Archive for category Reviews

Kern, Gail – A Memoir of Art Volume 1: Prehistory

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A Memoir of Art Volume 1: Prehistory

All these years of writing reviews (13 years, give or take) and I’m still not entirely sure how to handle reviews on comics that are a few years old. In this case Gail sent along the first four issues of this series, but this first issue was released in 2010, so chances are excellent that she already corrected the suggestions that I would normally make. Still, maybe not, and maybe the advice I give will help somebody else out, so I’ll go ahead with it. This is the story of the first muse in history, which is also presented as the only muse at this point in the story. It inspires Enoch and gives him the ability to convince his people to confront the Auroch and motivates Moombi (the ancestral mother of Kenya, according to legend) to fatten herself up so that she can have as many children as possible. It’s a fascinating story of the start of human creativity and I’m curious how she handles the concept for the next three issues. My complaint is more on the technical side of things, but typos in a story from the biggest artistic motivator in the world really should not happen. They shouldn’t happen in any story (everybody knows at least a few people who know how to spell, and even if you don’t it’s not difficult to find the correct spelling for words), but they really shouldn’t happen when you need to convey a solid authoritative narrative voice. But hey, chances are that this was caught and fixed for the next issues. Either that or I just trapped Gail into something that she is now completely unable to correct, in which case I’ll try to go easy on it in the next few issues. Still, this is a solid story about the birth of creativity, and there were only a few typos, so lighten up already, me. Check it out, learn about how inspiration started!

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Mitchell, Brian John & ED – Pow Wow #3

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Pow Wow #3

Huzzah! I’m sure I had nothing to do with this, but it looks like Brian is now putting synopses of the previous issues at the start of his serialized comics, and wow was that necessary for this one. It’s not always necessary (like for me previous review of Come Home Safe #2), but in a case like this this was really useful information. Granted, it still didn’t make a ton of sense, but it was good to know that the lead character had transferred all of the diseases of his grandmother into the earth. I’m not clear on whether or not that was a good thing, but at least I know that it happened. In this issue a golem comes to take his grandmother away, and our hero spends most of his time trying to get this monster to even notice him. We do get a bit of a sense of the powers of this guy once he finally gets to interact with this beast, but I’m still not clear on a few of the basics, so I’ll hold off on commenting on certain things until I’ve cleared that up. If you’re one of those people who buys your comics based on page count, this one was also at least twice as long as the last one I reviewed, so that sort of thing can clearly vary wildly. Of course, these are all so cheap that you’d have to have an odd phobia of some kind to base your purchases on page count, but who am I to judge your weirdness.

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Mitchell, Brian John & Weathers, Andrew – Come Home Safe #2

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Come Home Safe #2

It just occurred to me that Brian could probably put together a pretty nice book of poems if he just took all the illustrations out of these comics. If I’ve already said that in another review of his books then never mind, as I’m sure I’ve repeated myself more than once in these reviews. I blame him for writing over 200 comics and counting. Anyway! This issue (which seems like a stand-alone comic and not something where you need to have read the first issue to follow the story) deals with the brief breaks on a train ride home when you get out of the tunnels and get a peek into the windows of buildings. Sometimes you can see beds, which can remind you of other beds, which can lead to a whole different thought process entirely. It’s a a few idle thoughts on a train ride in the form of a comic, and I mean that in the best possible way.

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Prince, Liz – Tomboy (sample chapter)

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Tomboy (sample chapter)

