New review today for So Buttons #10 by Jonathan Baylis and various artists, happy weekend everybody!
It’s the 10th anniversary issue of So Buttons! And no, it’s not quite an issue a year, if you go to his website you’ll see a few more issues here and there. Anyway, this is a hefty issue, with sections involving Birth, Life and Death, so the man covers a lot of ground here. I will just say before I get started that I’m sorry for the loss of his dog Mocha; as somebody who owns a cat who’s been around a little longer than this website (which started in August 2001, so you do the math), the whole pet mortality thing has become very real to me in recent months. Self-indulgent aside over, how’s the comic? The “Birth” section has two stories, one about Norman Mailer (and, oddly, another reminder that I should find a biography of Rip Torn ASAP), and another about how Lorne Michaels got his first literal seats at SNL from George Steinbrenner. Next up was the “Life” section, and it’s probably a good sign that this was the biggest section. Stories in here include his son’s first day of preschool, his idea of what his parents collected, a gone but not forgotten old Manhattan restaurant and how he tracked down a cookbook from the chef years later, and his reaction to the David Cronenberg film Crash. Which, as he makes emphatically clear, is a very different film than the one of the same name that somehow won as Oscar a few years later. Finally there’s “Death”, and in those two stories he talks about how important it is to be a bone marrow donor (if you’re younger than 45, sign up!) and another about the death of his dog. Here’s to 10 more years (or longer) of So Buttons, the man has a natural gift for storytelling. $5
New review for Plastic People #3 by Brian Canini, as the Canini-mania continues after my missing reviews last week. Canini-palooza? Canini-opolous? Eh, I’ll come up with something…
We dig a bit more into the overall world with the third issue, even if the main characters seem to be missing this time around. That’s OK, especially since Brian already has at least 10 issues of this series done. Two big (probably? I don’t know Brian’s master plan) pieces are introduced this time around: getting tattoos and how they’re illegal body modifications, and a popular online dating website that guarantees you’ll be matched with an equally perfect person. It also ends in a murder, which is about when things tend to pick up in a story, right? I also wonder if the particular tattoo style has any larger meaning in the story but, again, that’ll probably be revealed in the other comics that already exist. The series seems like a winner so far, so maybe you should buy a few issues and see for yourself. $2
New review today for Flights Grounded by Rachel Scheer and with stories from her family.
Remember when 9/11 was supposed to change everything? If you’re too young to remember the day, this review probably isn’t for you. The comic still is; it’s never a bad idea to learn about your history. But yeah, the 18 years since have not exactly shown America at its best. Anyway! Not trying to get political, but it’s hard to avoid. This comic is a great idea, as Rachel compiles the stories of her immediate family (father, mother, brother and herself) and what they did on that day. Her dad worked near the Pentagon and saw the huge clouds of smoke, her mother worked in a classroom and didn’t see any images of the attack until she got home, her brother was in a PE class, and it took Rachel a while to understand exactly how big of a deal the whole thing was. These stories all come together naturally, as her family obviously ended up together later that day. Also interesting were what they remembered from the other reactions at the time, that’s the kind of thing that gets lost in the rest of the madness. As for me, since this seems like as good a time as any to reminisce, there are two big things I remember about 9/11: how a lady at my temp job, after watching coverage with the rest of us for about half an hour, got fed up and said “OK, we get it, back to work everybody!” (nobody went back to work). The other is my scheduled flight to New York on 9/13 for SPX, neither of which ended up happening. But I still have the ticket around here somewhere! $4
New review for Kids With Guns #1 by Alex Nall. Happy Thanksgiving everybody, and why yes, I did program this update automatically before today, as I’m not around. How did you guess?
