Archive for category Reviews

Brown, Box – Number 1

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Number 1

Most people probably have that moment as a kid when they learn that something that they believed to be real isn’t actually real. Mostly this is because our parents have lied to us (about Santa Claus or the Easter Bunny or “work hard your whole life and good things will happen to you”), but in the case of this comic this comes about when our hero meets a wrestler and learns about “kayfabe.” In wrestling terms, this is the acting out of the story, where the winners and losers have already been pre-determined, and pretending that this is all real life and they’re making it up as they go along. Once our hero learns of this it’s impossible for him not to apply it to the rest of the world around him. For example, when the anti-drug people came to his school and sprayed something that was supposed to smell like marijuana at them, he couldn’t help but notice that he had also smelled the same thing when he went to visit his father at work. From there the kayfabe theory spread into everything, and the only thing he had left to do was to start a magazine explaining his theories and the proper way to view the world at large. The rest of the comic deals with chasing his hero, expanding the business (by learning how to properly exploit the dopes who were willing to pay for it in the first place), and learning how wrestlers “blade” so that they can properly have a crimson mask for certain matches. It’s a damned fascinating mash-up of the hopefulness of starting a new business mixed with the bleakness of starting that business to tell everybody that the world is all bullshit, and the uncomfortable reality that a hero of his who inspired the entire thing can easily be forgotten by the world at large. There are also two one page strips at the end, showing a documentarian who goes about his daily life while not being entirely clear on how to interact with humans. The inside back cover showed that Box was working on the life story of Andre the Giant, which will be required reading for any human once it comes out. I don’t know if the full story of Andre has ever been properly told, but the idea of it coming from Box sounds just about perfect to me. As for this one, it’s well worth a look, but Box’s name alone should have been enough to clue you into that fact… $6

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Alden, Sam – Wicked Chicken Queen

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Wicked Chicken Queen

You know that part of the comic where things need to get wrapped up in some fashion, and you’re left wondering what exactly the creator was going for with that ending? Well, without giving anything away here, that’s where I am with the end of this comic. It seemed like the events of the end of this were going to get a bit of an explanation, then the comic literally just faded away. Boy howdy am I ever getting ahead of myself with this review, but that’s the last part that I read, so it’s the first part on my mind. This one starts off with a race of people relocating to a new island. They find a giant egg pretty early on, and it becomes a crucial event in the development of their society. The egg eventually hatches and the giant chicken is adopted by the king, eventually taking over as ruler of this land (as you may have guessed from that title). The chicken queen marries her best friend, they reign happily for many years, and her friend eventually dies of natural causes. From there the queen becomes different, mostly showing this by being more distant, but the violence does come eventually. While I may not have been totally happy about the ending, the individual pages were fantastic, as there’s plenty happening on every page. Each page is one panel, and they each show basically the entirety of the island and many things that are happening on it. I did like the bit towards the end describing the inability of the townspeople to communicate with the chicken and why that was the case, I was just a little underwhelmed with the ending. To me that still makes this a comic well worth reading, as I thoroughly enjoyed the ride and several little touches along the way. If you’re the type who has to have a completely satisfying ending to make it all worthwhile, maybe you should move along. Of course, there’s always the chance that other people will have a different opinion of the ending than I do. Shocking, I know! $5

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Cass, Caitlin – The Great Moments in Western Civizilization Volume 5 Issue 1: Chicago

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The Great Moments in Western Civilization Volume 5 Issue 1: Chicago

Ah, Chicago. This comic is all about how Chicago came to be a city, including all the gory details about their attempts to build a sewer system and their inability to get the meat packing plant to quit flushing the heads of pigs into said sewer. Oh, and this also talks about the fire (you know the one), while delightfully leaving off any speculation that it might have been started by a cow. I grew up about an hour south of Chicago and I didn’t know most of this, so huzzah for learning more about my heritage! Well, not really my heritage, as I didn’t grow up in Chicago, but it’s easier to just say that I’m from near Chicago when meeting people instead of telling them about my hometown of about 3,000 people. The bulk of this comic is done as a large fold-out page, with one side dealing with the origin of the town and the other dealing with the fire and the attempts to rebuild/the gifts received from well-meaning but sometimes unhelpful foreign dignitaries. It’s gorgeous and often funny, and probably should be taught in schools, if it wasn’t for the fact that it’s pretty unflinching with its depiction of the meat packing plant. Granted, they are horrible places, and they were significantly more horrible back in the day, but kids are probably not allowed to see such things in school, because why trouble their heads with unpleasant facts? Check it out, learn something about Chicago why don’t you!