Is it kosher for me to admit that my only problem with this comic is that it’s only a sample chapter of a much larger graphic novel, when the entire purpose of said comic is to serve as a teaser for the larger book (that is coming out in September)? No? Eh, I didn’t think so either. Still, when my only complaint about a comic is that I very much wanted to see more of it, it should be pretty clear that I had no real complaints at all. This whole thing is going to be a memoir of the early years of Liz Prince, as she tries to figure out how to navigate the world as something other than the typical girly-girl but still not quite a tomboy. This comic in particular starts off with her time on the baseball team when she was 10 and how her image of where she thought she should fit in did not coincide at all with where her coach thought she should play. In her mind she was a skilled pitcher, striking out everyone she faced, while her coach was perfectly content to stick her in right field and hope that no balls were hit in her direction. The rest of the comic deals with her time at a Girl Scout camp and the horrible things it taught her about how girls interacted with and talked about each other. She learned that girls could be made fun of regarding their bodies, even though it’s not like she chose her body. She also learned the horrors of swimming in a tee shirt, although she tells that lesson much better than I ever could, so maybe you should read all about that for yourself. I’d advise you to wait until the entire book comes out (she says September 2nd, so it should be somewhere around there), and you can use the link for her website to find out exactly how to do that. I think this means that the sample comic works as well as it could, as I can’t wait to see the whole thing and strongly advise the rest of you to check it out when it’s released. If you’re already a fan of her work you don’t need any reminding of that fact, but if you haven’t read any of her other comics this looks like a good introduction to her work. After all, what’s a better introduction to the work of an artist than the story of their childhood?

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Swartz, Frank – Star Pilot #11

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Star Pilot #11

It’s a good thing that Frank printed the title at the end of this book, because if I just had to go by the cover I would have made a mess of that title. This is part of his series of comics that mostly aren’t related to each other, numbering system be damned. This time around things are awfully lyrical and we get an extended flashback to start things off. Our hero tries to escape but ends up having to jump off of a boat (he was a stowaway), and almost dies at sea but is instead saved by dolphins. Things didn’t improve for awhile even when he gets back to shore, but he eventually uses his skills to build up a steady business. Which is where his son comes into things, and which is where the action promised on that front cover starts to pick up. Once again I can’t say too much more without getting into spoilers, but I did have some slight trouble with the ending, so maybe don’t read the rest of the review if you really don’t want to know. I did enjoy the comic, as I’ve enjoyed most of this series, so take that as the ending of the review for you. For the rest of you, there is some trouble with making payments towards the local crime lord, and at the end of the book the son of our hero puts on a costume, steals the payments for that week and gives them back to the shop owners. If there’s more coming in this story, never mind any complaints that I might have. If this was another single issue story, it seems to me like things would escalate in a hurry right after a crime lord had all of his weekly payments stolen, and that that wouldn’t be the end of the story, as was implied here. Or maybe I missed something. I did enjoy his smaller panels for the flashbacks, as that really gave the flashback room to breathe, and I don’t think Frank is capable of putting out a boring comic. I just had a slight problem with the logic of the ending.

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Mitchell, Brian John & Catherine, Jared – Walrus #2

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Walrus #2

Walrus origin story! Anybody who read the last issue has to be curious about this one, and if you’re a human being you’re probably at least a little bit curious about the origin story for a walrus who plays the saxophone. It turns out that I was wrong about this series being one issue and done, and it was probably silly for me to think that the concept of a talking walrus living in a post-apocalyptic world would run out of steam after one issue. This time around we learn that our hero was a slave at a Sea World before the apocalypse and that his music playing was all an act. They didn’t even give him a working mouthpiece! Anyway, our hero fell in love with his human masseuse, but things got a little chaotic when the world ended and, well, you’ll have to see the rest of it for yourself. Brian recently mentioned to me that he was on the verge of having completed 200 different comics, and he’s almost certainly passed that mark by the time of this review. Just in case you’re a comic creator and had the idea that you were being productive, there’s a little fact to make you feel worse about yourself. You’re welcome!

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Various Artists – Rough House #2

