Category Archives: Reviews

Reviews

Schreitz, Will – Weak Magic

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Weak Magic

New artist alert! Maybe I shouldn’t have given that away, but since he mentioned it in his letter I felt like I should point it out. Also just as an excuse for me to post this periodic reminder to new artists who may be influenced by a negative review, sometimes to the point of quitting entirely: don’t. Don’t take my opinion or the opinion of anybody else as the final word on YOUR art. Take the constructive nuggets from the reviews that you can use, if there are any, and move on to your next comic. Speaking for myself, I’ve reviewed more than a few times when I’m not in the best of moods. I try not to let that influence anything, honest I do! But sometimes it seeps through anyway. It’s also a mistake to think any reviewer is all-knowing, or smart, or sometimes anything other than a stupid doo-doo head. Look, now I got all worked up. Anyway! Reviewing comics, for me, is a way for me to highlight new comics or artists to people who might not have otherwise seen them, along with steering them away from the really rough ones. Which I see rarely, and even then I try to point out the good bits. Enough about reviewing, how about this comic? Well, he posted a few of these stories on his website, so you could skip the rest of my babbling entirely if you’d like and check out his work for yourself. This is a collection of several short stories and, as is always the case with several short stories, I liked some more than others. For a new artist I didn’t see any obvious typos or misspellings, which already puts Will above several other artists in their early works. There were a couple of times when it felt like he was cramming too much into a page (the Bashful Babe strip was hilarious, but cramped, for example), but overall it’s a book full of ideas, which is always welcome. So, for anybody who’s managed to stick with the review this long, what’s in the actual comic? Subjects include how people can change, the diner, a longer piece about the frog guys on a spiritual journey, kids today, the dangers of staring too long, a story about a high speed chase (this one is probably the heart of the book and it’s “too be continued”), how Bruce came to be, an ancient Egyptian artifact, and several single page strips that I’ll leave for you to discover. Hey wait a minute, I just went to his website to check on the price of this thing and he has two other comics listed! Sold out, sure, but it looks like this isn’t his first book after all. Well, I feel like a real heel now, but maybe somebody can get something useful out of this ramble. Bottom line, the good ideas far outweigh the ones that made me say “meh,” and I’m curious to see what else is rattling around in that brain of his. Which means yes, this is worth a look and you should give it a shot. $5

Neal, Andrew – Meeting Comics #6

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Meeting Comics #6

See? I knew it was going to end up making sense reviewing these comics weekly, as this time we’re treated to an ongoing hero or villain (depending on whether or not you’re the Mayor): the Ribbon Cutter! We’re also treated to an origin story, so I won’t spoil anything here, except to say: is this the end of the Ribbon Cutter? No, I didn’t HAVE to say that, but if you think about it, I kind of did. Before I get into it, can I just suggest that anybody who’s sick of right wingers always using the exact same MLK quote without a hint of context maybe save the sample image below and give each and every one of them you meet a copy? Granted, there are better and/or more appropriate quotes for situations, but I am spectacularly tired of people thinking that the man only said one thing in his life. Moving on! So, what’s this one all about? The Ribbon Cutter plays a big role in things, obviously. Val and Rob have something increasingly freaky going on and Buddy (which may or may not be his name but that’s the only thing anybody calls him in this issue and I honestly couldn’t remember if it was correct) has several new family members and their polyamorous group move in with him in two ongoing threads. Other than that we see the dangers of knowing exactly what your employees are looking up online at all times, finding out what sparks joy, job interviews, casual Friday, and the one thing that terrifies Val. It’s another solid issue and several ongoing stories have been firmly established, so yes, it’s sure looking like it’s a better idea to read the single issues instead of just going for the collection, if you were curious. $5

