New review for R.E.H. (Robert E. Howard) #5 by Brian John Mitchell and Adam White. One more month (ish) until SPACE!
Anybody out there know much about Robert E. Howard, the writer who was most famous for creating “Conan the Barbarian”? Besides that fact, I mean? Well, Brian has put out a series of minis featuring quotes from the man, so it’s easy enough to get to know him a little better. Or at least this one has a long quote from R.E.H., so I’m assuming that the issues I missed also have those quotes. Anyway, this time around the quote revolves around Robert talking about getting fan mail, and how he’d prefer to be a manual laborer who does back-breaking work all day to writing. Writing never came easy to him, and that combined with a complete unawareness of how writing worked to the people Robert interacted with had a tendency to make him a little crazy. I particularly enjoyed his comparing writing to boxing, but I won’t spoil why that was such an apt comparison. It’s a fascinating little peek into the mind of somebody who, I confess, I’ve never thought all that much about.
New review for The Van by Matt Reints today. And I didn’t have time to get it, but apparently I have a package waiting for me at the rental office with my name listed as “Sloth.” That should be fun to claim!
There are times when I’m not sure if something is meant to be funny or if I’m just taking it too seriously in general, and this is one of those times. This comic deals with a summer job that Matt had fixing wiring. There was a 50 mile drive every day to get to the jobs, and they were always driven by the same guy who seemed to have boundless energy. You may be able to see where this is going, but eventually the company mechanic discovered cocaine in a pack of cigarettes left in the van, but the guy who was asked about this was good friends with the driver, so they blamed some other poor schmuck, who seemed to have his life more or less ruined by his failing a drug test. I’m curious if the guy failed a test for cocaine too or some other drug, but that was never addressed. Anyway, overall this is a lighthearted story about working a summer job with a bunch of pranksters, but then I had to go and get all serious all over it. The art looks a little sloppier than the last issue of his that I reviewed (then again, I have no idea of the order in which he made these comics), with some odd blotches and scratches here and there. Like maybe the art being copied a few times? Hard to say. I just flipped through it and noticed that he copied a panel on two pages, which strikes me as a bad idea for an eight page comic. Anyway, I guess it’s clear that I was underwhelmed overall, but hey, I did like his other comic, so maybe you should check that one out instead.
New review for Gag Rag #3 by Jeff Lok. Sorry about another long absence, but I just don’t have a lot of review comics at the moment, or money to buy more. There have to be comics that I haven’t reviewed around here somewhere…
Gag Rag #3
I’d like to start with a personal note to Jeff, just in case he reads this at some point: all those “do not bends” that you wrote on the envelope? Yeah, they don’t work. I wish they did, and I get why you’d put a bunch of them on the envelope, but my postal worker clearly sees those as more of a challenge than anything else. This could also be a note to other people who send me oversized comics, so there you go. Minis can fit in my mailbox easily, so no worries there. Now that I’ve dispensed with the utterly irrelevant portion of the review, how about the rest of this comic? There’s a lot to love, that’s for sure. Subjects include a running story dealing with God, his cat, Father Time and Baby New Year (in case you’re wondering, the name of God’s cat is “Cat”; the story deals with creation and time and all kinds of things), a dancing dog that leads into the title reveal, the farm (and some of the chickens on the farm), buying the lighthouse, dogs and their activities, and the golden egg. There’s also the highlight of the comic, but I say that because I’m biased: a story about the characters from “Friday Night Lights.” You may not know about the show, or you may not even have tried it because it’s about high school football, but you are wrong, and it really was one of the better shows of the last decade, and Jeff’s story of a night at the house of Coach Taylor was funny in all kinds of way. It also turns out that there is apparently an anthology in the world filled with stories like these, and it makes me sad that I don’t own it. Anyway, the thing I liked the most about this comic was the way that any one of the strips could pop up again later in some brief form. They were all mostly self-contained bits, but these characters are clearly trapped in a comic hell, and it’s delightful to read about it. You should read it too!
New review today for Blunderbuss by Aaron Norhanian and Jason Ciaccia. Keep those review comics coming! If you’re going to be at SPACE in a couple of months, I’m talking to you. Also to the people who aren’t going to be there, but mostly you. Specifically!