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Rough House #2

It feels like it’s been months since I’ve reviewed an anthology, but I think we all know the basic rules by now. Somewhere between 25% and 90% (very rarely 100%) of the book is going to be somewhere between entertaining and incredible, while a few bits aren’t going to do much for me. The great thing about anthologies is that the percentage that moves you is going to vary from person to person, and on that account this is an incredibly balanced book. Portions of this book are also in color, so if you’ve ever wondered what it would look like if the Pink Panther puked all over a bus stop, wonder no more! Granted, you probably never thought of that before I mentioned it, but you’re definitely thinking about it now. 17 artists contributed stories (or the cover) here, and as usual I’ll mention a few of them that I really enjoyed while leaving the rest of them as surprises for when you eventually read them. This doesn’t mean that I hate or love the stories that I omitted. My thoughts are usually somewhere between those two extremes, which is why I’m not talking about those stories, but it’s also possible that I’m just not thinking about them while writing this review and will comically slap myself on the forehead for forgetting a story after posting this review. Just another unsolicited peek into my reviewing “process”! Stories in here include a swamp thing going into a night club by Nicolas Mahler, Kayle E’s take on whether or not to leave the house, James the Stanton with the aforementioned Puke Banter episode, Melinda Trace Boyce and some memorable nights from her time on the late shift at a diner, Mack White’s story of a fraudulent prophet from Roman times (and this story is from 1997, so you may have seen it before), Doug Pollard’s horrific tale of a monkey who eats too much and his unfortunate cellmate, Connor Shea on the literal war between two big pizza chains, Gillian Rhodes piece on a frog who just wants a job (or a cheeseburger), and Colin Zelinski’s take on the myth involving Leda and Zeus (complete with an overly graphic ending). That’s over half of the artists in here and I thoroughly enjoyed those stories, so that’s already a pretty decent ratio. My wish for all anthologies to have the names of the artists (and the page numbers) on the top or bottom of every page has still not come true everywhere, but the table of contents and the layout at least make it easy enough to figure out who did what. This is well worth a look, and pretty hefty (and colorful) for that $15 price tag.

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Henderson, Sam – Scene But Not Heard

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Scene But Not Heard

I’m sure I’ve mentioned this a few times on this website already, but Sam Henderson was a favorite of mine from the early 90′s (wow have I been reading small press comics for a long time). The strip that starts this collection in particular was something that I copied and showed to strangers for at least a month. Yes, this was before I had a comics review website, and no, I shouldn’t have copied that page, but it wasn’t nearly as funny with me describing it, so I figured it was OK. Anyway, Sam has been doing a strip based on the characters from that one strip for 16 years in Nickelodeon magazine, and this is a collection of either all of them or the best of them. Look at the sample for some idea of the dynamic going on here, but each strip involves two characters: a humanish creature and a bear creature. Neither one of them ever says a word, the strips are usually a page or two and they all involve hijinx of some sort between the two of them. Wow, that doesn’t get the funny across very well, does it? I should know better by now, but I’ll attempt to describe that one favorite strip of mine from 1993. These two creatures are grinning maniacally in the same panel. The human reaches over and plucks the nose from the bear and eats it. The bear is shocked, but pulls the eyes off the human and eats those too. And then… nope, this isn’t working either. The best way to kill humor is to describe it. Anyway, the humor is all in the expressions of these characters, as I’d have to imagine that having my cartoon nose pulled off my face and eaten would be a traumatic experience. This book runs about 120 pages, with actual pictures of the characters (and Sam) in the back, along with a brief “how to” about his strip. Oh, and there’s an introduction by Noah Van Sciver, which should have maybe been mentioned on the cover. Hey, there’s my single complaint! Anyway, buy this book. This is the perfect “all ages” book, with nothing dirty for the kids, and plenty for adults to enjoy. And for long-time readers of his, this is all in color, which is a damned treat. Oops, a swear word on a review for a kids book is not OK. My apologies… $14.95

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Verhoeven, Kat – Towerkind #6

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Towerkind #6

In case you’ve been reading the comics along with these reviews (which would be weird, only reading one issue of this series a week, but I’m not one to judge) and have been wondering if things really were building up towards a unified story of some kind, this issue makes it clear that the answer is “yes”. This issue is all about Dina and that one kid. You know, the two who chatted through the tin cups and had their adventure back in #2? Anyway, this time around we can see that she has transported them to another location. Once there she asks him if he can translate some graffiti, and when it’s clear that he can’t she goes off on her own to ask a mysterious somebody who can help her. The rest of this short issue is spent with this guy stuck in this strange area where’s transported them (as he can’t get back without her), taking in his surroundings until she returns. So there are strange powers here and there, some sort of central mystery (or a few mysteries), and an impending sense of doom where nobody can quite nail down the details of it. I’m thoroughly along for the ride now, and you should maybe think of hopping on too if you aren’t already reading this.