Uhrik, Henry – Lemonade Tango #1

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Lemonade Tango #1

I have to be the last person who reads comics and even notices things like this, but maybe people shouldn’t bother putting “#1” on their books at all and just start with “#2” if they make it to a second issue. Aw, why am I starting this out by being all cynical? This comic was a delight. It’s just that I’m entering (or I’ve been there for years, depending on your perspective) old crank status as a small press comics reader, and boy howdy could I ever show you a giant stack of comics that never made it past the first issue. Still, this one has an ongoing story and a call for reader’s letters on the back inside cover, so I’m going to smother my cynicism and say that this one will definitely continue. Besides, he has a number of other comics on his website, so he’s stuck on this comics crazy train with the rest of us. So anyway, what’s this one about? Two main stories, and one single page story that I went ahead and used as a sample image. What, nobody out there can relate to that story? First up is the ongoing story, and it starts off with Rick trying to get Martha out of the house for their planned trip to Paris. Martha is not going, and she has one heck of a story as to why that’s the case, but I’m not going to tell you about it. Then there’s the l’il story, followed by a Thanksgiving poem (hey, timely! Future readers, this review came out the week after Thanksgiving 2021. Even farther future readers, Thanksgiving used to be a holiday before we all realized what a ghastly thing that whole idea was to celebrate). This poem is all about the robot who’s cooking and serving a family for the holiday, along with his terrible decision to follow the advice of a drunken uncle. The inside back cover was pretty funny too, as we get a peek into the mind of Henry as he decides what to do with the inside back cover. Meta, I know, but also hilarious. Like I said, I enjoyed it, and if he hasn’t written himself into a corner already I’m looking forwards to seeing what happens next. Which is the whole point of a #1, right? $6.99

Barnett, Lauren – Ruining Your Cat’s Life

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Ruining Your Cat’s Life

I found it! It’s the best graphic novel to come out of the pandemic! Go ahead, other comics artists, just try to top this. As you can tell from the title, a lot of this is about Lauren’s cat, but even more of it is about navigating pandemic life. And, just to throw this out there, it had me laughing so much that my sides are still hurting as I type this. A first in my reviewing days? Eh, maybe. Either way, it’s hard to pay a funny graphic novel a higher complement. Where do I even begin with this majestic beast of a book? Well, for one thing, it reminded me that I’ve missed a couple of her books, so I’m going to fix that toot sweet. But what about this specific book? It’s made up of either single page strips or l’il stories. The single page strips are either about the pandemic, her cat or fighting off depression because of the pandemic or her cat. We’re talking picking out a pandemic outfit, the cat’s perspective on the humans suddenly never leaving, the drop-off from ambition to actuality in making breakfast, and so many other things that I’m not even going to ruin even a bit of it. I’ve already said that this is my favorite pandemical book so far, so I’m basically just filling space here for the few of you who haven’t already rushed off to buy a copy or the others who have given up because they have no joy in their lives and can’t understand “funny.” For the rest of you, a bonus! Longer stories deal with sweatpants, the snackmaster, kids’ party games in the time of covid, how to deal with assholes not wearing masks as you’re trying to take a walk, the differences in the lives of indoor cats and outdoor cats, doing the chores that the cat allows, and how to live life as a cat. I feel obligated to mention that I just chuckled writing the last bit of that sentence, as even the MEMORY of that story is enough to make me laugh. That’s some concentrated funny right there. If you need some joy in your life and have already tried drugs and booze, the answer is right here! It’s this particular graphic novel. Buy it and learn to laugh again! $20

Neal, Andrew – Meeting Comics #5

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Meeting Comics #5

Good news everyone! The brief lull in quality from the last issue (that was almost certainly more about what was going on in my own life and not the actual quality of the comic) has ended! Yeah, I was probably just in a lousy mood. Which is bound to happen when you review as many comics as I do, and it’s not like I’m able to go back and re-review everything I read when a good mood hits me. Life is finite and all that. Anyway, this is another comic that had me literally laughing out loud several times, so all is right with the world of Meeting Comics. What happens in this one? More importantly, can I tell you about in a vague enough way to get you intrigued without going overboard and having you lost interest because I’ve spoiled it all? Join me out on this tight rope and let’s find out! Subjects in here include Val on Black Friday, trying to find the answer to “what the fuck did he do this time” on NPR, an unfortunate gender reveal party, fun visits at the nursing home, getting permission to celebrate Thanksgiving, Don in Nam, finding the key to Val’s heart, Jay settling for the corporate life, and being visited by three ghosts. Vague but enticing? Here’s hoping! It says a lot for a series when you can pretty much pop in, buy whichever issue you’d like and still be safe in hoping for some solid laughs. So try that, why don’t you? $5

Nall, Alex – Are Comic Books Real?

