Update for 10/15/20

New review today for The Follies of Richard Wadsworth by Nick Maandag, and just in case I get totally swamped at work and disappear for a few weeks, this is the perfect book to leave at the top of the page. Still, I’m going to try to avoid it!

LAST CHANCE FOR THE ONLINE STORE!!!

My online store is busted. Anybody who has tried to use it knows this already, but please know that I know that too. Since the store is basically a time capsule at this point, I’ve decided to shut it down at the end of the year, at which point I’ll be paying everybody whose books have sold (be prepared for some disappointment, artists!) and sending back whatever books didn’t sell, if they still want them. Meaning that if there’s anything that anybody would like to buy, you have a little over 3 months to do it. As the store is busted, you can’t just click and have it add them up, you’ll have to copy and paste them all into an email and send them to me. But on the bright side, there are some real gems in there, things that are just about impossible to find now. I mean, I still have two copies of Bogus Dead left, one of my all time favorites, just to name one example. So! I’ll be mailing stuff out weekly (all I can manage at the moment), and I’ll try to check the stock once or twice a week to give people a chance to substitute other books if they want. Contact info on the sidebar is good, so please use that. Oh, and I’m also selling other stuff not in the store (like all my Hate by Peter Bagge books; I’ll be getting the fancy hardcover edition when it comes out so they’ll be superfluous), so if you’re curious about that stuff just ask, otherwise it’s going onto eBay. Thanks everybody!

Maandag, Nick – The Follies of Richard Wadsworth

Website

The Follies of Richard Wadsworth

If you’re pressed for time, or just generally don’t want to know anything about this book, let me just say that I don’t think I’ve laughed this hard at a book this year, or possibly for the last few years. It caused me to head right to Spit and a Half and grab every other comics he’s done. If you need more, I’ll continue, but I wanted to get that out of the way up front. This is a collection of three stories, and in defiance of tradition I’m going to save the longest one for last. The third piece in here is about a Buddhist disciple who is in a desperate struggle with his own horniness. The traditional techniques aren’t working, the temple is integrated (which makes the temptation constantly present) and his friend the monkey isn’t helping one way or the other. Hijinx ensue, along with the questioning of faith and belief in authority figures. The second story is about a night school class, which is an escalating series of events that I’m not even going to talk about, because I’ve rarely laughed harder than I did at this story and I don’t want to give away a single thing. Every note hit, it was exactly as long as it should have been… if civilization survives, this may eventually be taught as the perfect comics story. Finally there’s the main story, the title of the book, which is almost as funny as the one about night school. Or is it funnier? That internal struggle should tell you something. Richard Wadsworth gets a job teaching his philosophy theory, but he’s obviously aware on some level that he’s a fraud and is in a constant state of trying to compensate for it. Once again I don’t want to say anything, but his method of pretending he wasn’t eavesdropping on a conversation (and how he was immediately caught) made me put the book down for a minute because I was literally crying from laughing. And it only got more ridiculous from there, with a series of cascading fuckups and brazen attempts to bluff his way through situations. If you’re never read one of Nick’s books it’s difficult to describe his utterly deadpan humor, how facial expressions and the things not said are every bit as important as the dialogue. I’ll just say that nobody does it better, and this guy had better not get covid. We need to see another few decades of his comics at a minimum. $19.95

Update for 10/13/20

I know, I know, but like I said, this is going to be a crazy time for me. Go vote, by the way! If you can in your state, get your vote in early. New review today for I Know You Rider by Leslie Stein, in what ended up being an unintentional Drawn & Quarterly week. Whoops!

LAST CHANCE FOR THE ONLINE STORE!!!