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Verhoeven, Kat – Towerkind #1

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Towerkind #1

Have I mentioned that I love it when people send me entire series that they’ve already completed? Because if that’s a position that you find yourself in (with a finished or mostly finished comics series), you should maybe keep that in mind. Mostly because I’m always happy to have a theme day, so for the next three months I’ll be doing weekly reviews of this series. Unless I get really caught up in it and end up reviewing it in bigger and quicker chunks, but my plan is weekly for now. Anyway! All that rambling and not a word about the actual comic. This is a series about a group of young teenagers living in an overcrowded clump of high rises. In this issue one kid declares himself the king and asks the other kids to bow to him. This goes pretty well until one kid defies him, which leads to what can only be described as an act of super strength (unless dumpsters are insanely light in their neighborhood). It’s an intriguing start, especially because the violence does not go at all in the way that you might suspect after that act. These are a bunch of kids, after all, and most kids aren’t used to the consequences of any kind of violence. Lots more to come about this series, and it’ll be interesting to see which way this one goes. So far it looks like only subscriptions are listed at her website and not single issues, but I’ll check into that to make sure…

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Muradov, Roman – Picnic Ruined

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Picnic Ruined

There are times when I have to admit that I have no idea what I can contribute to the conversation about a comic. No, this isn’t me getting all self-effacing and “aw shucks” about this website, as I think that I do contribute meaningful rambles about comics every now and then, or at least point at books that deserve more attention. It’s just that when I run across somebody like Roman, with his ridiculous list of credentials and clients, it’s clear that the guy is operating on a different plane than me. That’s the basic reason why I barely ever bother to review the new Dan Clowes book, or anything by the Hernandez Brothers, those sorts of things. They know what they’re doing, anything I say would be nitpicking, so why bother? So instead of treating this comic like that, I’m just going to treat it like any old comic and see what happens. This is a comic of shadows holding images and images holding shadows, thoughts that trail off into jumbled messes or moments of insight, thoughts of self-doubt turning into rueful acceptance and/or tolerance of the way things are and maybe even getting to a perfect moment. Or it’s about a guy who wanders aimlessly through his evening, including literally running into a tree while not paying attention. Or both! Things start off at either a really boring porno shoot or a naked art project, which leads our hero to wonder about what things in the world have a foreskin and what things should have a foreskin. Right away Roman has introduced something that I’ve never thought about, which was quickly followed by wondering why I never thought about it, so kudos to him for that. From there our hero flees out of fear of being photographed at this event and into a bookstore, where things get messy in a hurry (with a delightful curse thrown in). The rest of the comic deals mostly with his thoughts, his conversation with somebody who isn’t into indulging him on his shit, and dealing with his self-doubt. In other words, not the sorts of things that are easily reviewed, or are even helpful things to review. On an aesthetic level this is gorgeous, as you can take the linear approach or just follow the lines of dialogue to see if you can spot every random thought that pops into his head but is written down too quickly to be understood. If you’re looking for people punching each other to solve their problems then this book won’t do you any good, but if you’d rather wonder about the universe while wondering if that wondering is itself pointless, maybe you should give this one a shot. $6

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Smith, Ryan Cecil – SF v PN

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SF v PN

Just to clear it up right off the back, the title really means “scientist fighters vs. profiteering nasties.” Which is what you guessed, I’m sure. Anyway, this continues Ryan’s masterful run in this universe, and I am greatly looking forward to the day when all of these fantastic smaller stories are bundled together into a big old book. These little snippets are thoroughly entertaining, don’t get me wrong, but it’s so clear that he has a much bigger vision in mind that it’s hard not to come away wanting more. This issue is basically one big old space fight, between the parties mentioned above. The pirates seem to have the firepower, but the scientists have, well, science on their side, and a secret weapon that they may or may not decide to use. So yes, obviously they’re going to use it. What’s the good of having a secret weapon if you don’t use it? If you’re completely new to the series you can safely enjoy this issue, completely unconnected from the rest of the series. If you’ve been following along, then you get a few more tantalizing hints of some of the characters you’ve been seeing in past issues. Check it out and enjoy!