It’s not what you’re thinking based on that title! Or it’s probably not what you’re thinking, anyway. I can’t read your mind. The first issue deals mostly with Milo (a ten year old boy) and Mel (an eighty year old neighbor). I got the ages from Alex’s website, but they’re probably mentioned in here somewhere and I just missed them. Anyway, Mel has made a gun for Milo that shoots rubber bands. He mostly uses the gun to shoot at his action figures, with a points system that they use when playing together. Mel is clearly Milo’s confidante; after Milo accidentally breaks a window Mel coves for him. We also see glimpses of Mel’s time as a soldier when he was much younger, including one particularly heartbreaking scene that’s going to play a bigger role later. Says I, like I know what Alex has in mind. It would be an odd thing to never mention again, how about that? We also meet Milo’s younger neighbor (in kindergarten, she’s clearly adores Milo) and a older boy who seems like a perfect bully stereotype, but he hasn’t done any bullying yet, so maybe he’s just a large child. There’s a lot in this first issue to make me want to see what happens in a second issue, so I’d say it’s a successful first issue. $8
New review today for Plastic People #2 by Brian Canini. What, you thought I was kidding when I said I’d be doing weekly reviews for the guy for a bit because of all the comics he sent along? Nope. This could also happen to you if you’re prolific and send me a bunch of books!
Is it cheating if I review these comics two at a time? Because I’m enjoying the setup of the story so far, but at 8 pages each there just isn’t a whole lot of space for story progression. Oh, the problems of running a small press comics review website. Since I’m sticking with the single issues for now, what happens this time around? We get to learn a bit more about our hero, and while he may not be an asshole, he’s at least asshole-adjacent. We also learn that his job is to go to the perfect people around the city (which, if you didn’t read the first issue, seems to be everybody) and deal with their problems. The problem, this time around anyway, is that a lady fell down the stairs and broke her nose. The punchline is that she fell because she was distracted from another personal problem, and each of them would fall into very minor categories for humanity today. Like I said, I’m intrigued to see where this is going, which is a pretty good place to be for the second issue of a (so far) ten issue series. $2
New review today for Bell Time by David Robertson. Time travel changes your tie!
Who out there has seen Peggy Sue Got Married? It’s a movie from the 80’s, and the premise involves Kathleen Turner going back in time into her teenage body because… reasons. I’ve never seen it, but it was David’s inspiration for this story (based on his afterward), and he hadn’t seen it either until he was doing research for this story. In other words, if you love complaining about trivial things and are a huge fan of the movie, there’s probably stuff in here to get you worked up. For us relatively normal folks, there’s a lot to like here. It’s a full 60ish page story, with a bit in the middle with school tales from what seems to be mostly family members. I’ll leave those alone so you’ll have a mysterious treat in the middle, but how about the main story? It’s all about Lenny, a boy in school who was recently bullied with an egg in the face. He saw that movie, had some thoughts about how that would work out in real life, and returned to school the next day. When he was there he heard bells (that only he could hear), followed them and suddenly found himself in his adult body. Adult Lenny ended up as the school librarian, which didn’t exactly lead to a lot of respect from his peers. To me this comic comes close to being a horror story, even if that doesn’t seem to be the intention; to get the chance to be an adult when you’re a bullied teen and then be trapped dealing with fights and mayhem from other teens while you’re trapped in an adult body is a nightmare. It’s interesting to watch his perspective change of the other teachers as well as how he sees the students. No spoilers, but his “I’m an adult and you’re not” mindset held quite a long time as a solid bluff. Overall this is another really solid comic from David, with funny bits and insightful bits mixed together. Unless you have a phobia about being trapped in a high school library, give this one a look.
New review for Plastic People #1 by Brian Canini, and since he sent along a few issues I’m going to be doing weekly reviews of this series for a bit.
