Update for 7/29/15

New review today for Not Dog #2 by Amalia Degirolamo. And fine, one last plea for money to get me to England for that comic convention. Please note that I gave an inflated amount to begin with in the hopes of a perfect trip; at this point I’d happily go for less than half of that ($2000 should get me there with enough money to at least buy a few comics). If I get a tiny amount of money (which seems optimistic at this point) and can’t afford to go, that money goes right into buying comics that I’ll review here, most likely from John Porcellino and his Spit and a Half shop. Anyway, I’ll let this sit here through tomorrow and will be back on Friday with a final update for the week. If this fundraiser goes down in flames I’ll just start saving so I can make the trip next year.

Degirolamo, Amalia – Not Dog #2

Website

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Not Dog #2

I’ll certainly give credit to Amalia for truth in advertising: that thing is definitely not a dog. This is the story of two dudes, their many kittens (all named) and a creature that looks kind of like a very large toad, but with teeth. And it scoots around the carpet like a sick dog. Anyway, it’s a horror show, and Dave decides that this thing has got to go, but Morris loves the ugly creature and has even made a harness for it so he can carry it around on his person like those weird people and/or hippies do with their babies. Morris takes the “dog” for a walk (meaning Morris walks around with the “dog” in his harness) and he stumbles across an ugly baby competition. His reaction is hilarious and completely appropriate; I only wish this was a longer comic so we could have gotten to see more of those ugly babies. Anyway, anything after that is a spoiler, so I’ll leave it a mystery whether or not he gets to keep this lovable (?) creature. I thought it had a solid finish and am curious to see the further adventures of this crew. But hey, this is the second issue, so clearly I missed the “origin” story, which is a real shame. Even without it this is a fun little mini, and when my only complaint is that I would have preferred to see more ugly babies, it’s clear that the comic was a success.

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Update for 7/28/15

More SPACE comics! New review today for Doctor Cat in Professional Cats by Sarah Sobole. As you may have guessed from that title, it features cats!

Sobole, Sarah – Doctor Cat in Professional Cats

Website

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Doctor Cat in Professional Cats

Quick, what’s your opinion of cats? If you can’t stand them, you’re a monster who should quietly leave polite society immediately. For the rest of us, the only problem with this comic is that this much cuteness condensed into one comic might be too adorable for words. But I’m here to provide words, so I shall persevere! Even though my mind might flash back to the image of all the cats on the back of the lady trying to do push-ups (who gives up more out of cuteness overland than the actual weight of the cats) or the sea captain cat who refused to get onto his boat until it was taken out of the water, I shall stay strong. The basic idea behind this comic (which I’m guessing is comprised of strips taken from Sarah’s website) is that Doctor Cat wonders for the first time what other jobs he (I’m just going to call all these cats “he” for no particular reason, knowing full well that I’m probably wrong) could have taken up besides being a doctor. There’s Artist Cat, Baseball Cat, Garbage Cat, Personal Trainer Cat, Firefighter Cat, and a few more that I’ll leave as a surprise to anybody who buys this comic. Most of the comics are funny, every single last one of them is adorable, and they’re usually both. The art is fantastic, and this being in full color was a nice touch. If you like cats at all, buy this book and enjoy. Also check out her website, as she had t-shirts at SPACE that I’m regretting not getting now, but I only had so much money. And if you don’t like cats, how did you get all the way to the end of this review? I thought I took care of you early on. Shoo! For all the sane people, this is $5 and she has lots of comics to choose from.

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Update for 7/27/15

Back to the SPACE comics! New review today for Snow Day by Sequoia Bostick. If all goes well it might even be a regular week of reviews around here, meaning 3-5 comics. If things go really well it’ll be more than that, as I have lots of SPACE comics to talk about. Oh, and my stupid fundraiser is still going on for the next few days, so give me all of your stupid money. Or some of it, anyway. And it’s for the good cause of sending me to England for a comics convention where I will spend all of your money on comics, which I will then read about and talk about here. It’s the perfect system!

