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Update for 7/3/20

New review today for The Marchenoir Library by A. Degen. Happy weekend/holiday, y’all! Don’t do anything stupid just because you want to get drunk and hang out with friends and/or family!

Degen, A. – The Marchenoir Library

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The Marchenoir Library

This is one of those books where there’s no chance at all that my words could ever do it justice, so if you’re one of those people who just take my word on comics recommendations (do people like that exist?), just go ahead and buy this already. If you hate it, never trust me again! There, easy. For the rest of of you, this comic doesn’t have a conventional narrative, and it’s amazing. The conceit is that this is a catalog of books available with the Marchenoir character. Every other page has the title of an imagined book, and opposite of that page is a wordless full page spread depicting some of the hypothetical action in that book. I picked the two samples more or less at random; there’s actually less going on here than there are in most of these two page stories. Even so, one look at that second page should give you some idea of how much detail A. put into each of these images. We see the trail that the villain left behind, we see our heroes trying to track him down (along with what each of them is using), and we get a peek into his home or office. All of these stories come after 8 pages of introductions to the various heroes and villains that populate this world, and I could have happily used any of those pages for samples, as the amount of information he’s able to pack into a paragraph or two combined with an image is stunning. Normally this is the point where I’d say something like “some of these stories are better than others” but really, they’re all pretty damned amazing. The fact that I got lost flipping through this book once again just now really proves that point; it really is just that engrossing. Which, again, is odd for a book with little to no narrative flow. But oh, that cast of characters! I’d buy a full book with any of these characters and any of those titles, sight unseen, after reading this. Check it out, there’s very little chance that you’ll be disappointed. $20

Update for 7/1/20

New review today for The True Adventures of Jepcomix #8 by Jep, and let me just admit here that I don’t love that title. There, I said it!

Jep – The True Adventures of Jepcomix #8

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The True Adventures of Jepcomix #8

Jep mentions in his intro that he spent a long time talking about “the unspeakable orange twat” after he became president, decided it was making him too sad to continue, and so he went back in time to tell a story from 1999. I’d be curious to see all those strips (I just checked out a few on his website and they’re pretty raw), but this comic deals with his girlfriend and himself (they’ve since married) moving into a place that they were convinced would be their dream apartment. The landlady was eccentric but seemed nice, they had access to a garden, and they loved their place. Naturally, this wouldn’t be much of a comic if things stayed that way throughout, and they very much did not. Their landlady had medical problems and the two of them were young and a bit petty in their attempts to fight back (as Jep freely admits), although it’s tough to say if anything could have salvaged this mess. And to think that the troubles all started because they had set up their bedroom in the “wrong room!” It really did set off a cascade of consequences, despite the fact that the original problem never made any sense. I loved the little peeks we got into the creative process as well, how Jep would ask his wife (in real time, on the comics page) if he had the timeline right, or why they didn’t just leave at this point, or if they really knew all along that the situation was going to blow up or if it was a complete surprise. Some of the events that you would expect to have the most impact just got forgotten completely, but they both distinctly remembered things like how the landlady’s husband dropped the keys every single time he came home. It’s a thoroughly engrossing story, and I can’t recommend this highly enough to anybody who’s had terrible neighbors. Which, I’m guessing, is just about anybody who ever left home. Give it a shot, the guy really is a hell of a writer. $4.58 (hey, that’s the price he has listed on his Etsy page)

Update for 6/29/20

New review today for Roulette by Brian Canini. No matter how bored you get in the pandemic, that’s still not a game I’d recommend.

