Category Archives: Reviews


Gill, Joel Christian – Fights: One Boy’s Triumph Over Violence


Fights: One Boy’s Triumph Over Violence

Hey, he put a huge spoiler right in the title! I kid, mostly because this book gets pretty grim at times and thought I should try to get something a little lighthearted into this review. If you’re triggered by bullying, physical and/or sexual abuse or just awful human beings, consider yourself warned. This is his story, and the man is graphically open about everything that happened to him growing up. Things start off with him driving his son home from school, when a realization hits him: he has never had to fight and might not even know how to defend himself. This brings him back to his own awful time growing up, and it starts off with that most implacable type of bully: somebody who just wants to hit you because they’re bigger than you. There’s no reasoning with them, and you can usually only put off the beating for so long. And he was SO young when all this started! From there we see more of his home life (and the way he depicts the sexual abuse, how inevitable it seemed to him at the time, is utterly heartbreaking), and then move on to his second set of bullies. Or his second notable set of bullies; they do seem to be a constant problem. Oh, and let’s not forget the racial slurs. This set of bullies is when he learned to start fighting back, but that was immediately derailed by the news of the death of his father. This naturally upends his life, and leads into a problem that he only really understood in hindsight: his own transformation into a bully. I don’t want to get into the rest of the book, because it’s an incredible story that you should really read for yourselves, but he does gradually realize the pit he’s fallen into with the bullying, and the journey back is far from easy. There’s sabotage along the way, but there are also friends, and he even falls in love. If this is coming across as cheesy, that’s purely due to my failures trying to describe it. It’s riveting, and it’s impossible not to root for him the whole time, even when it’s only hoping for him to come through. There are lots of blurbs from some amazing artists on this book, and for good reason. Check it out! $20

Update for 1/7/21

New review for The Sleep Gas/Dull Buzz by Chris Cilla. Or is it the other way around? The slow dismantling of my online store begins this weekend, so get your orders in relatively fast! Who knows, either I’ll get motivated and do this quickly or I’ll be saying the same thing this time next year…

Cilla, Chris – Dull Buzz/The Sleep Gas


Dull Buzz/The Sleep Gas

You’ve heard about flip comics, but how about a whole flip graphic novel? Yeah, don’t panic, the only time you have to think about it is in the very middle. Where two stories combine and make the whole thing seem even more surreal than it already had at that point, which was quite a feat. This is a collection of comics that have mostly (but not entirely) been collected in other things, but it was also another case where you’d have a difficult to impossible time to get all of those books, so just enjoy the new stuff, alright? Chris’s comics are damned near indescribable in any kind of linear sense and you’d have to be a dummy to try. Oh hi, here I am, about to do that! Stories in here tend to wander off, or end with explosive vomiting, so I’ll just stick to some of my personal highlights, and you can quietly disagree from the comfort of your home/coffee shop/car at a stoplight. The wordless tale of the murderous toothpaste golem was terrifying and somehow bittersweet, the released killer who accidentally killed his own kid left me with a few questions (that I almost certainly wouldn’t want answered), the inventor of the sleep gas probably got what was coming to him, and the diner conversation that led to the overlapping story was surrealiest thing to ever surreal. Yes, I mean that in a good way. Other than that the madness is best discovered for yourself, without any preconceived notions to push you one way or the other. $20

Thomas, Grant – My Life in Records #6


My Life in Records #6

Warning: as of 1/3/21, I’m getting a “dangerous website” warning about Grant’s website. It worked before, so I’m hoping it’s only temporary and he’ll get it sorted out. Which is a shame, as this is probably his best issue of My Life in Records, but I might be biased because my own experiences reflect his journey into music quite a bit. I was maybe a few years ahead of him, and didn’t have the constant Christian radio station as my only other musical knowledge, but I also had the Theodore sampler CD and can still picture the cover in my head. Just checked the Googles to verify and yep, that’s the one! But enough about me, even though music and lyrics trigger memories, which means that Grant did his job here very well indeed. This one starts off with his gradual sampling of the local alternative station, eventually leading to it being the only thing he listened to. Public Enemy was his first foray into actual rap and was a transformative experience and, as you can probably guess from the cover, he also found his way to Nirvana. Seeing that music transform him was a joyful experience; even a flu going through his camp wasn’t enough to dull his enthusiasm. The book looks amazing (huzzah for full color), and although I’m biased because of my musical overlap, I’d guess it would be a fascinating journey for anybody who loves music. $7.50 (whenever he gets his website working again)

Davis, Eleanor – Why Art?