I really hope the $10 price tag doesn’t scare people away, as this is one hell of a comic. Actually it’s more like three mini comics bundled together (or four, but then the fourth would just be a regular old short story, which would be an odd format for a mini comic). See, there’s your value right there! Things start off with a table of contents that is brilliant because the comments in it can be appreciated before and after reading the stories in entirely different ways. Granted, you probably have to see that to know what I’m talking about, but that only places you at fault for not having the comic yet. The first story is about an awkward conversation on a bus, a misunderstanding of what constitutes a disability and the odd expectation that strangers on a bus will care what you’re talking about. It’s a little grotesque, and I mean that in the best possible sense. The next story answers the question of the origin of the universe, along with many of the questions that go along with it. Will everyone be satisfied? That is an impossibility, but I’m thinking about starting a religion based on this theory, purely so I can be tax-exempt too. The final comic story is a literal interpretation of the “square pegs can’t fit in a round hole” theory, and how the pegs that don’t fit can still make things better. I’m glossing over all the wonderfulness in those stories because only jerks reveal everything about stories where you’d be better off figuring them out for yourselves, but I thoroughly enjoyed all three of them, with the story about the origins of the universe winning the prize for best in the bunch, if such a prize existed. Finally there’s a short story about a beard growing a face by Jason Ciaccia. I go back and forth on short stories in comics, usually coming to the conclusion that they’d be better in zines or books, but there was a lot to love about this one. The central idea is sentient beards, so it’s hard to go wrong when you start with that premise. Check it out, there’s a lot to love here. $10
New review today for Perpetual Motion by Pam Bliss. Anybody else having any more problems than usual connecting to the website or is it just me? Conversely, anybody know a good web hosting service/web design guru who is able to drag this website into at least the last decade, technologically speaking?
Quick, I’m looking for a solution to an unsolvable problem. Bear with me, it does relate to this comic. Pam puts out these minis at a fairly rapid pace. They’re usually 8 pages, maybe a bit less if the cover doesn’t bleed over into the actual comic, or if the back cover doesn’t conclude the story. Pam also has a fairly vast collection of characters. Now, my memory could charitably be described as “hot garbage” on recognizing characters (and, more importantly, their relationships to other characters) under those conditions, and because I tend to read her books every 3-6 months. So how can this problem be solved? Obviously Pam can’t put a full list of characters (and how they relate to the other characters) in every comic, as she just doesn’t have enough room. But I know I remember that one character from that one mini, and it’s driving me nuts that I can’t place him. Somebody solve this please! As for the comic itself, it’s delightful. Things start off with a train conductor getting some tea at a coffee shop. I love the fact that the server has four arms; that he can both aimlessly scrub the counter and cross his arms with barely-concealed contempt for all customers, just like a real coffee shop worker! The conductor then sees a giant trophy and goes to congratulate the young man who has won it, but things aren’t as they seem, and once again there isn’t enough comic for me to walk you through the whole thing while still leaving enough for you to enjoy. But it involves science!
New review today for Dusty-isms by Matt Reints. Anybody else getting up early and/or skipping work to watch these Olympic hockey games or is it just me?
One tiny complaint to get things off on the wrong foot, as I liked the actual comic: more Dusty-isms, please! Dusty Rhodes was (and probably still is) a quote machine, and you can’t use a title like that and then only include three quotes. Oh, and if you don’t know who Dusty Rhodes is (old school wrestling legend) and are thinking that Matt draws him like a monster, well, the guy kind of looks like a monster. Which he played up back in the day by wearing a skin tight black and yellow polka dot outfit, and the guy wasn’t exactly svelte. Anyway, the three quotes are golden, so I’ll just leave those for you to discover. Other stories include a very long trip in a very short period of time (featuring much drinking, and as a guy who is careening through his late 30′s I would have loved to have seen an age group that pulled off the drinking feats depicted here), how an office environment compares to the world of pro wrestling (it’s closer than you’d think), and a surprisingly insightful tale of how little and how much things have changed over the last 60 years or so. It’s a little heavy on the wrestling references, but that shouldn’t be enough to scare you away, as Matt went to great lengths to make them relatable to everyday life. Give it a look, eh?
New review today for Sunnyville Stories #7 by Max West. Anybody else figure out a good way to watch these Olympic hockey games without getting up at 3am to do so?
