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Porcellino, John – King Cat #75

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King Cat #75

I had quite an introduction for this review ready in my head. This comic marks the 25th anniversary of King Cat (I’ve been along for the ride for roughly 20 of those years), and I was planning to talk about his impressive body of work, the influence John has had on independent artists throughout the years, all that stuff. Then I read the comic, and all that flew right out the window. This might well be the best single issue of King Cat that John has done. I’m not going to claim that definitively without going back and reading the previous 74 issues again, but if it’s not the best single issue, it’s in the top 2 or 3. The entirety of this comic is the life story of his former cat, Maisie Kukoc. Maisie is instantly familiar to fans who have read his book for years, and what was also known to me was that Maisie had died a few years back. She popped up in stories from time to time, had several about her specifically, and she was basically just a constant presence throughout the series. And, honestly, I thought I had shed all the tears I was going to shed about the death of this cat that I had never met, but I was very wrong on that. Full disclosure: during busy times at work, I sometimes read a comic during my lunch, then write the review on the same break, putting the whole thing together for the website when I get home. Well, today I had to stop reading this comic three different times to keep myself from bursting into tears (as opposed to some manly dribbling of tears that I was denying), and even then it was all I could do to keep from sobbing by the time I got to the inevitable end. This could have easily been a tale about John’s life throughout those years, and he does provide the relevant context as her story progresses, but this is purely about Maisie and the life they had together. There are too many adorable little touches for me to mention them all, but that panel with Maisie stretching her little arms out towards John when he goes to pick her up from the vet after she suffered an illness just about broke my heart. As did him learning from a girlfriend that Maisie sat by the door five minutes before he came home every day to greet him as he came in. They had a great life together (well, she had a great life and John lived a regular human life, full of ups and downs) and she lived to a ripe old age for a cat, so I know the logical thing is to leave it there. But as Harlan Ellison once said, fuck death. There’s no doubt in my mind that some of these tears came from knowing that my cat is currently the same age as Maisie when she died, and although my cat seems healthy, things can change in a hurry, and I have a lot of trouble picturing a life without her. This comic might just break your heart a little, especially if you have pets, but I still can’t recommend it highly enough. Every pet owner is going to have to deal with this eventually, and seeing all the good times mixed in with the ending at least lessened the blow a bit. He also included a few pages of the games she loved to play at the end to try to lighten the mood a bit, but then there was his message on the back cover about how he still finds her hairs occasionally when opening a book, and it was right back to the waterworks for me. All I know is that my cat is getting some serious attention when I get home today. $5

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Davis, Jason & King, Jeremy – Monster Wrestling Mayhem Preview

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Monster Wrestling Mayhem Preview

If you’re reading this in the future this might lack context, but here in present day it’s a Friday afternoon in August and I was in the mood for a light and fluffy comic. If and if there’s one word to describe a comics about monsters wrestling, it’s “fluffy.” Granted, I may not have thought that metaphor through. Anyway, at four pages this is more of a preview for a comic than an actual comic, but there’s still plenty in here to talk about. Please note that if you have no interest in monsters or wrestling, chances are you won’t find anything here for you. The title should have already given that away, but this is just to make it clear that the title is not ironic. Anyway, this one starts off with a match between a mummy and a zombie. Which, as the announcers pointed out, would be a very slow match. Anyway, it’s going along fine under “zombie rules” (meaning that any zombie can replace the zombie in the ring until one of them is pinned) until a mysterious figure appears in the crowd and comes down to the ring. Spoiler alert: it’s a yeti. For such a short comic they did manage to pack in a few goodies for wrestling fans. The opening page with the crowd scene had all kinds of recognizable faces/signs/t-shirts in it, and the artist did some good work with the basic wrestling moves. I’m intrigued to see if anything comes from this, as it sure seems like this could be made into a regular comic series with little trouble. If this is all that ever comes of the idea, that would be a shame. No price listed, but I’m guessing probably a buck.

