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!
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!
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…
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.
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.
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
New review for Towerkind #6 by Kat Verhoeven, and happy weekend everybody!
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.
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?
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
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.
Nobody Can Eat 50 Eggs #1
It’s the return of Nobody Can Eat 50 Eggs! Long time readers will be well aware of this comic, but for the rest of you Steve put out about 30 issues of this series (along with a few other unrelated series) but I hadn’t heard from him in a few years. I think he should have kept a running total and called this #31 (or whatever number he’s up to now) but this is very different from his older series, so maybe he had the right idea starting over. The humor is still similar to his older stuff, but the quality of the art has gone up considerably. Every bit of it is in full color, and a number of these strips feature claymation figures (obviously not in motion due to the fact that they’re in a comic book). I have no idea if he’s actually working clay or using a computer program, but it looks impressive either way. Stories in here include insurance problems with saving the damsel in distress, a lonely Yeti, common mistakes of dumb pirates, the inability of a caterpillar to cope with his future as a butterfly, a bald troll, dead superheroes, how to survive being ruled by robots, an art critic robot, innovations of cavemen, and endangered species that have vanished from memory. And that’s only the first half of the book! I can’t find a website for Steve (outside of a “Hire Steve Steiner” website with only a few strips on it), which is baffling, but you can always reach him through email. I have no idea of the price on this. Full color books are usually more expensive, and this is in full color and fairly hefty, so my random guess is $7. There are a few clunkers here, as is usually the case with this many strips, but there’s far more to love here than not. Check it out, that’s my advice to you…
A surprise deadline at work prevented this week from being as productive as I had hoped, but there’s always time for another Towerkind (#5, by Kat Verhoeven) review!
Another issue, another chance to get a bit more clarity on a few of the characters involved in this opus. Am I allowed to call this an opus if it’s a series of mini comics? Eh, it’s my website, I can potentially misuse words if I want. Anyway, this time around we get some solid information on a couple of the kids that have been hanging around in the background, Duk and Daniel. We see them playing jacks outside until some jerk almost runs them over as he’s leaving the parking garage (with the way this series is going, I wouldn’t be at all surprised if whoever is driving that car factors into things too). One of them gets a cut on his knee, which leads the other one also mysteriously getting a cut on his knee. The rest of the issue is spent with the two of them exploring how far this connection of theirs goes, with another decidedly odd thing ending the comic. Oh, and these two kids are not related, just in case I didn’t make that clear. Kat even explained a bit of her thinking on the inside back cover, which has been illuminating every time so far. I’m thoroughly enjoying watching her build this story up brick by brick, and it may have taken me a few issues, but these covers are really growing on me too. I initially thought that they were just piles of junk that might be found around any tenement, but there’s a lot more going on in these images. They’re also wrap-around covers, so you’re only seeing half the picture. Buy the comics and see the whole thing! Or look around more online if you want to be cheap about it, I’m sure the complete images are out there somewhere…
New review for Darkest Night #2 by Hayden Fryer, and huzzah for getting this posted before the inevitable power outages start to hit with all the thunderstorms!
Darkest Night #2
For whatever it’s worth, I was completely wrong in my guess of the direction that this series was headed. Which is the best thing in the world about reading a series, frankly. This was too big of a spoiler for the last review so I didn’t reveal it (and you should know better than to read a review of a second issue if you still have interest in being surprised by the first), but Caleb’s parents died in an accident in the last issue, not long after he’s dumped by his longtime girlfriend. This issue starts off with the funeral, with his ex (Callie) making the questionable call of bringing her new boyfriend to the funeral. I get where she could use the comfort, but the day really wasn’t about her, and it causes a few problems down the line. Caleb is having some troubles getting through the eulogy, and seeing Callie there doesn’t do him any favors. From there they all move to a smaller gathering, and at this point the boyfriend tries to stay in the car but Callie needs him with her, so they go in together and the new boyfriend tries to introduce himself to Caleb. It’s awkward, as he points out, and at this point a friend of Caleb’s literally barges into the conversation to try and break things up. Since I’m still guessing what’s going to happen here, I’d have to call that guy the hero of the story so far. Caleb slowly gets back to his life, but how do you recover from a series of tragedies like that? This is all shaping up to be quite a third issue, and I’m looking forward to getting my expectations subverted yet again. Hayden has done a really excellent job of showing some of the less talked about angles of a breakup, including how it all plays out when it happens right next to a family tragedy like this. There were more than a few heartbreaking moments in here, like poor Caleb waking up and sleepily asking his mother for painkillers. Hayden was also nice enough to send along a collection of his entire Billy the Demon Slayer series, and I’m looking forward to reading that all at once to see how it all comes together. Within the next couple of months if all goes well…
New review today for The Washington Tragedy by Robert Hendricks. It seems like every time I promise a certain number of reviews for the week it ends up falling apart, so let’s leave this week a surprise!
