Category Archives: Reviews

Reviews

Wang, Inkee – Special K

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Special K

OK, this is going to be one of those cases where I can’t talk about the comic without getting into some major spoilers, so be forewarned. Granted, the synopsis on the back cover had the same spoilers, but you can’t see that here, so that doesn’t count. If you’re looking for a suggestion only, well, it’s a mini kus book, and my love for their ingenuity, creativity and uniqueness is well established at this point, so yeah, you should check it out. This is the story of Special K, the avatar of a teenager in a popular online shooting game. He’s the best player in the game by far; people from all over the world watch his livestream and will log in just in the hopes of getting killed by him. I should mention here that hundreds (if not thousands) of people make a living from other people watching them play video games online, and that I still can’t quite wrap my head around the fact that there’s such a huge market of people who simply want to watch others play video games. But hey, they’re rich and I’m not, so what do I know. Anyway, most of the first half of the book establishes this kid and his character, some of his more heroic exploits in the game, and sets him up as a giant superstar. He’s eventually discovered to have cheated but, as is the norm in the world of the internet, nobody is quite sure where the allegations started or whether or not they’re even true, but he’s still chased out of the game, taking away the main draw of the thing. The images of the end of the story are downright beautiful, as the vast online killing field is deserted once their hero is gone, leaving only a few diehards who end up in a peaceful online field. There’s insightful commentary here on the fad of being an internet celebrity and how quickly it can all vanish, how ephemeral the cults around these people can be, and even a few cool little battle sequences if that’s all you’re here for. It’s another great book from the fine folks at mini kus, in other words. $6

Gipi – Land of the Sons

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Land of the Sons

I genuinely do not know where to start with this one. How a book with 280 pages (give or take) doesn’t have a wasted panel in it? How it starts off like a fairly simple story of the few remaining survivors of civilization (years after the fall) and balloons out into a complex, terrifying tale? The fact that so many answers are given with so few words? Not that it’s a wordless comic; far from it. Just that some of the most important scenes don’t have a lot of chatter involved. OK, how about this: the book starts off with a young man casually walking through a field. He’s trying to call out for his brother, and we spend several pages seeing his hunt. Finally he sees his brother struggling with an animal, and we learn later that his brother has killed a dog for the sake of trading it to the only local merchant. Why does he so casually kill a dog? Because he’s never learned that dogs (or cats) were around for anything other than meat and their skin. So clearly it’s been awhile since the end of the world, but we’re never given a solid reason for why it happened. It’s irrelevant, really. Civilization has fallen, this is what’s left. The brothers bring this dog to their father, who chastises them for the method of killing the dog, their lack of preparation in keeping it fit for trade, etc. We soon see that he is hard on these kids constantly, but it’s because he’s trying his best to keep them alive in this harsh, unforgiving world. There’s an unpleasant but successful interaction with the trader, the boys make a few attempts to read the journal that their father is keeping (neither has learned to read) and the bulk of the remainder of the book deals with their ongoing attempts to get somebody, anybody, to read the book for them. Along the way we get to see more of this world, and the more we see, the worse it gets. It’s goddamn horrifying at times, and once you pass a certain part of the book the tension is pressing and constant. I don’t know if this book won any awards (Gipi is an Italian artist and this is apparently his second book), but it should have. I’ve been flipping back through various scenes since I finished it, and that’s not the norm with me and graphic novels. Give it a look, I can’t recommend it highly enough. $29.99

Fenta – Beyond a Cure

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Beyond a Cure

Do you have any idea how tempting it is to just put the synopsis from the back of the comic in the place of a proper review and call it a day? As always, it’s succinct, and it manages to say nothing and everything at the same time. Instead I get to ramble on for a few hundred words in the hopes of making a different kind of sense of it. Oh, woe is the fate of the random internet comics reviewer! In the case the sarcasm there wasn’t crystal clear… yeah, sarcasm. Hey look everybody, it’s a new issue of mini kus! #72, to be exact, and I can only hope that when they reach #100 their plan for world domination will be complete. This is the story of two brothers… or two aspects of the same person… or possibly just two guys who know each other? Yep, I’ve got this one nailed down. One of the brothers is sick and has decided to end it all, and has already dug a hole in the backyard for his body. All his other brother has to do is come over at the appointed time and bury him. While the healthy brother is contemplating this state of affairs he has visions of the past, or possibly prophetic visions. When the time is right he comes over to bury his brother… but the visions don’t stop, and what exactly happened is very much open to interpretation. It’s the sense of a half-remembered dream put on paper, with a pervasive sense of foreboding and hopelessness throughout. In other words, it’s another completely unique story to add to the mini kus collection. $6

