New review today for Lucy the Octopus: Better in Small Doses by Richy Chandler.
Lucy the Octopus: Better in Small Doses
That right there is a damned clever title, and it must have flummoxed at least one reviewer. This is a collection of his weekly webcomic, which is based on Lucy the Octopus from his Tempo Lush set of ten tiny comics, which you maybe own if you’re awesome. Anyway, Lucy is a teenage girl octopus who is ridiculously unpopular with everybody around her. This collection of 40 strips shows her trying to exist (not really even fit in, as she seems to have already given up on that concept), bonding with her new poisonous pet, trying to stay friends with the new kid who doesn’t yet know how uncool Lucy is, taking beauty advice from her sister (who tells her friends that she isn’t even related to Lucy), and becoming a science experiment from her brother. These stories can get a little grim at times, but Richy manages to keep a light tone through most of them. And the coloring is gorgeous, so even though he mentions that it would be easier to go black and white with the strips I’m really hoping he doesn’t do it. This seems to be an all-ages strip, although I think kids in their early teens would probably get the most out of it. Come to think of it, all-ages is kind of a stupid qualifier, as I’m pretty sure that reading this to a baby would have no effect. I’m wandering a bit, but this is very much worth a look. He also sent along the next issue, so I’ll have more to say about this after I read it. You know, for a complete picture and all that. Or you could just go to his website and see his newer stuff for yourself, it’s a free country. Well, this one is. I don’t know where you are…
New review for Brain Food #18 by Mike Toft. Hey, I’ve already mentioned here that nobody in the Columbus area should rent from Arbors of Watermark, right? Just checking. They’re awful. That pretentious name should have tipped me off, but I went with them anyway.
Brain Food #18
The NSA is coming for you! There, that should get me on any government watch lists that I’ve managed to avoid up until this point. Unless you think the threat/intrusion from the NSA has been ridiculously overblown, which would probably mean that you don’t follow the news too closely, but hey, willful ignorance is your right as an American. I’m veering towards preaching already, which is just how I get on those rare occasions when a comic deals with current events. Anyway! This is the story of a creepy clown (is there any other kind?) that comes to a cheap hotel to stay for a local clown convention. This clown balks at giving his address out to the hotel after they inform him that they only ask for that information in case the police call to ask who is staying at that hotel. The clown wisely points out that he already gave up his name, phone number and credit card number to get into the hotel, so he’s not going to give them his address too. Things escalate from there, as the NSA is called in to check on this disruptive citizen, a protest group is called in to take the side of the clown (although there seemed to be a crossed wire about the sexuality of the clown somewhere along the line), and various branches of the government fight with each other to get credit for this arrest. I loved the bit where the protest group posted a picture of the clown being arrested to Facebook, and the clown is rightly annoyed that his picture is now on Facebook without his consent. His comment that being on Facebook is the same as just giving your information right to the government is dead on, which is one of many reasons why I have a dusty, unused Facebook page, but that fight has already been lost, culturally speaking. Anyway, lots of interesting tidbits about intrusive government overreach, along with probably a few exaggerations on his part, but he’s nice enough to list a bunch of links on the back of the comic so you can check all this for yourself. Worth checking out, unless your preferred reaction to news of the NSA is to stick your fingers in your ears and chant “la la la la” until it’s over. $1
New review today for Big Brute by Brian Leonard, and I’ll try one more time to put up a full week’s worth a reviews. I’m also going to start a project I’ve been dreading: going through my store inventory. The hard drive on my old computer crashed about a year ago, and of course it had all that information on it, so it’ll be interesting putting all that information back together again. But hey, at least when you order comics after the next month or so you can be sure that the item will be in stock, unlike the crapshoot ordering has turned into recently…
You know, I’ve had my problems with poems in comics in the past, because I have a cold heartless core that doesn’t appreciate lyricism. Or maybe it’s more to do with the quality of the poetry involved. Who knows? All I can say for sure is that Brian has found a way around that: make the poem about a giant monster on a rampage through a city. This is a very short mini with that very simple story, and the poem is from the perspective of the monster. The poem itself isn’t the greatest thing in the world, but it’s not terrible either, and while you’re reading it you get to see this giant beast destroy a town and fight an army. So really, it’s your call as to whether or not that would be of interest to you. Hate poetry but love mayhem? Then you have a real decision on your hands here. $1
New review today for An Afternoon in Ueno by Graeme McNee. I may or may not get time to put up a review tomorrow, so don’t be terribly offended if I miss it. Oh, and since it’s impossible to leave the house without being reminded of it, the holiday season is basically already here. Why not buy some comics for your friends and loved ones? Why not buy them from me because I have plenty of them? Just a thought. I’m going to go through and remove the comics that are out of stock this weekend, so in theory everything will then be up to date. Still, it’s always a good idea to pick a few alternates just in case…
An Afternoon in Ueno