My online store is busted. Anybody who has tried to use it knows this already, but please know that I know that too. Since the store is basically a time capsule at this point, I’ve decided to shut it down at the end of the year, at which point I’ll be paying everybody whose books have sold (be prepared for some disappointment, artists!) and sending back whatever books didn’t sell, if they still want them. Meaning that if there’s anything that anybody would like to buy, you have a little over 3 months to do it. As the store is busted, you can’t just click and have it add them up, you’ll have to copy and paste them all into an email and send them to me. But on the bright side, there are some real gems in there, things that are just about impossible to find now. I mean, I still have two copies of Bogus Dead left, one of my all time favorites, just to name one example. So! I’ll be mailing stuff out weekly (all I can manage at the moment), and I’ll try to check the stock once or twice a week to give people a chance to substitute other books if they want. Contact info on the sidebar is good, so please use that. Oh, and I’m also selling other stuff not in the store (like all my Hate by Peter Bagge books; I’ll be getting the fancy hardcover edition when it comes out so they’ll be superfluous), so if you’re curious about that stuff just ask, otherwise it’s going onto eBay. Thanks everybody!

Stein, Leslie – I Know You Rider

Website

I Know You Rider

Who was it that said that memory was an unreliable narrator? Well, he or she was really onto something, because I was going to start this review with an expression of disbelief that I’d somehow never mentioned Leslie on this website, only to do a search and find that I have reviewed two of her comics previously. Two! Granted, they were from 2007 and 2011 respectively, but still. Apparently my memory doesn’t go back that far. Anyway! It’s still surprising that I haven’t mentioned her comics in almost a decade, because she’s been doing amazing work for a very long time. The lack of definition on faces combined with the very real and present story makes for an odd but captivating combination, but maybe I should get into the story before I mention that? 19 years in and I’m still trying to figure out how to structure a review. This is the story of Leslie’s getting pregnant and subsequent decision to get an abortion. It’s told without frills and without any agonizing; it’s simply seen as the best thing for her at the time. The narrative of her time at the doctor’s office is interwoven with the events leading up to that moment, occasionally mixed in with conversations with friends (rarely about abortion, just the life she was living at the time). None of this is meant as a “happily ever after” or some moral dilemna, it’s just real life and, as such, messy and unstoppable. This is one of those stories that’s best experienced bit by bit as you’re reading it, so I’m going to skip my usual thing where I briefly mention various sections of the book. Look, she’s been doing this for roughly 15 years at this point and this is (so far, that I’ve read anyway) her best work, so if you give it a shot you’ll see for yourself. And you should! $24.95

Update for 10/2/20

New review today for Peculiar Paper People #1 by Billy McKay, happy weekend everybody!

LAST CHANCE FOR THE ONLINE STORE!!!

My online store is busted. Anybody who has tried to use it knows this already, but please know that I know that too. Since the store is basically a time capsule at this point, I’ve decided to shut it down at the end of the year, at which point I’ll be paying everybody whose books have sold (be prepared for some disappointment, artists!) and sending back whatever books didn’t sell, if they still want them. Meaning that if there’s anything that anybody would like to buy, you have a little over 3 months to do it. As the store is busted, you can’t just click and have it add them up, you’ll have to copy and paste them all into an email and send them to me. But on the bright side, there are some real gems in there, things that are just about impossible to find now. I mean, I still have two copies of Bogus Dead left, one of my all time favorites, just to name one example. So! I’ll be mailing stuff out weekly (all I can manage at the moment), and I’ll try to check the stock once or twice a week to give people a chance to substitute other books if they want. Contact info on the sidebar is good, so please use that. Oh, and I’m also selling other stuff not in the store (like all my Hate by Peter Bagge books; I’ll be getting the fancy hardcover edition when it comes out so they’ll be superfluous), so if you’re curious about that stuff just ask, otherwise it’s going onto eBay. Thanks everybody!

McKay, Billy – Peculiar Paper People #1

Website

Peculiar Paper People #1

This one’s a mix of a few short pieces, but all in glorious color. Yes, I’m still occasionally impressed just because a book’s in color. I’m easy to please! Stories in here include the true story of the little people that live inside of electric razors (including the real reason why the batteries have to be changed every so often), a numbered tale about an angry boy who doesn’t know he has a lit firecracker on top of his head, four short fables (or possibly poems), and finally an argument between a guy who can’t give up his nostalgic love for an Atari 2600 versus a guy who just wants to enjoy his Xbox. There’s even a funny ad on the back cover to buy his comics, and funny ads can be hard to come by. So: visually inventive, mildly unnerving, funny stuff. These are all good things, so give it a shot! $2.50

Update for 9/30/20

New review today for The New Normal by Grant Thomas, and yes, it is about the pandemic, why do you ask?