Cass, Caitlin – The Index #6

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The Index #6: The Crowd

It’s back, The Index is back! Sorry, that probably seemed unprofessional. I apologize to those of you who still somehow see me as a professional. Before I get to the contents of this comic, I have to point out that there was another #6 of this series, but Caitlin says at the start of this issue that we’re meant to disregard it entirely. Checking through my past reviews I see that I never reviewed it; checking through her store I can see that the older issue is still for sale and that it’s described as having to do with our two heroes asking Virginia Woolf for advice on their situation. This sounds fascinating to me, but apparently Caitlin disagreed. Why? What scandalous materials are discussed in this issue? I have no idea, but if you’re curious you’d better order a copy before she notices that they’re still for sale. Oh, and she also has a collected edition of the first five issues available there, if you’re interested, which you should be. Does that mean that I can finally talk about this comic? It does! In this issue John eats a sandwich while Susan calls several of the greatest minds in history to help them with the problem of the burning library. Maybe that’s why Caitlin ditched the last issue: she preferred the conversation of several of them (Virginia Woolf included) rather than just Woolf on her own. Anyway, they decide to watch how they handle the crisis without interfering, which inevitably leads to them interfering to try to get things kicked off. Does this help the greatest minds in history solve the problem? Or have they made a terrible mistake? Tune in next time to… no, you probably will have to tune in next time, as there are still problems to be solved. But since Caitlin has solved whatever narrative bugaboo was holding her back with this second sixth issue, and since she’s already one of the most prolific artists I know, I have a feeling we’ll be seeing an issue seven before too long. If you haven’t listened to me yet to buy her comics, well, shame on you, but now that there’s a collected edition of the first five issues you really have no excuse at all. Buy it, catch up, live better!

Ganmu – Doghair

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Doghair

Oh mini kus, don’t ever change. This is another selection in their series (#71, for those keeping track of such things) and this time around the story deals with a young man and his dog. Dogs. It’s not entirely clear if both dogs are his, but it’s not particularly relevant. He only has eyes for the dogs, which leads to a bit of trouble at home. His wife (or roommate, although the implication is definitely wife) berates him over dinner and then leaves the house, but his concern is still for the dogs, failing to notice that she’s spending less and less time at home. Finally he looks out the window and sees his wife, while walking the dog, talking to another man in the street. Naturally, this causes him to spring into action… and you’ll have to read the comic to see what happens next. This is mostly wordless, so the glances and body language are doing most of the work. It’s occasionally haunting and the ending is grim, in a “Boy and his Dog” sort of way. See, if you know what I’m talking about that is a bit of a spoiler. Hooray for your literacy! $6

Woodring, Jim – Poochytown

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Poochytown

I’ve been reviewing comics for over 17 years here now, and do you know why I’ve never reviewed a Jim Woodring book, despite the fact that he’s long been one of my top 5 favorite comic artists? Because I never knew how I could do one of his books justice. Well, I’m here today to tell you that… I still haven’t solved that problem. I don’t think it is possible to say something revelatory about his work, because it so obviously speaks for itself, and it so obviously speaks in its own, unique language. I’m mostly doing this to tell people who stopped reading Jim’s work in the mid 00’s, when he wasn’t putting out much if any new material, that there are now several books of his that you could get. Congress of Animals, Fran, Weathercraft, they’re all probably new since the last time you checked. If you’re completely new to the world of Jim Woodring and are wondering if you should jump in with Poochytown, well, no. I mean, you could; every Frank story (oh, newbies, that’s what this is, a story about Frank) could be the first or last Frank story in the chronology. But no, if you’re looking to dive into the Frank mythos, start with the giant hardcover “The Frank Book.” The story this time around deals with a wealthy… man? Thing? It doesn’t seem to have a face. Anyway, this creature is in a balloon, whiling his day away. Meanwhile, the man in the moon (on the ground) is annoyed that the balloon casts a brief shadow over him, which causes the creature in the balloon to stick him tongue out at him. He only really has the tongue, other than that he’s quite faceless. Anyway, the moon man on the ground throws a rock at the balloon, causing it to start sinking rapidly. To help his situation, he starts throwing his goods overboard, desperate to avoid a crash. It’s at this moment that we see Frank, as he’s been roused from his home due to the commotion. Frank and his two pals rummage through the debris, eventually finding a large… tuba? Frank and one friend are unable to get the tuba to do much, but his other friend creates an entirely new floating city, full of offshoots of the creature that made it. Sadly, the two of them drift away in the floating city, leaving Frank very much bereft and desperate to find his friends again. I just read through that description again and yep, that’s accurate. The rest of the comic involves that search, finding an unexpected ally, and a revelation about how Frank heals himself from injuries. Of all the silent comics in all the world, none of them take longer for me to read then a new Frank book. Partially it’s just because I want to savor it, granted, but I’d defy any of you to look at any one of his two page spreads and then spend less than a couple of minutes gaping at it in awe. There’s nobody out there like Jim Woodring and there’s nothing out there like Frank, and you owe it to yourselves to thoroughly explore both. $19.99

