Update for 7/29/14

New review today for A Memoir of Art Volume 1: Prehistory by Gail Kern. Send your review comics along to the new address up there in the upper left corner of the screen, because I really did mean it about putting a bunch of reviews up next month.

Kern, Gail – A Memoir of Art Volume 1: Prehistory



A Memoir of Art Volume 1: Prehistory

All these years of writing reviews (13 years, give or take) and I’m still not entirely sure how to handle reviews on comics that are a few years old. In this case Gail sent along the first four issues of this series, but this first issue was released in 2010, so chances are excellent that she already corrected the suggestions that I would normally make. Still, maybe not, and maybe the advice I give will help somebody else out, so I’ll go ahead with it. This is the story of the first muse in history, which is also presented as the only muse at this point in the story. It inspires Enoch and gives him the ability to convince his people to confront the Auroch and motivates Moombi (the ancestral mother of Kenya, according to legend) to fatten herself up so that she can have as many children as possible. It’s a fascinating story of the start of human creativity and I’m curious how she handles the concept for the next three issues. My complaint is more on the technical side of things, but typos in a story from the biggest artistic motivator in the world really should not happen. They shouldn’t happen in any story (everybody knows at least a few people who know how to spell, and even if you don’t it’s not difficult to find the correct spelling for words), but they really shouldn’t happen when you need to convey a solid authoritative narrative voice. But hey, chances are that this was caught and fixed for the next issues. Either that or I just trapped Gail into something that she is now completely unable to correct, in which case I’ll try to go easy on it in the next few issues. Still, this is a solid story about the birth of creativity, and there were only a few typos, so lighten up already, me. Check it out, learn about how inspiration started!



Update for 7/23/14

Two new reviews today to try and make up a bit for lost time, both from Brian John Mitchell: Come Home Safe #2 and Pow Wow #3. I’ll make a pledge here to get at least 20 reviews up in August, so if it’s getting towards the end of the month and that is looking unlikely, feel free to email me and yell at me about it.

Mitchell, Brian John & ED – Pow Wow #3



Pow Wow #3

Huzzah! I’m sure I had nothing to do with this, but it looks like Brian is now putting synopses of the previous issues at the start of his serialized comics, and wow was that necessary for this one. It’s not always necessary (like for me previous review of Come Home Safe #2), but in a case like this this was really useful information. Granted, it still didn’t make a ton of sense, but it was good to know that the lead character had transferred all of the diseases of his grandmother into the earth. I’m not clear on whether or not that was a good thing, but at least I know that it happened. In this issue a golem comes to take his grandmother away, and our hero spends most of his time trying to get this monster to even notice him. We do get a bit of a sense of the powers of this guy once he finally gets to interact with this beast, but I’m still not clear on a few of the basics, so I’ll hold off on commenting on certain things until I’ve cleared that up. If you’re one of those people who buys your comics based on page count, this one was also at least twice as long as the last one I reviewed, so that sort of thing can clearly vary wildly. Of course, these are all so cheap that you’d have to have an odd phobia of some kind to base your purchases on page count, but who am I to judge your weirdness.


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Mitchell, Brian John & Weathers, Andrew – Come Home Safe #2



Come Home Safe #2

It just occurred to me that Brian could probably put together a pretty nice book of poems if he just took all the illustrations out of these comics. If I’ve already said that in another review of his books then never mind, as I’m sure I’ve repeated myself more than once in these reviews. I blame him for writing over 200 comics and counting. Anyway! This issue (which seems like a stand-alone comic and not something where you need to have read the first issue to follow the story) deals with the brief breaks on a train ride home when you get out of the tunnels and get a peek into the windows of buildings. Sometimes you can see beds, which can remind you of other beds, which can lead to a whole different thought process entirely. It’s a a few idle thoughts on a train ride in the form of a comic, and I mean that in the best possible way.


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Update for 7/17/14

New review today for Tomboy by Liz Prince. Well, just a sample chapter, as the graphic novel is coming out in September.