Is Brian the most prolific comic artist going today? Is there a contest for that sort of thing? There’s not (that I know of), but he’d have to be high up the list. Brian sent me a few new comics recently, as I’ve somehow missed him at the last couple of local comic conventions. He sent a few issues of this comic along, and when I went to link to his website I saw that he already has ten issues done. 10! Granted, these are 8 page minis, but that’s still a better pace than a lot of artists, and he’s also always working on other comics. Does it seem like I’m stalling a bit on the actual review? Yeah, that’s probably because I am. This one starts off with a perfume ad that morphs into two people having sex. They get interrupted when our hero (I’m assuming) has to leave because his ride for work has arrived. They get into a brief argument, as the woman thinks that his female ride was hitting on him, and that’s that. If that makes it seem like everything is simple and straightforward, it’s really not. Everybody in this town has gotten plastic surgery, meaning all the women look the same and so do all the men. I’m curious to dig into this and see where it goes from here, as I already have a lot of questions. Which means that a first issue did its job, and this is one of those rare first issues where you already know there’s plenty out that’s already completed. I’m assuming this one will have significantly less punching than his Ruffians series, but who knows? Check it out, maybe buy a few issues while you’re at it to see where this is headed. $2
New review today for Elemental Stars by Kevin Hooyman, another from the mini kus stack. They list this is as mini kus #82… which do you think will come first, mini kus #100 or the 20th anniversary of my website (roughly early August 2021)? Let the race begin!
Who’s up for a good quest story? As is often the case, the journey here is far more important than the destination. Then again, that’s when all the action happens here, so what do I know. This one starts out with Bird-Man having a dream about a crystal city. His friend (?) Alvum wakes him up, they chat briefly before Bird-Man decides that he has to tell everyone he knows about this dream so that they can all find it together. As he sets out on his journey we learn more about the other characters that are with him, along with which characters were not invited on this trip and why. I don’t know what these creatures had against Hedgie, but that little man seems very useful in a crisis. Oops, almost a spoiler! That was a close one. I almost told you about how Hedgie went full kaiju… darn, I did it again! Anyway, this is a delightful mini, where there’s somehow time to make each of these half dozen characters a fully realized being. Kevin did some really solid work here, so give it a shot! $6
New review today for Meat Grinder by Rob Jackson, who would have his own wing in this place if it was a mansion and not a website. Hey, who do I have to make a wish with to make that happen?
More than once I’ve thought that I should gather up all my old Rob Jackson comics and read them again. The man has been doing this for quite a while now; I’m curious to see what’s changed. If you knew my (nonexistent) organizational system you’d know why that always up just being an idea, but today a second thought struck me: maybe I should go back and read just my reviews for his books. I have to have written at least a couple of dozen reviews of his work over the years, and I’d be astounded if I hadn’t repeated myself in that time, probably several times over. For example, one of the first things I thought while reading this was how impressive Rob’s ability was to create a fully formed world, then move onto something completely different in his next comic and do it all again. This one is filled with characters that bring up a lot of questions, but chances this is all we’ll ever see of them. I should probably get to the comic, right? Right. This is basically one long cooking contest, with the stakes being pretty damned high if our heroes end up as losers. There’s the glutinous ruler, the other contestants, the judges, our hero the clown and his two helpers. Then there’s the meat itself, which is a delightful source of suspicion all the way through the ending. As always with one of Rob’s comics, there was suspense, surprises and more than a few funny bits. Seriously, if you can get through that sample page without laughing, you might be dead inside. Check it out, give the man some money so he keeps making these things. Probably around $6, but I don’t know the exchange rate at the moment…
Long time readers may remember that I work for a Board of Elections, meaning that late October/early November are often dead times around the website. For the rest of you, my apologies for my sudden absence! I’m back now. New review today for Neverending Race by Liana Mihailova, another from the rapidly dwindling mini kus pile.
Dog shows! There’s a whole lot that goes into them, the care and feeding of the dogs specifically. This comic compares and contrasts the dog to their handler, tying a link between each of their ambitions and goals. Is there also a subtle dig at the treatment of these animals and what they get out of the process versus the handler? Eh, maybe, if you look at the last page. Or I’m putting my own biases into it, which is a constant problem. Liana does a masterful job of blending the dog and the handler into one, sometimes leaving the reader unable to tell where one ends and the other begins. The dog putting its handler through the paces, for example, is an image that’ll stick with me. This comic is at times adorable, haunting and seemingly inevitable. An odd mix, but it all blends together more seamlessly than you might think. Give it a shot and you might earn yourself a treat! $6