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Ludden, Chris & Ginger – Dexter’s Digs #2

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Dexter’s Digs #2

See, this is why people should go to SPACE and spend their money indiscriminately. Not that I’m saying this comic looked terrible, but I had never heard of it, and I still bought a copy. Granted, this indiscriminate spending means that I didn’t stop by the tables of lots of people I already knew I liked, but I never claimed that this was a flawless strategy. Anyway! This is the story of an archaeologist and his wiener dog and their history lessons. Well, mostly the history lessons come from Dexter, translated into comics that humans can understand. Right off the bat it’s clear that I will approve of this comic, as it starts with Dr. Clark talking about “snatching national treasures from impoverished nations across the globe.” From there the two of them go into a Chinese restaurant and, despite the protests of the staff, launch into the history of the first emperor of China. It’s probably a good sign when my main complaint about a comic is that the funny bits were coming from too many different directions, as their time on television had tons of subtle visual jokes along with the captions on the tv screen. It’s clear that the tales from Dexter about various historical happenings has practically limitless possibilities, so here’s hoping Charles and Ginger keep exploring the oh-so-exploitable past. Sure, a lot of history looked grim in real time, but tragedy + time = comedy, everybody knows that! $5

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Claytor, Ryan – Autobiographical Conversations

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Autobiographical Conversations

It’s probably best to start this one off with a “warning” of sorts: this is a comic between the writer/artist and a professor about the nature of autobiographical stories, specifically comics. That’s right, an autobio comic about autobio, so if those aren’t your types of comics generally, this is most likely a comic that you should avoid. Unless the intense focus on the subject matter (and the lack of much in the way of personal details about the author) flips it back around to being interesting again to you. What do I know, I’m not in your brain. Anyway, it’s right up my alley, and also impossible to review in any coherent form without giving away some of their conclusions and/or making this a 3000 word review about my own thoughts on the subject. But my thought come from years of reading such comics, while theirs come from years of schooling and, as such, their thoughts are the better ones to follow. Anyway! The vast majority of this comic is a conversation between Ryan and a professor on his campus. They discuss the merits of showing autobio stories from the perspective of the author versus only focused on the author, emotional truth versus literal truth, and how your perception of yourself is most likely different from how other people see you, and whether or not it’s possible to tell that truth if you’re also including your own perceptions of other people. It’s heady, fascinating stuff, or at least it will be if you like autobio comics. I think it would be anyway, purely for anybody out there who spends too much time in their own head. If that sounds like you, give this a shot! Ryan has been a favorite of mine since the early days of this website (2001), and it’s always nice to see those guys and ladies still making great comics. $12

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Degirolamo, Amalia – Not Dog #2

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Not Dog #2

I’ll certainly give credit to Amalia for truth in advertising: that thing is definitely not a dog. This is the story of two dudes, their many kittens (all named) and a creature that looks kind of like a very large toad, but with teeth. And it scoots around the carpet like a sick dog. Anyway, it’s a horror show, and Dave decides that this thing has got to go, but Morris loves the ugly creature and has even made a harness for it so he can carry it around on his person like those weird people and/or hippies do with their babies. Morris takes the “dog” for a walk (meaning Morris walks around with the “dog” in his harness) and he stumbles across an ugly baby competition. His reaction is hilarious and completely appropriate; I only wish this was a longer comic so we could have gotten to see more of those ugly babies. Anyway, anything after that is a spoiler, so I’ll leave it a mystery whether or not he gets to keep this lovable (?) creature. I thought it had a solid finish and am curious to see the further adventures of this crew. But hey, this is the second issue, so clearly I missed the “origin” story, which is a real shame. Even without it this is a fun little mini, and when my only complaint is that I would have preferred to see more ugly babies, it’s clear that the comic was a success.

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Sobole, Sarah – Doctor Cat in Professional Cats

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Doctor Cat in Professional Cats