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Shen, Zejian – Keep Fresh

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Keep Fresh

Are you feeling like things have been entirely too normal and sane for you lately? If so, do I ever have a comic for you! This is mostly translated from Japanese (I think), with a few small bits in English. The original characters are above and numbered, the numbers are along the bottoms of the pages with the translations. Things start off with some news reports of a “cycle killer” on the loose, a bored young woman watching tv on a slow night at a takeout place, and a man talking to his wife on the phone while walking home. Throughout the story we get to read about what’s going on on the television, and it’s mostly commercials for completely insane things like the rocket plug, which has to be seen to be believed. The man ends up meeting the killer, the woman meets a man who is wearing his outfit (not that she’s aware of that, but it’s a tense moment for the reader), and we get a flashback to the woman having an awful conversation with her mother (?). I don’t know how to describe any more of this without getting into potential spoilers, if I haven’t already, so I’ll leave the rest of it for you to discover. As for the quality, I would have thought a terrifying story like this would be poorly served by an obnoxious television going on in the background for the entire time, but I would have been wrong. There’s something about the relentless bleating of tv inanities that adds quite a bit to the atmosphere. Check it out and prepare to be unnerved! $6

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Steiner, Steve – Nobody Can Eat 50 Eggs #1

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Nobody Can Eat 50 Eggs #1

It’s the return of Nobody Can Eat 50 Eggs! Long time readers will be well aware of this comic, but for the rest of you Steve put out about 30 issues of this series (along with a few other unrelated series) but I hadn’t heard from him in a few years. I think he should have kept a running total and called this #31 (or whatever number he’s up to now) but this is very different from his older series, so maybe he had the right idea starting over. The humor is still similar to his older stuff, but the quality of the art has gone up considerably. Every bit of it is in full color, and a number of these strips feature claymation figures (obviously not in motion due to the fact that they’re in a comic book). I have no idea if he’s actually working clay or using a computer program, but it looks impressive either way. Stories in here include insurance problems with saving the damsel in distress, a lonely Yeti, common mistakes of dumb pirates, the inability of a caterpillar to cope with his future as a butterfly, a bald troll, dead superheroes, how to survive being ruled by robots, an art critic robot, innovations of cavemen, and endangered species that have vanished from memory. And that’s only the first half of the book! I can’t find a website for Steve (outside of a “Hire Steve Steiner” website with only a few strips on it), which is baffling, but you can always reach him through email. I have no idea of the price on this. Full color books are usually more expensive, and this is in full color and fairly hefty, so my random guess is $7. There are a few clunkers here, as is usually the case with this many strips, but there’s far more to love here than not. Check it out, that’s my advice to you…

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Verhoeven, Kat – Towerkind #5

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Towerkind #5

Another issue, another chance to get a bit more clarity on a few of the characters involved in this opus. Am I allowed to call this an opus if it’s a series of mini comics? Eh, it’s my website, I can potentially misuse words if I want. Anyway, this time around we get some solid information on a couple of the kids that have been hanging around in the background, Duk and Daniel. We see them playing jacks outside until some jerk almost runs them over as he’s leaving the parking garage (with the way this series is going, I wouldn’t be at all surprised if whoever is driving that car factors into things too). One of them gets a cut on his knee, which leads the other one also mysteriously getting a cut on his knee. The rest of the issue is spent with the two of them exploring how far this connection of theirs goes, with another decidedly odd thing ending the comic. Oh, and these two kids are not related, just in case I didn’t make that clear. Kat even explained a bit of her thinking on the inside back cover, which has been illuminating every time so far. I’m thoroughly enjoying watching her build this story up brick by brick, and it may have taken me a few issues, but these covers are really growing on me too. I initially thought that they were just piles of junk that might be found around any tenement, but there’s a lot more going on in these images. They’re also wrap-around covers, so you’re only seeing half the picture. Buy the comics and see the whole thing! Or look around more online if you want to be cheap about it, I’m sure the complete images are out there somewhere…

