Category Archives: Reviews

Reviews

Kirby, Robert (editor) – The Shirley Jackson Project

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The Shirley Jackson Project

Every so often life reminds me that I’ve been meaning to reread all of Shirley Jackson’s work, especially since I mostly read her stuff way back in high school. She holds a unique place in the literary world for a variety of reasons, and it seems like a character flaw on my part that I’m not more familiar with all of her work. Sure, I know The Lottery and The Haunting of Hill House (and the first movie adaption of it, The Haunting), but other than that I’ve just read a few scattered short stories. Well, if you’re a better person than me and are already familiar with her works, this book is for you. And if you’re like me and are a bit lacking in your Shirley Jackson knowledge, this book is also for you. If you’re an incurious dullard on this subject, you’re off the hook, I guess. So! Like the title implies, this is an anthology with various artists writing adaptations of her works, with a few of them showing various times of her actual life. Annie Murphy starts things off by showing various quotes from Shirley about her life and her beliefs. Colleen Frakes then has a tale about her own childhood and how her experiences with critics resembles the reaction Shirley got when The Lottery first came out (if you haven’t read any Shirley Jackson stories at all, at least read that one). Oh, and I almost forget to mention the introduction by Robert Kirby, which is especially helpful to people with only a passing familiarity to her work (like me). In other words there’s a lot to like here, and I don’t want to go through it piece by piece (because of my undying belief that being surprised by the stories is half the fun of anthologies), but highlights include Asher & Lillie Craw’s examination of places and food in her stories, the various Shirley Jackson archetypes by Robert Kirby and Michael Fahy, W. Woods with an adaption of We Have Always Lived in the Castle, Ivan Velez Jr. with his experiences with oddities and real life and how they connected to his experiences with Shirley’s work, Eric Orner’s tale of the death of a friend and how it related to the Shirley Jackson book he was reading at the time, Rob Kirby with a story of how Shirley once freaked herself out when a red liquid started dripping from the cabinet, and Dan Mazur’s combo adaption of a few of her stories starring Shirley as the witch. So yeah, there are a whole lot of great stories in here, and that’s with me only having a passing knowledge of her work. Imagine how much more you could get out of this is you already knew and loved her! $16.95

Heisler, Matthew – Zoar

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Zoar

To all of the people out there complaining about a lack of original ideas, or how everything is a sequel or clearly designed to be adapted into a movie, I give you… Zoar. Seriously, I am going to have a hard time explaining this in a way that makes even a little bit of sense to you, but I’ll do what I can. I will say right away that it was a delight from start to finish, and that the page I sampled below will give you a solid look into how perfect the dialogue of everybody involved is. This is the story of… huh. How about I tell you where I thought this was going? Things start off with a castle on top of a large hill. We see a princess (?) with plumbing problems, followed immediately by a little man who looks a lot like Mario from the games coming to help her out. Oh, I thought. A Mario Brothers parody. Well, those can be good or not, so I’ll keep an open mind! By the end of the page I discovered that the cause of the blockage was a little boy who has the Earth for a head (complete with an orbiting, talking moon) and I knew right then to throw any preconceived notions I had out the window. We meet the three women who basically run all or most of creation (the virgin, the earth mother and the seducer), get the origin story for the little boy and finally get a glimpse of the inevitable future of the planet (in one of the more haunting two page spreads you’re ever going to see). And that’s all in the first half of the book! From there we get a peek at some of the people on this planet and deal with some parental problems with the father. This whole book is hilarious and unlike anything you’re else you’re likely to see, so support it, yeah? We’re going to need this kind of escape from reality to stay sane over the next four years.