LAST CHANCE FOR THE ONLINE STORE!!!

My online store is busted. Anybody who has tried to use it knows this already, but please know that I know that too. Since the store is basically a time capsule at this point, I’ve decided to shut it down at the end of the year, at which point I’ll be paying everybody whose books have sold (be prepared for some disappointment, artists!) and sending back whatever books didn’t sell, if they still want them. Meaning that if there’s anything that anybody would like to buy, you have a little over 3 months to do it. As the store is busted, you can’t just click and have it add them up, you’ll have to copy and paste them all into an email and send them to me. But on the bright side, there are some real gems in there, things that are just about impossible to find now. I mean, I still have two copies of Bogus Dead left, one of my all time favorites, just to name one example. So! I’ll be mailing stuff out weekly (all I can manage at the moment), and I’ll try to check the stock once or twice a week to give people a chance to substitute other books if they want. Contact info on the sidebar is good, so please use that. Oh, and I’m also selling other stuff not in the store (like all my Hate by Peter Bagge books; I’ll be getting the fancy hardcover edition when it comes out so they’ll be superfluous), so if you’re curious about that stuff just ask, otherwise it’s going onto eBay. Thanks everybody!

Thomas, Grant – The New Normal

Website

The New Normal

Could it be? Is this the first pandemical mini comic? Knowing how rough my memory is these days I might have said the same thing about a comic a few weeks ago, but let’s just say for now that it’s the first one I can think of. And it’s a wee one, meaning that Grant shouldn’t be the first one done six plus months into this! I mean, sure, constant low level dread makes it tough to make art, but… eh, you know what? That is a pretty good excuse. Never mind. I ramble because this is such a shortie that there’s not a whole lot to say about it. Grant briefly goes through his new daily prep, how he occupies his time, how his kids are being taught remotely, then brings up the protests and the Black Lives Matter movement, with questions about what will happen next. It’s done in a fold-out format, sort of; the pages basically form a triangle when you fold them out. It’s a thoughtful mini, the kind of thing I wish I saw more of, honestly. $2

Update for 9/28/20

New review today for The Loneliness of the Long-Distance Cartoonist by Adrian Tomine. Yeah, I talk about “big name” cartoonists once in a while too, so what?

LAST CHANCE FOR THE ONLINE STORE!!!

My online store is busted. Anybody who has tried to use it knows this already, but please know that I know that too. Since the store is basically a time capsule at this point, I’ve decided to shut it down at the end of the year, at which point I’ll be paying everybody whose books have sold (be prepared for some disappointment, artists!) and sending back whatever books didn’t sell, if they still want them. Meaning that if there’s anything that anybody would like to buy, you have a little over 3 months to do it. As the store is busted, you can’t just click and have it add them up, you’ll have to copy and paste them all into an email and send them to me. But on the bright side, there are some real gems in there, things that are just about impossible to find now. I mean, I still have two copies of Bogus Dead left, one of my all time favorites, just to name one example. So! I’ll be mailing stuff out weekly (all I can manage at the moment), and I’ll try to check the stock once or twice a week to give people a chance to substitute other books if they want. Contact info on the sidebar is good, so please use that. Oh, and I’m also selling other stuff not in the store (like all my Hate by Peter Bagge books; I’ll be getting the fancy hardcover edition when it comes out so they’ll be superfluous), so if you’re curious about that stuff just ask, otherwise it’s going onto eBay. Thanks everybody!