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Fryer, Hayden – Darkest Night #2

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Darkest Night #2

For whatever it’s worth, I was completely wrong in my guess of the direction that this series was headed. Which is the best thing in the world about reading a series, frankly. This was too big of a spoiler for the last review so I didn’t reveal it (and you should know better than to read a review of a second issue if you still have interest in being surprised by the first), but Caleb’s parents died in an accident in the last issue, not long after he’s dumped by his longtime girlfriend. This issue starts off with the funeral, with his ex (Callie) making the questionable call of bringing her new boyfriend to the funeral. I get where she could use the comfort, but the day really wasn’t about her, and it causes a few problems down the line. Caleb is having some troubles getting through the eulogy, and seeing Callie there doesn’t do him any favors. From there they all move to a smaller gathering, and at this point the boyfriend tries to stay in the car but Callie needs him with her, so they go in together and the new boyfriend tries to introduce himself to Caleb. It’s awkward, as he points out, and at this point a friend of Caleb’s literally barges into the conversation to try and break things up. Since I’m still guessing what’s going to happen here, I’d have to call that guy the hero of the story so far. Caleb slowly gets back to his life, but how do you recover from a series of tragedies like that? This is all shaping up to be quite a third issue, and I’m looking forward to getting my expectations subverted yet again. Hayden has done a really excellent job of showing some of the less talked about angles of a breakup, including how it all plays out when it happens right next to a family tragedy like this. There were more than a few heartbreaking moments in here, like poor Caleb waking up and sleepily asking his mother for painkillers. Hayden was also nice enough to send along a collection of his entire Billy the Demon Slayer series, and I’m looking forward to reading that all at once to see how it all comes together. Within the next couple of months if all goes well…

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Hendricks, Robert – The Washington Tragedy #1

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The Washington Tragedy #1

Just a note to clarify things before I get started: Robert has NOT given up on his “Stranger 2 Stranger” series, he’s just taking a break to work on this story. And hey, I’m all for artists trying new things, so long as my own personal preferences aren’t affected in the slightest and that they eventually go back to that thing they did that I already know that I love. Some slight exaggeration there, but I’ll bet at least a few of you agree with that completely. Anyway, this time around Robert is trying something completely different, as he tells the tale of Daniel Sickles, his wife Teresa and their life together. Daniel takes a crooked path to the top, being accused of being a shady lawyer and hanging out with prostitutes (well, one prostitute in particular, and he practically seemed monogamous with her). As is often the way, all this corruption eventually led Daniel to become a Congressman, and he moved into a house right across the street from the White House, with frequent visits from James Buchanan. Have I mentioned that this is set in the 1850′s? That’s pretty relevant information. Anyway, Daniel further scandalized this easily scandalized world by marrying a young woman of 16, with the general assumption being that she was knocked up when they got married. Teresa had the baby quickly and was often seen at social gatherings when possible, but Daniel was still perfectly happy to travel with his favorite prostitute and wasn’t particularly subtle about it. A friend of Daniel’s tragically had his wife pass away, and he gradually started spending time with Teresa (she had a lot of free time with the small children and Daniel away for work). This may have started out innocently but it did not stay that way, and rumors started swirling before eventually getting back to Daniel. I love how the cheating of the men is always just part of the deal in these old-timey stories, but if the woman is even possibly involved in anything even slightly untoward, look out. The rest of this comic details the search to determine the truth of the rumors, and Robert is going to be wrapping this story up in the next issue. He telegraphs pretty clearly where all of this is going on the first page, but I won’t ruin the surprise if you haven’t picked it up yet. I’ll withhold my judgment until this short series is done, but I thoroughly enjoyed the first issue and am looking forward to seeing what happens next. Granted, I have a pretty good idea, but that’s just a guess and I’m not going to spoil it by checking with the actual history of the event. $5

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Verhoeven, Kat – Towerkind #4