Sunnyville Stories #7
OK, this one is going to be a little tricky to review. Kids, do you know who Abbot and Costello were? No? Hm. Well, they had this joke about baseball players with different names and the comedic possibilities that came from those names. Their names were things like what, who, why, that sort of thing. So when somebody asked “Who’s on first?”, the joke was something like the fact that “Who” was the second basemen, while “What” was the first basemen, and this is a perfect representation of why anybody who attempts to describe humor is a fool. Objectively, as somebody who grew up in the 80′s, the skit didn’t do a lot for me, although it did help to see the original sketch, as their comedic performances saved the bit (to my modern day tastes, anyway). So what’s the point of my bringing all this up? This comic deals with a celebration at the house of a very rich lady, but it was put together at short notice and all of the servants have the day off. A trio of brothers (Who, What and Why) overhear this and offer to help out. The rest of the comic deals with guests having all kinds of trouble figuring out what exactly is happening and the names of these servants. Max ends up making it funnier than I expected, although your tolerance for this kind of humor is going to make or break whether or not you want to give this a shot. I liked how he tied it all together with the thieves who were attempting to rob this celebration, as all that information probably would stop anybody dead in their tracks. So maybe check it out, depending on your sense of humor and/or willingness to expose yourself to a new version of “funny” if you think this might not be for you.
New review today for Blink Volume 2: To Go With This Doorknob by Max Ink. It’s the rough cut edition, just in case you were curious. Happy weekend everybody, and happy ignoring Valentine’s Day, fellow single people!
Ugh, my apologies once again. Believe it or not, a Board of Elections can get busy in February. New reviews today for Red Right Hand #1 by Ryan Crawford, Eric Margolis & James Heimer and DemonGunz by Bernie McGovern. More reviews tomorrow if I can find any comics that I still haven’t reviewed, otherwise I’ll dig through my comics to find ones that I missed the first time around and I should have plenty to review next week.
Red Right Hand #1
Quick, a show of hands: how many of you know who David Yow is? OK, I can’t see you through the screen, so the show of hands isn’t going to help me. I’m guessing the number is shockingly low. Would it help if I told you he was the lead singer for The Jesus Lizard? Unless you’re roughly my age, that’s probably not much help either. The man is a force of nature, and I’ll just leave it at that. Anyway, this comic starts off with a couple of people sitting at a bar, listening to the inane chatter all around them and getting increasingly upset at the general state of humanity. One of them recognizes David Yow (shirtless, as always), but is surprised to see the guy wearing an eye patch. This is because this David Yow is from the future, and he’s come back to the past to kill the Red Hot Chili Peppers. Oh, if only this comic was based on a true story. Anyway, mayhem ensues, a master plan is hinted at, and we’re well set up for the rest of this series. My only complaint was that (spoiler alert, I suppose) that awful band gets taken care of off-panel, which is a horrible punishment to the right thinking people of the world who would have liked to have seen them get taken apart in graphic detail. Other than that this is a solid first issue with a great premise, and I can’t wait to see who they go after next. $3
If you’re keeping track of the chronology of the life of Bernie, read DemonTears before this one. And hey, a little bit of trivia: DemonDust was initially called DemonGun, for reasons that he explains in this collection. This collection contains issues #1-11 of that series (the name change happened with #8), which nicely coincides with when I started reviewing this series at #11. I missed quite a bit of backstory coming in at that point, but now I’m caught up and know the whole story. Well, I know the parts he chose to put in his comics, as he’s pretty open about the fact that there are plenty of details of his life that he’s not going to be sharing with the readers. Which is fine! Anyway, this one starts at a time when Bernie’s recovery from alcoholism was still a new and shaky thing, and the early issues of his series very much reflect on this state, as he wonders whether his no longer drinking is what’s contributing to his writer’s block on his other series (An Army of Lovers Will Be Beaten, and don’t make me tell you to read that one again). This is very much a book where you’re rewarded for keeping up with his other projects, as characters from current and future series show up with a bit of regularity. He mentions who they are each time, but you’d get more out of it if you’ve also read their stories in their proper series. Other subjects in here include splitting himself in two over and over again, getting to know his addiction, the slow death of his grandmother, keeping up with his puppets, zen buddhism, bacon, coming to terms with the reality of his sobriety, dreams, and everything else that came with this time in his life. This collection includes everything from those comics, covers and epilogues and everything, so don’t worry if you missed them while they were coming out. This book along with DemonTears will tell you lots about these years of Bernie’s life. Not everything, and lots of it is dreamy and abstract enough to be left open to interpretation, but this is a fantastic collection of his thoughts over about a year and a half. $10
Yeah, the week got away from me again, sorry about that. What can I say, this crappy weather takes everything right out of me. New review for Lost Kisses #25 by Brian John Mitchell, and if you’d like me to review your comics, feel free to send them my way, as the review pile is getting a little thin. Happy weekend everybody!