Drnaso, Nick – Sabrina

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Sabrina

Yes, you can tell from the cover scan that this is a library copy. What, you think running this website makes me independently wealthy? Also, hey, support your local libraries! I usually just get graphic novels and read them for myself (yes, it’s true, there are many comics that I read without saying a word about it on this website), but I had to say a few things about this amazing book, just in case you hadn’t heard about it yet. It was the first graphic novel to be nominated for the Man Booker Prize, which, granted, I had to look up, but the list of past winners is ridiculously impressive. It’s also not quite like anything else I’d ever read, with some hints of Chris Ware sprinkled in with Adrian Tomine, but I’m not going to claim that he is all influences. No, this is a uniquely original book, which is probably a big part of the reason why it’s up for awards. What’s it about? Things start off slowly with a conversation between two women, ending with a gross story of a near miss on a sexual assault. From there we turn our attention to a young man with long hair who’s being picked up at the airport by a friend he obviously hasn’t seen in years. We gradually learn that he’s there because his girlfriend has gone missing and his parents, having no idea what else to do to help, sent him to an old friend. We then follow this old friend to his job in the Air Force, where we learn a few more details about the missing woman. The action mostly focuses on three characters: the young man with the missing girlfriend, his friend and how it’s affecting him (and his own attempt to reconcile with an estranged wife and daughter) and, to a lesser extent, the sister of the missing woman. It’s absolutely unflinching in its portrayal of grief; there were several moments when I wished the “camera” would turn away so I could get a break from the misery. The boyfriend can barely function (he’s usually only wearing underwear and there are a few times when his friend has to feed and clothe him) and there’s a particularly heartbreaking scene where the sister manages to find a brief moment of peace through meditation, but the second she comes out of it the misery comes pouring back in. The resolution to the disappearance is grisly, and the rest of the book turns into an examination of how quickly conspiracy theories get spread (he spends some time on the Sandy Hook conspiracy, among others, and shows how quickly the media turns to the next, bloodier story). It’s the tail end of 2018 as I’m writing this and the message couldn’t be more timely. You’re going to be seeing this book turn up on a lot of “best of” year end lists, and you know what? They’re right. This is one of the best, most disturbing books I’ve read all year, and I couldn’t recommend it more highly. $27.95

Hill, Dan – The Fifty Flip Experiment #22

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The Fifty Flip Experiment

I’ve officially been reviewing these comics for so long that I’ve completely forgotten what the title was supposed to mean. Seems like there was an explanation in the early days, but we’re talking over a decade here, so it’s apparently left my brain. Obviously to make room for more important stuff and not just because I’m gradually losing my marbles, right? Right. This is the rare issue of The Fifty Flip Experiment that actually looks simple on first glance. The basic story is that there’s a card game going on (in an old timey saloon, naturally), one of players wins the game in a suspicious fashion, and another player calls him out, leading to the prospect of some inevitable gunplay. But this is Dan we’re talking about, so obviously things aren’t going to be that easy. His missive on the front and back inside cover details the allegorical nature of each of the participants (I’d recommend reading it after finishing the story; I split the difference by reading the inside front cover, the story and then the inside back cover. Do not do this!), and each of them has a lot more going on than you may have guessed. There’s also the nature of the angry confrontation after the cheating has been discovered; I abhor spoilers but I will say no guns are fired during this comic. And that ending… well, you haven’t lived a full life until you’ve seen the final panel of this story. In case that somehow wasn’t enough for you, there’s also a short bonus piece with 14 different science fiction ideas, and if you know anything about this comic, 14 new ideas about anything coming from this brain are always welcome. Buy it, love it, be it! $7