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Robertson, David – Berserkotron

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Berserkotron

Berserkotron! It’s a great name, and one that has stuck with me throughout the years of my reviewing comics here. But when I went to link to my previous reviews of this series, it turns out that I hadn’t reviewed the first issue. Maybe because it came out in 2002 and I was just getting started back then? Well, whatever the case, the entire series has been collected in one volume, so now I get to see what I was missing. And… it’s pretty OK with some slow and repetitive parts! Eh, this is one of the first stories David did, and he’s since gone on to make significantly better comics, so it’s not like that’s a total shock. This is the complete story of a few friends getting involved in a fighting robots contest (that alone should date this story a bit), how one of them is very involved with the planning while the other is mostly taking advantage of his friend, the “magic paint” that will help their inferior robot survive, and the state of their lives as this is all going on. Oh, and a few different robots along with a few robot fights. When I was reading this in bits, in comics that were released months or years apart, I didn’t notice how repetitive some of the story beats became. Bert gets tricked into painting the robot early on, and his resentment of this fact is really beaten into the ground when you can read it all in one place. Don’t get me wrong, I still liked lots of the dialogue and the robot fights, but overall this doesn’t hold up as well as I had hoped. Which David acknowledges in his notes after the story, so I’m guessing this opinion won’t come as too much of a shock. Here’s my review to Berserkotron #2 (I still agree with it), and the extra material is fascinating from a creative perspective. If you’re already a fan of his work, there’s a lot to like about this collection. If you’re just now giving the guy a shot for whatever reason, maybe start with Dump #3 or some of his later work.

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Davidson, Anya – Lovers in the Garden

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Lovers in the Garden

OK, there are an awful lot of moving parts to this graphic novel, so I’ll do my best to tell you the basics without giving anything away. As always, there’s a solid chance that I’ll fail, so my capsule review is that this was riveting and that you should give it a shot. It’s a story set in New York in 1975 (as you can probably guess from the amazing fashions depicted on the cover), and it features hit men who regret what they’re doing (each for different reasons) but are in too deep to get out now, their boss and how he handles the very idea of either of them retiring, an undercover cop who’s been working this case for ages now and is just about to break it wide open, the lady who has been working for the big boss for years but hates her inability to move up in the ranks, and the latest target for the hitmen. Oh, it also shows the sister of the undercover cop (so we get a solid look at her home life), deciding between sandwiches and relationship talk between people who should really call it a day but who are unable to because of their job. And yes, gunplay is very much involved in the ending. That’s my only problem with this, really: that ending had me thinking I got a copy that was missing a few pages at the end. Maybe it’ll grow on me, but my initial reaction was that it was a bit abrupt. But that’s a far cry from a dealbreaker, and the rest of the book is so engrossing that it more than makes up for it. Go on, give it a shot. Who doesn’t love 70’s cop dramas/undercover busts? $10

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McNinch, Carrie – Excerpts

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Excerpts

As if Carrie wasn’t already the hardest working woman in comics (go ahead, challenge me on that one; she’s also one of the hardest working artists in comic period), now she’s doing comics with excerpts from various non-fiction books that she’s read and enjoyed. As the cover says, there are seven books covered in here, 6 of them being two pages long and the last one being only one page. Which is a shame, as it’s the one I was most interested in (Kim Gordon’s “Girl in a Band), but I digress. Other excerpts deal with addiction and the benefits/cost of calling for help when you know it’ll get you in trouble (but might end up with a dead friend if you don’t), having a buddy in a strange country and the social status that comes with the “right” kind of ramen, the odd dichotomy of the Ramones playing at a historical location, meeting Sid Vicious on the street and ending up in a band with his friend, the hilarious moralizing that apparently goes on at the Playboy mansion when one of the ladies turns out to have done hardcore porn in her past instead of just getting naked and/or having sex with a 70+ year old creep who’s incapable of wearing pants, how the Hollywood (which was originally Hollywoodland, just in case you needed that for a trivia question) sign first got up that hill and the awful lights that initially came with it, and Kim Gordon starting to talk about why she produced Hole’s first album and what she thought of Courtney Love. None of these excerpts were enough to give you a sense of the overall story, but that’s why they’re just excerpts. I’m curious to read at least three of these books now, and the existence of this comic makes me wonder why I don’t use the amazing local library system for more than graphic novels. Time to change that, and now I have solid list of non-fiction books to start with.