Quick, what’s your opinion of cats? If you can’t stand them, you’re a monster who should quietly leave polite society immediately. For the rest of us, the only problem with this comic is that this much cuteness condensed into one comic might be too adorable for words. But I’m here to provide words, so I shall persevere! Even though my mind might flash back to the image of all the cats on the back of the lady trying to do push-ups (who gives up more out of cuteness overland than the actual weight of the cats) or the sea captain cat who refused to get onto his boat until it was taken out of the water, I shall stay strong. The basic idea behind this comic (which I’m guessing is comprised of strips taken from Sarah’s website) is that Doctor Cat wonders for the first time what other jobs he (I’m just going to call all these cats “he” for no particular reason, knowing full well that I’m probably wrong) could have taken up besides being a doctor. There’s Artist Cat, Baseball Cat, Garbage Cat, Personal Trainer Cat, Firefighter Cat, and a few more that I’ll leave as a surprise to anybody who buys this comic. Most of the comics are funny, every single last one of them is adorable, and they’re usually both. The art is fantastic, and this being in full color was a nice touch. If you like cats at all, buy this book and enjoy. Also check out her website, as she had t-shirts at SPACE that I’m regretting not getting now, but I only had so much money. And if you don’t like cats, how did you get all the way to the end of this review? I thought I took care of you early on. Shoo! For all the sane people, this is $5 and she has lots of comics to choose from.

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Bostick, Sequoia – Snow Day

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Snow Day

It’s sometimes tempting to read way too much into a comic. For example, the premise behind this one is pretty simple (and I should point out here that I have no idea if this is fiction or not). A little girl who may or may not be Sequoia takes advantage of some rare snowfall to have a fun day of it with the other kids and ends up making a snowman. Which is delightful, and it would have made an adorable comic if it stopped right there. But nope, she then went home for movie night with her mother, and the movie in question was Jack Frost. Which, for those of you who didn’t watch terrible horror movies as a kid, is a frankly ridiculous horror movie involving a sentient, evil snowman. Granted, it’s not so ridiculous to a small child, and it naturally caused her nightmares and to see the actual snowman she’d made in an entirely different light. The mom was oddly blase about the movie, so either it’s less grisly than I remember or the mom just had a high tolerance for gore. Either way, an odd choice for family movie night. Still, it makes for a pretty engaging comic, and it led to a delightful afternoon of me wandering around Sequoia’s website looking at her artwork, which I recommend that you do too. This comic is also available for free up there, but I’m guessing she’d rather you sent her a dollar or two for the comic (no price is listed) instead.

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Passmore, Ben – A Pantomime Horse #3

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A Pantomime Horse #3

See folks, this is the danger of only picking up one book from an artist at SPACE. Specifically, I usually ask them to pick just one of their books that they think best represents them because, much as I would like to, I can’t afford to buy all the comics from every artist at every table. So I got this comic from Ben, and I can’t tell if this is part of an interconnected series or if it’s just a series of unrelated stories all bundled under the same title. The pace of the comic made me think there was more going on here that the reader was expected to know going in but, as alway, I could be wildly wrong on that. This one starts off with an escape plan, or really more of an escape impulse than anything else, and an internal debate about the wisdom of following that impulse. This is set in a home for “kids who can’t learn to be good, or won’t,” which goes a long way towards explaining the escape plan from earlier in the comic. I love the pace Ben takes to set all this up, as he counts on the reader to not be a dummy to keep up. Please note that I have been watching various tv shows lately where it feels like they take extra time every episode to explain things as simply and dumbly as possible, so maybe I’m just happy to have any form of media where they assume that an adult is reading/seeing it. Anyway, outside of a real sense of foreboding towards the end which I shouldn’t get into, this is mostly about freedom, and a play where many of the kids dress up like ponies and horses. One of those things more than the other, but I’ll leave it to you to figure out which is which. Ben also reprinted a letter in the back, theoretically from an ex-girlfriend, unless he made it up. But it’s compelling nonetheless and will make you think about at least one past relationship. Or it will if you’re me, anyway.

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Lachowski, Kris – Mean Goat Adventures #1.5

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Mean Goat Adventures #1.5

Oh mean goat, I’ve missed you so. For anybody who has been reading this site for any length of time, you may remember Mean Goat as one of the earlier series I reviewed. Note: it’s entirely possible that I’m misremembering. But I must have read those comics in at least the first few years of the existence of this website, and the formula is pretty simple for you newcomers: Mean Goat really, really likes kicking people off of cliffs. Any creature that gets near it, really, but it does seem to enjoy kicking people most of all. Anyway, with that formula in mind, there are few surprises this time around, but it’s still funny, and he kicks a wide range of people and creatures, deserving or not. Things start off with a man who is looking over a cliff and wondering what he could have done differently to fix his failed relationship, which is a nice bit of misdirection by Kris, as he never gets to put his plan of action in play because the Mean Goat got to him first. From there we also get to see the tiniest bit of introspection by our hero, some time spent with clouds, getting a rare bonus from a kick, and the results of an investigation into all the disappearances from said cliff. Oh, and the whole thing is in full color and it looks great, so you have full color carnage. And it’s only a $1 for full color? Well, who am I to argue with what’s listed on the cover. Check it out if you like people getting kicked off of cliffs!