Why Art?

See, I had this idea in my head of what this book would be like. Eleanor would list various types of art, how it made different people feel, whether any variation had any more inherent value than another, etc. And it did start off that way, sort of! But at the end of the day she was, as always, far too clever and creative for me to guess what was coming. This is one of those cases where you’re better off knowing little or nothing before reading this, so if you’re familiar with some of her other work and are just here wondering if this one is good too, well, yes. It’s very good, in fact. So, safe in that knowledge, please wander off and buy a copy to see for yourself. If you’re somehow unfamiliar with her work or need a little more convincing, or maybe think that title is too pretentious to give a shot, you’re reading this all wrong. This does start off more or less how I guessed, with her showing a few different types of art, why people utilize them, how they make them feel, etc. That’s simplifying things in a big way, but still: my guess was in the ballpark. As it goes on we meet different artists and their different styles, and eventually see their plans for a show they’re putting on together. Disaster strikes, as a huge storm threatens to destroy the gallery and take the artists out with it, and from here I can’t say much of anything without giving it all away. I’ll just say that the ending completely blew me away, while still being one of those “in hindsight I should have seen this coming” endings. The thing about that type of ending: more often than not, it just means that artist knows exactly what they’re doing and had every aspect of the story so nailed down that there’s no other way things could have gone. I find myself tempted towards nostalgia more and more these days, so maybe I’ll dig up some of her older comics. Or maybe they’re things she prefers stay buried? Eh, I’ll think about it. Either way, this is Eleanor at the top of her game and everybody who has ever asked themselves that title question should give this a shot. $15

McFadzean, Dakota – To Know You’re Alive


To Know You’re Alive

What an absolute roller coaster of a book, and I mean that in the best possible way. This is a collection of Dakota’s stories, a few of which I’ve reviewed here from other books (although I either got an important detail wrong in the Danny story or he changed it slightly for this book). So if you’ve read everything he’s ever done, I guess you might have already seen more than a few of these stories, but believe you me, seeing them all put together, contrasting them all against each other, is worth the price of admission. There are about a dozen stories here in all, and although I’ll try to hit some of the high points, please be aware that I won’t be able to do most of them justice in a review. Which is the way it often is, but you know, sometimes I feel like saying it anyway. His first story accurately captures the easy an uncomplicated magic of childhood, how flying and creating life are the easiest things in the world if you don’t actually try to do them. Then there’s the piece about Danny, which I reviewed before (but I’d swear he’s updated it for this book). He’s new in school, had to leave his previous school and finds it impossible to make friends. Mostly because he’s not trying and is, to all outside appearances, a terrible kid. It’s a testament to Dakota’s skills that it’s impossible not to feel sympathy for him when it’s all said and done. There’s the casual, almost unnoticed horror of Good Find, the escalating dares of The Truck, the terrifying coming to terms of Ghostie, the bragging time travelers of Posthumans, the switch from mundane to deeply unsettling in Debug Mode, and what it might actually be like to be the first person to discover an alien. But wait, there’s more! The two page spread of faux newspaper comic strips has so much goodness that I’m not even going to describe anything about it; once you get this book you’ll be glad to be unspoiled. And somehow, after all this joy, madness, terror and hope, he manages to finish up with a raw and and honest look at parenting his small child, the balancing act of trying to stay a good person while doing so and somehow finding a moment or two for his own life in the midst of it all. Well, A child, anyway. I have no idea if it’s meant to be autobiographical. This is a thoroughly impressive book, and I honestly can’t recommend it highly enough. $20