Bostick, Sequoia – Snow Day

Website

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Snow Day

It’s sometimes tempting to read way too much into a comic. For example, the premise behind this one is pretty simple (and I should point out here that I have no idea if this is fiction or not). A little girl who may or may not be Sequoia takes advantage of some rare snowfall to have a fun day of it with the other kids and ends up making a snowman. Which is delightful, and it would have made an adorable comic if it stopped right there. But nope, she then went home for movie night with her mother, and the movie in question was Jack Frost. Which, for those of you who didn’t watch terrible horror movies as a kid, is a frankly ridiculous horror movie involving a sentient, evil snowman. Granted, it’s not so ridiculous to a small child, and it naturally caused her nightmares and to see the actual snowman she’d made in an entirely different light. The mom was oddly blase about the movie, so either it’s less grisly than I remember or the mom just had a high tolerance for gore. Either way, an odd choice for family movie night. Still, it makes for a pretty engaging comic, and it led to a delightful afternoon of me wandering around Sequoia’s website looking at her artwork, which I recommend that you do too. This comic is also available for free up there, but I’m guessing she’d rather you sent her a dollar or two for the comic (no price is listed) instead.

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“Update” for 7/25/15

As you may have guessed by the lack of updates since Tuesday, work has once again gone crazy. Technically I’m at work right now on Saturday (it’s fine, I’m on a break). So I apologize for the lack of updates, in theory I’ll be able to put more up next week. In the meantime, why not check out the archives of some of the people I inexplicably missed at SPACE this year? Brian John Mitchell has a ton of comics reviewed here, you could kill an afternoon looking at his stuff alone. Or there’s Jeff Zwirek, or Chris Monday, or Max Ink, or Suzanne Baumann, or Pam Bliss, and it’s just now dawning on me how many quality comics people I didn’t see last weekend. I really must have had heat stroke. Oh, and my fundraiser is still going on through the end of the month, although at this point it’s farcical to call it a fundraiser, as it’s not raising any funds. But if you’re rich and want to read about comics in and around England, you still have another week to help get me there! On the other hand, if the overtime keeps up at this pace I might be able to fund my own damned self…

Update for 7/21/15

More SPACE goodies, so a new review for A Pantomime Horse #3 by Ben Passmore. Fundraiser still going on, I’m in a rush so you’ll have to scroll down a bit to find it if you have money burning a hole in your pocket that would be better spent sending me to England for a comic convention!

Passmore, Ben – A Pantomime Horse #3

Website

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A Pantomime Horse #3

See folks, this is the danger of only picking up one book from an artist at SPACE. Specifically, I usually ask them to pick just one of their books that they think best represents them because, much as I would like to, I can’t afford to buy all the comics from every artist at every table. So I got this comic from Ben, and I can’t tell if this is part of an interconnected series or if it’s just a series of unrelated stories all bundled under the same title. The pace of the comic made me think there was more going on here that the reader was expected to know going in but, as alway, I could be wildly wrong on that. This one starts off with an escape plan, or really more of an escape impulse than anything else, and an internal debate about the wisdom of following that impulse. This is set in a home for “kids who can’t learn to be good, or won’t,” which goes a long way towards explaining the escape plan from earlier in the comic. I love the pace Ben takes to set all this up, as he counts on the reader to not be a dummy to keep up. Please note that I have been watching various tv shows lately where it feels like they take extra time every episode to explain things as simply and dumbly as possible, so maybe I’m just happy to have any form of media where they assume that an adult is reading/seeing it. Anyway, outside of a real sense of foreboding towards the end which I shouldn’t get into, this is mostly about freedom, and a play where many of the kids dress up like ponies and horses. One of those things more than the other, but I’ll leave it to you to figure out which is which. Ben also reprinted a letter in the back, theoretically from an ex-girlfriend, unless he made it up. But it’s compelling nonetheless and will make you think about at least one past relationship. Or it will if you’re me, anyway.

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Update for 7/20/15

That’s right, an actual update! SPACE was a lot of fun, even if I had heatstroke and had just finished working my 20th day straight, so my apologies to the artists if I seemed mildly insane. My apologies to the other artists that I missed entirely, as I swear that there was either a secret room there or I was even more out of it than I thought. Anyway, all SPACE comics around here for the next few weeks, and today it’s Mean Goat Adventures #1.5 by Kris Lachowski. Oh, and the least fundraisingest fundraiser ever is still going on through the end of the month, at which I will put us both out of our misery and throw in the towel. It’s to send me to a convention in England so I can buy lots of their comics and then come back here and tell all of you about it. I think it sounds like fun, if maybe an odd idea for a fundraiser, so if you agree with me throw some cash my way!