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Stafford, S. Tyler – Agara Book One

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Agara Book One

Maybe it’s the fact that I’m reading Lone Wolf & Cub again (and if you love comics and haven’t read that series, shame on you), but I’m perfectly content at the moment to let a series take its time in opening up and revealing what’s going on. That being said, the first book of this Agara series came at the perfect time for me. Tyler spends something like the first 20 pages slowly showing this odd alien world and a young alien woman trying to master some kind of mental exercises. She has troubles, the other students get annoyed that they have to start over due to her failures, and a mental battle ensues. From there the story moves to a human man and his teenage daughter. He’s an archaeologist, she’s a mostly indifferent student, and we get to see them go about their days for a bit before he comes across an ancient find that he needs to investigate. Things are slow to get going but, like I said, in this case it’s a good thing, Sure, Tyler could have just said “and that thing over there is ____, while this alien society has been here for ____ years,” but it’s always better to show than to tell, and so far he’s doing a fantastic job of that. And don’t worry, there’s still lots of mayhem here, with some physical fights, some mental fights and some fights that fall somewhere in between. I have no idea how much he has planned for this world, but the mysteries on that first page alone could take a book to explain. The art is mostly gorgeous (although it does look a little rushed here and there) and this is a really solid first book. The one piece of advice I’d offer him is to maybe include a character listing at the start of the next volume, as that can get out of hand quickly in an expansive universe like this. It’s worth a look, is what I’m saying. $12 (also that crappy sample scan is the fault of my scanner, not the comic)

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Craig, Joel – Welcome to Nursing HELLo

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Welcome to Nursing HELLo

Just for the record (assuming that anybody is taking a record of this, which is a bold assumption), that title went from being something that might be a typo to a pretty smart summation of Joel’s efforts to quit cursing so much at work. I always assumed that nurses were required to curse at work to help deal with the shit that they had to put up with, often literally, but apparently such words can still offend people who see horrific injuries all day. Anyway, this is another one of those cases where the story was fascinating and his struggle to maintain a connection to his artistic side while being consumed with work hit pretty damned close to home, but technical issues kept dragging me out of the narrative. Partially this is because I’m a firm believer in always getting the basics right in comics, as I’d much rather focus purely on the narrative, but, as always, this might bother me a lot more than other people who don’t read hundreds of comics a year. So, bad news first: some of the individual pages were lighter than others (making a few things tough to read). That’s probably a printing problem and not on Joel. But the word balloons were most likely his fault, and if you’re spilling out of those (or, worse, having the word balloons burst through the walls of the panel for no reason), then it tells me that you were making things up on the fly. Which doesn’t have to be a bad thing, but it is the sort of thing that should be corrected for the collected edition. There were also some misspellings that could have been fixed with an editor or a proofreader; not lots of them but enough to get my snooty attention. If this was a terrible comic, these little flaws could have dragged me right out of things, and it would have prompted a thoroughly nasty review. But I really enjoyed the story! It’s all about Joel deciding that he wants to be a nurse after studying the program for his husband, how much he learned in two years of nursing school (which he says should be a book all by itself, and I agree), his interactions with his co-workers and patients, and the basic overview of what happens in his life over those four years. He was aware enough to include definitions for all of the medical terms that he used, but it may have helped to repeat them a few times just to hammer them home. Oh, and he had Madonna to turn to as an imaginary friend a few times, and those conversations never failed to put a smile on my face. I brought up the flaws I saw with this mostly because I think he has all kinds of potential in comics and I’d love to see more of this story, which is mostly his life. But if I have one core message from this website (which I certainly do not), it’s to get the basics right. It makes everything else a lot easier. Even with those little problems this is still a thoroughly entertaining book, and you should still give it a shot. $15.99

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Mitchell, Brian John & White, Andrew – R. E. H. 5

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R.E.H. #5

Anybody out there know much about Robert E. Howard, the writer who was most famous for creating “Conan the Barbarian”? Besides that fact, I mean? Well, Brian has put out a series of minis featuring quotes from the man, so it’s easy enough to get to know him a little better. Or at least this one has a long quote from R.E.H., so I’m assuming that the issues I missed also have those quotes. Anyway, this time around the quote revolves around Robert talking about getting fan mail, and how he’d prefer to be a manual laborer who does back-breaking work all day to writing. Writing never came easy to him, and that combined with a complete unawareness of how writing worked to the people Robert interacted with had a tendency to make him a little crazy. I particularly enjoyed his comparing writing to boxing, but I won’t spoil why that was such an apt comparison. It’s a fascinating little peek into the mind of somebody who, I confess, I’ve never thought all that much about.