Claytor, Ryan & Baldridge, Nick – Coin-Op Carnival #1


Coin-Op Carnival #1

Quick, a show of hands: who remembers Ryan from the days of his mini comics with the fuzzy covers? You’d have to be a very long time reader to get that reference, but I was reviewing his comics a decade (longer?) ago, but he hasn’t had many comics out for awhile, what with life and all. So imagine my surprise when I got word about this one! OK, technically, it’s not a comic, more of an interview/review/historical… book? Zine with the highest production values I’ve ever seen? Eh, I’ve never been good with these labels. This is clearly a labor of love from Ryan and Nick, and it’s all about pinball games and old-timey coin-op games. You already know what that means if you’ve ever seen one; generally speaking they were games of skill with intricately designed exteriors. Yes, that’s vague, but try a Google image search and you’ll see what I’m talking about. This one starts off with Ryan and Nick talking about their plans for the book (in one of the two straight up comics), then quickly transitions into their interview with Wayne Neyens. Who’s that? Only a 99 year old man who’s still sharp as the proverbial tack, and one of the most prolific pinball inventors in the world. It’s a wide-ranging interview that covers a lot more than pinball; I’m glad they let the interview wander, because the man has had a fascinating life. From there they have some extensive reviews of Mystic Marvel and Space Pilot, two of those old-timey games I mentioned earlier. Also included is an explanation for the inner workings of these types of games, which was riveting to a dummy like me who has no idea about that kind of thing, and a review for a DVD tour of the Cliff House, which is an extensive museum of these artifacts. The place has an in-house blacksmith to replace broken parts! The only negative thing I have to say is that I wish they explained a few more of the terms, but generally speaking they did a good job with that, and this is clearly geared more towards a person who already has a working knowledge of this stuff and not a tourist like me. If that’s you, you will absolutely love this book, and they plan on putting another one out every two years. If you’re a casual fan like me, I was glued to the page all the way through, which is about as positive a review as I can give. Try it out, why don’t you! $15

Aushenker, Michael – Trolls: 1 Trip 2 Many


Trolls: 1 Trip 2 Many

There comes a time in the life of every reviewer that you end up not particularly liking a comic from an artist that you generally like quite a bit. Hey, they can’t all be home runs! And reviews are inherently subjective, and nobody should take one review from one person to mean all that much in the grand scheme of things, etc. So with all those caveats out of the way: this one was only so-so. The thing I like about Michael’s other comics is the madcap insanity of it all, how he can make what would otherwise be mundane situations (and situations that are very much not mundane) into surreal adventures. He’s made me think about a few jobs in a whole new light, while making me laugh out loud more than a few times. That being said, this one just kind of petered out. And it got off to such a strong start! Our heroes, after their previous adventures, are basically legit heroes, and are allowed to slack off at their job with no consequences. But then an expendable crew is needed for a mission to Mars, so they get the call. Great set-up, right? Based on his previous comics I was expecting all kinds of hijinx. This is one of those rare occasions where I’ll have to spoil the ending, so feel free to stop reading this now if you’d rather not know. Pick up some of his other books, you’ll probably love them! Anyway, they crash land, run into an alien, and… wait for death. There are still a few good gags in here after that, but the page layout is exactly the same from then on out, with them all crumpled into a slowly dissolving heap together and chatting. I’m talking no movement outside of an occasional gesture. If he was just looking to demonstrate the awfulness of dying in space, kudos, and maybe it’s my fault for expecting wackiness. But it’s a grim end, oddly punctuated with jokes. Of course, they might not be dead, and however they possibly manage to get away from Mars could make this setup worthwhile. But this one could have been half the length without the reader missing out on a whole lot, which is a shame. He sent along other comics, and I’ll be getting to those shortly, because I strongly suspect (based on his past work) that this was a rare dud from the man. But for now, pass on this and check out some of his previous comics. $4