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Yost, J.T. – Losers Weepers #3

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Losers Weepers #3

It’s been a few years since I reviewed an issue of this series, so it’s best if I catch everybody up on the “rules” for it. J.T. finds letters or journals (or his friends find them) and he, without any context of what they were really about, turns them into comics. And a fine job he does with them too! The stories in this one come from a flyer, a letter and a cryptic phrase. That last one is the only one that feels like it was shoved into this story, as it doesn’t have much to do with the overall theme, but it also serves as a coda to the story so there’s no harm done. The flyer was an advertisement to learn Spanish with a few ridiculous typos/spelling errors that should make anybody thinking about calling the guy think twice. For that portion of the story we see our hero getting copies of his flyer and dealing with the copy shop employees. From there he finds out that his mother is in jail and needs bailing out, and when he goes to ask his girlfriend if he can borrow some money he finds a letter to her from a man in the same jail. This letter is the real highlight of the comic, as the prisoner is losing his mind more than a little bit and wonders why this lady hasn’t talked to him since he went to jail. As this letter was addressed to his girlfriend, this sends our hero into a bit of a rage and he goes out in that mood. As is often the case, that’s when he happens to run into a cop. J.T. still types the letters into the appendix in the back in case you have trouble with the handwriting (although this around I didn’t need it), so no worries if you have trouble with certain types of handwriting. It’s another solid issue, and I continue to be amazed at how he ties such disparate letters together into a coherent and compelling story. $5

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McNee, Graeme – Kumayama Mountain, 1993

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Kumayama Mountain, 1993

OK, I’ll admit it: I wandered around the internet for a bit after reading this to find out if the story was true. I couldn’t find anything, which is either my fault for not looking hard enough or this is a fictional book with a very specific title and premise. Not that there’s anything wrong with that! This one starts off with a blurb mentioning three children who disappeared in a forest in 1993. A group of kids are on a field trip and are told to stick to the park, as there are bears in the woods. Most of the kids don’t believe this, but there’s enough doubt about the story to keep them out of the woods, which was probably the point of the story in the first place. A few of the kids trade some bits of their lunches, one of the kids angrily doesn’t want the treats that are being shared, and he storms off into the forest. Two other kids decide that the risk of them getting blamed for losing this kid is worse than the risk of them getting eaten by bears, so they wander off into the forest to find him. From there we get some tense and creepy scenes (including something loud creeping through the shadows), and that’s as far as I can go while still avoiding spoilers. I liked the simplistic way that Graeme drew the kids, and his lingering on the creepier areas in the woods really helped bring home the unease the kids were feeling as they got further and further away from the camp. It’s a really solid story so maybe you should give it a try!

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Brubaker, Charles – Smallbug Comics #6

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Smallbug Comics #6

This issue is just plain fun. Is that too simplistic for a review? Eh, probably, but it’s true. This comic has about half a dozen “Dear Cat” strips (which is exactly what it sounds like: hypothetical questions answered by a hypothetical cat) and a longer story involving one of the characters getting her glasses broken and needing a new pair. That sounds like one of the duller possible setups for a story, but this is a land of magic and magical equipment, so every pair of glasses has its own unique abilities, happily played up for their comedic effect. There’s magnifying glasses, marketing executive glasses, glass for minotaurs, and several others that I’ll leave a surprise. That last pair of glasses was hilarious and I’m left wishing such a thing existed in the real world. As for the cat questions, they deal with subjects like why cats need the same door opened several times a day, what they have in common with dogs, why they can be jerks, and why they sit on the keyboards of laptops. If Charles has enough cat questions I really liked this format (roughly 2/3 one big story and the other 1/3 cat questions), and he was even nice enough to put a little bonus strip on the back cover. Like I said at the top, this comic is a pile of fun, and you should check it out if you are favor of such a thing. $2