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Towerkind #4

This time around we finally start to get some hints that Tyson (the king of the tenement from past issues) may be a human being after all, although it’s still hard to shake the sense that he’s not a very good one. It turns out that he either has a girlfriend (Maha) or a girl that he is interested in, but he clearly has no sense of how to talk to her. That’s OK, as it’s also clear that she has no idea how to say no to the creep, and I can’t see this ending well. Maha is also fascinated by a couple of kids blowing bubbles beneath her window, as these bubbles contain images of life of other people in the tenement (odd but not terrifying) and a large meteor heading straight for them (terrifying). The sense of magic and/or things hiding beneath the surface is stronger than ever this time around, and I am slowly losing my struggle to keep these reviews more or less weekly and am in serious danger of just finishing the whole thing in a chunk. Hey, it’s Kat’s fault for telling such an engaging story.

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Prince, Liz – Alone Forever

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Alone Forever

I reviewed Get Over It by Corinne Mucha just a couple of weeks ago, and if I ran the world these two books would be sold as a set. Corinne’s book goes point by point through an excruciating breakup, her denial after the fact and multiple aborted attempts to get back together. Alone Forever, on the other hand, is all about Liz living the single life, crushing on guys here and there but basically being OK with being single. Mostly. It’s complicated. These are strips taken from her website, so there isn’t a straight storyline (although it’s not like it’s difficult to follow), but the theme remains the same. Liz hangs out with friends, goes to see bands, crushes on various guys (with beards; that seems to be a requirement), has ill-advised attempts to go out with wingmen, notices that she seems to be wearing the same clothes as most of her crushes, and details a series of OKCupid dates that mostly go horribly wrong. OK, they all go horribly wrong in one way or another, but that doesn’t seem to be an odd result from using that site. I’m in serious danger of just spilling all of the beans on all of the various strips, but I have to mention that I love how her cats will not let her wallow in self-pity. My cat is a notorious asshole (to other humans and only occasionally to me), but she will not stand for any sort of crying either. See, all you monsters who hate cats? Dogs love you all the time, while cats love you the most when you really need it. She also included fake Valentine’s Day candy messages on the inside covers, and you should really take a few minutes to read them. This is a pretty damned great collection of strips, and I can’t recommend it enough for any other single people out there. Couples, butt out. You’re happy enough already. $9.95

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Brown, Box; Kochalka, James – Beach Girls

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Beach Girls

Ah, girls going to beaches for vacation. Why are they there and what does the local population think of them? I suppose neither of those questions is a big mystery, as they’re mostly there to let loose in ways that they can’t at home, and the local population thinks of them as either easy marks or obnoxious invaders to their town. This comic digs a little deeper into both of those things, as it wouldn’t be much of a comic otherwise. We’re introduced to the three girls first: the unnamed (or I missed it?) leading lady and her two friends Ducky and Katy. Our hero would like to be like Ducky (uninhibited) and Katy (gorgeous), but she also wants to make her own way and is more than a little annoyed at the two of them in general. On the other side we meet a muscle bound oaf and his friend. The oaf is thrilled that the tourist ladies are coming to town, while his friend just wants to surf and work at his skateboard shop and is most than a little annoyed at these intruders. Along the way we see various little interactions in the town, the nightlife options, how our lady heroine decides to spend her vacation time and how it changes her (and how it doesn’t). It was, simply, a damned near perfect representation of a vacation spent in a strange town, all of the days blurring together with all of the booze and marijuana. If you’ve ever been on one of those trips (or lived in a town where those people visited), good luck reading this without getting hit with some serious nostalgia and/or general memories and regrets. There’s also a story in here by James Kochalka, and I have to admit that I’ve lost touch with his work (other than Superfuckers) after he started aiming his comics more at kids. He has a pretty funny story in this one, as two… mushroom people? Whatever they are, they follow a trail of empty beer cans until they run into a passed out lady. The elder mushroom dude leaves when she starts to wake up, but the smaller one (Dweeb) starts yelling at her that she’s a pretty princess, and in her still-drunken state she takes this as her boyfriend from the night before making up with her (it doesn’t seem like she ever opens her eyes to see this little monster). So hey, there’s two solid stories in one comic for you to enjoy, all for the reasonable price of $6. What a deal!