Pohl, Martin – Sportsbar, New York Part II


Sportsbar, New York Part II

The saga continues! OK, maybe not a saga, but a story, certainly. Well, probably. I mean, it follows a linear progression of event, more or less, although the ending kind of… eh, you know what? Unless you read it you won’t get it. This time around we spend most of our time with the two rabbits, as they take acid, get away for awhile and then get even further away as they’re sent into space. This evolves (devolves?) into a series of gags about the instruction manual for the ship, which you may or may not find amusing, I don’t know the kind of stuff that makes you laugh. Also included are a few strips about our other characters and their attempts to prevent (or induce) suicide, based on their feelings on irreparable innocence. There’s also a series of probably fake quotes, and another introduction by a fictional CEO who is not the same fictional CEO as the first issue. It’s a pile of weirdness, that’s for sure, but I got a kick out of it. Probably $5 like the last one, but it’s not listed in his store yet for some reason…

Canini, Brian – Plastic People #5


Plastic People #5

Some good news for those of you who like their comics in bigger installments: Brian has been selling compendiums of three issues each on his website. So instead of an 8 page installment, you get a 24 page installment and even save a buck! Wow, did that ever sound like a commercial. But hey, I’m enjoying this, and we live in an age of instant gratification, so I get it if reading this story in 8 page bites isn’t enough. Wasn’t there a comic here to review? This time around we see the reaction of the big corporation to the news of the murder of their model. It’s about as awful and soulless as you might expect: they need to be reminded of who this person was, desperately cast around for some reason why it might not be murder (because they thought they had that issue solved decades ago), and of course the best possible way to spin it. It’s gross, but it’s also a thoroughly realistic imagining of how this world would handle a problem like this. Somehow Brian is managing to stay roughly 10 issues ahead of me, as he’s up to #14 as of this review, but there’s only one of me over here! Maybe if that benevolent billionaire ever comes around and hands me a sack of cash I could hire somebody just to review his books… $2

Stang, Audra – The Audra Show #5


The Audra Show #5

It’s all 1988 this time around, with two stories, although the one with Owen takes up most of the book. Yeah, I’m jumping right in; I’m assuming everybody reading this already has the previous 4 issues, correct? It’d be a little odd to just jump in with a review of the fifth one. If not, go ahead and order them from her and then come back to this, otherwise you’ll be more than a bit lost. So anyway, Owen is trying to sell his bioluminescent goldfish to Margaux Delmar, but he doesn’t realize that he has something she values far more: what’s under his shirt. Mind out of the gutter, creeps! I’m talking about that thing that would be a spoiler that I’ve somehow managed to avoid mentioning in reviewing the first four issues, so I’ll keep that policy intact. They take their business to a different location, she tries to seduce him, and that’s all you’re getting out of me on that front. The other, much shorter story is a conversation between Bea and Flower, as one of them just wants to have fun and the other just wants to worry about what might happen when her boyfriend gets back to town. I’ll leave it up to you to figure out which is which. Looking at Audra’s website it looks like a few things are happening: she’s working on a collected edition (although I don’t know the number of issues it covers) and she’s going to start selling comic bundles for a reduced price. In other words, it will be much easier to get caught up with the Audraverse very soon so, again, you should probably do that if you haven’t already. $5