Canini, Brian – Roulette

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Roulette

The concept behind this one is so simple that it’s going to be tough to talk about for long: two friends play a game of roulette with each other. Is it right to call it a “game” when they’re using a loaded gun and one of them is going to end up dead? Eh, probably not I guess. Brian does a good job of giving us small reveals here and there as the story progresses. We see a bit of why the narrator agreed to this, we see why they picked the location that they did, and we see a few of their tense pulls of the trigger. A lot of the specifics are left out, I’m guessing intentionally. If we knew why these two friends were this determined to kill themselves, the reader would have a chance to second guess, to say that (insert problem here) was not serious to want to kill themselves. We never learn their exact reasons, only that it’s bad enough that both of them seem determined to go through with it. It’s a good, tense story, and it’s tough to have higher stakes than these. I also feel compelled to mention Cutting Cards, an episode of Tales From the Crypt (with Lance Henriksen), because it also features a game of Russian roulette, with the stakes somehow taken up to an absurd degree. But yes, you should give this comic a shot the next time you send Brian a stack of money for a stack of comics. $2

Update for 6/24/20

New review today for Tatanka by Grant Thomas. Everybody out there is still wearing a mask, right? Nobody is being a moron about that?

Thomas, Grant – Tatanka

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Tatanka

Grant’s website is still down (as of 6/22/20), so I linked to his Patreon page instead. I generally don’t promote such things here; I mean, I’ll list them, and the links are on the websites of artists I review, but I generally leave it up to them. But I have to say that I like the way Grant is doing his. Donations range only from $1-3 a month, with escalating rewards. No crazy requests for thousands of dollars for a few minis a year (not that I’d turn it down, eccentric millionaires!), just practical support. Anyway, this mini is about the history of the bison in America and how us white folk, as usual, ruined it. The idea was the Indians used bison to live, so if the bison were taken away, well, the Indians would be sure to leave too! The sad thing is that this did work, more or less. It pushed them to attack, which led to them more directly getting wiped out. And the idea that people STILL, even now, shoot wildlife from helicopters or trains… “coward” is not a big enough word for those assholes. Grant packed a lot of information into this small comic, so if you’re curious about this time in our history, you’re not likely to find a more compact synopsis. Ignorant American that I am, the first thing I thought about with that title was the ridiculous WWF wrestler of the same name. Hey, maybe Pat Aulisio can put togehter a mini about the wrestler Tatanka! That would make quite a set with this one. $1

Update for 6/22/20

New review today for The Fuzzy Princess: Girl’s Night Out #1 by Charles Brubaker. Hey, anybody out there who gave me copies of their comics to sell back in the day? I’m shutting down the shop, so I’ll be reaching out to you to get your books back to you (and to pay you the few dollars I owe you, although don’t be alarmed if I didn’t sell any of your books. I’m terrible at the online selling stuff thing!). So contact me at kbramer74@gmail.com if you want to get a jump on things, otherwise expect an email soonish, timeframe based on the first letter of your last name. Jeff Zwirek, you have some time to think about things!

Brubaker, Charles – The Fuzzy Princess: Girl’s Night Out #1

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The Fuzzy Princess: Girl’s Night Out #1

So I did my usual “putting the review together” thing where I go to the website for the artist, hoping to put the necessary links on the post (yep, peeling back the curtain here for no apparent reason). It turns out that Charles is so prolific that this issue isn’t even listed, despite the fact that it was put out this year! Is that going to stop me from reviewing it? Nah, especially since I’m pretty sure you could just email Charles and ask for a copy. This is the first part of a longer story, most likely to be collected in a complete volume later. Maybe that’s why the single issues aren’t listed, he might have already wrapped up the story and is putting the book together. Anyway, as the title makes clear, this is a night out for the ladies. I’ve completely lost track of who’s who in these comics; I’d suggest a character gallery on the inside front cover, but this is a man who uses every square inch of issue for comics, so maybe that’s not as practical as it usually is. So our heroes are stuck inside for a night and decide to all go out. They discuss it, and a large pile of clothes is dumped on the floor for them to go through and use. They’ll have to live with their choices throughout the evening, and one of those choices has already had consequences. As for their night out, it doesn’t exactly involve boozy debauchery (are all of these characters adults?), but instead they get some dinner, then head out to an arcade before a movie. That’s where the mayhem happens, but I’ll leave the surprises to you. And it’s left on a cliffhanger, so it sure looks like more antics are on the way. If you’ve read Charles’s comics you know the deal by now: an all-ages read with some jokes and nothing too heavy to deal with, put out at a pace where you could be reading an issue every couple of weeks or so with no problem. There are worse things in the world!