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Verhoeven, Kat – Towerkind #3

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Towerkind #3

More new characters are introduced this time around, and the line between reality and the perception of these characters continues to be as blurry as can be. In this issue we’re introduced to an unnamed woman who finds a dead bird outside on the apartment grounds. She strikes up a conversation with this bird, asking it how it died, and gets an uncomfortable (but plausible) answer. She also asks it if it wants a grave, and what type of grave it would like to have if it does. This leads to a conversation (with herself) where she remembers another burial and the lengths she went to to keep that creature company, but then the king of the apartment complex shows up and ruins things, as he has a tendency to do. That kid is quickly becoming one of those characters where some kind of comeuppance is going to be required to make things right. Unless the story is going in an entirely different direction, which is entirely possible, as I still have another 10 issues to read before I find out. Three issues in and I’d say that it’s safe to recommend this series, and I’m once again debating whether or not to step up the pace of these reviews so I can see what happens next. If the story keeps humming along like this I won’t be able to help myself.

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Dabaie, Marguerite – A Voyage to Panjikant

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A Voyage to Panjikant

It’s usually a good sign when my main complaint about a comic is that it’s not long enough. This felt more like a preview to this series than the first comic of the series, but I’m not the boss of Marguerite and she can release these however she likes. This series is historical fiction based on the Sogdians of the 7th century and their travels along the Silk Road. This issue specifically deals with a merchant and three of his children (although we only see two of them). It is mostly told in the form of a flashback, as the father explains to his daughter why one of his sons is being punished with cleaning the stables when that is usually the job of the other son. It turns out that this son, despite studying Buddhism for over two months, was still unable to satisfy some Buddhist businessmen, which led to some real problems for his father. Marguerite was nice enough to include a little afterward in which she explains that there’s lots more to come and that these characters will be fleshed out more as she goes, which means that she has plans for this series. Which is a good thing, as I’m already intrigued to see more of this world and time period. This is also one of those cases where her having the ability to color the story (I’m assuming that it was her, as nobody else was credited) transforms it into something greater than your average mini comic. It still would have been an interesting story in black and white, but the colors turn it into a gorgeous work of art. Take a look at it, you won’t be sorry. Oh, and I don’t usually mention other art projects from the various comics artists I talk about, but Marguerite also makes and sells pillows based on Tang dynasty Chinese motifs, and they are ridiculously beautiful. Buy the comic, read it while reclining on one of her pillows! $5.50
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Fryer, Hayden – Darkest Night #1

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Darkest Night #1

This series is off to a promising start, which is always a welcome sign when somebody sends along their entire series so far for me to review. Things start off with a couple breaking up, as the guy gets home from work (?) only to find a text from his girlfriend breaking up with him. I think he’s meant to be the scary creep of the pair, but breaking up with somebody via text already made me dislike the girl a bit. We see them both at school the next day (they’re in high school, when all relationships are the end of the world), and the girl seems to be taking things a lot better than the guy. Oh fine, the girl is Carlie and the guy is Caleb. Anyway, her friends seem to be thrilled at the concept of Carlie being single along with them, while Caleb is brooding and not ready to listen to his friends call Carlie trash and that he’s better off without her. Things move along from there (some timeline would have been helpful here, but I’m guessing this takes place over the course of a few weeks), with Caleb getting moodier all the time and Carlie moving on, as she even takes tentative steps to start dating again. At this point I had a suspicion that I knew where all this was heading, which makes Hayden’s next move even better, as I did not see the tragedy that does happen coming. My only complaint so far is that a little backstory would have been helpful to know why this breakup had to happen and why it was seemingly only a big deal to Caleb, but Hayden sent along two more issues that might explain that more clearly. Like I said, this is an intriguing start to the series and I’m curious to see which direction this goes from here. This is $10 Australian money, but I’m a dumb American and have no idea what that translates to over here in North America. It’s worth contacting him to find out!

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