Update for 11/23/20

New review for Maids by Katie Skelly! And here’s hoping nobody reading this is dumb enough to go to a Thanksgiving dinner with people other than the ones you’re already living with. And, if you are, please send a letter to your local hospital saying that you understand the risks and want to give your future bed up to somebody who at least tried to stay safe. Hey, it’s just being true to your principles, right?

Skelly, Katie – Maids

Website

Maids

This is one of those cases where I was really glad that I didn’t read the back of the book before the book itself, but consider this a public service announcement: if you’re ordering this book, good luck coming away without reading some spoilers. Not here, so no worries there, but this is based on a true story of a pair of sisters from the 1930’s. Granted, it’s not like Katie would adapt their story if they lived their lives as maids and nothing ever happened to them, but if you’re curious the details are easy enough to find. This is the story of Christine and Lea, two sisters who end up as maids working for a wealthy (and terrible) family. Christine had already had the job and she talked the family into hiring her sister later. As we progress through the story we see some background, including their awful home life, their time at a convent (including the way Lea ended up getting kicked out after her sister was hired away), all while they both struggle to keep their employers happy. The banality of it all, especially compared to what happens, is somehow devastating, and the actions they eventually take… well. Never mind about that. Even the real life consequences of their actions were shocking, in two very different ways. Huh, now I see why they put the whole story on the back cover. It’s not easy to talk about without bringing that stuff up! Anyway, this is, yet again, probably Katie’s best work, and I don’t know how she manages to top herself every time, but I’m thrilled to be able to witness it. I’ve mentioned in the past how I keep delaying putting my mini comics in order because, you know, endless mounds of comics, but it’s the thought of being able to find all of Katie’s old comics and people like her again that might actually make that happen soon. Hey, if a pandemic and quarantine don’t motivate me, what will? Buy this book, enjoy, and marvel at the spectacle. $19.99

Update for 11/18/20

New review today for Two Stories by Brian Canini, and if all goes well I should be back next week with more reviews. Keep those comic orders coming! I’m really dreading telling the few people who haven’t sold any comics over the years the bad news. It’s not their fault, it’s my crappy store, but still…

Canini Brian – Two Stories

Website

Two Stories

Sometimes the title says it all, so if you guessed that this comic has two stories in it… well, that wasn’t much of a guess, really, since it’s pretty obvious. Anyway! The first story here is about a man who wakes up one day with some gunk on his hand. He tries to wash it off but can’t manage it, and soon notices some smoke coming from his hand. He then notices that a society is growing on it, which of course leads to questions about what he’s going to do about it and how it’s going to impact his life, but it’s a short story and I shouldn’t give any of that stuff away. The second story is one of the most honest and open inner monologues I’ve seen about why somebody continues to make comics, which I’m sure at least one person reading this is wondering about right now. It’s not explicitly said that it’s Brian asking these questions, and it’s entirely possible that this is meant to be “some guy” asking these questions and that I’m reading too much into it by assuming it’s Brian. Anyway, it’s raw and fascinating, and he even manages a decent punchline at the end. It’s a different aspect of it for sure, but as I go barreling (limping? wheezing?) towards a 20 year anniversary of rambling about comics here, the question has occurred to me too. How long do I keep this up? I started off as an idealistic dude in his 20s; clearly that’s no longer the case. The best answer I’ve come up with? People do read this site for suggestions about what small press comics are around that are worth checking out. Not many, probably (I’ve lost the password to the stats page so I have no clue of traffic these days), but being a drop of the bucket is fine when it’s a small bucket. Not that anybody asked! You’re here to read about comics. Well, this is a good one, from one of the most prolific and varied people going today. Check it out, why don’t you? $2

Update for 11/16/20

One solid month! I did not mean to be gone for that long, but presidential year elections are a madhouse even in states where the result, sadly, wasn’t that close. I’m going to ease back into things with a couple of reviews this week; today it’s for Dogs by Tim Brown. If I can manage to avoid covid (fingers crossed, but be careful out there everybody) I should be able to get through most of the review backlog over the next month or so. Oh, and I’m still planning on shutting the store down at the end of the year, and thanks to a few orders I’m getting a lot closer to all of the comics being listed for sale as actually for sale and not dusty mirages of a broken store…

Brown, Tim – Dogs

Website (where you can buy his books)

Dogs

There are two possibilities I’ve seen over the years when it comes to comics that are either written by the children of the artist or the artist him or herself when they were younger: it’s either cringe worthy or frickin’ adorable. This one? Frickin’ adorable. This is from a poem Tim wrote when he was 8 years old about, you guessed it, dogs. Having these lively and occasionally bonkers illustrations helps quite a bit, granted, but the poem itself it also pretty great. I guess I can say a little about the “story,” but you probably already get the idea from the title/concept. This is 8 year old Tim’s conception of dogs, which as far as I can tell is pretty accurate, told in a rhyming format. Some clever bits, and the parts that aren’t that clever are covered up completely by the pictures. I mean, look at that version of the sandman. Neil Gaiman, eat your heart out! So yeah, this really is one of those “all ages” books that can be enjoyed by all ages, and it’s a thoroughly engaging poem about dogs and their eccentricities. Contact info was impossible to find online (hey, you try finding a website when searching “Tim Brown” and “dogs”), but there’s a link up there to where you can buy a couple of his books at the Quimby’s website. Try it out and enjoy! $10

“Update” for 11/2/20

Vote tomorrow! Either vote for four more years of covid or at least an attempt at getting the virus under control, but vote. In theory I should be able to get back to reviews next week, assuming there’s no martial law…

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!