Skelly, Katie – Maids



This is one of those cases where I was really glad that I didn’t read the back of the book before the book itself, but consider this a public service announcement: if you’re ordering this book, good luck coming away without reading some spoilers. Not here, so no worries there, but this is based on a true story of a pair of sisters from the 1930’s. Granted, it’s not like Katie would adapt their story if they lived their lives as maids and nothing ever happened to them, but if you’re curious the details are easy enough to find. This is the story of Christine and Lea, two sisters who end up as maids working for a wealthy (and terrible) family. Christine had already had the job and she talked the family into hiring her sister later. As we progress through the story we see some background, including their awful home life, their time at a convent (including the way Lea ended up getting kicked out after her sister was hired away), all while they both struggle to keep their employers happy. The banality of it all, especially compared to what happens, is somehow devastating, and the actions they eventually take… well. Never mind about that. Even the real life consequences of their actions were shocking, in two very different ways. Huh, now I see why they put the whole story on the back cover. It’s not easy to talk about without bringing that stuff up! Anyway, this is, yet again, probably Katie’s best work, and I don’t know how she manages to top herself every time, but I’m thrilled to be able to witness it. I’ve mentioned in the past how I keep delaying putting my mini comics in order because, you know, endless mounds of comics, but it’s the thought of being able to find all of Katie’s old comics and people like her again that might actually make that happen soon. Hey, if a pandemic and quarantine don’t motivate me, what will? Buy this book, enjoy, and marvel at the spectacle. $19.99

Canini Brian – Two Stories


Two Stories

Sometimes the title says it all, so if you guessed that this comic has two stories in it… well, that wasn’t much of a guess, really, since it’s pretty obvious. Anyway! The first story here is about a man who wakes up one day with some gunk on his hand. He tries to wash it off but can’t manage it, and soon notices some smoke coming from his hand. He then notices that a society is growing on it, which of course leads to questions about what he’s going to do about it and how it’s going to impact his life, but it’s a short story and I shouldn’t give any of that stuff away. The second story is one of the most honest and open inner monologues I’ve seen about why somebody continues to make comics, which I’m sure at least one person reading this is wondering about right now. It’s not explicitly said that it’s Brian asking these questions, and it’s entirely possible that this is meant to be “some guy” asking these questions and that I’m reading too much into it by assuming it’s Brian. Anyway, it’s raw and fascinating, and he even manages a decent punchline at the end. It’s a different aspect of it for sure, but as I go barreling (limping? wheezing?) towards a 20 year anniversary of rambling about comics here, the question has occurred to me too. How long do I keep this up? I started off as an idealistic dude in his 20s; clearly that’s no longer the case. The best answer I’ve come up with? People do read this site for suggestions about what small press comics are around that are worth checking out. Not many, probably (I’ve lost the password to the stats page so I have no clue of traffic these days), but being a drop of the bucket is fine when it’s a small bucket. Not that anybody asked! You’re here to read about comics. Well, this is a good one, from one of the most prolific and varied people going today. Check it out, why don’t you? $2

Brown, Tim – Dogs

Website (where you can buy his books)


There are two possibilities I’ve seen over the years when it comes to comics that are either written by the children of the artist or the artist him or herself when they were younger: it’s either cringe worthy or frickin’ adorable. This one? Frickin’ adorable. This is from a poem Tim wrote when he was 8 years old about, you guessed it, dogs. Having these lively and occasionally bonkers illustrations helps quite a bit, granted, but the poem itself it also pretty great. I guess I can say a little about the “story,” but you probably already get the idea from the title/concept. This is 8 year old Tim’s conception of dogs, which as far as I can tell is pretty accurate, told in a rhyming format. Some clever bits, and the parts that aren’t that clever are covered up completely by the pictures. I mean, look at that version of the sandman. Neil Gaiman, eat your heart out! So yeah, this really is one of those “all ages” books that can be enjoyed by all ages, and it’s a thoroughly engaging poem about dogs and their eccentricities. Contact info was impossible to find online (hey, you try finding a website when searching “Tim Brown” and “dogs”), but there’s a link up there to where you can buy a couple of his books at the Quimby’s website. Try it out and enjoy! $10

