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Update for 9/18/19

New review today for Persephone’s Garden by Glynnis Fawkes, which is the last of the Secret Acres books I had left to review.

Fawkes, Glynnis – Persephone’s Garden

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Persephone’s Garden

When I get a comic or graphic novel to review and it takes me several weeks to review it, one of a few things happened. Maybe I lost track of it and found it later. Maybe I just had a backlog of things to review and got to it as soon as I could. And, once in a great while, I’ve been sitting with a book, keeping it around so I can check on things when they pop into my brain, because I just can’t get the book out of my head. For Persephone’s Garden (which arrived months ago), that last one is the answer. I kept thinking I knew what I wanted to say, then I’d think of some story or strip from the book, go back and read it and completely lose what I wanted to say. But since I can either do that forever or say something about this remarkable book, it’s time to ramble! This is, on a basic level, the story of Glynnis, her kids, husband and parents. This book is packed with adorable stories about kids, about the crazy things they say and do, and about their perpetual suffering through vacations and meals that would awe most adults. It’s also about dealing with her mother, who has had alzheimer’s for the last few years, and how the mother/parent roles have been reversed. Her mother made tapestries for years, using incredibly elaborate patterns, and watching as her skills gradually left her was devastating. There’s also stories about Glynnis and her job, which is to travel to different locations and make illustration of different pieces of pottery so they’re not lost to history. All of these things would make for a complex and vast graphic novel, but it’s the way that she ties them all together that’s truly brilliant. It all comes together in the most natural and amazing way by the end, and once again I feel compelled to leave it the reader to find out what that means. You can read this on a surface level and get plenty out of it; by that criteria alone this should be considered one of the best books of the year. But when you get down into how it all ties together, it’s possible this book should be elevated even higher than that. Read it, in other words. Now I’m going to go back to contemplating various bits of it, possibly forever. $21.95

Update for 9/16/19

New review today for I Couldn’t Stop by Powerpaola, as the mini kus books have returned! Also happy birthday Kathie!

Powerpaola – I Couldn’t Stop

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I Couldn’t Stop

Could this be the most straightforward of the mini kus comics? Nah, the ending alone blows that idea out of the water, but it’s bad form to talk about the ending of a book, so I won’t do that. But the bulk of it is a narrative that’s easy to follow, so maybe this is the mini kus book you should keep on your coffee table to get people hooked when they come over and thumb through the random comics you leave out. Anyway, the story here is about our hero, as she just wants a night out after a rough week of working on a comic about sexual abuse. She meets up with a friend, they get a drink, move on to another location and meet up with a couple of guys (it’s not clear if they were waiting for the ladies to show up or were just friendly strangers; it also doesn’t matter a whole lot). After they’re seated they have a fascinating conversation that’s interrupted by some cops with their guns drawn, looking for a burglar. Finally the evening comes to a close and the three other people take an Uber together, while Paola heads home on her bike. This is where the mildly confusing ending happens, but I think I’ve figured it out while I was writing this. Maybe. Give this one a look, if you’re bothered by how open to interpretation some of these mini kus books can be, this one should ease your worries. $6

Update for 9/12/19

New review today for Double Dip #2 by Dale Martin and Tom Cherry. Each one of them covers half of the comic, in case you were wondering.