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Mister V – Mile High Book Two

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Mile High Book Two

You know what has long been missing from any conversation about legalizing marijuana? Nuance. That’s a societal (human?) failing on many issues, like gun control, abortion, climate change, etc. For most of these subjects there’s SOME middle ground to be had, but because of the political environment in this country honest conversations about these topics are impossible. And by “political environment” I mostly mean “Republicans;” let’s be real here. Anyway, this comic is about marijuana and I’m drifting into a political rant, so don’t mind me. What Mister V has done such a wonderful job conveying in these two volumes has been the nuances of the debate. In the first volume V (or do I call him Mister for short?), desperate for some relief from his irritable bowel syndrome, finally went with medical marijuana and dipped his toes into his options for staying supplied. Frankly, he could have used a “previously in volume one” summary somewhere; it’s never a good idea to count on the long term memory of stoners to stay fresh on all the details from a previous volume. Stereotype alert, I know, but it’s a good idea for all comics series. Anyway, in this volume we get to see our hero as he tells the parents of his wife about his pot use (always fascinating to see former hippies become moral scolds on the subject now), his misadventures in trying to get medical marijuana, the hoops he had to jump through to renew his license, and his journey to finally becoming more or less a pot connoisseur. Most stories I’ve seen about legalized weed tend to end right about when it gets legalized (at least for medical purposes), but V shows that that is not remotely where the story ends. He also tells the tale about a former co-worker who worked for her company for 20 years (and was demonstrably one of the best people on staff) and was unceremoniously fired after a different co-worker complained about this lady smoking pot. For her own medical situation. In a state where such a thing is legal. So yeah, there’s a long way to go before we can claim to be remotely civilized about this subject as a society, and we just elected the most famous con man in the country as president, so it seems likely that things will get worse before they get better. In so, so many ways; maybe this is why I’m on the constant verge of a political rant these days. Still, leaving all that aside, this is a thoroughly engaging and thought-provoking tale of a guy who is just trying to get some relief in his life and the various ways that his life throws up roadblocks to keep that from being remotely easy to do. He even managed to end this volume (the second of three) on a cliffhanger, one that leaves more questions than answers, so I’m very curious to see how he wraps all this up. Even if you’re not a fan of weed you could learn a lot from these books, and if you’re one of the moral scolds in question there is really a lot you could learn from these books. $10

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Velard, Mark – Future Space

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Future Space

Ever get the sense that you’ve already and reviewed a book despite a complete lack of evidence that this ever happened? No? Just me then. I guess it’s an occupational hazard of 15+ years rambling about comics. The weird thing is that this is a thoroughly unique book, and I still get that sense. My own mental issues aside, this is a mostly silent comic about a guy just trying to have a good time/lose himself for a bit. He has already had a lousy day, as he burned his food and couldn’t get his elevator to work properly, when he sat down by the futuristic equivalent to the television, scrolled through his choices and decided to take a virtual trip to the moon. Even this only seemed to slightly improve the mood of our hero, but then he decides to read the history of the place and discovers what’s coming right at him. Yep, I’m leaving out the conflict for you to discover. You all know my policy on spoilers, even for comics that I’ve already reviewed in an alternate reality. This comic was a treat, and Mark was nice enough to send me a few of his books, so we all get to see more of his stuff over the coming weeks. And I think this was his oldest comic, for what it’s worth. No price listed, but $2 maybe?

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Brown, Tim – New Flyer

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New Flyer

Technically this one is more of a zine than a comic, as Tim tells this story by using drawings he’s done of bus passengers over the years while telling a text story alongside them. Which makes me think, yet again, that I don’t spend nearly as much time here on zines as I should, but there’s not enough time in the world to deal with all the mini comics in the world AND all the zines. Anyway! This is basically the story of Tim’s history with buses. As a child he rarely had to use them, so only knew what they were in the abstract and that was mostly because of one neighbor who waited for the bus every morning. As he got older Tim found more reasons to use them, and he gradually grew to appreciate their beauty. Or, if that’s not the right word, at least their uniqueness and the peace that he (usually) got to experience on the bus. He also goes into detail about a few types of people to ride the bus, the reaction he would sometimes get from people who realized they were being sketched, and how the bus ride in Austin changed after the refugees from Katrina hit Texas. I almost said “flooded into,” but that seemed like poor taste. So yeah, this is a nice, quiet, observational book, telling the story of a group of people that can be completely invisible to you if you never ride the bus. $9