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Reints, Matt – The Van

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The Van

There are times when I’m not sure if something is meant to be funny or if I’m just taking it too seriously in general, and this is one of those times. This comic deals with a summer job that Matt had fixing wiring. There was a 50 mile drive every day to get to the jobs, and they were always driven by the same guy who seemed to have boundless energy. You may be able to see where this is going, but eventually the company mechanic discovered cocaine in a pack of cigarettes left in the van, but the guy who was asked about this was good friends with the driver, so they blamed some other poor schmuck, who seemed to have his life more or less ruined by his failing a drug test. I’m curious if the guy failed a test for cocaine too or some other drug, but that was never addressed. Anyway, overall this is a lighthearted story about working a summer job with a bunch of pranksters, but then I had to go and get all serious all over it. The art looks a little sloppier than the last issue of his that I reviewed (then again, I have no idea of the order in which he made these comics), with some odd blotches and scratches here and there. Like maybe the art being copied a few times? Hard to say. I just flipped through it and noticed that he copied a panel on two pages, which strikes me as a bad idea for an eight page comic. Anyway, I guess it’s clear that I was underwhelmed overall, but hey, I did like his other comic, so maybe you should check that one out instead.
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Lok, Jeff – Gag Rag #3

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Gag Rag #3

I’d like to start with a personal note to Jeff, just in case he reads this at some point: all those “do not bends” that you wrote on the envelope? Yeah, they don’t work. I wish they did, and I get why you’d put a bunch of them on the envelope, but my postal worker clearly sees those as more of a challenge than anything else. This could also be a note to other people who send me oversized comics, so there you go. Minis can fit in my mailbox easily, so no worries there. Now that I’ve dispensed with the utterly irrelevant portion of the review, how about the rest of this comic? There’s a lot to love, that’s for sure. Subjects include a running story dealing with God, his cat, Father Time and Baby New Year (in case you’re wondering, the name of God’s cat is “Cat”; the story deals with creation and time and all kinds of things), a dancing dog that leads into the title reveal, the farm (and some of the chickens on the farm), buying the lighthouse, dogs and their activities, and the golden egg. There’s also the highlight of the comic, but I say that because I’m biased: a story about the characters from “Friday Night Lights.” You may not know about the show, or you may not even have tried it because it’s about high school football, but you are wrong, and it really was one of the better shows of the last decade, and Jeff’s story of a night at the house of Coach Taylor was funny in all kinds of way. It also turns out that there is apparently an anthology in the world filled with stories like these, and it makes me sad that I don’t own it. Anyway, the thing I liked the most about this comic was the way that any one of the strips could pop up again later in some brief form. They were all mostly self-contained bits, but these characters are clearly trapped in a comic hell, and it’s delightful to read about it. You should read it too!

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Norhanian, Aaron – Blunderbuss

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Blunderbuss

I really hope the $10 price tag doesn’t scare people away, as this is one hell of a comic. Actually it’s more like three mini comics bundled together (or four, but then the fourth would just be a regular old short story, which would be an odd format for a mini comic). See, there’s your value right there! Things start off with a table of contents that is brilliant because the comments in it can be appreciated before and after reading the stories in entirely different ways. Granted, you probably have to see that to know what I’m talking about, but that only places you at fault for not having the comic yet. The first story is about an awkward conversation on a bus, a misunderstanding of what constitutes a disability and the odd expectation that strangers on a bus will care what you’re talking about. It’s a little grotesque, and I mean that in the best possible sense. The next story answers the question of the origin of the universe, along with many of the questions that go along with it. Will everyone be satisfied? That is an impossibility, but I’m thinking about starting a religion based on this theory, purely so I can be tax-exempt too. The final comic story is a literal interpretation of the “square pegs can’t fit in a round hole” theory, and how the pegs that don’t fit can still make things better. I’m glossing over all the wonderfulness in those stories because only jerks reveal everything about stories where you’d be better off figuring them out for yourselves, but I thoroughly enjoyed all three of them, with the story about the origins of the universe winning the prize for best in the bunch, if such a prize existed. Finally there’s a short story about a beard growing a face by Jason Ciaccia. I go back and forth on short stories in comics, usually coming to the conclusion that they’d be better in zines or books, but there was a lot to love about this one. The central idea is sentient beards, so it’s hard to go wrong when you start with that premise. Check it out, there’s a lot to love here. $10