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Are Comic Books Real?

It just occurred to me that some of you may be reading this without already being familiar with any of Alex’s previous comics, so I’ll just get this out of the way: no, this is not a lengthy graphic novel about that nature of existence and whether or not anything we experience is actually reality. The title comes from close to the end of the book, when a student in Alex’s class asks him that literal question. From there it turns into as philosophical a discussion you can get when dealing with… third graders maybe? I don’t recall the exact grade he teaches. It’s also questions that he’s asked himself, which leads to some serious introspection when he’s home. Oh, you were probably also curious about the book in general, right? Let me start again. Alex has been chronicling his time as a teacher for several years now, and this one is maybe the best of the bunch. Full disclosure: I have no kids and all I know about school is based on my memories, but I do think that his book would be an excellent start for any teacher out there who’s looking to get their students interested in art. This was done in the pre-covid world; I’m really curious how he and his students handled things a couple of years after this book. It’s also a peek into the highlights and lowlights of a school year, so the stories can wander a bit. I mean that in the best possible way! Subjects include finding the source of that terrible smell (and handling it as diplomatically as possible), how he’ll be remembered by his students, accidentally making fun of Luigi, the bestest climber, trying to help students with their math problems when he was a terrible math student, learning from his students, trying to keep them focused while not shorting their recess time, making a class play, and getting schooled about where polar bears hang out. There were also a couple of short pieces that referenced how he wasn’t able to call Halloween by name to his students, which is just bizarre to me. Maybe he teaches at a religious school? Even so, that’s an unstoppable juggernaut to kids and you’re not going to make them forget about dressing up and getting free candy just by leaving the name out. Not his fault, as he’s just following the rules, but wow, what a fantastically stupid rule. Anyway, this has a lot to offer students who are interested in comics, and there are enough stories told from his grown-up angle that any adult can get a lot out of it too. Also I just lifted the book, so clearly comics are real. Duh! $20

Finch, Scott – The Domesticated Afterlife

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The Domesticated Afterlife

What a journey! I thought I had it, turns out I did not have it, I had the “it” more or less explained to me so that I went into the tail of this having it, and then it veered in another direction and I didn’t have it again. Was that sentence too much for you? It all makes sense if you think about it, but if that effort felt like too much work, maybe this one isn’t for you. Not that I’m saying you’re stupid, I would never! It’s just that this is a dense, sometimes meandering exploration of the afterlife as experienced by pets and other animals. Does it make a difference whether or not you were ever domesticated? You bet it does. What’s the hierarchy like around here? Well, don’t mess with the cats, but REALLY don’t mess with the chickens. Hey, what are they doing here? Don’t all kinds of creatures eat chickens? And cats were actively worshiped for centuries, how does that fit in? I’ll get into it a bit more, but to simplify for those of you who are on the fence: do you enjoy philosophical discussions about the afterlife? About sentences? About the words in those sentences? How about the letters in those words? How far are you willing to go in these debates before you go rushing back to the familiar to avoid the feeling of losing your mind entirely? If you’re always up for a good discussion I couldn’t recommend this highly enough. I feel like I got about 1/4 of what he was going for on the first read. Having said that, how do I know that it’s a worthwhile endeavor and not meaningless, made-up claptrap with vague philosophical trappings? Because I thoroughly enjoyed and/or wanted to read more about the parts that I did get, and even the bits that kind of flew by me still gave me enough bread crumbs to be intrigued. What else… this is a dense brick of a book, I’m guessing around 250 pages (but it’s not numbered, so all you’re getting is a guess), with images and symbols that I’m still trying to unpack. Things start off with a cat helping a dog into the afterlife. Or is it a human? Whose hands are those? The dog then tries to understand the rules while also trying to fight his own dog instincts. But why are they all doing chores? And what happens when those instincts are directly confronted with a challenge? Oof, I really can’t say much without giving lots away. The story does come together eventually, more or less, which gives greater clarity to things that you might not fully comprehend while reading them. Still, as I said, this is one heck of a ride, and unlike any other graphic novel that I’ve read. Any day I can say that and mean it is a good day in my book. $18

