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Update for 7/5/19

New review today for Rodeo #1 by Evan Salazar, have a great weekend everybody!

Salazar, Evan – Rodeo #1

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Rodeo #1

A peek behind the curtain: generally speaking these days (2019) I review a few comics on the weekend, set them to appear during the week and go about my life. Usually I read a few comics on Saturday or Sunday, see if I have anything mildly compelling or interesting to say about them, then say it regardless. Magic! Anyway, I say all this to point out that I read this one a week ago and I’ve been bouncing the main story around in my brain that whole time. Does that mean I’ll have something especially profound to say? Eh, probably not. But the fact that it’s wedged into my brain (that’s already chock full o’ comics) is notable. Hi, there’s a comic I’m supposed to be talking about! The main story is about a fictional (?) family or a mom, dad and daughter. One day the mother leaves “on a trip,” nobody will talk about it and on that same day a mysterious visitor with a head bandage showed up on their doorstep. Our hero (the daughter, Abigail) tries to get to the bottom of just who this guy is, using increasingly esoteric methods. Until one day, it’s no longer and issue, and she’s left even more confused that before. The kicker puts the story into a whole new light, but I’m not going to give that away here. There are also a few other short pieces in here, one about a man cleaning a mall while he’s trying to compose the perfect sentence in his head (all creative types can relate to working while your mind is a million miles away), another about a cat with regrets, and a brief philosophical discussion by two… creatures on the back cover. The comic looks fantastic, the main story in particular (but really the whole thing) is great, give it a shot why don’t you? $5

Update for 7/3/19

New review today for The Rain is Slow Coming by Alex Nall, as “hey, all these comics have kids in them” week continues!

Nall, Alex – The Rain is Slow Coming

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The Rain is Slow Coming

I’m not proud of it, but the twist in this one got me. Sure, if you think about it for a few seconds it doesn’t make sense, but it’s the sign of a great storyteller if you forget all about that kind of thing while you’re in the story. This is the tale of a farmer and his tiny daughter, maybe five years old tops. His wife has died in an accident and he’s in danger of losing his farm because he can no longer afford it and can’t avoid the bill collectors forever. Meanwhile, his daughter is oblivious to all of this and is fascinated with crocodiles, watching that segment of Peter Pan over and over again. So one day they’re out on the farm, the dad is waxing philosophical and the daughter wanders off to the pond. Once she’s there she thinks she sees a crocodile, but it’s only a frog. She loses her footing, tumbles down almost into the water… and that’s when she realizes that something else is in the water. It’s a riveting and oddly haunting story, so give it a shot why don’t you! $6

Update for 7/1/19

New review today for Things Parents Say to Kids by Steve Feldman. Sorry about the lack of reviews last week, real life can do that sometimes.

Feldman, Steve – Things Parents Say to Kids

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Things Parents Say to Kids

When is it OK to lie to your kids? Is the Santa and Easter Bunny stuff OK, but not real life events? Is it always OK if you’re “doing it for their own good”? Or is it never OK? It’s all abstract to childless little old me, but that’s the subject Steve explores in this issue, using a tale from his childhood and one from when he was raising his daughter. The first story had a helpful page where he nailed down exactly how old he was when the story took place, then his mom made a fantastical promise/threat to him, and the lesson stuck with him. Or did it? Later, when he was trying to convince his daughter to brush her teeth every morning, he told her that going outside with unbrushed teeth would kill the trees. As she was three, she believed this completely, and his problem was solved. Except, well, now he’d demonstrably lied to his kid, so how does that effect them long term? It was a good idea to use the dichotomy of his own childhood to compare to raising his own child (that Maya Angelou quote was brilliant too), and it’s a thought-provoking little mini comic. Parents, maybe you could learn something here. Other people, this might remind you of the times your parents lied to you as a kid, and that’s always fun! $2

Update for 7/21/19

New review today for Pico #2 by Various Artists. Happy weekend everybody!

Various Artists – Pico #2

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Pico #2

Feels like it’s been ages since I had to go with “Various Artists” for the author name but, well, the premise of this book is apparently that it comes out several times a year with different artists every time. And since it’s put out by something called “Giggle-O-Gram Studios” and I can’t bring myself to put that in the title line, here we are. And I’m a little annoyed that the only website I can find is a Patreon page; not that there’s anything wrong with asking for help, I just generally prefer to link to the fundraising page and a more neutral website. Ah well, can’t have everything! There are three stories in this issue. First up is a story about a movie star crocodile by the aforementioned studio with the terrible name. It looks like it’s continued from the last issue and continues into the next one, but this chapter deals with our hero (or maybe villain? Again, missed the first chapter) watching a procession of other animals coming out of the shower after filming and finding out that each and every one of them is a fraud. Charles Brubaker is up next with a tale as old as time: the first experience of a young child with coffee ice cream. Finally there’s Kaoru Greendrake with a twisting tale about a passport from a made-up land… but what’s if it’s real after all? It’s an interesting mix of stories, but if you’re going to continue one of them from issue to issue some sort of synopsis would be helpful. Other than that, give it a look, see what you think. There’s always room for another regularly produced comics anthology!