The Washington Tragedy #1
Just a note to clarify things before I get started: Robert has NOT given up on his “Stranger 2 Stranger” series, he’s just taking a break to work on this story. And hey, I’m all for artists trying new things, so long as my own personal preferences aren’t affected in the slightest and that they eventually go back to that thing they did that I already know that I love. Some slight exaggeration there, but I’ll bet at least a few of you agree with that completely. Anyway, this time around Robert is trying something completely different, as he tells the tale of Daniel Sickles, his wife Teresa and their life together. Daniel takes a crooked path to the top, being accused of being a shady lawyer and hanging out with prostitutes (well, one prostitute in particular, and he practically seemed monogamous with her). As is often the way, all this corruption eventually led Daniel to become a Congressman, and he moved into a house right across the street from the White House, with frequent visits from James Buchanan. Have I mentioned that this is set in the 1850′s? That’s pretty relevant information. Anyway, Daniel further scandalized this easily scandalized world by marrying a young woman of 16, with the general assumption being that she was knocked up when they got married. Teresa had the baby quickly and was often seen at social gatherings when possible, but Daniel was still perfectly happy to travel with his favorite prostitute and wasn’t particularly subtle about it. A friend of Daniel’s tragically had his wife pass away, and he gradually started spending time with Teresa (she had a lot of free time with the small children and Daniel away for work). This may have started out innocently but it did not stay that way, and rumors started swirling before eventually getting back to Daniel. I love how the cheating of the men is always just part of the deal in these old-timey stories, but if the woman is even possibly involved in anything even slightly untoward, look out. The rest of this comic details the search to determine the truth of the rumors, and Robert is going to be wrapping this story up in the next issue. He telegraphs pretty clearly where all of this is going on the first page, but I won’t ruin the surprise if you haven’t picked it up yet. I’ll withhold my judgment until this short series is done, but I thoroughly enjoyed the first issue and am looking forward to seeing what happens next. Granted, I have a pretty good idea, but that’s just a guess and I’m not going to spoil it by checking with the actual history of the event. $5
That’s right, I actually haven’t given up on the website. New review today for Towerkind #4 by Kat Verhoeven, although even that one is shorter than my rambling usual. That’s probably it for the week, then I won’t be around for the holiday weekend, then in theory next week might even be back to normal. Hey, if I say it enough times, it’ll end up being true eventually…
This time around we finally start to get some hints that Tyson (the king of the tenement from past issues) may be a human being after all, although it’s still hard to shake the sense that he’s not a very good one. It turns out that he either has a girlfriend (Maha) or a girl that he is interested in, but he clearly has no sense of how to talk to her. That’s OK, as it’s also clear that she has no idea how to say no to the creep, and I can’t see this ending well. Maha is also fascinated by a couple of kids blowing bubbles beneath her window, as these bubbles contain images of life of other people in the tenement (odd but not terrifying) and a large meteor heading straight for them (terrifying). The sense of magic and/or things hiding beneath the surface is stronger than ever this time around, and I am slowly losing my struggle to keep these reviews more or less weekly and am in serious danger of just finishing the whole thing in a chunk. Hey, it’s Kat’s fault for telling such an engaging story.