Cherry, Tom/Martin, Dale – Double Dip #2

Website for Tom

Website for Dale

Double Dip #2

When I saw in the intro for this book that it had been 8 years since the last issue, my first thought was simple. Did I review the first issue 8 years ago? Yep, I sure did! OK, so did I like it? Yes again! OK, so what do I remember about it? Um… not much. Hey, you try remembering every comic you’ve ever read when you write at least a few reviews a week (and five a week for several years). Anyway, one thing I mentioned in the last review was that I had no idea how to follow Dale’s Watusi story, as he referenced several things that were clearly part of a past series. Well, this time around he uses footnotes to explain exactly when the past action happened, so at least it’s a mystery that can be solved now. The man has 39 issues of his Watusi series out (not to mention his other comics), so it’s easy to see why things get hard to keep track of. His story picks up directly from #1 and deals with the shape shifting creature, how he got here, what he did on previous trips to visit, and a demonstration of his skills. Next issue we get his full origin, so here’s hoping it’s not another 8 years before that happens. There’s also Tom’s story, which is a self-contained story about a boy who invents his own curse word to avoid getting into trouble. Throw in a giant robot that’s out to destroy the world and things end up coming together quite nicely. It’s a measly $2, give it a shot you cheapskates!

Update for 9/10/19

New review today for I Like Totally Know What You Did Last Summer by Sarah Romano Diehl and Brandon Lehmann.

Romano Diehl, Sarah & Lehmann, Brandon – I Like Totally Know What You Did Last Summer

Sarah’s Website

Brandon’s Website

I Like Totally Know What You Did Last Summer

Is this still a movie that can be parodied in 2019? I’m genuinely curious if the kids today remember a movie that came out in, what, 1995? It just occurred to me that I’m connected to the internet, so it turns out it was 1997, with one sequel. Eh, who knows. I thought it was terrible when I saw it (full disclosure: in the theaters; yes, I’m ancient), but it’s not like that’s enough to stop a movie from becoming a cult classic. Anyway, you’ll get more out of this comic if you’ve seen the movie, but either way it’s a fun little romp of teenage panic, unsupported assumptions and mistaken identity. I can’t say much more about that without giving the whole plot away, but I will say it’s not just a retelling of the film, this comic has its own thing to say. I laughed a few times, I didn’t see the ending coming, what more can you ask for? I am curious about what exactly happened to Tom, but it’s irrelevant really, and me finding out would have ruined the surprise a bit earlier. Give it a shot, especially if you’re as amazed as I am to find out that that movie has any kind of staying power. $6.90

Update for 9/6/19

New review today for So Buttons: Slice of Cake by Jonathan Baylis and a gaggle of artists. Happy weekend everybody!

Baylis, Jonathan & Various Artists – So Buttons: Slice of Cake

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So Buttons: Slice of Cake

It’s a convention compilation! What that means is that a number of these stories appeared in previous issues. Maybe all of them, although at least a couple of the artist names were new to me. This is all just a warning to say I’ve reviewed several of these stories already, and if my opinion has changed in the meantime, it should be a good reminder that you’re reading reviews from a mush brain. I thought they would all be about food, but it about the CAKE convention in Chicago, not literally cake. Still, about 2/3 of the stories are about food. Most of the rest of it is the various stories (drawn by Marvel legend Fred Hembeck) dealing with his time as a Marvel intern, the time he met Joe Simon, and his time working for Valiant comics. The food stories deal with his struggles with pork (I definitely reviewed that story very recently), his OCD M & M habits, the grey roast beef, the secret to the brisket, and finding the perfect coffee blend. But wait, there are still two more stories! One deals with Jonathan coming up with the perfect comeback after it’s too late to matter, and the other is his vague connection to the greeting card work of Robert Crumb. So if you have all of his comics already, maybe these are all in other comics? Unclear. But if you’re looking to get all your Hembeck stories in one place, or all of his food stories, this is a really solid collection of tales. $10

Update for 9/4/19

New review today for Wolf’s Head #2 by Von Allan. Everybody have all your travel plans for Cartoon Crossroads in a few weeks sorted out?