Maandag, Nick – The Follies of Richard Wadsworth


The Follies of Richard Wadsworth

If you’re pressed for time, or just generally don’t want to know anything about this book, let me just say that I don’t think I’ve laughed this hard at a book this year, or possibly for the last few years. It caused me to head right to Spit and a Half and grab every other comics he’s done. If you need more, I’ll continue, but I wanted to get that out of the way up front. This is a collection of three stories, and in defiance of tradition I’m going to save the longest one for last. The third piece in here is about a Buddhist disciple who is in a desperate struggle with his own horniness. The traditional techniques aren’t working, the temple is integrated (which makes the temptation constantly present) and his friend the monkey isn’t helping one way or the other. Hijinx ensue, along with the questioning of faith and belief in authority figures. The second story is about a night school class, which is an escalating series of events that I’m not even going to talk about, because I’ve rarely laughed harder than I did at this story and I don’t want to give away a single thing. Every note hit, it was exactly as long as it should have been… if civilization survives, this may eventually be taught as the perfect comics story. Finally there’s the main story, the title of the book, which is almost as funny as the one about night school. Or is it funnier? That internal struggle should tell you something. Richard Wadsworth gets a job teaching his philosophy theory, but he’s obviously aware on some level that he’s a fraud and is in a constant state of trying to compensate for it. Once again I don’t want to say anything, but his method of pretending he wasn’t eavesdropping on a conversation (and how he was immediately caught) made me put the book down for a minute because I was literally crying from laughing. And it only got more ridiculous from there, with a series of cascading fuckups and brazen attempts to bluff his way through situations. If you’re never read one of Nick’s books it’s difficult to describe his utterly deadpan humor, how facial expressions and the things not said are every bit as important as the dialogue. I’ll just say that nobody does it better, and this guy had better not get covid. We need to see another few decades of his comics at a minimum. $19.95

Stein, Leslie – I Know You Rider


I Know You Rider

Who was it that said that memory was an unreliable narrator? Well, he or she was really onto something, because I was going to start this review with an expression of disbelief that I’d somehow never mentioned Leslie on this website, only to do a search and find that I have reviewed two of her comics previously. Two! Granted, they were from 2007 and 2011 respectively, but still. Apparently my memory doesn’t go back that far. Anyway! It’s still surprising that I haven’t mentioned her comics in almost a decade, because she’s been doing amazing work for a very long time. The lack of definition on faces combined with the very real and present story makes for an odd but captivating combination, but maybe I should get into the story before I mention that? 19 years in and I’m still trying to figure out how to structure a review. This is the story of Leslie’s getting pregnant and subsequent decision to get an abortion. It’s told without frills and without any agonizing; it’s simply seen as the best thing for her at the time. The narrative of her time at the doctor’s office is interwoven with the events leading up to that moment, occasionally mixed in with conversations with friends (rarely about abortion, just the life she was living at the time). None of this is meant as a “happily ever after” or some moral dilemna, it’s just real life and, as such, messy and unstoppable. This is one of those stories that’s best experienced bit by bit as you’re reading it, so I’m going to skip my usual thing where I briefly mention various sections of the book. Look, she’s been doing this for roughly 15 years at this point and this is (so far, that I’ve read anyway) her best work, so if you give it a shot you’ll see for yourself. And you should! $24.95

McKay, Billy – Peculiar Paper People #1


Peculiar Paper People #1

This one’s a mix of a few short pieces, but all in glorious color. Yes, I’m still occasionally impressed just because a book’s in color. I’m easy to please! Stories in here include the true story of the little people that live inside of electric razors (including the real reason why the batteries have to be changed every so often), a numbered tale about an angry boy who doesn’t know he has a lit firecracker on top of his head, four short fables (or possibly poems), and finally an argument between a guy who can’t give up his nostalgic love for an Atari 2600 versus a guy who just wants to enjoy his Xbox. There’s even a funny ad on the back cover to buy his comics, and funny ads can be hard to come by. So: visually inventive, mildly unnerving, funny stuff. These are all good things, so give it a shot! $2.50