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Bliss, Pam – Perpetual Motion

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Perpetual Motion

Quick, I’m looking for a solution to an unsolvable problem. Bear with me, it does relate to this comic. Pam puts out these minis at a fairly rapid pace. They’re usually 8 pages, maybe a bit less if the cover doesn’t bleed over into the actual comic, or if the back cover doesn’t conclude the story. Pam also has a fairly vast collection of characters. Now, my memory could charitably be described as “hot garbage” on recognizing characters (and, more importantly, their relationships to other characters) under those conditions, and because I tend to read her books every 3-6 months. So how can this problem be solved? Obviously Pam can’t put a full list of characters (and how they relate to the other characters) in every comic, as she just doesn’t have enough room. But I know I remember that one character from that one mini, and it’s driving me nuts that I can’t place him. Somebody solve this please! As for the comic itself, it’s delightful. Things start off with a train conductor getting some tea at a coffee shop. I love the fact that the server has four arms; that he can both aimlessly scrub the counter and cross his arms with barely-concealed contempt for all customers, just like a real coffee shop worker! The conductor then sees a giant trophy and goes to congratulate the young man who has won it, but things aren’t as they seem, and once again there isn’t enough comic for me to walk you through the whole thing while still leaving enough for you to enjoy. But it involves science!

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Reints, Matt – Dusty-isms

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Dusty-isms

One tiny complaint to get things off on the wrong foot, as I liked the actual comic: more Dusty-isms, please! Dusty Rhodes was (and probably still is) a quote machine, and you can’t use a title like that and then only include three quotes. Oh, and if you don’t know who Dusty Rhodes is (old school wrestling legend) and are thinking that Matt draws him like a monster, well, the guy kind of looks like a monster. Which he played up back in the day by wearing a skin tight black and yellow polka dot outfit, and the guy wasn’t exactly svelte. Anyway, the three quotes are golden, so I’ll just leave those for you to discover. Other stories include a very long trip in a very short period of time (featuring much drinking, and as a guy who is careening through his late 30′s I would have loved to have seen an age group that pulled off the drinking feats depicted here), how an office environment compares to the world of pro wrestling (it’s closer than you’d think), and a surprisingly insightful tale of how little and how much things have changed over the last 60 years or so. It’s a little heavy on the wrestling references, but that shouldn’t be enough to scare you away, as Matt went to great lengths to make them relatable to everyday life. Give it a look, eh?
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West, Max – Sunnyville Stories #7

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Sunnyville Stories #7

OK, this one is going to be a little tricky to review. Kids, do you know who Abbot and Costello were? No? Hm. Well, they had this joke about baseball players with different names and the comedic possibilities that came from those names. Their names were things like what, who, why, that sort of thing. So when somebody asked “Who’s on first?”, the joke was something like the fact that “Who” was the second basemen, while “What” was the first basemen, and this is a perfect representation of why anybody who attempts to describe humor is a fool. Objectively, as somebody who grew up in the 80′s, the skit didn’t do a lot for me, although it did help to see the original sketch, as their comedic performances saved the bit (to my modern day tastes, anyway). So what’s the point of my bringing all this up? This comic deals with a celebration at the house of a very rich lady, but it was put together at short notice and all of the servants have the day off. A trio of brothers (Who, What and Why) overhear this and offer to help out. The rest of the comic deals with guests having all kinds of trouble figuring out what exactly is happening and the names of these servants. Max ends up making it funnier than I expected, although your tolerance for this kind of humor is going to make or break whether or not you want to give this a shot. I liked how he tied it all together with the thieves who were attempting to rob this celebration, as all that information probably would stop anybody dead in their tracks. So maybe check it out, depending on your sense of humor and/or willingness to expose yourself to a new version of “funny” if you think this might not be for you.