Update for 6/12/20

New review today for The Fifty Flip Experiment #25, which is what I hope aliens will eventually use to judge our entire race. Happy weekend everybody!

Hill, Dan – The Fifty Flip Experiment #25

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The Fifty Flip Experiment #25

Aw, Dan’s website (which is delightfully old-timey) has a gif of ladies dancing with sloth heads superimposed over theirs. I’m just going to assume that’s meant as a hello to me, so hi Dan! I also included a rare second sample image because Dan put an ad up for older comics on his back cover, so I want readers with extra time on their hands (I know you’re reading this at work, don’t fib) to go back, read my reviews for those issues, and compare them to how Dan describes them. Do I mention that one thing he mentions? For example, I can’t imagine he did a whole issue (#20) as a Jughead parody, but I’m missing that issue. So it might be true! Ah, that’s enough rambling. I’m paid the big bucks (note: I am paid no bucks) to talk about comics, not to get all self-indulgent and ask readers to compare my reviews to his synopses! This one is part one of a three part series, which should be enough to intrigue/terrify you right there. As such, this one is a bit more linear than some of his other comics, so this review might be more coherent than usual. Emphasis on “might”! This one starts with a space probe cleaning up space junk, and on the first page it disregards a vacuum cleaner for the sake of a toaster. Is this important to the plot? Always assume that it is! The drone is given a treat for finding the toaster, and we follow our hero back to her home, where we get a quick, high detail tour. She then goes on a tour of the local ruined society and ponders what the life of a local monk must have been like. Any more and I’ll wander into spoilers, so I’ll just say that there is a big old fight scene before the issue is done, so don’t you fret about that. And, as always, his thoughts on the back inside cover are worth the price of admission all by itself. Give it a shot, Dan is the weirdo we need for these troubled times. $7

Update for 6/10/20

New review for an older comic: Number #2 by Box Brown!

Brown, Box – Number #2

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Number #2

My recent unintentional series of reviews of comics from 2014 continues with Number #2! When it’s said aloud do you think it’s “number two” or “number number two”? The world may never know. As for why I’m reviewing this, I saw it on John Porcellino’s Spit and a Half website and realized there was a Box Brown comic out there that I missed somehow and fixed that problem as soon as I could. This comic has two big stories in it. First up is a piece about a skater in her mid 30’s who we get just enough time to see is riding her skateboard home while drunk and ruing her lack of health care. And the fact that she’s 33 and still riding a skateboard. She gets some drunk food on the way home (White Castle, second only to Taco Bell for drunk food) and runs into a local crank who’s hassled her (and other people; the guy has a reputation) in the past. She tries being nice, that doesn’t work, so she tries skating away. That ends badly, but I should probably stop before I spoil the whole thing. I will say that bit with the cops just casually dehumanizing her, especially with the time I’m writing this (during some gigantic protests against police brutality (I should specify June 2020, as that’s sadly not narrowing it down all that much)), really got to me. It’s so easy for those assholes to, at a minimum, ruin your day. The second story deals with a documentarian, his jealousies (personal and professional), how his work is seen by others, whether or not it makes sense to engage people in comments, what gives him inspiration and some of the people he interviews. It’s a really insightful look into a mindset I admire but don’t understand, if that makes any sense. Anyway, it’s Box Brown, of course it’s a fantastic comic! If you missed this one like me when it came out, John still has copies available… $6

Update for 6/8/20

New review for Glimpses of Life #6 by Brian Canini, who is maybe the most reviewed person on this website? Somebody take a tally…