Thomas, Grant – The New Normal


The New Normal

Could it be? Is this the first pandemical mini comic? Knowing how rough my memory is these days I might have said the same thing about a comic a few weeks ago, but let’s just say for now that it’s the first one I can think of. And it’s a wee one, meaning that Grant shouldn’t be the first one done six plus months into this! I mean, sure, constant low level dread makes it tough to make art, but… eh, you know what? That is a pretty good excuse. Never mind. I ramble because this is such a shortie that there’s not a whole lot to say about it. Grant briefly goes through his new daily prep, how he occupies his time, how his kids are being taught remotely, then brings up the protests and the Black Lives Matter movement, with questions about what will happen next. It’s done in a fold-out format, sort of; the pages basically form a triangle when you fold them out. It’s a thoughtful mini, the kind of thing I wish I saw more of, honestly. $2

Tomine, Adrian – The Loneliness of the Long-Distance Cartoonist


The Loneliness of the Long-Distance Cartoonist

I’ve said this before, but it bears repeating: I wouldn’t be reading independent/small press comics if it wasn’t for Adrian Tomine. I’d given up on Marvel books, the mini comics I found weren’t really grabbing me, and then I found Optic Nerve. Then he joined up with Drawn and Quarterly, took a more serious turn with his stories (at a time when I wanted more humor), so I drifted away. Recently I went back through his work, appreciated how amazing those stories really were (mostly, nothing out there is perfect), and how they got better every time out, and I regretted losing track of him. Why I am mentioning all this? Because this book is a hilarious, cringe-inducing list of a number of times fans, other artists and people on the street were thoughtless, rude, or just plain awful to him. He mentions that most of his interactions have been positive, sure, but stories like these are bound to make an impression. This is another one of those cases were I don’t even want to say what the stories are about, so if you’d like to go into this completely unspoiled (and you should, it’s his best work, and that’s really saying something), so long! Go about your merry way. If you’re still on the fence, you’ve clearly never read his work, but sure, I’ll give you some hints. Stories in here include his unfortunate and more than mildly racist first interaction with one of his favorite artists, the lecture he got on his “triumphant” first big convention with D & Q about selling out, the time when he was starstruck on having Frank Miller have to read his name for an award nomination (and how quickly he was deflated), giving an interview over dinner while new to IBS, giving a talk at his daughter’s class and how it was received, giving a “reading” of his work at a library, happening to sit next to a couple critically talking about his work over dinner, and several more stories. At the end of the book he goes into the story of the personal event in his life that inspired him to make this collection, but there’s no way I’m spoiling that. Like I said, this is his best work, but I read Shortcomings, Killing and Dying and Scenes From an Impending Marriage recently too, and they’re all absolutely fantastic. If you’ve lost track of this guy over the years like me, you’re really missing out if you don’t catch up with his work. $29.95

Bishop, Eli – Nine Faces of Nothing


Nine Faces of Nothing

Eli mentions right on the cover that these are depression comics, but since it’s late September of 2020 as I write this and all kinds of people are depressed for all kinds of new reasons, these comics can be a bit, you know, depressing. Obvious disclaimer out of the way, there’s some really masterful storytelling going on here. There are nine pieces, mostly touching on aspects of depression (one of them is an adaptation of an H.P. Lovecraft story, but his reasoning for why it was included in here was compelling). He touches on the devastation going on in his brain sometimes when trying to keep up a polite smile around people, the danger of letting your true feelings out around other people, living with a voice in his head that’s always telling him how he’s going to die, trying to pinpoint the last moment he was really happy, his brief periods of being catatonic and trying to figure out why it was happening (and how to stop it if possible), and how he was once thinking of self harm and happened upon the perfect means to do it (but he wisely wouldn’t say what it was) before eventually having his job move away from that location. Now, I’m not saying that the reader should take all of these things literally, that every moment of Eli’s life is plagued by every one of these thoughts. They’re stories, and it’s possible if not probable that I’m misinterpreting a message or two. But these stories are devastatingly accurate depictions of what can go through your mind while depressed, or very suddenly while you’re thinking you’re not depressed at all. Knowing you’re not alone in your darkest thoughts is one of the best ways to manage depression, so if you’re feeling that way at all I can’t recommend this book highly enough. $10