Lachowski, Kris – Mean Goat Adventures #1.5

Website

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Mean Goat Adventures #1.5

Oh mean goat, I’ve missed you so. For anybody who has been reading this site for any length of time, you may remember Mean Goat as one of the earlier series I reviewed. Note: it’s entirely possible that I’m misremembering. But I must have read those comics in at least the first few years of the existence of this website, and the formula is pretty simple for you newcomers: Mean Goat really, really likes kicking people off of cliffs. Any creature that gets near it, really, but it does seem to enjoy kicking people most of all. Anyway, with that formula in mind, there are few surprises this time around, but it’s still funny, and he kicks a wide range of people and creatures, deserving or not. Things start off with a man who is looking over a cliff and wondering what he could have done differently to fix his failed relationship, which is a nice bit of misdirection by Kris, as he never gets to put his plan of action in play because the Mean Goat got to him first. From there we also get to see the tiniest bit of introspection by our hero, some time spent with clouds, getting a rare bonus from a kick, and the results of an investigation into all the disappearances from said cliff. Oh, and the whole thing is in full color and it looks great, so you have full color carnage. And it’s only a $1 for full color? Well, who am I to argue with what’s listed on the cover. Check it out if you like people getting kicked off of cliffs!

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Another fake update post

This overtime thing at work is still going on, so I’m mostly posting this to remind people who are anywhere near Columbus to go to SPACE. It’s basically right across the street from my office this year, which is handy, as I’ll be working all day Saturday. Oh, and my fundraiser to try and get me to England for the Lakes International Comic Art Festival is still technically going on, but with how that’s going it’s safe to call it a bad idea at this point. Still, I’ll keep it open through the end of the month, just in case some eccentric millionaire decides that he wants to read reviews about comics exclusively from the area around England for a few weeks for a change.

“Update” for the week probably

No new reviews right now because things are oddly busy at work, so it’s all overtime all the time for me. Which is good, as maybe I’ll be able to afford that possible trip to England without having to rely on anything from this gofundme campaign. Turns out that maybe you have to have a social media presence to have these types of things work, huh? Or, conversely, that the people coming to this site to read about comics are as broke as I am. Anyway, if you do have any extra money lying around and would like to nudge me in that direction, you have the rest of the month to nudge away, then I’ll have to make up my mind one way or the other. Thanks, and new reviews whenever all this overtime stops! In theory it’ll be just in time for SPACE in Columbus next weekend…

Update for 7/1/15

New review for Losers Weepers #3 by J.T. Yost, and I’m still doing that fundraiser to get me to England for a comic convention in October. It’s been less than a week and I’m already sick of begging people for money. How does NPR put up with this sort of thing?

Yost, J.T. – Losers Weepers #3

Website

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Losers Weepers #3

It’s been a few years since I reviewed an issue of this series, so it’s best if I catch everybody up on the “rules” for it. J.T. finds letters or journals (or his friends find them) and he, without any context of what they were really about, turns them into comics. And a fine job he does with them too! The stories in this one come from a flyer, a letter and a cryptic phrase. That last one is the only one that feels like it was shoved into this story, as it doesn’t have much to do with the overall theme, but it also serves as a coda to the story so there’s no harm done. The flyer was an advertisement to learn Spanish with a few ridiculous typos/spelling errors that should make anybody thinking about calling the guy think twice. For that portion of the story we see our hero getting copies of his flyer and dealing with the copy shop employees. From there he finds out that his mother is in jail and needs bailing out, and when he goes to ask his girlfriend if he can borrow some money he finds a letter to her from a man in the same jail. This letter is the real highlight of the comic, as the prisoner is losing his mind more than a little bit and wonders why this lady hasn’t talked to him since he went to jail. As this letter was addressed to his girlfriend, this sends our hero into a bit of a rage and he goes out in that mood. As is often the case, that’s when he happens to run into a cop. J.T. still types the letters into the appendix in the back in case you have trouble with the handwriting (although this around I didn’t need it), so no worries if you have trouble with certain types of handwriting. It’s another solid issue, and I continue to be amazed at how he ties such disparate letters together into a coherent and compelling story. $5

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Update for 5/30/15

New review today for Kumayama Mountain, 1993 by Graeme McNee. Also the fundraiser to send me to a convention in England in October is still going strong, by which I mean that you can still be the first person to donate if you hurry! I did make it clear that if I get some money but not enough to go then I’m just going to spend what I do get on comics, right? So that they’ll be reviewed here? Circle of internet life and all that.