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Brubaker, Charles – The Fuzzy Princess #3

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The Fuzzy Princess #3

Does Charles have a regular newspaper comic strip gig yet? If not it seems like it’s only a matter of time, as the guy has the perfect sense of timing for it and is more than prolific enough to keep up on the grueling schedule. This time around we have Jackson and the Princess looking for a gift. They go into a bookstore, we see the differences in reality for the Princess in how she refers to comics, and we end up back in the Princess’ room where Jackson goes through her dolls, looking for the perfect gift. One of the dolls has a surprise inside, which leads to the conflict that we get for the rest of the comic, so I should probably leave it a mystery. There are also a few single page strips at the end of the book, because Charles clearly abhors blank page, so we get to learn how cars mark their territory (it’s not what you’re thinking), the bureaucracy of the tooth fairy and a master class in blowing bubbles. It’s another pile of funny from one of the hardest working guys in comics today. I mean, unless you don’t like the humor, I guess. Which is what websites are for, as you can just go to his, look at the samples and find out for yourself. You guys already know all that though, so I’ll shut up now. $5

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Hewitt, Joseph – Snow Cone City #1

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Snow Cone City #1

Sometimes, over the course of running this website, a comics artist sends me their entire back catalog of comics. Usually it’s like in this case, where there’s roughly half a dozen comics to read. Some might suggest to start with the most recent comic, as that’s the best representation of what kind of work they’re doing right now. But me? I’m a super nerd; this should be obvious because I’ve been running this site for 15 years. As such, I go back to the beginning and work my way forward. The point of all this rambling is that if this particular comic is not representative of what Joseph is doing right now in late 2016, well… oops. This also sounds like I’m leading up to crapping all over this book, and that is not my intention. This is the story of Pokemon (or the generic pocket monsters of your choosing) existing in the real world. Or at least a version of the real world that has Power Rangers/Voltron pilots keeping the peace. The monsters have been getting loose and disturbing the peace, so the crew investigates and finds the source of these monsters. Along the way Joseph gets really inventive with the odd background monsters that the nerdier among you will delight in identifying, which helps to elevate the fairly standard story about good guys coming together to beat the bad guy. It’s a fun book, is what I’m trying to say, and I’m looking forward to reading through the other comics that he sent my way to see how he’s evolving as an artist/writer. And the three books in this series are a measly $1 each!

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Hausauer, Marie – Raccoon

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Raccoon

Is it sad that I find it odd that Marie only has an Instagram page (that I can find) and nothing else for an online presence? Isn’t that plenty? I guess I’ve gotten used to having three or four websites to link for contact information for every artist. Says the guy who doesn’t even keep up a Facebook page or any other sort of website outside of this one. Ahem! This is the story of a dead raccoon. Well, mostly it’s the story of the reactions of different people and groups of people to said raccoon. We don’t get to see how it died (one person said it died snarling, but death does funny things to faces) and are left to confront how other people handle a dead raccoon body. There’s an older couple who is mostly baffled that “somebody” hasn’t done something about it yet, there’s a group of young kids who pressure the outsider of their group into sticking his hand into the gaping hole in its belly, and finally there’s a lady who uses it as a backdrop for her poetry on her social media page. I found the reaction of the kids to be the most sympathetic, as each of them reacted in genuine ways to the body and what happened when they upset the body. Maybe it’s too close to the election of Trump (future people, assuming the printouts from this website survive, yes, we did know how bad he was), but the old people wishing somebody else would fix the problem mirrored reality a little too well for me at the moment. And yes, this is reading something into this that isn’t there, but you can’t tell me how to read/interpret comics. And you? How would you react to seeing a dead raccoon in the woods? Would you walk on by? Poke it with a stick? Post it to your social media page of choice? Or would you go in a completely different direction with it?