Prince, Liz – Tomboy (sample chapter)



Tomboy (sample chapter)

Is it kosher for me to admit that my only problem with this comic is that it’s only a sample chapter of a much larger graphic novel, when the entire purpose of said comic is to serve as a teaser for the larger book (that is coming out in September)? No? Eh, I didn’t think so either. Still, when my only complaint about a comic is that I very much wanted to see more of it, it should be pretty clear that I had no real complaints at all. This whole thing is going to be a memoir of the early years of Liz Prince, as she tries to figure out how to navigate the world as something other than the typical girly-girl but still not quite a tomboy. This comic in particular starts off with her time on the baseball team when she was 10 and how her image of where she thought she should fit in did not coincide at all with where her coach thought she should play. In her mind she was a skilled pitcher, striking out everyone she faced, while her coach was perfectly content to stick her in right field and hope that no balls were hit in her direction. The rest of the comic deals with her time at a Girl Scout camp and the horrible things it taught her about how girls interacted with and talked about each other. She learned that girls could be made fun of regarding their bodies, even though it’s not like she chose her body. She also learned the horrors of swimming in a tee shirt, although she tells that lesson much better than I ever could, so maybe you should read all about that for yourself. I’d advise you to wait until the entire book comes out (she says September 2nd, so it should be somewhere around there), and you can use the link for her website to find out exactly how to do that. I think this means that the sample comic works as well as it could, as I can’t wait to see the whole thing and strongly advise the rest of you to check it out when it’s released. If you’re already a fan of her work you don’t need any reminding of that fact, but if you haven’t read any of her other comics this looks like a good introduction to her work. After all, what’s a better introduction to the work of an artist than the story of their childhood?



Update for 7/15/14

Oh look, I’m still updating the website! Did I mention that my job was moving two weeks after I changed apartments? That seems like relevant information. Anyway, things should maybe be easing back to normal now, or at least very soon. New review today for Star Pilot #11 by Frank Swartz!

Swartz, Frank – Star Pilot #11



Star Pilot #11

It’s a good thing that Frank printed the title at the end of this book, because if I just had to go by the cover I would have made a mess of that title. This is part of his series of comics that mostly aren’t related to each other, numbering system be damned. This time around things are awfully lyrical and we get an extended flashback to start things off. Our hero tries to escape but ends up having to jump off of a boat (he was a stowaway), and almost dies at sea but is instead saved by dolphins. Things didn’t improve for awhile even when he gets back to shore, but he eventually uses his skills to build up a steady business. Which is where his son comes into things, and which is where the action promised on that front cover starts to pick up. Once again I can’t say too much more without getting into spoilers, but I did have some slight trouble with the ending, so maybe don’t read the rest of the review if you really don’t want to know. I did enjoy the comic, as I’ve enjoyed most of this series, so take that as the ending of the review for you. For the rest of you, there is some trouble with making payments towards the local crime lord, and at the end of the book the son of our hero puts on a costume, steals the payments for that week and gives them back to the shop owners. If there’s more coming in this story, never mind any complaints that I might have. If this was another single issue story, it seems to me like things would escalate in a hurry right after a crime lord had all of his weekly payments stolen, and that that wouldn’t be the end of the story, as was implied here. Or maybe I missed something. I did enjoy his smaller panels for the flashbacks, as that really gave the flashback room to breathe, and I don’t think Frank is capable of putting out a boring comic. I just had a slight problem with the logic of the ending.



Update for 6/30/14

New review today for Walrus #2 by Brian John Mitchell & Jared Catherine. I have moved again, so please use the new address up there in the corner to send me your comics. Or don’t, instead using any of a number of old addresses, and wonder forever why I’m not reviewing your books. Much simpler to just use the new address!