Update for 6/19/19

New review today for So Buttons #9 by Jonathan Baylis and various artists. Hey, just in case I haven’t said this recently, I’m taking new comics for reviews. Little to no waiting! Unless everybody sends their comics at once, in which case never mind. But if only YOU send your comics…

Baylis, Jonathan – So Buttons #9

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So Buttons #9

Hm, this looks like a comic with one writer, a handful of artists and a number of different slice of life stories… it’s a new issue of So Buttons! Since the first thing I read of Jonathan’s was somehow the collected edition of the first 8 issues I was spoiled early, but since he can’t put out a new graphic novel every time one really solid issue will have to do. Stories this time around deal with Jonathan working up the nerve to call Dick Smith (the special effects legend who worked on the original Exorcist movie, among many others), remembering sandwiches past, how his dad’s name was changed on accident (this is also a tribute to Harvey Pekar with Noah Van Sciver doing the art), more details about his time working at Valiant comics in the 90’s, and the time that his kid proved that he “sang” better songs than his old man. Throw in a few illustrations from other artists and there’s your issue! If you were scared off by the price of the collected edition, maybe give this one a shot. It’s $5, it’s a solid demonstration of his skills and it’s full of great stories. What more do you need? $5

Update for 6/17/19

New review today for Forever and Everything #4 by Kyle Bravo. And if you’re curious, yeah, you should probably watch Chernobyl on HBO. It’ll haunt your dreams, but it’s great.

Bravo, Kyle – Forever and Everything #4

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Forever and Everything #4

The saga of the growing children continues! OK, it’s a stretch to call raising children a “saga,” but I’m sticking with it. This one starts out with Kyle bringing home baby Polly, their new daughter, so I clearly missed an issue or two. The format of the comics themselves seems the same: Kyle uses as many panels as he needs to tell his story, then puts up a title card and moves onto the next story, with all of the pages getting filled in this manner. I’m still a big fan of this idea, of not boxing yourself in to a set number of panels per strip per day. My only quibble is that I wish he’d put a date on each strip. Not essential (the strips are obviously in sequential order already), but helpful. Subjects in here include adjusting to life with a new baby, keeping up with the other child (Jamie), Kyle getting back to work after paternal leave, his house getting broken into, why we have to wear pants when we go outside, and getting beaten up by a baby. I was impressed that he even mentioned politics; so few cartoonists do any more. He has to deal with getting a racist text from an aunt, making the decision to not attend a July 4th celebration due to too many racist relatives, and just dealing with the fact that that gross thing is still president. It’s June 2019 as I’m writing this, so fill in his name if you’d like. He also makes an idle observation that perhaps he needs more therapy to deal with his relatives more easily, to which I say: don’t bother! You’re in the right, they’re racist as can be, and you continuing to go and be in their presence, striving all the while to make THEM feel better about themselves, is the absolute wrong way to handle it. The only leverage you have to get them to better themselves (as their child, nephew, grandchild, cousin, whatever) is your presence. If they want to see and be around those adorable children, they have to give up the racism. Seems fair to me, but that’s just my opinion. Meanwhile, if there’s anybody out there keeping track of such things, this is one of those diary strip comics that I thoroughly enjoy. There are plenty that I don’t, so that’s notable! $6

Update for 6/13/19

New review today for House to House by Hironori Kikuchi, which is the last of the current pile of mini kus books. Ah, they go by so fast…

Kikuchi, Hironori – House to House

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House to House

This is one of those times when the synopsis on the back cover was a lifesaver, as it revealed a key fact that I somehow missed. Was it obvious in hindsight, or even regular sight? You bet! I missed it anyway. This is a silent tale from an old favorite; Hironori is on this website in a couple of anthologies, but a clear sign of my opinion of him at the time is that I used his stories for sample images for each comic. Anyway, this is the story of a young boy who sets out to visit the house down the street. He is joined by the kid (?) on the cover, they stick around for coffee and doughnuts, and finally agree to bring a book to another house up the hill. This particular house gave me Jim Woodring flashbacks, and I only mean that in the best possible way. The intended recipient is sick (or possibly just sleeping? These are the ambiguities that come from a silent comic), but they manage to deliver the book, and I should probably stop describing the story now, because there’s not much of it left. His art style is adorable while still being vaguely unsettling, which is not an easy line to walk. Yep, the conclusion is inescapable: it’s another winner from the fine folks at mini kus. They should really put out a stinker just to keep me on my toes… $6

Update for 6/11/19

New review today for Hot Dog Taste Test by Lisa Hanawalt, but this is really just a sneaky excuse for me to recommend her Netflix show, Tuca & Bertie, to everybody who likes her work. She’s the head writer and it’s amazing; I know it’s easy to miss new shows on Netflix because they all come out so fast, but don’t let this one pass you by.