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Tessler, Daria – Music of Changes

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Music of Changes

Is it ever possible for randomly produced art to be genuinely random? Are even coin flips truly random when looked at from an objective distance? What happens when art is mass produced using these methods and protesters are added to the mix? Those are some of the questions you’ll be asking yourself while reading this, or at least you will if we share a brain. Otherwise, don’t let me tell you how to react to art. This one starts off as a tour of the facility where these artworks are being produced and we get to see the great lengths that are followed to ensure that the art is a random as possible. From there the protesters are introduced, and their contribution to the artwork is devastating. From there I don’t want to spoil the whole thing, but four drink recipes are included, so even if you’re a soulless monster who gets nothing out of this comic, at least now you have four new drinks to try! As for me, I was engrossed by this story and think it had quite a bit to say about order, chaos, and the benefits/drawbacks of both. I’ll just leave you with a quote from a disgruntled protester that says it all: “Blast! We increased the amount of uncertainty on the Earth again.” $6

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Marinaomi – I Thought You Hated Me

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I Thought You Hated Me

I probably wouldn’t have thought it possible to boil down a 35 year friendship through a relatively short graphic novel, but I would have been very wrong. Marinaomi introduces us to three young girls at the beginning (the story starts when she’s 8): herself, her best friend Harmony and the “competition,” Mirabai. Harmony gradually fades away as the story progresses (if there was any dramatic reason for this I missed it entirely), and the rest of the story is told mostly through single page stories depicting an event from a certain period of time. There are little bits from early in her schooling (including her trying desperately to get Maribai to like her by agreeing with whatever she said, not understanding that she might be testing her), her gradually getting accepted, Maribai standing up for her at a slumber party, her first experiences with booze, and watching as all of her guy friends fell in love with Maribai and not her. From there we see some time gaps as the two communicated less and less, although I’ll let you find out the reasons why for yourself. OK, I’ll spoil one tiny thing, mostly because it happened to me too recently: if there’s anybody in your past who you once loved very much (friend, I mean), and you’re not talking to them now because you assume that they hate you… maybe call them? It might turn out that they thought the same thing about you and that the whole thing is one big stupid waste of time/misunderstanding. Or I guess maybe they really do hate you, in which case you can go right back to not speaking to them. Win/win, really. Anyway, this is a great example of an enduring friendship, one that goes right back to normal after years apart, and all the little things from the past that make up such a friendship. It’s a phenomenal book, and if you’re estranged from any long time friends you really could learn something from this. $9

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Kallio, Ville – P-FE/FRAF

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P-FE/FRAF

Baffled by that title? Yeah, I was too until I read the book. And I could tell you what it means, but what’s the fun in that? This is a story that really needed a synopsis of what was going on right there on the first page, and Ville delivered on that front. Basically it’s 40 years in the future, fascism is on the rise and whole sections of the world are getting wiped out. But the people are as relentlessly shortsighted and stupid as ever, and internet slang has become part of the way that people communicate with each other in real life. It’s a strange, terrifying future world of bright colors, odd creatures and giant robots. It’s also a book that I’ve already read twice and feel like I should read at least one more time before I come close to getting all the nuance that Ville packed into it. Speaking of, is that a… yep, that’s a unicorn in here. Huh. Somehow I missed that the first time around. So yeah, there’s a lot going on with this mini comic, and it could probably teach us a lesson or two about maybe avoiding our own fascistic future… nah, we blew that chance on the most recent election. Oh well, at least those of us that survive will get to see giant robots.