Mitchell, Brian John & Catherine, Jared – Walrus #2



Walrus #2

Walrus origin story! Anybody who read the last issue has to be curious about this one, and if you’re a human being you’re probably at least a little bit curious about the origin story for a walrus who plays the saxophone. It turns out that I was wrong about this series being one issue and done, and it was probably silly for me to think that the concept of a talking walrus living in a post-apocalyptic world would run out of steam after one issue. This time around we learn that our hero was a slave at a Sea World before the apocalypse and that his music playing was all an act. They didn’t even give him a working mouthpiece! Anyway, our hero fell in love with his human masseuse, but things got a little chaotic when the world ended and, well, you’ll have to see the rest of it for yourself. Brian recently mentioned to me that he was on the verge of having completed 200 different comics, and he’s almost certainly passed that mark by the time of this review. Just in case you’re a comic creator and had the idea that you were being productive, there’s a little fact to make you feel worse about yourself. You’re welcome!


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Update for 6/17/14

No Top Shelf Tuesday today (the book I was planning to use, Chapter XV by Max Cannon, was a sequel to a book of his that I haven’t read, so it seemed silly to review it). Maybe Thursday to keep with the alliterative theme? Anyway, new review today for Rough House #2 featuring all kinds of comics artists. Oh, and I’m moving next week, so if you have review comics to send me, kindly hold off on sending them for a couple of weeks. Which means that reviews will be sporadic for a bit, which is sadly becoming the norm around here…

Various Artists – Rough House #2



Rough House #2

It feels like it’s been months since I’ve reviewed an anthology, but I think we all know the basic rules by now. Somewhere between 25% and 90% (very rarely 100%) of the book is going to be somewhere between entertaining and incredible, while a few bits aren’t going to do much for me. The great thing about anthologies is that the percentage that moves you is going to vary from person to person, and on that account this is an incredibly balanced book. Portions of this book are also in color, so if you’ve ever wondered what it would look like if the Pink Panther puked all over a bus stop, wonder no more! Granted, you probably never thought of that before I mentioned it, but you’re definitely thinking about it now. 17 artists contributed stories (or the cover) here, and as usual I’ll mention a few of them that I really enjoyed while leaving the rest of them as surprises for when you eventually read them. This doesn’t mean that I hate or love the stories that I omitted. My thoughts are usually somewhere between those two extremes, which is why I’m not talking about those stories, but it’s also possible that I’m just not thinking about them while writing this review and will comically slap myself on the forehead for forgetting a story after posting this review. Just another unsolicited peek into my reviewing “process”! Stories in here include a swamp thing going into a night club by Nicolas Mahler, Kayle E’s take on whether or not to leave the house, James the Stanton with the aforementioned Puke Banter episode, Melinda Trace Boyce and some memorable nights from her time on the late shift at a diner, Mack White’s story of a fraudulent prophet from Roman times (and this story is from 1997, so you may have seen it before), Doug Pollard’s horrific tale of a monkey who eats too much and his unfortunate cellmate, Connor Shea on the literal war between two big pizza chains, Gillian Rhodes piece on a frog who just wants a job (or a cheeseburger), and Colin Zelinski’s take on the myth involving Leda and Zeus (complete with an overly graphic ending). That’s over half of the artists in here and I thoroughly enjoyed those stories, so that’s already a pretty decent ratio. My wish for all anthologies to have the names of the artists (and the page numbers) on the top or bottom of every page has still not come true everywhere, but the table of contents and the layout at least make it easy enough to figure out who did what. This is well worth a look, and pretty hefty (and colorful) for that $15 price tag.


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Update for 6/10/14

It’s Top Shelf Tuesday! New review today for Scene But Not Heard by Sam Henderson, and if my job cooperates I should have enough new Top Shelf books to keep this up at least through the end of the month.