Canini, Brian – Glimpes of Life #6

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Glimpses of Life #6

I’ve been reviewing Brian’s comics since the very early days of this website. 2004ish, maybe sooner (I started in 2001)? Something like that. So I thought I’d check Brian’s website as I was copying the link there and check out the store, see the rough percentage of his books that I’ve reviewed. Keeping in mind that he definitely has older comics that are out of print (doesn’t everybody?), somehow I’ve still only reviewed maybe half of his books. Probably not even that much. Search under his name here if you’re curious how many that equals out to; it’s still a hell of a lot! Anyway, personal digression aside, how’s the comic? I’m always interested in seeing an origin story for a guy I’ve been enjoying for years, and this comic did an excellent job of explaining how Brian got into comics and why he sticks with them now. There’s his genuine appreciation for having a knowledgeable and supportive guy in charge of the local comic shop (The Laughing Ogre; if you’re anywhere near Columbus Ohio it’s worth a trip), how prolific he was even back in the day, how he’d take art supplies everywhere he went in case inspiration struck, how much Jeff Smith has done for the comics scene in Columbus and what he means to Brian, and his own philosophy on what makes a comic and how we still have so much to explore in regards to their potential. He also lists some of his influences, and I have no proof of this but it sure feels like an “oh yeah!” moment in making comics. Meaning that he made a list, got back to work on the comic, remembered several other names and put them into the comic, got back to work on the comics, remembered still MORE names and included them on the back inside cover. I get it! It’s a damned solid list; if you’re just now looking to get into comics you could do a whole lot worse than to just get books from everybody on his lists to start. Another solid issue, give it a look if you’re curious as to how he came to start making comics! $3

Update for 6/4/20

New review for Please Destroy the Internet by Michael Sweater. I mean, enough of the internet, am I right?

Sweater, Michael – Please Destroy the Internet

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Please Destroy the Internet

Hey look, a collection of (mostly) single page gag strips! Long time readers of this website may remember that I have one simple test to determine if such a book has more funny moments than not (as there’s always a few duds among the strips): how hard was it for me to pick the sample image? If I had to dig around and picked the one funny one, that’s not a great sign! If, like in this case, I had to narrow it down and still am not sure if I picked the funniest one in the bunch? Then that comic is a winner and is full of funny! Of course, another problem with reviewing such books is that nothing kills humor faster than dissecting it, which makes it somewhere between difficult and impossible to talk about it in any depth. So it’s time for my patented (I have no patents) method of mentioning out-of-context snippets from strips in the hopes of intriguing you enough to buy his book. Or you could look at his Instagram page to be convinced, as it’s full of free samples. Strips in this collection deal with crab fighting, coming to terms with being a cartoonist, buried treasure, “reading” on a long bus ride, Hulk vs. Spiderman, how social media came about, banana peels, cat farts, killing a tick, putting everything that isn’t already on the internet onto the internet, having a dog, BRB, giving up on the day, picking your own quote for your tombstone, the fate of all cartoonists, ex boyfriend style, Halloween baby, aliens meeting primitive man, and a comic as a Casper ad. It’s a pile of funny, all in one place, and the man has a few more books available if you like this one. Read a few samples and make up your own mind, but I think this one is worth a look. $10

Update for 6/2/20

New review today for Quarantine Comics by Glenn Wilkinson, which are not actually about the quarantine. Spoiler alert!

Wilkinson, Glenn – Quarantine Comics

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Quarantine Comics

Finally, a comic made in the quarantine! Oh wait, I hadn’t read the disclaimer yet. This wasn’t written in the quarantine and isn’t about the quarantine. Oh well, I guess my search for the first quarantine mini comic continues. All kidding aside though, Glenn did have a pretty solid idea for this, considering the time we’re living through: after you finish this comic, send it along to a friend or somebody you think might like it. He has a sign-in sheet in the back so you could keep track of who else has read the comic; he even has plans for how people can post this to various social media accounts. Hey, people have the free time right now, why not give this a shot? Isn’t there also a comic here I should be talking about? Right you are! This is a collection of a few stories, with subjects including a wizard trying to get with the times and support his granddaughter, Peter Cushing as a Time Lord (with the most mundane reason for a body regeneration that I’ve ever seen; Doctor Who take note!), and a man trying to get a better brain. Entertaining stuff, so yeah, why not order it and ship it around to your friends? I suppose you could do that for any comic, so if you don’t want to order this, I don’t know, start your own trend. Find some mini comic from a decade ago and mail it around. Still, you should start with this one, as it was Glenn’s idea first. He’s in the UK so it might take you some dollars to get it, but give it a shot!