It’s hard for a story to get much more charming than this. It starts off simply enough, with a young boy eating a meal with his family and his father pestering him about various duties that the boy should have performed. All of these questions are answered in the affirmative, but the boy tries telling his father that he has a stomach ache to avoid getting out of band practice. The father doesn’t even dignify this with a response, and he drops his child off at band practice. Once the kid gets inside, however, he learns that band practice is actually next week, and his family is not answering the phone at his house, leaving the boy with an afternoon to kill. He starts off looking a little concerned about this eventuality, but soon realizes what this means for his afternoon and is overjoyed. I’m in danger of telling the whole story again, so I’ll just leave the description there, but again, this whole thing is damned near too charming for words. Graeme has already shown an uncanny knack for the quiet moments with his last book, but this one just cements that reputation in my mind. This isn’t a silent comic, but large chunks of it go without words, as they’re simply not necessary at times. Picking out my favorite moment would be difficult. The hat store? The birds? The jam session on the street? I’ll just go with “all of it” and leave it at that. Check this out, everybody. You won’t be disappointed. But hurry, will you? This only has a print run of 200, and this is one of those cases where I don’t think number will end up being high enough.
New review today for Wuzzgutt by Jon Lawrence. Still getting back in the routine here, but hey, first time I’ve had two reviews in two days in awhile…
You know how sometimes a silent comic ends up, um (how do I put this politely), not making a lot of sense? I’m usually not clear in those situations whether I’m too dense to follow the story or if the author just wasn’t clear in what they were trying to convey. In this case I’m pretty sure that the reader isn’t given enough information to begin with. This comic isn’t entirely silent, so it gets a little clearer in the second and third stories (out of three). But that first story… woo boy. I should point out that this book is stunning visually, with plenty of genuinely weird and alien imagery. Anyway, the first story is entitled “Cosmic Pilgrimage.” The Wuzzgutt is that creature on the cover, just so you’re clear. I have very little idea of what happens in this story. Wuzzgutt meets a baby bird creature, who spews out some noise of some kind towards Wuzzgutt? Or maybe he/it is directing this noise towards the bird? Then Wuzzgutt sees a vision of a naked lady with a bird mask of some kind (and hey, if you’re just looking for boobs in your comic, this one has plenty of them), then Wuzzgutt either is transported to or sees a female singer (fully clothed this time), then it’s back to pure madness, and Wuzzgutt finally ends up seeing a female (?) Wuzzgutt near another lady. Or a Wuzzgutt statue? I feel confident in about 25% of that summary. The second story starts off fairly incomprehensively too, but once the talking starts we learn that some lady wants the Wuzzgutt captured, and the Wuzzgutt starts a ritual of some kind. Finally the third story deals with the ritual and the guy who tries to capture it, along with any ancillary damage that this guy does in the capture attempt. Maybe future issues would help this make some sense, but it sure feels like this is meant to tell the whole story, and if that’s the case the story it tells is a bit of a mess. I really like his art, and he sent along another comic so I’ll see how that one goes, but as a story I have to say that this made very little sense to me. $4
New review for Open Bar by Trevor Waurechen, and this site should be back to normal now, or whatever that usually means around here. As to my idea last week about some kind of a Xeric Grant substitute that I could put together, well, the silence was deafening, so I don’t think that will be happening. Not sure what I was expecting there. “Sure, I have thousands of dollars to give away for grants to people to publish books that I don’t even know!” Eh, in a perfect world. But if you’re a rich person who likes comics, this means that it’s on you to find some way to replace that grant. Make it happen!
Ah, good old 24 hour comic failures. Which is an odd way to refer to a comic that ended up being a pretty great story, but hey, it wasn’t completed in 24 hours. I do sometimes wonder what the honest number of comics actually produced in 24 hours would be, as it seems like damned near everybody can’t resist the urge to at least go back and “touch up” the book a little. But I’m wandering all over the place here instead of talking about this comic. The story is about as simple as possible, which is something of a requirement for 24 hour books: a night bartending at an open bar. Our hero doesn’t get to say a whole lot for large chunks of the comic, as he’s mostly there to listen to other people tell their stories and observe some of their behaviors, but at least he gets something in the end. Anyway, stories in here include a smarty pants and the lady he’s with (briefly, as she seems to be the drunken life of the party) talking about religion, another guy telling the bartender all of his theories about that ladies after she wanders off, an absolute weirdo with a cell phone fixation, a union organizer and a lady on the prowl. The union organizer has one of the oddest noses I’ve seen in comics, as the profile for it sometimes comes right up over his skull, but this has absolutely no bearing on the story and probably isn’t worth mentioning. But I did it anyway, and you can’t stop me! Overall this is a solid comic, and it’s always a win for 24 hour comics when they get me wondering what the creator is capable of when they’re not operating under time constraints (not that he technically was, as he finished this in about six months, but that was the original idea behind the story). Luckily Trevor sent along a few other books, so I’ll have the answer to that mystery in a week or so when I review another one of his books. And so will you!