Kiersh, Dave – After School Special

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After School Special

One of the problems with the constant need for people to escape into nostalgia is that the thing they’re nostalgic for probably never happened. Or if it did happen, it wasn’t nearly as great as the person remembering it may have thought. Don’t believe me? If you’re out of your 20’s, go back and listen to the bands you loved when you were a teenager. Or watch a few movies that changed your lives. Watch/listen to them objectively. Sure, a few of them will hold up, but far more of them will fall apart upon inspection. That’s fine! That’s just your own personal growth; your tastes theoretically improve as you gather more experience. Well hello tangent, wasn’t there a comic here I was supposed to be talking about? Yep, and that little rant should show you the effect this book had on me. This is the story of two socially lost kids who find each other and end up dating. There’s Lisa, who had an abortion during high school and Jed, who’s recently moved to town and has no friends. Lisa had friends and lost them while Jed is just trying to find something to hand onto. He’s singing for old folks even though he has his own music he’d rather be playing, which is where his rant about nostalgia comes in. It’s endearing how quickly Lisa and Jed fall for each other; even though both of them have reason to distrust people, they can instinctively see each other as kindred spirits. Even when Lisa throws a giant party when her parents go out of town you still get the impression that Lisa and Jed only care about each other. This book is also packed with little moments of loneliness, hope, resignation, and yeah, more than a little bit of nostalgia. It’s all set in the mid 90’s, but it has very little bearing on the story, outside of the lack of ubiquitous cell phones. John Porcellino refers to this as Dave’s masterpiece on his website, and I’d be hard pressed to argue with that. If you’ve liked his work, this is the culmination of years of effort, of his researching after school specials at libraries in the hopes of finding one that would speak to him. If you’re somehow new to his work, this is an excellent place to start. $10

Skelly, Katie – My Pretty Vampire

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My Pretty Vampire

It turns out that the nipples of vampires are invisible when they appear on the cover of a graphic novel. Who knew? They’re still visible on the inside, so relax, pervs. Why start out the review on a cynical note when the book is fantastic? Eh, who knows. Bad mood maybe? It’s just one more data point showing you that the opinion of reviewers is never meant to be fully trusted. Which is odd, as I’ve been reviewing Katie’s comics here for a decade maybe? And I couldn’t be happier that she’s getting books put out by Fantagraphics these days. This is the story of a vampire who’s being kept in a mansion by her creepy (to her) brother. She has all the comforts she could want, except she’s forced to live on ox blood, which is apparently terrible but able to keep vampires alive. After four years of this (and four years of being a vampire) she finally manages to escape, but she’s not used to the rules of being a vampire while being out in the open, not to mention having to worry about money, not getting noticed, etc. Oh, and she obviously needs a safe place to sleep every day when the sun comes up, which is more trouble than you might think. Meanwhile her brother has hired a private detective to bring her back, and she’s not particularly difficult to track with the trail of bodies she’s leaving behind. This isn’t the tale of a cunning ancient vampire who knows how to keep the body count to a minimum, Clover (the vampire lady) is basically feral, and when the need for blood hits her, she just lashes out, with very little regard for who sees or what else is around. It’s a tense story with atmospheric use of sound effects, subtle touches that you might not even notice the first time through (like the detective noticing the blood that one woman trailed into a bar), and a few genuinely horrifying moments. If you’ve been reading the website for long you’ve obviously already heard me sing Katie’s praises before, but if you’re new here or if you just never gave her a shot, here’s your chance. I don’t have a single bad thing to say about this graphic novel, so check it out. $19.99

Pettinger, Josh – Goiter #3

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Goiter #3

When I was trying to find a place to buy this comic online (still not that easy if you’re not logged into Instagram), I came across a brief conversation between Josh and a fan. Josh mentioned that #2 was back in his shop, and the commenter asked about the availability of #1. Josh lamented that he had seen copies of it in the discount bin at Chicago Comics (so if you live in/near Chicago, now’s (11/29/18 as of this writing) your chance!) and said he was too embarrassed to ask for them back. To which I say… don’t feel bad about the discount comics bin! It has no bearing on the quality of the comic. Back in the day, when I was first getting into Fantagraphics/Drawn & Quarterly/mini comics, do you know how I got damned near every issue of Peepshow, Palookaville, Yummy Fur, Naughty Bits, Love and Rockets, even Eightball? Discount bins! This concludes my public service announcement to everyone who has comics in discount bins; you’re in good company. And there’s an even better chance that somebody without much money is going to pick up your book. Sure, it sucks now, but in the long run you probably gained a few fans. Isn’t there a comic somewhere in here I should be talking about? Ah, here is it, Goiter #3! This is the story of a fairly lonely young woman who’s stuck in a dead end job and has just turned 30. She could always move back home, but doesn’t want to admit that this is all there is. Sound familiar to anybody? If not, you’re one of the lucky ones. Anyway, our hero works this dead end job until one day a a giant head appears to her, acting like he has known her forever. Turns out that this giant head is Joe Murphy, or the only part of his that has come through from an alternate dimension. He’s also time traveling, so this version of him had already been dating our hero. She quickly falls in love with him, but meanwhile, things aren’t going so well on Joe’s end, both as a giant head (he has an unknown illness) and for his body back in the other dimension. The rest of the comic deals with those struggles and whether or not our hero can come to terms with the life she’s living. Josh also mentions in the back of the comic that while the book isn’t autobiographical, he also turned 30 and was working a dead end job while he was making this comic, so there are bound to be some elements that are true to his life. It’s a great story, both unnerving and somehow hopeful, so give it a shot, maybe you can find something in here to help with your own dead end job.