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Carino, Carlo – Finding Harmony

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Finding Harmony

It’s always nice when a book impresses me the more I think about it, and this is definitely one of those comics. Don’t get me wrong, I enjoyed reading it, but going back over the subtle details in my head has been equally rewarding. For example, this is the story of an investigator who is looking for a missing person. He also has vague psychic (sort of) abilities, in that he can’t help but sense the emotions of the people around them, and the is affected more depending on the number of people around him and the severity of these emotions. Carlo explained all this neatly on the first page while our hero was on a flight experiencing turbulence and was offering chocolate bars to the panicked passengers (because chocolate soothes anxiety). We also learn that our hero can learn a lot more about somebody by physically touching them, and while this could easily turn into an easy win for the character every time, Carlo shows it as a series of vague images and impressions, so basically it only really helps in showing the investigator who he should question next, but not exactly why he should question them. Great work all around, is what I’m saying, and it goes on from there, but if I mentioned that stuff I’d really be getting into spoilers. I can say that the investigator isn’t the only one looking for Harmony, that our hero may not be the only person of his kind around and that even the mindless hordes of enemies are explained when it’s all said and done. I haven’t seen anything from Carlo before, but after reading this I’m curious to see what he comes up with next. $5

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Cass, Caitlin – Mill Girls

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Mill Girls

Caitlin (who has to be one of the hardest working artists in comics) has veered off in a different direction for this issue, as it “captures the wordless day dream of a cotton mill worker.” Yeah, I cheated and looked that up on her website, but that was the overall impression I had anyway. Things start off with us seeing a few different women working in the mill. The faces that we can see through the windows are bleak pictures of despair, and the daydream starts with the image sampled below: with the women being completely buried under cotton while the owner made money on their suffering. In this dream the women go on strike, confront the villainous owner and, well, it’s a pretty picture of what reality should have been and I don’t want to spoil it for you. Caitlin often goes into more detail with the historical facts of her comics, but she manages to convey a lot of information here without saying a word. These women were exploited for their labor, they did work under extremely dangerous conditions, and undoubtedly many of them dreamed about seeing their bosses finally get what was coming to them. If you’ve somehow not read a single one of her comics yet I’d recommend starting with something meatier, but if you’re already a fan then this book is gorgeous and another great addition to her ongoing library of comics. $4

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Haspiel, Dean – Beef With Tomato

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Beef With Tomato

How have I managed to get this far into the website in general and life specifically with this being my first Dean Haspiel book? Granted, I reviewed Aim to Dazzle years ago and have seen his work in various anthologies, but it’s just silly that this is my first book of his. Baffling. Anyway, I’ve always liked his work, but clearly haven’t actively sought it out. With all of the artists I review that makes some sense, but it’s an oversight I look forward to correcting after this, because this book was incredible in every way. These are mostly short pieces from his time living in New York/Brooklyn, and stories include Awful George (and his awful habits with regards to cats and his mother), NBC sticks and his new neighbors, running into a car door immediately after 9/11 and the unbelievable reaction of the driver of said car, his honest but unfortunate reaction to a basketball rolling his way at the park, trying to play nice with cops who are determined to be assholes, drunkenly wandering through a snowy night, exhibitionism and the end of a bench, a murder in his building, his ex who loved to get naked and parade in front of the windows and the effect this had on the neighbors, him getting hit by a car while he played a purse snatcher for a film, and how his community came together for the big NYC blackout. There’s also a large section towards the end of the book with some written stories and some other strips that were originally from other books (or at least some of them were: I recognized his story about the day of 9/11/01 from an anthology). The kind of life he’s led shines through in every story, as he’s constantly depicting himself with various bandages and scars from incidents that rarely even make it onto the page. The man is a seriously talented writer and he’s one of the best artists working today, so if you’re like me and have somehow made it this far without buying one of his books, this is the perfect chance to fix that mistake. $14.99

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Van Sciver, Noah – Blammo #9