Neal, Andrew – Meeting Comics #4

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Meeting Comics #4

I spent most of the last two weeks stuck in an office (including 18 hours on election day, which is sadly about the historical norm for me), and still the first comic I’m reviewing after all that is a series of funny strips mostly about office life. I even held a meeting myself! Granted, it was short, there was a point, and I didn’t bother with visual aids, but still. I’m becoming one of the baddies! Sorry, where was I? Yeah, it’s a new issue of Meeting Comics! Well, an old issue, as I’m still more than a dozen issues behind. New to me, and I don’t see anybody else writing this review. Honestly, this issue is where the funny started wearing off a bit for me. Don’t ask me to explain it; I flipped back through the book in an effort to nail down this vague feeling and found myself laughing again at several strips. Is it because more of it deals with things other than office life this time around? Or is it my own general exhaustion from working so much lately where, all things considered, I’d rather be vegging out in front of the television? One of those little unknowable mysteries, I guess. Subjects this time around (after a great introduction from Barrett Stanley, and if Andrew is able to get intros for each of his comics he’s clearly doing something right) include hurricane coverage, visiting the family, happy birthday, what people are willing to put up with to get anything resembling a babysitter, seeing the protests you used to participate in on your way to work at the place being protested, threesome rules, the inevitability of straight white men to break bad, sharing a bed at a conference, the “can’t get with it” room, and dripping your whole life. Once again that’s only about half of the strips, and once again I gave you very little useful information. After looking through the book yet again I’m even more convinced that it’s my general malaise and not the quality of the book that has me feeling “meh” about it overall, but hey, we’ll find out next week after I review #5. What’s more likely: a book that’s at #18 and counting as we speak got significantly worse after the third issue, or it’s more something on my end? I’m voting for the second option. $5

Neal, Andrew – Meeting Comics #3

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Meeting Comics #3

More Meeting Comics, more of me still laughing out loud! So the answer to “are you starting to get sick of these comics yet?” is still a resounding “no.” Can he keep this up for another dozen issues or so? I have no idea, but we’ll find out together. This time around I’ll just get right into it, OK? It starts off again with letters from readers, and once again they’re comedy gold. Then we see “Kevin throughout the years,” which seems like a waste of time since the comic had only been produced in 2018 at this point, but one look at those images shows you that it was indeed a worthy feature. How about those strips? Subjects include motherly love, getting your steps in (and every office in the world really does have at least one of those), Valerie’s type (which makes absolutely perfect sense), inviting your work buddies to your punk rock show, a meeting in roast format, hiring for a sociopath, the existential angst of joining management, the sin of even trying to bring up Dilbert, group beards, and trying to understand the youth. That’s only the first half of the book, and it’s more than I usually describe, what with my ongoing hatred of spoilers and all. That’s where these reviews for this one comic are going to get repetitive, right? When I talk about how I don’t really want to review them in depth because it’ll spoil the funny bits? Hm. Now I just have to find some way not to mention that again. Eh, the point is that these comics are funny as hell and that you should try them out if you enjoy funny things. It’s as true for #3 as it was for #1. More so, maybe. So check it out! $5

Van Sciver, Noah – My Hot Date (And Other Embarrassments)

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My Hot Date (And Other Embarrassments)