Remember when I mentioned that work might make reviews sporadic for a few weeks? Well, it is, and it’s even more sporadic than I thought. Things should be back to normal next week, and I may or may not manage to get a review up tomorrow (but probably not). But hey, this gives me a chance to ask all of you about something that’s been buzzing in the back of my head. Remember the Xeric grants? Remember how those ended last year? Or, if you haven’t heard about it: those ended last year. Anyway, I’ve been trying to come up with some way to put together at least a partial replacement for them. Obviously I wouldn’t be able to come close to replacing the dollar amount, but was kind of wondering if getting $20,000-30,000 a year from Kickstarter and maybe a few fundraisers would be possible. This would mean grants to 4-6 people instead of double digits like Xeric usually did, but at least it’s a start. So my question to you guys is: ya wanna? I could contact the groups who gave money to Xeric on a regular basis, maybe find a few (hundred) more people willing to donate a little cash, and at least there would be one avenue open for people who need financial help getting their book published. I’m mostly just looking for opinions now. Who out there thinks this is plausible? Utterly ridiculous? Write me and tell me why either way. Did you get a Xeric grant in the past? If so, write me and tell me about the experience. How much money you got, whether it was enough or too much (not that I’m expecting many responses in that last regard), what could have been improved, your general impressions, everything. I’d probably have to take a month or two off work to put this together and run it, so I’d have to ask for a donation for those months too. I work at a place where my taking a month or two off wouldn’t be that big of a deal (provided they weren’t months with electi0ns in them), but the idea of asking donations to cover my life for that time might be off-putting to people, and maybe a tacky thing to even ask. This is where your opinions come in! Finally, I guess there’s the chance that I’d just take the pile of money and move to a tropical island or something, so this is where I’d have to hope that my 12+ years of doing this have built up at least a little credibility for me. So yeah, send me your thoughts. If this strikes too many of you as ridiculous/fantastical/impossible, I’ll give up before I get started. If it seems remotely plausible, well, my understanding is that Kickstarter donations only really count if you meet your goal, and if that’s true I don’t see any reason not to at least give it a shot. Write me!
New review today for Jason Part 2 by Bonesteel. I’ve mentioned a few times here that I work at the local Board of Elections, so when my reviewing gets even more sporadic around the end of October/start of November, well, that’s why. Even the little elections take a lot of work on our end. I’ll still get reviews up as much as possible, but it will likely stay sporadic through next week.
Jason Part 2
Hey, I did some good in this world! Well, that’s assuming a lot, but I complained plenty about the spelling in the first part of this “Jason” story, and it was all almost completely fixed in this one. Coincidence? Yeah, probably, but I’ll still take it. I mentioned in that first review that I didn’t have a single problem with the story, and that remains the case here. If you missed it, this is the story of Jason from the Friday the 13th movies, going about his days as an employee of a group that lets these killers have casual conversations with each other and provides them with state-of-the-art weaponry. This time around we get to see Jason trying to learn the basics of how to care for his new dog, trying to figure out why he wants to be a mentor to a kid (an actual mentor, but to somebody who will have full knowledge of what Jason does), the guy from the “Scream” movies talking shit to Freddy Krueger and challenging him to a kill-off, and a product demonstration of the various killing tools that Jason has available to him. It’s still chock full of funny bits, and once again you can just barely know about these characters and still get a lot out of it. Granted, it helps if you have some familiarity with them, but it’s still a thoroughly engaging story either way. And isn’t that always a sign that the creator has done their job? Yes! That’s the answer I was going for.
New review for Nervenkrank #1 by Katherine Wirick. Happy weekend everybody!