Tomine, Adrian – The Loneliness of the Long-Distance Cartoonist

Website

The Loneliness of the Long-Distance Cartoonist

I’ve said this before, but it bears repeating: I wouldn’t be reading independent/small press comics if it wasn’t for Adrian Tomine. I’d given up on Marvel books, the mini comics I found weren’t really grabbing me, and then I found Optic Nerve. Then he joined up with Drawn and Quarterly, took a more serious turn with his stories (at a time when I wanted more humor), so I drifted away. Recently I went back through his work, appreciated how amazing those stories really were (mostly, nothing out there is perfect), and how they got better every time out, and I regretted losing track of him. Why I am mentioning all this? Because this book is a hilarious, cringe-inducing list of a number of times fans, other artists and people on the street were thoughtless, rude, or just plain awful to him. He mentions that most of his interactions have been positive, sure, but stories like these are bound to make an impression. This is another one of those cases were I don’t even want to say what the stories are about, so if you’d like to go into this completely unspoiled (and you should, it’s his best work, and that’s really saying something), so long! Go about your merry way. If you’re still on the fence, you’ve clearly never read his work, but sure, I’ll give you some hints. Stories in here include his unfortunate and more than mildly racist first interaction with one of his favorite artists, the lecture he got on his “triumphant” first big convention with D & Q about selling out, the time when he was starstruck on having Frank Miller have to read his name for an award nomination (and how quickly he was deflated), giving an interview over dinner while new to IBS, giving a talk at his daughter’s class and how it was received, giving a “reading” of his work at a library, happening to sit next to a couple critically talking about his work over dinner, and several more stories. At the end of the book he goes into the story of the personal event in his life that inspired him to make this collection, but there’s no way I’m spoiling that. Like I said, this is his best work, but I read Shortcomings, Killing and Dying and Scenes From an Impending Marriage recently too, and they’re all absolutely fantastic. If you’ve lost track of this guy over the years like me, you’re really missing out if you don’t catch up with his work. $29.95

Update for 9/24/20

New review today for Nine Faces of Nothing by Eli Bishop (Hob, for long time readers). And I’m probably going to keep posting my meandering thoughts about the upcoming end of my online store in these updates, so get yer scrolling finger ready if you’ve already seen it!

LAST CHANCE FOR THE ONLINE STORE!!!

My online store is busted. Anybody who has tried to use it knows this already, but please know that I know that too. Since the store is basically a time capsule at this point, I’ve decided to shut it down at the end of the year, at which point I’ll be paying everybody whose books have sold (be prepared for some disappointment, artists!) and sending back whatever books didn’t sell, if they still want them. Meaning that if there’s anything that anybody would like to buy, you have a little over 3 months to do it. As the store is busted, you can’t just click and have it add them up, you’ll have to copy and paste them all into an email and send them to me. But on the bright side, there are some real gems in there, things that are just about impossible to find now. I mean, I still have two copies of Bogus Dead left, one of my all time favorites, just to name one example. So! I’ll be mailing stuff out weekly (all I can manage at the moment), and I’ll try to check the stock once or twice a week to give people a chance to substitute other books if they want. Contact info on the sidebar is good, so please use that. Oh, and I’m also selling other stuff not in the store (like all my Hate by Peter Bagge books; I’ll be getting the fancy hardcover edition when it comes out so they’ll be superfluous), so if you’re curious about that stuff just ask, otherwise it’s going onto eBay. Thanks everybody!

Bishop, Eli – Nine Faces of Nothing

Website

Nine Faces of Nothing

Eli mentions right on the cover that these are depression comics, but since it’s late September of 2020 as I write this and all kinds of people are depressed for all kinds of new reasons, these comics can be a bit, you know, depressing. Obvious disclaimer out of the way, there’s some really masterful storytelling going on here. There are nine pieces, mostly touching on aspects of depression (one of them is an adaptation of an H.P. Lovecraft story, but his reasoning for why it was included in here was compelling). He touches on the devastation going on in his brain sometimes when trying to keep up a polite smile around people, the danger of letting your true feelings out around other people, living with a voice in his head that’s always telling him how he’s going to die, trying to pinpoint the last moment he was really happy, his brief periods of being catatonic and trying to figure out why it was happening (and how to stop it if possible), and how he was once thinking of self harm and happened upon the perfect means to do it (but he wisely wouldn’t say what it was) before eventually having his job move away from that location. Now, I’m not saying that the reader should take all of these things literally, that every moment of Eli’s life is plagued by every one of these thoughts. They’re stories, and it’s possible if not probable that I’m misinterpreting a message or two. But these stories are devastatingly accurate depictions of what can go through your mind while depressed, or very suddenly while you’re thinking you’re not depressed at all. Knowing you’re not alone in your darkest thoughts is one of the best ways to manage depression, so if you’re feeling that way at all I can’t recommend this book highly enough. $10