Henderson, Sam – Scene But Not Heard



Scene But Not Heard

I’m sure I’ve mentioned this a few times on this website already, but Sam Henderson was a favorite of mine from the early 90′s (wow have I been reading small press comics for a long time). The strip that starts this collection in particular was something that I copied and showed to strangers for at least a month. Yes, this was before I had a comics review website, and no, I shouldn’t have copied that page, but it wasn’t nearly as funny with me describing it, so I figured it was OK. Anyway, Sam has been doing a strip based on the characters from that one strip for 16 years in Nickelodeon magazine, and this is a collection of either all of them or the best of them. Look at the sample for some idea of the dynamic going on here, but each strip involves two characters: a humanish creature and a bear creature. Neither one of them ever says a word, the strips are usually a page or two and they all involve hijinx of some sort between the two of them. Wow, that doesn’t get the funny across very well, does it? I should know better by now, but I’ll attempt to describe that one favorite strip of mine from 1993. These two creatures are grinning maniacally in the same panel. The human reaches over and plucks the nose from the bear and eats it. The bear is shocked, but pulls the eyes off the human and eats those too. And then… nope, this isn’t working either. The best way to kill humor is to describe it. Anyway, the humor is all in the expressions of these characters, as I’d have to imagine that having my cartoon nose pulled off my face and eaten would be a traumatic experience. This book runs about 120 pages, with actual pictures of the characters (and Sam) in the back, along with a brief “how to” about his strip. Oh, and there’s an introduction by Noah Van Sciver, which should have maybe been mentioned on the cover. Hey, there’s my single complaint! Anyway, buy this book. This is the perfect “all ages” book, with nothing dirty for the kids, and plenty for adults to enjoy. And for long-time readers of his, this is all in color, which is a damned treat. Oops, a swear word on a review for a kids book is not OK. My apologies… $14.95


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Update for 6/6/14

New review for Towerkind #6 by Kat Verhoeven, and happy weekend everybody!

Verhoeven, Kat – Towerkind #6



Towerkind #6

In case you’ve been reading the comics along with these reviews (which would be weird, only reading one issue of this series a week, but I’m not one to judge) and have been wondering if things really were building up towards a unified story of some kind, this issue makes it clear that the answer is “yes”. This issue is all about Dina and that one kid. You know, the two who chatted through the tin cups and had their adventure back in #2? Anyway, this time around we can see that she has transported them to another location. Once there she asks him if he can translate some graffiti, and when it’s clear that he can’t she goes off on her own to ask a mysterious somebody who can help her. The rest of this short issue is spent with this guy stuck in this strange area where’s transported them (as he can’t get back without her), taking in his surroundings until she returns. So there are strange powers here and there, some sort of central mystery (or a few mysteries), and an impending sense of doom where nobody can quite nail down the details of it. I’m thoroughly along for the ride now, and you should maybe think of hopping on too if you aren’t already reading this.



Update for 6/5/14

New review today for Keep Fresh by Zejian Shen, but you can already see that. Anybody else think it’s time for me to completely redesign this site or is it just me?

Shen, Zejian – Keep Fresh



Keep Fresh

Are you feeling like things have been entirely too normal and sane for you lately? If so, do I ever have a comic for you! This is mostly translated from Japanese (I think), with a few small bits in English. The original characters are above and numbered, the numbers are along the bottoms of the pages with the translations. Things start off with some news reports of a “cycle killer” on the loose, a bored young woman watching tv on a slow night at a takeout place, and a man talking to his wife on the phone while walking home. Throughout the story we get to read about what’s going on on the television, and it’s mostly commercials for completely insane things like the rocket plug, which has to be seen to be believed. The man ends up meeting the killer, the woman meets a man who is wearing his outfit (not that she’s aware of that, but it’s a tense moment for the reader), and we get a flashback to the woman having an awful conversation with her mother (?). I don’t know how to describe any more of this without getting into potential spoilers, if I haven’t already, so I’ll leave the rest of it for you to discover. As for the quality, I would have thought a terrifying story like this would be poorly served by an obnoxious television going on in the background for the entire time, but I would have been wrong. There’s something about the relentless bleating of tv inanities that adds quite a bit to the atmosphere. Check it out and prepare to be unnerved! $6



Update for 6/4/14

New review today for Nobody Can Eat 50 Eggs #1 by Steve Steiner, and if Ohio isn’t washed away in thunderstorms overnight I should have regular updates for the rest of the week.