McNee, Graeme – Kumayama Mountain, 1993

Website

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Kumayama Mountain, 1993

OK, I’ll admit it: I wandered around the internet for a bit after reading this to find out if the story was true. I couldn’t find anything, which is either my fault for not looking hard enough or this is a fictional book with a very specific title and premise. Not that there’s anything wrong with that! This one starts off with a blurb mentioning three children who disappeared in a forest in 1993. A group of kids are on a field trip and are told to stick to the park, as there are bears in the woods. Most of the kids don’t believe this, but there’s enough doubt about the story to keep them out of the woods, which was probably the point of the story in the first place. A few of the kids trade some bits of their lunches, one of the kids angrily doesn’t want the treats that are being shared, and he storms off into the forest. Two other kids decide that the risk of them getting blamed for losing this kid is worse than the risk of them getting eaten by bears, so they wander off into the forest to find him. From there we get some tense and creepy scenes (including something loud creeping through the shadows), and that’s as far as I can go while still avoiding spoilers. I liked the simplistic way that Graeme drew the kids, and his lingering on the creepier areas in the woods really helped bring home the unease the kids were feeling as they got further and further away from the camp. It’s a really solid story so maybe you should give it a try!

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Update for 5/29/15

New review today for Smallbug Comics #6 by Charles Brubaker. Also I’m doing a fundraiser through the end of next month at gofundme, hoping for enough cash to get me over to England for a convention in October. I have no idea how such things are supposed to go, but it’s off to a slow start, maybe because I started a fundraiser in the summer, when everybody has free time and no money to spare. Yep, a master businessman, that’s me!

Brubaker, Charles – Smallbug Comics #6

Website

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Smallbug Comics #6

This issue is just plain fun. Is that too simplistic for a review? Eh, probably, but it’s true. This comic has about half a dozen “Dear Cat” strips (which is exactly what it sounds like: hypothetical questions answered by a hypothetical cat) and a longer story involving one of the characters getting her glasses broken and needing a new pair. That sounds like one of the duller possible setups for a story, but this is a land of magic and magical equipment, so every pair of glasses has its own unique abilities, happily played up for their comedic effect. There’s magnifying glasses, marketing executive glasses, glass for minotaurs, and several others that I’ll leave a surprise. That last pair of glasses was hilarious and I’m left wishing such a thing existed in the real world. As for the cat questions, they deal with subjects like why cats need the same door opened several times a day, what they have in common with dogs, why they can be jerks, and why they sit on the keyboards of laptops. If Charles has enough cat questions I really liked this format (roughly 2/3 one big story and the other 1/3 cat questions), and he was even nice enough to put a little bonus strip on the back cover. Like I said at the top, this comic is a pile of fun, and you should check it out if you are favor of such a thing. $2

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Optical Sloth Fundraiser Time!

Well, it’s finally happened: I have joined the ranks of people on the internet asking for money. I’m using GoFundMe and am trying to raise enough cash to get me to the Lakes International Comics Art Festival in Kendal, England in the middle of October. I lay out the whole reasoning behind this at the link, but basically I’ve always wanted to go to an international comics festival and have been informed by a few people who send me comics from the U.K. that this is one of their better small press comic conventions. So please, if you enjoy this site, or if you appreciate discovering new and random comics through me, could you help me out? If it’s at all possible for you, that is, as I know that some people don’t have the extra cash to help out with things like this. But I don’t have a social media presence (and I’m certainly not going to start one purely for a fundraiser), so any help you can give me in getting the word out would be greatly appreciated, and that doesn’t cost anything. I’ll have to buy a plane ticket and find lodgings by roughly the end of July, and if I don’t end up anywhere near my goal then I will spend whatever money I do get on comics for review anyway. Thanks for your time, and back to the regular reviews on Monday.