Update for 9/22/20

Sorry again, but chances are this will be a rough few months on the update front because of my job at the Board of Elections, so please bear with me. New review today for Banal Complications (the last of the current mini kus books) by Marc Bell! Oh, and bear with me for an announcement about the online store here below. If you have no interest, carry on!

LAST CHANCE FOR THE ONLINE STORE!!!

My online store is busted. Anybody who has tried to use it knows this already, but please know that I know that too. Since the store is basically a time capsule at this point, I’ve decided to shut it down at the end of the year, at which point I’ll be paying everybody whose books have sold (be prepared for some disappointment, artists!) and sending back whatever books didn’t sell, if they still want them. Meaning that if there’s anything that anybody would like to buy, you have a little over 3 months to do it. As the store is busted, you can’t just click and have it add them up, you’ll have to copy and paste them all into an email and send them to me. But on the bright side, there are some real gems in there, things that are just about impossible to find now. I mean, I still have two copies of Bogus Dead left, one of my all time favorites, just to name one example. So! I’ll be mailing stuff out weekly (all I can manage at the moment), and I’ll try to check the stock once or twice a week to give people a chance to substitute other books if they want. Contact info on the sidebar is good, so please use that. Oh, and I’m also selling other stuff not in the store (like all my Hate by Peter Bagge books; I’ll be getting the fancy hardcover edition when it comes out so they’ll be superfluous), so if you’re curious about that stuff just ask, otherwise it’s going onto eBay. Thanks everybody!

Bell, Marc – Banal Complications

Website

Banal Complications

I’ve been reading Marc’s comics since the start of this website (before, even) and I’ve never seen one quite like this one. This is exactly what the title implies: a series of banal complications, told about 2/3 in text form. But wait, don’t run away yet! The rest of it is still his inimitable artwork, and the cast of characters alone in these stories is worth the price of admission. Unless you don’t want to read about characters that includes “Pudding Horror” and “Nuclear Sidewalk” (among many others), I guess, but the names alone make up for any banality. This is the story of Chop Salad, who has to travel to New York for six months to pick up some artwork, among other things. He has to sort out his apartment, get a subletter, try to maintain his current tax bracket, navigate roommates, and every other activity and consideration that goes into taking a long trip. It’s oddly riveting, but I guess it’s possible that Marc is just one of those people who can do no wrong in my book. If you’re on the fence, I didn’t even reveal the names of characters that made me laugh out loud, because why would I spoil those? This is well worth a look, and even if the story somehow loses you, gaze upon the art and just try to take in all the details. Gaze! $7

Update for 9/8/20

New review today for Little Circle and the Wishing Fairy by Samantha Ann Peartree (actually Andrew Davis). Everybody have a good holiday weekend? Anybody dumb enough to have indoor holiday parties without masks? If so, please send me as much money as you can before you go into the hospital. I promise to spend all the money on comics…