Allan, Von – Wolf’s Head #2

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Wolf’s Head #2

When I get a couple of issues of a series to review, there’s a system I like to use when reviewing them. I try to get the first issue reviewed quickly, to help get the word out in whatever tiny way it happens around here. Then I give it several months before getting to the next review. Not always! If I’m completely out of books to review, or if I’m really into the series, I’ll be quicker. But that’s the general idea, and it’s for one simple reason: that’ll give time for the creator to get another issue out, which is a good sign for me to take a series seriously. And sometimes I just lose a comic in the general chaos of my life, but let’s ignore that possibility. Anyway, Von has 2 new issues ready as of this review, so he’s very clearly taking this all seriously. Read the last review if you don’t want to get completely lost here, although why you’d only read the review for a second issue of a comic is beyond me. Or just the second issue of a comic. This time around that rich scientist is still trying to get his AI back, Lauren’s mom is still hiding it and having health problems, Lauren is dealing with her terrible job and the consequences of her actions in the last issue, and Sanko is still looking for belly rubs. There’s a lot going on here, which is why I’m being mostly vague. Damn near anything I could mention would be a spoiler, so why don’t I make things simple. I’m all in on the mystery here; I’m even starting to like some of the side characters who are supposed to be assholes, and Von clearly has a master plan here, even if the big surprise towards the end seemed to even take him by surprise (according to his notes in the back). I’m hooked, is the point, and I think most people who are willing to give this a shot would find themselves similarly hooked. $9

Update for 9/2/19

New review today for Hippo Ocracy by Chris Kostecka and The Yuan Twins (Matt and John). Hippos and crocodiles? Pick a side!

Kostecka, Chris & The Yuan Twins – Hippo Ocracy

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Hippo Ocracy

Sometimes I get books to review that are perfectly fine books, they’re just not for me. Where I’m at in my life, the mood I’m in at the time, it just happens sometimes. For example, this is a book that’s about 2/3 giant fight scene between an army of hippos and an army of crocodiles. Right away I’m guessing a good chunk of you either really want to see what it’s all about, while the rest of you just have no interest in such a fight. I’m in the latter camp. The fight scene felt like it went on WAY too long, and if you’re just coming along for a wide variety of gore, most of the kills were pretty basic. So what’s the story? Things start off with our heroes (the king, his wife and his son) meeting up with another clan that’s having a harder time. We also meet the squirrels who are living in the king’s hair and the king of the sea, who appears to be a puffer fish who also uses a cane. Underwater. While also having no legs. Is it odd to fixate on that one aspect of the book? Because it strikes me as something that never got past the “looks kind of cool” stage. Not necessarily a bad stage, but if your fish king uses a cane, at some point you should probably explain that. Anyway, from there we learn that the king hippo (Khipo) literally shits chimichangas and burritos. Yes, and we see this happen in great detail, along with the vomit that comes from a reaction, along with the slipping and sliding on said vomit… yeah, it’s a gross book. Next they’re building a wall to keep all the “illegals” out, and I was expecting some social commentary here, either for or against, it being 2019 and all, but nope, it’s just a wall. Most of the rest of the book is that very long fight scene, meaning it’s time to wrap this up. Despite my overall indifference, there are people reading this who are intrigued by the story or concept, and you people, you’ll probably love this! I could take it or leave it, but I’m also well into the “getting too old to be reviewing comics” stage. Why are you taking comics advice from a curmudgeon? $16


Update for 8/29/19

New review today for Survive 300,000,000 Volume 1 by Pat Aulisio. Is that the highest number in a comic title that I’ve reviewed in the 18 years I’ve been doing this? I’ll leave that to the historians to figure out.

Aulisio, Pat – Survive 300,000,000 Volume 1

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Survive 300,000,000 Volume 1