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Various Artists – Irene #4

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Irene #4

As far as I can tell there’s no editor listed for this anthology (unless I’m supposed to assume that Amy Lockhart is the editor because she’s the first person named on the credits page?), but whoever put this thing together deserves a medal for having Ben Juers do single page strips in between the other stories. They never fail to be at least amusing, and most of them are hilarious, which is a welcome break from some of the stories in here. They can get a bit depressing which, as some of them are based on real life, is the way things actually happened, so it’s hard to complain about it. But between those comics, the true life stories and the more abstract pieces, this is a damned well-rounded collection. As always, I’m not going to go through and review every bit of this anthology, as that’s half the fun for people who are going to be reading this for themselves. But I will mention my favorite bits! Emi Gennis starts things off with the story of Lake Nyos in Cameroon and what happened there in 1986. Over a million tons of carbon dioxide were released into the atmosphere around the lake, which led to only six inhabitants of the nearby town waking up the next day, unsure if the world had ended. On the other end of the spectrum, Andy Warner has one of the best opening page brawls that I’ve ever seen in a comic, and follows through with a wordless tale about a band against some “bad guys.” James K. Hindle has a thoughtful piece about a young boy, a young girl he meets, a fire in the town and how it all comes together. Laura Terry’s story starts off where it ends, and we slowly come to meet and understand the “dark” being she keeps seeing that won’t leave her alone. Mazen Kerbaj lets us in on the secret thoughts of boats, Jackie Roche tells the story (that I’d never heard) of where Lincoln was taken after he was shot but before he died, Georgia Webber refers to her recently losing her ability to speak and how much social media has meant to her since then, and things wrap up with Jan Berger’s piece on awakenings, seeing what’s real and how to save the world. I’m leaving a bunch of stuff out, as this is over 150 pages and, as is usually the case in anthologies, there were a few stories/pages that didn’t do a whole lot for me. But the good vastly outweighed the not-so-good (I won’t even call them “bad”), and there’s plenty in here to recommend it to people. $15

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Thomas, Grant – My Life in Records: Hell’s Bells

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My Life in Records: Hell’s Bells

Have you ever wondered just how many people started listening to rock/rap/metal music purely because they were told by their church that they shouldn’t listen to it? The thought has crossed my mind more than a few times, and Grant documents his experience with it in this issue. His brother had saved up and bought a radio alarm clock (they were kids, remember, and such a thing was rare in those days), and after experimenting with waking up to classical music (and realizing that it was only putting him back to sleep), he switched over to the Jesus station. Grant would sometimes listen outside of his room, and then later he’d listen with his brother, which was where he first heard about the evils of rap music. Which, hilariously, he learned about because the station played a 2 Live Crew song (kids, ask your parents) and they couldn’t even make out the words through all the bleeps. Of course this would make a kid curious about that kind of music! Stupid Jesus station. Anyway, he also started hearing about the evil types of music in Sunday school, and it eventually sunk into him that he LIKED this type of music. The rest of the comic has him dealing with that (a bit, anyway). There’s also a short story at the beginning dealing with his early days in the school band and the monotony of having to practice while still not making much headway in advancing in the band. It’s another solid issue showing Grant’s musical development and his gradually powering through despite growing up in a pretty religious household. $7.50

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Drawdoer, Jon – Past Coasts

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Past Coasts

I’m going to break the rules and cut and paste a definition here to start the review, as I looked this up myself after reading this comic just to be sure that I had it right:

Mindfulness is a state of active, open attention on the present. When you’re mindful, you observe your thoughts and feelings from a distance, without judging them good or bad. Instead of letting your life pass you by, mindfulness means living in the moment and awakening to experience.