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Ink, Max – Blink Volume 2: To Go With This Doorknob

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Blink Volume 2: To Go With This Doorknob

Note for everybody who isn’t living in the past: this is a rough cut edition of the second volume of the Blink saga. Can I call it a saga or is that word reserved for things in the fantasy/science fiction genre? Anyway, the official version of this is out, but here I am, reviewing the rough cut, because it’s the version that I have available. This is all to say that any complaints/comments/praise I make about this book could be completely wrong, as what I liked/disliked could have changed by the time the final edition came out. So doesn’t that make this review essentially meaningless? Eh, let’s not get too far bogged down in philosophical questions. At the very least this will serve to remind fans of this series that there’s a new volume out there. So! I’ll start with a complaint from me as a fanboy and not a hypothetically impartial reviewer: you just cannot put out an entire volume of this series and not include Sam in it. Granted, the series is called “Blink” and not “Blink and Sam,” but come on now. Sam is gold whenever she’s on the page, and even if she didn’t fit in this story, at least have a flashback to an older conversation of theirs or something. Oh crap, I just solved my own problem, didn’t I? Sam isn’t in this story because she doesn’t fit into THIS story. Dammit! OK, enough rambling, by now you’re probably wondering what’s in this volume. This is essentially a long conversation between Blink and a number of new people that she meets. It starts off with her drawing in a park when a large, smiling man walks up to her. She’s a little confused, but seems to get that there’s no real threat there, and she gradually meets this guy and the two guys that he’s with, all of whom seem to be homeless but getting by through shelters and free meals. This leads Blink to a free potluck dinner at a “hidden gem” in Columbus, where she runs into an older friend, a few other people and a creepy piano player. I always get the feeling that I’m not properly conveying the joy of these books in my reviews, as “lady talks to other people for about 40 pages about all sorts of things” might not be something that gets people to rush out and buy all his collections, but I have to again emphasize that you really should get all of his collections. The man is building a world, based on the actual world of Columbus Ohio, and he’s doing a hell of a job with it. This volume was a little lacking in Columbus landmarks compared to other volumes, probably because it starts in a park and ends at a dinner (after a walk from the park to the dinner), but he has 11 more volumes to include more landmarks. Check it out, but start from the beginning. Hey, just go SPACE in Columbus in April, that’ll make it easy to get caught up on his series. $7

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Crawford, Ryan; Margolis, Eric; Heimer, James – Red Right Hand #1

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Red Right Hand #1

Quick, a show of hands: how many of you know who David Yow is? OK, I can’t see you through the screen, so the show of hands isn’t going to help me. I’m guessing the number is shockingly low. Would it help if I told you he was the lead singer for The Jesus Lizard? Unless you’re roughly my age, that’s probably not much help either. The man is a force of nature, and I’ll just leave it at that. Anyway, this comic starts off with a couple of people sitting at a bar, listening to the inane chatter all around them and getting increasingly upset at the general state of humanity. One of them recognizes David Yow (shirtless, as always), but is surprised to see the guy wearing an eye patch. This is because this David Yow is from the future, and he’s come back to the past to kill the Red Hot Chili Peppers. Oh, if only this comic was based on a true story. Anyway, mayhem ensues, a master plan is hinted at, and we’re well set up for the rest of this series. My only complaint was that (spoiler alert, I suppose) that awful band gets taken care of off-panel, which is a horrible punishment to the right thinking people of the world who would have liked to have seen them get taken apart in graphic detail. Other than that this is a solid first issue with a great premise, and I can’t wait to see who they go after next. $3

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McGovern, Bernie – DemonGunz