Hanawalt, Lisa – Hot Dog Taste Test

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Hot Dog Taste Test

How is it possible that I’ve been writing reviews on this website for 18 years now and there’s nothing here by Lisa Hanawalt? It boggles my mind. Granted, most of you already know who she is and buy her books, so this won’t be new information to you. But even if you’ve already read this, read it again! Trust me, it’s as funny as you remember. No, this is more for the few who have somehow never heard of her, who have never seen Bojack Horseman (you’ve had plenty of time to see that by now, come on people) or her new show Tuca & Bertie. She’s A writer on Bojack, but she’s the HEAD writer for Tuca & Bertie, meaning it’s a lot more like her humor, and you should all watch it. Good lord, have I really not mentioned her comic yet? Yeesh. Hot Dog Taste Test is a collection of strips and stories, roughly 90% of which had me laughing out loud. Yes, literally! I could only read so much of this book at once, as it was causing me physical pain from laughing. If there’s a stronger recommendation to be had, I don’t know what it could be. It’s tough to even describe her style, but I’ll make a fumbling attempt at it. Some pieces in here are food reviews of a sort, mostly in text but with illustrations, of her trip to Las Vegas, her family vacation to Argentina, her time swimming with otters (and how she knows that she’s experiencing the high point of her life while she’s swimming with them), a review of some of the many street vendors in New York City, and her day spent at one restaurant and its owner. There are also paintings (I’m currently trying to limit myself to just buying two of them), several pieces that are all text (like her attempt at corporate logos or her famous baking tips), and what sure looks like the first appearances of Tuca in Bertie in raw form. I haven’t read a book this funny in ages, so this absolutely gets the highest possible recommendation from me, whatever that is. Huh, turns out I really should have made up a ratings system years ago. Whoopsie! $24.95

Update for 6/7/19

New review today for Motel Universe by Joakim Drescher, happy weekend everybody!

Drescher, Joakim – Motel Universe

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Motel Universe

Pandemonium! If I only had one word to describe this graphic novel, I’d probably go with that one. This is the story of a civilization that’s going through some serious changes and strife. Vague? Sure! It starts off as the story of a father and his daughter after they get kicked out of their protective custody. They’re on the run because their skin is a highly sought after commodity, and they would both obviously very much prefer to keep their skin. From there we learn a bit more about these two before they’re captured by a ship full of Jeffs, which is apparently what each dog (that walks like a man) is called. They meet several more of their kind and are released into the wild for the purposes of being hunted by rich people. Well, rich creatures of various types, anyway. They have maybe the most cruel weapon I’ve ever seen: a gun that neatly removes the skin, then compels the skeleton to hand the skin to the shooter before it disintegrates. I’d probably better quit with the descriptions or you’re going to be completely spoiled, but I will say that I haven’t even mentioned the Hermans, B. Flump or Caligula, despite the large roles they play. Or Captain Littlehead! Calling something a “wild ride” is about as cliched as it gets, but damned if that doesn’t describe this comic. The constant battles with creatures great and small (and terrifying), the struggle for civilization (such as it is), even the emergence of a villain that bears an uncomfortable resemblance to our current main villain in charge of the U.S., all of it is harrowing, and gorgeously drawn. If you’re up for having your brain messed with, give this one a shot. $21.95

Update for 6/5/19

New review today for Look Back and Laugh: Journal Comics by Liz Prince. Since this book is a collection of her strips from 2016, she’s going to need a few new titles soon to cover the inevitable collections from 2017, 2018, 2019…

Prince, Liz – Look Back and Laugh

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Look Back and Laugh

Please don’t ask me to explain my opinion on daily diary comic strips, because it turns out that I have no idea. I thought that I was over the format entirely, but here Liz is with a book of 366 strips from 2016 (it was a leap year Top Shelf Comix, fix your totals!), and I was delighted and amused throughout. Delighted at least in part because of the saga of her cats (they’re in the sample strip because, even though other strips might have been funnier, I love the way she draws cat so very much that I couldn’t pass it up), but there’s a whole lot to like here. She avoids the major pitfalls of the diary strips, where the creator would run out of things to say and then do a strip about how they had nothing to say. She maybe did that once or twice here, but even then she’d have something insightful to say about the reasons behind the lack of a story, or some other fact to keep things moving. Subjects in this collection include Liz getting engaged and then married (in as low-key a fashion as I’ve seen; it didn’t even take up the entire strip for either day), the ongoing struggle between her cats Dracula and Wolfman, buying a house and all that comes with it, making a big move, and keeping all of her various projects on track while doing daily strips. And, obviously, a whole lot more, but you probably already figured that out from the whole “366 strips” thing. As I said, this is from 2016, but as of early June 2019, it looks like she’s still going with the strips. I can’t read them all because you need to donate through Patreon to do it, but I can think of very few people more worthy than her to support with your comic monies. Hell, I’m probably going to end up getting one myself, mostly because the suspense of whether or not Dracula and Wolfman ever got along is going to bug me until I learn the answer. So yeah, it’s another amazing book from Liz. Buy it, make her rich! Or at least financially solvent… $19.99