For those of you who are annoyed and confused by my educating you, don’t worry, it is all relevant to the comic. But it sounds like a great way to live, right? Anyway, there are three main parts to this comic, that I will address is a random order because I feel like it. First up is an hour of Jon’s life and all the thoughts that pass through his head, as he documents everything on a notepad while he’s thinking about/it’s happening. It was more fascinating than I would have guessed, and now I think that everybody should give it a shot. Of course, it would require an attention span, and the number of people I know who still have one is dwindling, but I still think people should give it a try and write about their experiences. Next up is a science fiction story dealing with a breathing ship, the wonderful visual effects of having your thoughts outside of your own head and the random, revealing things that are in there, and finally learning not to guess what a loved one is thinking but instead to just ask them about it. Finally there’s a piece at the end about thoughts, putting everything in boxes (and whether or not that’s isolating), your thoughts bringing you to a moment but then not leaving you alone when you reach that moment, and the letdown involved in everything going according to plan. It’s a damned thoughtful pile of stories, and my brain is currently split into thirds as I digest the various portions of this comic. Check it out if you’re a fan of thinking! $5

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Various Artists – Cringe

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Cringe

Quick, think of the most embarrassing thing that’s ever happened to you. Now imagine yourself writing and drawing a comic story about it. That right there should make you cringe, which means you’re in luck, as that’s what this anthology is all about! This book has right around 30 small press artists, some new and some who have been around for awhile, who are willing to share some shameful incident from their past. I don’t think anything in here will get anybody put in jail, but it’s hard not to cringe while reading some of these. I’m not going to review every story because there are so damned many of them (and for a measly $8!), but the highlights include Shaenon K. Garrity wetting herself while out with a group of other cartoonists (including a big name guy, but I won’t spoil the surprise; I particularly loved the way she ended her strip), Sam Spina’s unfortunate method for drinking a rum shot when he met the Bacardi girls, Adam Pasion’s particularly gruesome retelling of an incident involving a finger in the eye, Geoff Vasile dodging a bullet (not literally), Chad Essley and his series of embarrassing moments (hard to top the one where he volunteered to breakdance at school on stage), Fred Noland’s theories on some crayons he used to own, Chad Woody and his racist former roommate, Box Brown and his former habit of eating light bulbs (it’s not quite as life-threatening as it sounds), Stephen Notley and his experience of being “that guy” at a comic convention (you know the one, the guy who gets up to ask a rambling and pointless question and has no idea how to get out of it once he gets started), and Sam Henderson’s experiences with having seizures while surrounded by strangers. It’s a damned fine mix of stories, and at a ridiculously cheap price. Save yourself the embarrassment of not owing this anthology of embarrassment! Ugh, I feel dirty for saying that. I’ll let myself out… $8

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Reints, Matt – Against the American Dream

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Against the American Dream

Most of the time I’m just fine with artists going from story to story without holding the hands of the reading audience. More often than not we can tell when the story changes so, you know, do your thing! However, sometimes comics like this happen, where the story bounces all over the place, and in those cases slowing things down a bit is not a bad idea. A lot of this is me guessing, but I’ll try to walk you through this. The comic is, overall, a collection of wrestlers and a wrestling manager talking trash about (the recently deceased) Dusty Rhodes. I know this because I recognize Jim Cornette, one of the more famous former wrestling managers. But I’ll bet that lots of other people don’t know that, and he’s not identified anywhere by name. There are also quotes from three other wrestlers, and my best guesses for those are “Superstar” Billy Graham, Mr. Fuji (manager, I think, but maybe he wrestled too?) and… some other guy. You could have a table of contents on one of the inside covers, or you could list who they are in the same panel, but it’s mean to not identify them anywhere, and bad storytelling. Other stories interspersed with these speeches include three explorers who try to go to Area 51 (but the story peters out before we learn what happened, if anything), a dreamy piece on wishing for a better life, and photos of Lake Street in Minneapolis. That last one baffled me, as it didn’t seem to have much of a point, but it’s also entirely possible that I just missed it. Overall this comic was kind of a mess, which is a shame, as a comic based on people trash talking Dusty Rhodes had all kinds of potential. Luckily Dusty Rhodes had famous feuds that lasted years, so there could always be other issues with this basic idea.