I don’t think Katherine has a single wasted panel here, and she has an uncanny knack for capturing a mood or moment in one quick image. Oh, and you should probably read the preview for this series, even though I don’t see it listed at her website, and what the hell is that about… eh, maybe it’s already at her Tumblr page, and technically it’s not required reading. Still, it really helps set up this world. This is the story of John Heartfield (born Helmut Herzfeld). During WWI he told his commanding officer that he was mentally ill and spent the next few weeks in a mental institution. As this was from 1915, the conditions were grim, to put it mildly. This issue starts off with a few brief images of the asylum before John’s relief. The looks on his face as he tries to say goodbye to a few of his friends (who are mostly too far gone to notice him), his halting, terrified manner of speaking, the way he flinches when a guard suddenly reaches out and straightens his hat, every one of those images tells volumes about the conditions he’s been enduring. From there he takes a slow walk back to where he’d been staying and is immediately confronted by the very nice wife of a guy who seems to be a bit of an asshole. She wants to feed him, her husband has nothing but contempt for John (who has a bit of a stutter), and John retreats up into his room. From there we see him slowly pick up the pieces of his old life and decide what he wants to keep. There’s not much dialogue here, but there’s no need for it, as the look on John’s face as he takes down the German flag says it all. Katherine has the confidence of somebody who has been doing this for years, and it’s well-deserved, as she gets damned near everything right. The only place where I could have used a bit of an explanation was an early scene where a guard drops off what appears to be a dead cat in John’s cell before taking him away, but it’s possible that was something from the preview that I’m just not remembering now. Either way this is pretty much flawless, and if your biggest complaint about a comic is that you’d rather not wait another year for the next issue, then you really don’t have a legitimate complaint at all. $5
New review today for God Is Disappointed In You by Mark Russell & Shannon Wheeler. Sorry about the lack of reviews, it’s been a mess of a week. Another one tomorrow probably?
Be warned: this is pretty much a book review. What the hell is a book review doing on a comics review website? Well, this does come from Top Shelf Comix, and Shannon Wheeler does have some damned funny single panel comics mixed in with the writing. But mostly I’m just doing this to try and push this just a little bit further into the popular consciousness. Not that I have any grand illusions on my influence, but some people read this website, and those that do should read this book. All of them? Yep. Or to put it another way: how many of you have read the Bible, front to back, like it was an actual book? I’ve done it and it’s awful. Not much of a narrative thread, lots of stretches where nothing happens, repetitive passages, hilariously dated misogyny and homophobia, and parts of it are downright insane. Oh, and it’ll also take you months to get through it. But you kind of have to have a working knowledge of it, as the world is still full of nutbags who believe that the entirety of this book is literally true. Which is also a good indicator of a charlatan, as certain parts of it contradict other parts of it, making it impossible that it could all be literally true, but I’m getting off track (which will be a serious danger as I go on, so be warned). What Mark wanted to do with this book (as he mentions in the epilogue) is to boil the various books of the Bible down into understandable and damned funny bits, and he does that beautifully. That title is perfect (and he’s right, there isn’t a better one line summary of the Bible out there), the little red flap that’s included as a bookmark put a smile on my face, and the silver trim along the edges of the pages really makes this book look like a Bible from a distance. So your next question is probably whether or not this book will offend you if you are a believer and/or a regular church-goer (believe me, all kinds of people go to church out of simple inertia or out of a desire not to offend the rest of their family). As someone who is neither of those things (but was both many years ago), I’d have to say that this isn’t terribly offensive. Irreverent, sure, but the Bible is screaming out for that treatment, as so much of it is so very ridiculous. And really, I’d have to say that Mark went easy on it at times. No mention of the pricing scale the Bible used to make sure you were getting a fair price for selling your daughter into slavery (yes, that is really in the Bible, and it’s really something that the Confederates used as an argument for slavery back in Civil War times), no real mention of the many times that one book would contradict another one, including how many discrepancies were in the four books that told the story of the life of Jesus. But right from the start (“God created the human race to be his pets. As a first-time pet owner, God wisely chose to start small, creating just two people: Adam and Eve.”), you get a sense of the tone of this book, so if that’s too much for you, feel free to bail. I’ll think you’re being a baby, but chances are pretty good that we’re never going to have a conversation about this book, so don’t worry about it. From there you might expect this book to get bogged down in the same repetition that the Bible does, but that’s not a problem. Mark’s idea to treat the various letters from prophets as memos to the flocks was inspired, and Shannon never failed to add a comic here and there that summed up Mark’s summary perfectly. There are a few too many typos for my taste in the early going (I’m snobby about such things, so once it gets to half a dozen I get cranky), but they clear up about halfway through. This book is invaluable and I expect to read it at least a few more times in my lifetime, and to loan it out to a few people who could use the knowledge. Unless you’re an impartial biblical scholar, this also includes you. $20