For anybody who gets everything Noah puts out (which isn’t a terrible idea, as the man is awfully good at making comics) this is NOT the same as the previous edition of “My Hot Date.” I reviewed that one already, so I’d recommend reading it before digging into this review. It’s one of my old reviews that I can read without cringing, so it looks like I was having a good day. Ah, memories! The bottom line is that I thoroughly enjoyed the story, although this second time around his 90’s dialogue was almost completely unbearable. Historically accurate, from what I remember, but just unbearable. But still, it’s not like he’d bother putting this out again without some new material, which is why it’s still worth a review. Besides, Noah is maybe the most prolific guy out there (outside of Brian Canini maybe), so if anybody is entitled to poof up an old story a bit while adding new short pieces, it’s him. This one starts with a short piece about how poor he was back in the day and how hard it was for him to get Star Wars action figures (he made his own Millenium Falcon), and about how the whole “playing with toys” bit fails to impress other people right around the time you turn 14. Then there’s the main story, and I honestly can’t tell if he added any new material to it. Maybe? Check around the internet, I’m sure somebody out there knows. I don’t think “Lemon Juice in the Sun” (where he believes his sister when she tells him that lemon juice in his hair, along with sitting in the sun, will lighten his hair before his date) was in the previous edition, but I could be wrong. If I could ever be bothered to organize these mounds o’ comics I could check on things like that. He also included his top albums at the time (which are mostly cringe-worthy new, but not entirely), a depressing “where are they now” about a few of his old friends, and finally a comic called Holly Hill. This story is one hell of a bonus story, as it could easily be expanded into its own graphic novel based on what I’ve read. It’s the story of him trying to find ways to avoid becoming a “real” adult after leaving home, and it involves an extended stay in Florida along with some other couch surfing. How he manages to make things grim yet hilarious is always a wonder to behold, and this one is no exception. I just checked and saw that the original edition is sold out, so this is the only way left to get the story. And the extra bits more than make it worthwhile even if you do have a copy of the older comic. Why don’t you give that dusty old thing to a friend and get yourself of the new and improved version? $12

Delliquanti, Blue – O Human Star Volume Two

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O Human Star Volume Two

Just in case you don’t like suspense in your reviews, this is the graphic novel I was most looking forward to getting at Cartoon Crossroads in Columbus this year (before I found out the hard way that there wouldn’t be any in-person distributors), and it fully lived up to my expectations. For once I actually remembered to order the book from the artist instead of just saying that that was something I should do in a review. I also got the third volume, and as I’m already sneaking glances at the cover, chances are the review for that one should be up in the next week or so. Or maybe the day after this one, if I just give in completely. Anyway! I’m assuming you’ve already read the first volume, as it would be very odd to jump right in with a review of the second of three volumes. Most of the lingering mysteries from the previous volume are still left lingering when this one is over, which is fine, and the story has moved along nicely. We get to see significantly more context in regards to just how Alastair died and his relationship with Brendan at the time. Blue also dedicates some serious time and space to exploring their professional past, their relationships with other inventors and what gave them the ability to really get their big idea off the ground. We also see a significant progression in Sulla’s character, as she gets to spend more time her potential love interest (who still has no idea that she’s a synthetic being). There’s also an incredibly relevant short story in the back from an anthology that shows the moment when Sulla decided to transition, and even though it’s not technically part of the story proper I do hope that it sticks around in any future editions of the series. What else can I say without giving too much away… Brendan crosses several names off his list of the possible suspects who may have brought Alastair back without him knowing about it. We get to see significantly more of the apparently robust robot culture, and their reaction at seeing the man who they’ve always thought of as the father of robotics. And, while this may not be as important, the glimpse into Al’s “negotiating skills” was absolutely hilarious. It’s a thoroughly engrossing read with a compelling mystery and it deals with several questions involving identity seemingly effortlessly. I’d call it one of the best comics series of the year, and there’s a serious chance I’ll upgrade that to THE best series after the third volume. Either way, if you like comics, you’re only hurting yourself by not giving this a shot. $25