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Jacotey, Marie – BFF

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BFF

I should mention that there’s a technical glitch in this comic before I get started on the actual contents. About a third of the way through the comic a page repeats (the same page that appeared two pages previously). It really throws off the rhythm of the book, especially considering the fact that there are flashbacks and asides that make things hard enough to keep track of. I worked through it and ended up quite enjoying the comic, but if such things are a deal-breaker, you have been warned. Anyway! This is the story of two friends and the woman that gets between them. Rob comes over to visit his friend Stan one morning, and Stan can’t help but show off his latest conquest to Rob. Rob, horrified, recognizes the woman as Amy, who was basically “the one that got away” for him. They had never officially gotten together but he still thinks about her and is still obviously hung up on her, but he does the good friend thing and tells Stan that he should keep seeing her if they like each other. Still, he has to get out of there after Amy gets up and sees him, which leads to Amy following him out the door, and that’s as far as I go because of obvious spoilers. I completely loved how their important, dramatic conversation was interrupted by two young ladies on the bus and their conversation, as it’s always nice to be reminded that the universe doesn’t think that the events of your life are enough to stop things from being ridiculous. Sometimes the cursive writing was a bit hard to read, but overall it was a gorgeous book with a compelling story.

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Vayda, Jamie (and Various writers) – Loud Comix #4

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Loud Comix #4

Oh Loud Comix, if only all anthologies could be as entertaining as you. As always with anthologies, some stories are better than others, but even the weaker bits at least have a few good lines and/or a great closer. Five stories this time around, all of them drawn by Jamie Vayda, which I wasn’t sure of but looked it up to make sure. Thanks internet! First up is a piece by Sonny Joe Harlan about a hardworking and hard rocking man who would work and then rock (on the weekends) to the point of exhaustion, and it was such a deep sleep that not much could get him out of it. He’d occasionally go to the bathroom and eat while still sleeping. Well, this is a story about a night when that went wrong, as otherwise why would there be a story at all? Next up is a story of a punk rock detective by Jack Grisham and a case of his involving finding a missing punk girl. Lest you think this gets all grim and serious, don’t worry, it does not, and it’s probably the most thoroughly entertaining piece of the bunch. Alan King is up next with Ugly Dennis, which isn’t really about Ugly Dennis, but that does make for a great title. Mostly it deals with a bootlegging ring the author had worked as a much younger man, the ridiculous amount of money he made at it and the adventures along the way. Jeff Clayton has the shortest piece next, dealing with something getting thrown on stage during a show and the effect that said item had on the set. Finally there’s a story about Danielle (written by Alan King with art by Jamie Vayda), about young love involving the author and a crazy lady. Which, as he points out, is the best kind of affair to have when you’re that age, when you have no idea what to expect next but don’t particularly care in the pills and booze haze. The author had been living in a situation where his family could have dropped by at any time (even though they hadn’t for months), and this story is all about that happening at the worst possible time. Still, that ending was amazing, and we should all be lucky enough to live through something like that. It’s a solid mix of stories, and it sounds like they already almost have enough stories for #5, so this will keep going strong for the immediate future. If you have any interest in tales of drunken/stoned punk rockers/rockers in general, you’re going to love this. $6

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Knetzger, Laura – Sea Urchin

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Sea Urchin

Have you ever had any questions about the meaning of things, or why you should plan out your life, or why you shouldn’t, or why you can’t, or the through-line of life that started way before you and will (theoretically) go on long after you’ve gone? If so, Laura asks all of those questions here and many, many more. If not, one of those philosopher dudes once said (paraphrasing) that the unexamined life is not worth living, so you should look into that. This comic is basically one long, uncertain primal shout at the universe and at everything around her and about her inability to get out of her own head. She doesn’t come right out and discover the meaning of life, but that’s not really her concern. This comic is all about exploring her own mind, her feelings of inadequacy and/or not having anything original to say, but then powering through that and being determined to have her own say regardless. It’s inspiring in a lot of ways, and early on there’s a great example of the dangers of answering the “how are you?” question too honestly. Nobody really cares, and there’s rarely if ever any follow-up, but it’s become the thing to say to other humans, so we all go along with it. If any of you work in an office like I do you must have experienced somebody asking you that while not even slowing down as they’re walking back to their desk. It’s a ridiculous thing to say, and it was a joy to see her take it apart. I don’t want to dig into the specifics, as there are a number of really beautiful scenes that you can discover on your own, but her comments about looking for stray cats every time she walked home and that sequence where she tried to work up the courage to pet a dog were fantastic. If you’ve ever unleashed a primal scream into your pillow, this comic will fill a hole in your life that you didn’t even know was there. And, again, if you’ve never thought of any of these things, maybe now is a good time to start? $8

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