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DemonGunz

If you’re keeping track of the chronology of the life of Bernie, read DemonTears before this one. And hey, a little bit of trivia: DemonDust was initially called DemonGun, for reasons that he explains in this collection. This collection contains issues #1-11 of that series (the name change happened with #8), which nicely coincides with when I started reviewing this series at #11. I missed quite a bit of backstory coming in at that point, but now I’m caught up and know the whole story. Well, I know the parts he chose to put in his comics, as he’s pretty open about the fact that there are plenty of details of his life that he’s not going to be sharing with the readers. Which is fine! Anyway, this one starts at a time when Bernie’s recovery from alcoholism was still a new and shaky thing, and the early issues of his series very much reflect on this state, as he wonders whether his no longer drinking is what’s contributing to his writer’s block on his other series (An Army of Lovers Will Be Beaten, and don’t make me tell you to read that one again). This is very much a book where you’re rewarded for keeping up with his other projects, as characters from current and future series show up with a bit of regularity. He mentions who they are each time, but you’d get more out of it if you’ve also read their stories in their proper series. Other subjects in here include splitting himself in two over and over again, getting to know his addiction, the slow death of his grandmother, keeping up with his puppets, zen buddhism, bacon, coming to terms with the reality of his sobriety, dreams, and everything else that came with this time in his life. This collection includes everything from those comics, covers and epilogues and everything, so don’t worry if you missed them while they were coming out. This book along with DemonTears will tell you lots about these years of Bernie’s life. Not everything, and lots of it is dreamy and abstract enough to be left open to interpretation, but this is a fantastic collection of his thoughts over about a year and a half. $10

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Mitchell, Brian John – Lost Kisses #25

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Lost Kisses #25

Hm, that is one scattered listing of reviews for this series. I reviewed #5-10, #21 and now this one. The good news is that you don’t necessarily have to read this entire series to get plenty out of individual issues, although I’m guessing that it wouldn’t hurt to have the whole picture. Ah well, maybe I can get caught up at SPACE this year. So this one is all about fictional Brian waking up next to a dead girl that he doesn’t recognize and eventually realizing this is because he has taken a drug to release himself from linear time. The sad part comes in when he realizes that he can’t change the future any more than he could change the past, so this girl will always be dead and will always have died. Other topics include his feelings on anonymous sex, whether or not it would be worth it to save the world (which is a question that doesn’t get asked in popular culture nearly enough), and how living forever would be fine if he didn’t have to feel anything. For most of his series I’d highly recommend getting the issues in order, but for this one it sure seems like you’d be OK grabbing whichever random issues he has available when you see him at a con. Or you could go nuts and throw a pile of money at him, as I don’t think anybody else is offering as many comics for your dollars as he is. $1

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Kirby, Rob (editor) – QU33R

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QU33r

Damn, now that’s how you put together a fantastic anthology. The stories in here are of various lengths, but it gets going with a 20 page story by Eric Orner dealing with his coming to terms with his sexuality, dating a woman in college, having a right wing nut of a father and generally not having much of a source to educate himself about being gay. The social progress this country has gone through in the last five years on this front has been staggering (it’s like the majority of the country realized all at once that they were being homophobic assholes and all decided to stop and pretend like it never happened), but it’s stories like Eric’s that remind the youngsters that there were very few options when you were growing up gay in the 70′s and 80′s. The closet was a lifesaver back in those days. Anyway, I’m rambling, and I haven’t even gotten to the other 32 (!) creators in here. Highlights include (and I don’t think there’s a single actively bad story in here, for the record) Annie Murphy’s story about her elderly closeted relatives and wondering what their lives were like, Marinaomi’s first time being an awkward threesome, Ed Nuce and the rules of survival at death metal shows, Dylan Edwards and his childhood friend who referred to his Transformers toys with headlights in robot form as women to try to even out the gender imbalance, Justin Hall’s story about dating a man with (unbeknownst to him) serious mental issues while Justin just thought the guy was trying to work out his life, Jennifer Camper’s hardboiled detective story, Terrance Griep’s most painful wrestling injury, Edie Fake’s hilarious two pages of jokes told by somebody trying to pay to get into a sex show, Steve MacIsaac’s coming face to face with his childhood bully and the unlikely way the conversation ended up going, Andy Hartzell’s story of Pvt. Manning (in his own words) talking about his potential gender reassignment surgery on top of trying to come to terms with his conscience about all of the awful things he knew that the U.S. was doing around the world, Carrie McNinch’s first summer love, and Sasha Steinberg’s triumphant tale of a drag queen buying panty hose. That’s right, I somehow didn’t mention Howard Cruse (who’s been at this for decades and who at least partially started gay comics in general), Craig Bostick, L. Nichols or Rob Kirby, all favorites of mine. So that should tell you the level of quality you’re going to be getting here, right? Oh, and since I’ve been cranky about it in past anthologies, I should mention that Rob does everything right in editing this thing. Creator names at the top of every page? Brilliant! Check it out and enjoy, but set aside an afternoon for it, as this here is a hefty pile of stories. $29.99

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