Neal, Andrew – Meeting Comics #2

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Meeting Comics #2

So if you read the review for the previous issue (I am, as always, assuming that anybody who has the time to read a single review here also has the time to read all several thousand of them), you’ll know that I was trying to figure out how I’d manage to review every issue of this series, as Andrew sent along a significant chunk of them at once. Well, I’ve figured it out: it’s time for another in my very occasional series of weekly reviews! So you can expect one of these reviewed every week probably for the rest of 2021. If you hate them, they’ll be easy enough to skip! Still, that’s pretty harsh. I’ve only written one and maybe a third of a review so far; it’s a pretty extreme reaction to hate them. Anyway, another problem with reviewing four panel funny strips is how to avoid spoiling the funny when you do inevitably buy a copy. One excellent method (and one I’ve honed over my two decades of reviewing comics) is to avoid the comic altogether, usually while rambling about some other subject, like the idea of reviewing these comics weekly. See? You’re way into this review and I haven’t said a thing about any specific strip. Useless, you say? I’m failing in my duty as a reviewer? Yeah, probably. Feel free to dock my $0 pay for each review. OK, fine, I’ll mention the comic. For the second time I had all kinds of trouble picking the sample image, as a solid dozen of them at least got a chuckle out of me, and several got a literal “laugh out loud” reaction. Once again, you’ll relate to this stuff a lot more if you’ve had or have an office job, but I think damned near anybody would enjoy them. Subjects in these strips include (see, I’m getting to some specifics) the charm of a people person, the lingering desire for death, pulling up the ladder after you’ve made it to the top, bitcoin, breaking through that glass ceiling, the percentage of pants being worn during teleconference meetings, fuck the police, the always helpful H.R. department, and taking a moral stand. There are also several strips I haven’t mentioned, and I might have been a little misleading on a few of the ones I did. Yep, ever helpful, that’s me! Look, it’s a solidly funny collection of strips that I’m thoroughly enjoying so far. What else do you need to know? $5

Aushenker, Michael – Pelican Bastards

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Pelican Bastards

I guess sometimes a title really does tell you everything you need to know. This is the story of four pelicans who are, well, bastards. That sample page should give you the gist of things. In this comic we see pelicans robbing (not that they need money for anything), pooping on anything and everything, occasionally doing some good by harassing the leader of North Korea (not that their motivation was to do something good), and eventually getting captured after one of the cops finally figures out how to take them down. Does it involve a net? Yes it does! Whether or not this comic is for you should be a simple question to answer. Do you like the idea of reading about asshole birds doing whatever they want? If the answer is yes, then absolutely get this comic. If the answer is no, honestly, this comic still might win you over, as there are plenty of funny bits. If you’re the type of reader who demands a compelling, meticulously plotted story, well, it’s kind of on you that had questions about a book called “Pelican Bastards,” but maybe this comic will help you lighten up and enjoy some good old fashioned mayhem. So am I saying that this book is for everyone? That wasn’t where I thought this review was going, but it’s looking like that’s true. Unless you completely hate pelicans, you weirdo, in which case Michael has several other comics that you’d probably enjoy. So yeah, give it a shot! You would not believe some of the stuff these pelicans can fit in their beaks. $5

Canini, Brian – Glimpses of Life #7

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Glimpses of Life #7

For anybody who’s brand new to the website (welcome!) and are just wondering if this particular comic is worth reading, yes, it absolutely is, especially if you’re a fan of autobio comics. Brian has been doing this for roughly a couple of decades now, has damn near mastered the areas of the artform he’s working in, and is prolific to a degree that honestly has me wondering if there are secretly two of him out there. But I wanted to get into a general problem with autobio comics, and this one is an excellent opportunity to bring it up. This is a collection of his journal comics from January of 2021, so if you’re reading this in the distant future, let’s just say that things were extremely screwed up in America at the time. This comic mostly covers the attempted coup (and the fallout) in Washington, the impending arrival of Brian’s third child, and the troubles that Brian and his wife (Amy) are having with his parents. It’s this third subject that I want to talk about, because after reading this comic… I have no idea what the problem is with Brian’s parents. Oh, I know that they’re distant to him (after five months they didn’t ask even once how Amy or the baby was doing), I know that the problem seems to stem from his sister moving back to Columbus two years earlier, and that every attempt to mend fences seem to be coming from Brian’s side. But… what happened? Did they split over politics, as is happening to all kinds of families? Did his sister burn down his house? If your response to these questions is “that’s way too personal a thing to be asking,” well, fair enough! One way I never would have asked about this is if it was never in the comic. That’s the thing about autobio comics: you can’t go halfway. Joe Matt back in the day (I’m really dating myself with this one, as he hasn’t made a comic in at least a decade) blew up chunks of his life with his autobio. He put out some brilliant comics for awhile, but you’d have to ask him if it was worth it. Maybe Brian addressed the origins of the problem in a previous comic and I’m either forgetting it or never read it, but a brief synopsis would have done wonders. Maybe his parents have a legitimate grievance? Maybe Brian and his family are really going above and beyond by even trying to mend fences? The point is that in a truly open journal comic, I wouldn’t have to ask the question. I’m just left with the impression that his parents are assholes, which may or may not be fair to anybody involved. Still, all in all there’s a few great strips in here, and the attempts to patch things up are fascinating. I just think there’s a glaring hole that the reader is missing and that it would probably bug more people than just me. $6