Davis, Andrew – Little Circle and the Wishing Fairy

Website

Little Circle and the Wishing Fairy

So I got a bunch of mini comics in the mail over the weekend, and it looks like most of them have little to no contact info. Which is going to be a shame if they’re all as funny as this one, but we’ll see as I go I guess! This is actually from a fairly lengthy series called Samantha Comics; I’m guessing Samantha Ann Peartree is actually not a real child that Andrew gets his ideas from. But since his former website is now just a site for boner pills (which is the fate for all abandoned websites, sadly), I’m just going to assume that he’s making all this up himself. This one is all about a child named Little Circle, and all she wants in the world is to look at circles and ideally for everything to also be a circle. She’s wishing out loud one day, which calls the attention of a fairy who’s just a gigantic asshole fairy. LC (Little Circle; I’m not going to type it out every time) thinks she’s getting her wish granted but is turned into a fruit bat. She tries to make the best of it and make friends with other bats, this goes poorly and she decides to take another crack at the fairy. LC is turned into something else, and it’s starting to seem like she’s never going to get back to being herself. But… what if she gets turned into something she likes even better? There are also a couple of short strips at the end, and it’s a thoroughly engaging comic with some funny bits, which is all you can ask for, right? At least his storeenvy.com site is still up (as of September 2020), so you can still get this for $2 if you’re curious. If not, the man has made quite a few other comics, so give one a try!

Update for 9/4/20

New review today for Mount a Rescue by David Robertson and a gaggle or artists. Or is it a murder of artists? Happy weekend everybody! Enjoy if you’re in one of the countries where it’s OK to leave the house!

Robertson, David (and Various Artists) – Mount a Rescue

Website

Mount a Rescue

Thanks a lot for confirming that I need new glasses David! The afterward/credits was officially too small for me to read with glasses on. Which reminds me of a favorite story from this collection, where he compares his reactions to Homer Simpson over the years (when he was much younger than Homer, about his age and actually older than Homer; had the same thought myself recently). This is another collection of stories written by David, about 2/3 (purely a guess) with other artists and the rest he drew himself. This one opens up with a great story about his appreciation of Blade Runner, both the movie, the book, the comics adaptation (which I somehow missed) and of course the score. He goes over the various versions that have come out over the years; he’s also the first person I know of who actually liked the version where Harrison Ford narrated bits of it. If you love the movie too this is fantastic, if you don’t or haven’t seen it this will probably convince you to give it a fresh look. Ah, but what version? Other stories include a caller who claims to have proof of the existence of god, a diary of a day in his life broken up into hourly segments, a story of the discovery of a deep sea diver (in his afterward he mentions his confusion of the end of Planet of the Apes as a child, having no idea what the Statue of Liberty was), tea bags vs. tea leaves, Luke dealing with some conflicting advice from Yoda, trying to relate at an office party, performing your comics out loud, sleep apnea, people complaining about older or younger generations, a butter prank that was killed too soon, a revolt against beauty cream, feelings of hatred long after you forget the reason for the hatred, asking to borrow a kilt, how so many previous heroes have ended up problematic now, and how Mr. T’s fear of planes kept him from going to space like all the other members of the A-team. And even more stories, but aren’t surprises fun? As always, very few people pack as much into a comic as David, with a variety of art styles, which will lead you to even more comics people that you like. Check it out!

Update for 9/2/20

New review today for Egle and the Snake by Joana Estrela, one more from the mini kus pile. In other news, I’m doing a Chester Brown reread at the moment because hey, why not? But I’ve noticed that somehow I ended up with Louis Riel #1-9 out of a 10 issue series. Anybody have a line on how I could get a copy of the 10th issue? Drawn and Quarterly, sadly, doesn’t have it in stock, and the internet is greatly confused when I search for individual issues…

Estrela, Joana – Egle and the Snake

Website

Egle and the Snake

Hooray, a mini kus book where I don’t have to dance around pretending like I know what I’m talking about! I love those too, don’t get me wrong. There’s plenty of room for the abstract in my life! This comic was inspired by a Lithuanian folk tale, and there are definitely elements that feel… folky? Is that a thing? Eh, never mind. Things start off with Egle taking a dip in the lake, but when she gets out there’s a snake on her clothes. She politely asks the snake to move, and the two strike up a conversation. The snake seems to have a creepy state of mind about the whole thing (Egle is a high school student), but he’s just vague enough about his intentions that Egle is left confused and even the reader has enough room to have doubts. He seems to be stalling her, even inventing (or not I guess) friends of his that are going to be showing up soon. Finally he offers her a ride home, and that’s where his intentions get a bit less ambiguous, but hey, no spoilers, right? It’s an engaging story with more than a hint of menace, and yet another winner from the mini kus pile. $7