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Blammo #9

I’ve had more and more of a compulsion to get political ever since Trump got elected a few weeks ago (future people, assuming any exist after this administration, we really can’t apologize enough, and please know that more people voted for Clinton but she still lost because America), so in that vein, please read that sample image I posted below. I can’t get out of my head the idea that the sad man baby in the top hat is now the face of the resistance. Sure, I don’t know the guy (Noah didn’t either, clearly), but we’re all going to have to get over this concept of “safe spaces” to survive the next four years. Oh, and Noah also has a new comic out, which is always good news, in spite of whatever else is happening in the world. And hey, he’s just one issue away from taking an independent comic into double digits, which is vanishingly rare these days. Stories in this comic deal with his recent time at the Center for Cartoon Studies (along with a letter from R. Crumb asking him why he was wasting time training when he already knew his shit), the true story of where Blammo comics come from, various strips about 19th century cartoonists, two people with broken hearts and a complete lack of the story going in any direction you may have expected, the dangers of playing a prank with egg sacs from a preying mantis, and his time at a comics convention as a moderately famous artist. It’s a dense pile of stories and you’re pretty much guaranteed to find something you enjoy/that will make you think/that may change your life in some way. Hey, life changes can come from anywhere, so it could very well come from a comic story. He also has quite a few new graphic novels out over the last few years, so if you’ve lost track of his work somehow you have some real catching up to do. $7

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Sailamaa, Anna – Everyone is Hungry

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Everyone is Hungry

Regular readers by now probably know the hallmarks of a review where I don’t have much to say about a comic one way or the other. This doesn’t mean that the comic is bad or that I didn’t enjoy it, just that I don’t have much to add to the experience. In those cases I usually start off a review with a rambling bit of nonsense, trying desperately to kill time and/or fill space to give the appearance of writing a proper review. Eventually this runs out of steam, and I have to try to come up with something meaningful to say about the comic. Which would be right about now, I think. Hi, everybody who stuck through that! This is a mostly silent comic about some kids eating, them sharing their food with some birds and some flowers growing in the yard. Every bit of it is gorgeous and it’s a nice moment in time depicting a quiet meal with some natural beauty along with it. Maybe this won’t end up being one of the more memorable mini kus comics I’ve read over the years, but it is quietly charming, which is a welcome respite from the real world these days.

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Van Deusen, Tom – Scorched Earth

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Scorched Earth

Old timey readers of this website may recognize that title and author, and that’s because I reviewed an earlier collection of this story, um… earlier. But don’t worry, as the story continues into this graphic novel! For those of you who don’t feel like digging into the archives, the previous comic told the story of Tom (or an alternate version of Tom) as he goes on a few OKCupid dates and is generally one of the worst people in the world while doing so. It also tells the tale of his mediocre to awful job and how little he does at work while trying to get through the days. He ends up falling for a lady who doesn’t seem to appeal to him in any way (outside of getting really drunk one time and sleeping with him), but that does launch him into a lengthy obsession with her and the man she eventually started dating instead of him. Along the way he also decides to try polyamory (after looking up the definition online) and is a big old creep at a party that his college roommate ends up throwing (Tom is described as being 8 years older than said roommate). The Scorched Earth story ends up as gloriously as anybody could have hoped, but wait, there’s more! Tom also tacks on two later chapters of the story at the end of the book, depicting a time four years later after that version of Tom has lost a lot of weight and is desperate to show the woman who spurned him just what she missed. He hires somebody through Craigslist as muscle for when he confronts them (not that he wants to hurt anybody), and things naturally go hilariously wrong. Whichever way you’re guessing it goes wrong, trust me, you won’t see this coming. Tom also included a few other strips in here, dealing with his trying to get in on the vape craze (kids, if you’re reading this after the craze has faded, vaping was people smoking either tobacco or some smokeless junk in a douchey mechanized box of some kind, and all of it was completely untested with nobody having a clue what would happen to them if they used it. Hilarious!), Tom bringing a katana to work and Tom getting a taste of power after he’s told to interview a prospective employee while the actual boss was away. It’s a damned funny book all around, and if you’re single it also serves as a handy guide on what not to do around women and how not to behave. Ladies, nobody asked for it, but if you’re looking for dating advice, “don’t date Trump supporters” is the best I can do for you for the next four years. Oops, I got political at the end. Sorry. Buy this book, laugh, and forget about the bleak reality of our lives! $16

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