Craig, David – Brick By Brick

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Brick By Brick

How much can you really do with several stories written about bricks? Quite a bit more than you’d imagine, I’d say. This is a collection of several stories featuring this brick (or is it a different brick every time? Bricks are short on identifying features) having adventures. Sometimes they’re single page stories, sometimes they go a few pages or even longer. The whole book is silent outside of his crossover with Robb Mirsky and his Dingus and Dum-Dum characters, as their chattiness clearly could not be contained. This is yet another review where I try not to spoil too much from a mostly wordless comic, because if I did that you’d have no incentive to see what’s in here for yourself. His website also has several samples, because that’s how websites work. So, let’s see… in here you have bricks rocking out, bricks doing chores, bricks skateboarding, bricks pooping, bricks playing sports, bricks taking an eye exam, bricks carving a pumpkin, etc. There are a whole lot more stories in here, but even describing the premise tends to give away a huge chunk of the concept. I’ll just say that David is able to get more out of the three holes and square shape of a brick than I would have thought possible, and he has a few other comics available as well, so he’s not new to the concept. I read this one before the other comic he sent me, which apparently has the origin story of the brick, so maybe I’ll eventually find out how this brick got sentience? Eh, I’m just guessing here, but I doubt it. Some stories don’t need explanations. He put the price listing under Canadian monies, but it looks like it’s roughly $12 for any American types out there.

Nieminen, Essi – 10 Sim Lane

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10 Sim Lane

Who out there has played a Sims game? Or one of the equivalent games that asks you to control the lives of various avatars that generally do nothing more complex than what you do in an average day? Well, this one is for you! This starts off with a misdirect, as we’re introduced in the game to what appears to be our hero. Well, surprise, our hero is being controlled by somebody else! The mundane tasks that the avatar was doing are then carried out in real life by the player, and the juxtaposition of the two of them really brings home the banality of his “life” (and the question of why he feels compelled to play out the same events on the screen). Still, it wouldn’t be much of a comic if that’s all that happened, so eventually the player has to make a trip to the grocery store. While he’s out he runs into either an old girlfriend or somebody he has an interest in (it’s not spelled out), and his first foray into live human interaction in possibly several days goes quite poorly. But that’s OK! When real life goes wrong, he always has the simulation. There were some creepy bits, but generally of the “harmless creepy” category, as no humans were harmed. Maybe call it a cautionary tale of playing too much Sims? Sure, let’s go with that. It’s an oddly compelling story, considering how little actually happens. Give it a shot, you can’t go wrong with mini kus! $7

DiPasquale, Tony – Nugget #1

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Nugget #1

Now that there is one heck of a cover. I mean really, if you were to see that in a comics shop, that sucker practically jumps off the shelves. This is a collection of the surreal adventures of a little dude (purely guessing on the gender over here) called Nugget. It’s also a collection of silent stories, meaning that if I go too far in describing them I’m going to end up writing the whole comic in the review. So, in the interest of pulling off the balancing act of telling you about the stories without telling you THE stories, I’ll just say that the stories in here feature our hero getting sucked into a cup, finding a bottle at sea at ending up in a series of increasingly disquieting adventures, eating eggs and the horrific results (including one solid double page spread in the middle), finding his own twin and the desperate pull of the void, and the horror of the red doppelganger. It’s occasionally funny and often unnerving, which is a solid combination in my book. If that’s the case for you too, give this one a shot! $7.25

