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New review today for The Audra Show #2 by Audra Stang. Place your bets for the first time I forget and put 2019 in the year! I’m guessing I don’t make it through the month…
The Audra Show #2
For those of you who read the last issue and/or review, you might notice that the entire cast is different from the first issue. My theory is that Audra is setting up one of those vast interconnected universes like the Marvel movies and that she’s going to cash in in a few years with the Audra-verse. Until then, I’ll just confine myself to talking about her comics, OK? Well, like I said, there doesn’t appear to be an obvious connection to the last issue, but I’m guessing they’re both in the same town. Or it told me that they were both in the same town and I managed to forget in the three months between reviews. Oof, here’s hoping it’s not that, my memory is terrible enough as it is. This issue starts off with Adelaide throwing rocks at what appears to be an abandoned food truck. Bryson joins her and starts throwing rocks too. They then decide to abandon this pursuit for their ice ray gun, but since it hasn’t been perfected yet, they end up firing a sparkler gun. This goes into the truck and starts a fire, and when she tries to put it out she discovers that Oliver Chance (famous lead singer for Sunset October) is stuck in the truck. Once they pull him out, they discover that he has too many limbs. Roughly eight too many, which might help you narrow down what happened to him. No more spoilers from here on out, but Adelaide has an excellent reason for why she doesn’t just flee from Oliver in terror. It’s another solid issue, and I’m really looking forward to seeing how the next issue connects to these too. $4
First review of the new year, and it’s for a 2020 book, In Spite of Ourselves by Natalie Dupille. You don’t get that kind of service from most comics review websites! What’s that? Most review sites deal exclusively with only the newest and freshest books? Um, happy new year!
It’s the first review of 2020 and it’s for a book with a listed publication date of January 2020. This website has never been more current! Enjoy it for this one comic, because that’s not going to last. This is listed as a graphic novella; there was a time when I remembered the cutoff point between a novel and novella, but that information has since flown out of my brain. Anyway, this is a autobiographical tale of an Oregon bike ride with Natalie and her partner Allie. They have a clear plan for how they’d like things to go, events on the ground force them to change their plan very quickly, and they soon settle on a second plan. The comic does a nice job of bouncing back and forth between things that happen on the road (good and bad) and the tension that comes in any relationship when you’re on a trip together, particularly a trip where one half of the duo feels constantly less than their partner because one of them is the more accomplished cyclist. The people you meet along the way are always half the fun of road trips (or, if they’re not fun, great fodder for stories once you get back), and Natalie put more than a few memorable characters into this one. If you’re a fan of the comics travelogue format, this one is a welcome addition to the genre. Or if you’re just a fan of autobio, there’s enough drama and uncertainty to keep you happy. If, however, you’re a fan of robots, you’ll have to find another comic. I realize I could say that for almost any comic, so I’m not sure why I mentioned it here. Give it a shot, is my point. $15
New review today for Vivisectionary by Kate Lacour. Is this the last review of 2019? Eh, maybe?
Long time readers of the website will know that I sometimes have little to nothing to say about a book. Often that’s not a knock on quality, it’s just that it’s better to let it wash over you without getting bogged down in jargon or me trying to explain every little thing about it. In fact, if I have an overarching philosophy when it comes to comics, it’s that: point out that a great thing exists, then get out of the way. Well, there is nothing like this book out there right now. Absolutely nothing. Whether it’s something that will enrich your life is up to you, but if you’re a fan of the odd and bizarre, this book deserves to be on your bookshelf. OK, here’s the part where I try to explain this coherently. The sample image gives you some idea what to expect, but there’s also not another image in the book that resembles the sample, so maybe it doesn’t. These are a series of images, each a progression of a thing that could occur in nature, if nature was magical and/or mythical. Or perhaps some of these things have occurred and we just don’t realize it in modern times. I know I’ll never unsee that image of the square pigs. Is that happening? In 2019, probably not. In a few more years, who knows? Other images deal with hummingbirds feeding off fingers, fetus as a temporary head, how those snakes got on Medusa’s head, the construction of a third eye, love and fear coming together, and knitting a brain. That’s maybe 1/10 of the images in here, and those are some of the ones I could sum up, meaning the real oddities are still to be discovered by the reader. Check out some of the images on her website if you need further convincing, but I’ll just say that this book is a unique thing in this world, and everybody who’s a fan of that sort of thing should give it a look. $25
Yep, I’m sneaking in a couple of reviews in the holiday week, as their frequency has been slipping a bit lately. New review for Plastic People #4 by Brian Canini, as I’m still doing weekly reviews for his stuff while I have it. If you want the same treatment, send me a bunch of your comics. It’s easy!
Murder! Remember, that’s how the last issue ended, so naturally that’s where this one is going to start. Honestly, it’s like you’re not reading the issues in order. Anyway, we learned in previous issues that murder was rare, but we learn exactly how rare in this issue: it’s been decades since they’ve had one to investigate. And since everybody looks more or less the same (and perfect, according to their societal norms), any woman this doctor sees reminds him of the victim he has to autopsy. We also get couple of tantalizing hints as to what might be happening, but they’re only hints for now. As I’ve been saying, the man has at least 10 issues done already and this is only #4, so clearly there’s more of the mystery to be discovered. $2
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.