Fred Hembeck) dealing with his time as a Marvel intern, the time he met Joe Simon, and his time working for Valiant comics. The food stories deal with his struggles with pork (I definitely reviewed that story very recently), his OCD M & M habits, the grey roast beef, the secret to the brisket, and finding the perfect coffee blend. But wait, there are still two more stories! One deals with Jonathan coming up with the perfect comeback after it’s too late to matter, and the other is his vague connection to the greeting card work of Robert Crumb. So if you have all of his comics already, maybe these are all in other comics? Unclear. But if you’re looking to get all your Hembeck stories in one place, or all of his food stories, this is a really solid collection of tales. $10

Update for 9/4/19

New review today for Wolf’s Head #2 by Von Allan. Everybody have all your travel plans for Cartoon Crossroads in a few weeks sorted out?

Allan, Von – Wolf’s Head #2

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Wolf’s Head #2

When I get a couple of issues of a series to review, there’s a system I like to use when reviewing them. I try to get the first issue reviewed quickly, to help get the word out in whatever tiny way it happens around here. Then I give it several months before getting to the next review. Not always! If I’m completely out of books to review, or if I’m really into the series, I’ll be quicker. But that’s the general idea, and it’s for one simple reason: that’ll give time for the creator to get another issue out, which is a good sign for me to take a series seriously. And sometimes I just lose a comic in the general chaos of my life, but let’s ignore that possibility. Anyway, Von has 2 new issues ready as of this review, so he’s very clearly taking this all seriously. Read the last review if you don’t want to get completely lost here, although why you’d only read the review for a second issue of a comic is beyond me. Or just the second issue of a comic. This time around that rich scientist is still trying to get his AI back, Lauren’s mom is still hiding it and having health problems, Lauren is dealing with her terrible job and the consequences of her actions in the last issue, and Sanko is still looking for belly rubs. There’s a lot going on here, which is why I’m being mostly vague. Damn near anything I could mention would be a spoiler, so why don’t I make things simple. I’m all in on the mystery here; I’m even starting to like some of the side characters who are supposed to be assholes, and Von clearly has a master plan here, even if the big surprise towards the end seemed to even take him by surprise (according to his notes in the back). I’m hooked, is the point, and I think most people who are willing to give this a shot would find themselves similarly hooked. $9

Update for 9/2/19

New review today for Hippo Ocracy by Chris Kostecka and The Yuan Twins (Matt and John). Hippos and crocodiles? Pick a side!