Flores, Dileydi – Survival Mode

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Survival Mode

The mini kus folks are breaking off another hundo (hat tip to Comedy Bang! Bang!), as this is #101 in the series. Sure, it’s almost all different creators for each issue, but it’s still one heck of an achievement. So what direction are they going now? Not that one unrelated issue has anything to do with anything else, but let’s pretend that it sets the tone for a minute here, OK? Well, this issue is maybe the most straightforward issue of the series yet. Regular readers will know that once in every dozen or so comics the meaning just flies right over my head; in several other issues I have to make leaps as a reviewer that I probably mostly get wrong. Well, this time around we are introduced to a group of three friends who decide to go mushroom picking in the wilderness. Along the way they (and the readers) get a brief class on which types of mushrooms are edible (if they have a jelly-like consistency, stay away!), how the wilds in Iceland got to their current state, and… well, that’s about it, really. No swerves, no aliens land, no murders, just a straight story about picking mushrooms and talking about the sustainability of the planet. I guess you’d call it a message comic, but it’s a solid message, and you can tell from the samples that Dileydi is a pretty spectacular artist when it comes to conveying the majesty of nature. So if you’re looking for mayhem, give this peaceful comic a shot, then come back for #102. I’m sure the madness will begin again in no time. $7

Kamison, Michael & Arnold, Steven – Heel on the Shovel #2

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Heel on the Shovel #2

Sweet Christmas, this is one behemoth of a comic. Can a comic be a graphic novel based purely on size? Because if this wasn’t the second issue of a three issue series, this 80 page beast would definitely qualify. I hope you’ve read the last issue, because this is going to be impossible to review without spoiling how that story ended. Which was by (last chance to bail if you don’t want any spoilers for the first issue) Muriel, the wife and one of three main characters (the other being the husband and the small child), dying. In rather slapstick fashion too, which was particularly brutal considering all the character growth she’d undergone. This one starts off with her funeral, which we get to see entirely from her perspective. Meaning lots of people saying their final goodbyes to her body, and her child just thinking she was sleeping and not getting the whole death thing at all. This time around we spend a lot of time with Klaudia and Rocky, a couple that had broken up in the first issue (which each of them being friends of one of the main characters). This is by necessity, as Adler (husband) has fallen into a deep depression, so most of his scenes in the first half of the comic are with him being completely immobile. Daniel gradually comes to accept what happened, but by then he’s been half adopted by another family who’s willing to take care of him while Adler tries to work through his grief. Still, this all seems fairly normal, and if you look at that cover you see a pretty solid indication that things are going to get weird. Adler, throughout his depression, has been watching several movies over and over again. One of them is called Re-Animator, and if you’ve seen that I don’t have to tell you where this is going. If not, see if you can work it out from the title alone. It’s fairly straightforward! The rest of the issue deals with the complications of making that happen, and naturally that also gets the police involved, which sets everything up nicely for the big finale issue. Well, small finale issue, as I’ve seen it and it’s nowhere near the size of this one. Maybe I’ll get to that one sooner rather than later, as I’m really curious to see how this is all wrapped up. This one could work on its own, I suppose, but I’d really recommend getting both issues. There is SO much here that I’m gliding right on by. Several damned near brilliant sequences with the kids, with the sad cop that gets drawn into things, with the relationship troubles of Klaudia and Rocky… lots of great stuff in here. $10

Gallardo, Valentine – Long Live the Witches

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Long Live the Witches

Finally, a new approach on witches! Sure, dopey historical figures have tried burning, stoning and drowning them. But has anybody considered the healing powers of music? Oops, I’m already into spoiler territory. Eh, sort of, anyway. This one starts off with a young girl picking some herbs in the forest. On the way back she’s bullied by some local kids, and we soon see that she’s living with a “witch.” Meaning an older lady who knows the basics about which herbs help with certain ailments. From there we meet the other important members of the story: a traveling doctor (who speaks for the Lord, which goes about as well as that sort of thing usually does), a musician and the various other inhabitants of the town. There’s a town meeting, what happens when you question somebody who thinks he speaks with a divine voice, and something distinctly resembling a mob. It’s an engaging tale with a few twists that I should shut up about, proving once again that the only reason this website exists is to point in various directions and say “Look! Read this comic!” while not giving much away about the actual comic. Oh, and not for nothing, but this is mini kus #100, which I think legally means they’re allowed to take over the world now. But honestly, who would want it? $7