Is this the most narratively straightforward comic that Pat has ever done? Eh, probably not. The dude has made all kinds of comics over the years! Still, if you’re looking for an entry point into his very odd and unique world, this is a pretty solid place to start. It’s the year 300,000,000, and things are rough. Humans killed themselves off millions of years ago, reptilians came around and took over but they’re gone now too, and it looks like it’s down to just some scattered groups of creatures here and there. And there’s the boy and his dad, trying to (as the title implies) survive in this harsh world. Right away they’re accosted by a group of green… people? Probably not. They choose not to engage them, and later this group is attacked by a large bear. The bear kills one of them, the boy and his dad kill the bear from a distance, and follow that up by killing the survivors of the group that was attacked. That’s your introduction to this world, so it’s clear what it takes to make it there. A lot of the rest of the book is them traveling through various landscapes, dealing with whatever dangers they find along the way. Things end on quite the cliffhanger, but this is Pat Aulisio we’re talking about; he already has the next part available on his website. I’m still not entirely sure where the whole thing is going, but there’s nothing wrong with that after only reading the first part. It’s definitely worth a look, and as of August 2019 he was selling both parts for $16 altogether. If you just want this part it’s $12, so I’ll leave it up to you to figure out the better deal.

Update for 8/27/19

New review today for Voles of the Dusk: Scum Hive by Joseph Hewitt. You wouldn’t believe the number of times I’ve almost put “Duck” in that title…

Hewitt, Joseph – Voles of the Dusk: Scum Hive

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Voles of the Dusk: Scum Hive

Since this book came out in 2012, has this really been lost among the comic stacks here for 7 years, or did Joseph include it with some more recent review comics? A peek behind the curtain, just in case anybody still somehow had the idea that I was organized. I think he sent it fairly recently, but who knows? The archivist is imaginary, which makes it hard to keep track of such things. Anyway, this is the story of The Vole with No Name breaking into the Scum Hive to steal a priceless sword. The first half of the book has exactly three spoken words and it does an excellent job of showing our hero sneaking into this place and the various pitfalls he encounters along the way. The rest of the is a desperate attempt to escape, primarily from a very large sentient jar full of brains. It’s more nimble than you’d think! There’s also a brief story in the back of the book dealing with a vole and his son picking berries. They discover a human skull (from ages ago when all the humans were killed; haven’t you been reading his comics?) and get into a discussion about what happened to them and death in general. It’s a thoroughly engaging comic all around, give it a shot why don’t you? $3

Update for 8/15/19

Kelly Froh has a new graphic novel out! New review today for her Walking Uphill.

Froh, Kelly – Walking Uphill

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Walking Uphill

Is this really Kelly’s first graphic novel? Looking over her comics here and on her website, it sure looks that way. Well, if you’re one of those weirdos who only reads graphic novels and turns your nose up at mini comics, you’re in for a treat here, as Kelly has been doing her thing for over a decade now, honing her craft. Yes, you should also check out her mini comics too, and not reading mini comics is just damned odd, straw person I made up in my head. There’s a lot going on here, so much so that I started the book over after finishing it. If you have a short attention span, that’s all the review you need right there: I read most of this book again right away. Obviously I loved it! Things start off with Kelly and her friend Missie (name possibly changed) in Portland in 1994, living in a hostel, barely getting by and not at all sure that they made the right call in coming to Portland. Next we get to see what brought her to that moment, how she became friends with Missie in Wisconsin, their experiences with drugs and parties, how they already seemed to start veering off into different personal directions before they left town. There’s a whole lot more to the chapter than that, but why spoil all the surprises? The last chapter shows them moving to Seattle, the trouble they had again settling in (better than Portland, but barely) and how the reality of them drifting apart became unavoidable. Nothing is belabored here; it’s all subtle enough that I read it again when I was done, after all. The awkward moments at parties, how her friend saved her at least once from creeps, that devastating moment at a party when some guy said horrible things to her while she was on acid (having been there, very few things can more quickly strip you down to a blubbering mess, existentially at least)… there’s a whole lot to love here. It doesn’t hurt that Kelly was born in the same year as me, so I can personally relate to the atmosphere and music, but don’t be afraid, kiddos! Not knowing what the fuck you’re doing with your life in your early 20’s is a universal condition. Buy this book, and know that once you realize how much you like it, there’s a whole library of her past comics just waiting for you to discover. $14