Aulisio, Pat – Stoner Alien

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Stoner Alien

Some of you might be looking at that title and thinking that there must be a lot more going on in this comic, that maybe it holds some of the secrets of the universe or that the stoner alien is a jumping off point for a prolonged ethical discussion about stoners and/or aliens. Nope. Sometimes a stoner alien is just a stoner alien. But it’s still Pat, so there are plenty of funny bits involved. The story, as you may have guessed, deals with the stoner alien and his friend, who happens to be a teenage mutant ninja turtle. Were they aliens? Seems like they were just regular earth turtles who got hit by some radioactive goo. Anyway! Our heroes have a brief discussion about comics (Stan Lee vs. Steve Ditko specifically), demonstrate some advanced techniques for breathing in/out while smoking pot, and head off to their job at a deli counter. As you may have guessed, our alien friend has all sorts of problems paying attention to people when they’re asking for help, which leads to hilarity that lasts all the way through the point where we see how helpful a sneeze guard can really be. So yes, it’s true that this probably isn’t the comic you’re looking for if you’re on a nonstop crusade for enlightenment and the greater truth behind it all. On the other hand, if you’d like to get a few chuckles out of the behavior patterns of stoners (or if perhaps you are a stoner who is curious about these new smoking techniques I’ve mentioned), then step right up and send the man some money! I’m not sure how much money because it’s not on his website at the moment, but maybe $5?

Robertson, David & Various Artists – Break the Cake

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Break the Cake

Hey comics creators! David is back with another gigantic comic full of stories to shame you for your feeble efforts at getting your own books out in a timely fashion. Of course, he does have a small army of talented artists to help him along, so maybe not everybody has that advantage. That’s right, it’s time for another pile of stories, and, as usual, the good ones vastly outnumber the baddies. Based on my subjective opinion, obviously. There’s a lot in here, and I’m going to leave parts of it as a surprise, but highlights for me included his story about getting over Star Wars (not exactly a novel idea at this point, but he told his story well, and his losing interest is more based on all the clues he got over the years about future movies being abandoned by Disney than anything else), Jonathan Swift’s response to a question about where he got his ideas, a day in the life (starting with a night shift job, then trying to get any sleep and finally traveling), coming across a secret comics library at the University of Dundee, a time travel story by a 12 year old David featuring him feeding an entire cow to a tiger, the “lady” that isn’t Betty or Veronica, trying to feel sorry for somebody who got very rich at a young age and who is currently having an existential crisis about it, a lady reporter trying to honestly answer the question of her assignment and running smack into misogyny instead, keeping the reviews of Star Wars Episode 1 under wraps before it came out in the U.K., some acting advice by William Shatner to the new guy, how a puffer fish attracts a mate, and finally the lengthy story of an alien who comes to Earth with a mysterious purpose. Why is he shooting that gun? Does he have our best interests at heart? Does he even care that we’re here? I’ve mentioned his all star team of artists, but the range in this one was really impressive. Flipping through the book it looks like a regular anthology, which I guess it kind of is, except all written by the same guy. Still, it’s a visually impressive mixture, and it’s sure so send anybody who sees it down a few comic lanes that you might not have ventured otherwise. So yeah, check it out, there’s something to love in here for everybody.

Smith, Ryan Cecil – Songs of the Field

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Songs of the Field

Ryan’s comics are one of the rare examples of a book that makes me want to dig through my old comics to reread everything else the artist has done. Because I like his books, sure, but also because he’s one of the few people working who keeps most of his comics in a self-contained universe; everything with “S.F.” on the cover or in the title is all part of the same story. Granted, he says that these are entirely new characters so you don’t need to go back to anything, but even if that’s completely true I still want to go back and see how everything that’s come before runs together if I read them all at once. So, once again, I’m accepting offers for unpaid interns who want to organize over a dozen long comic boxes full of mini comics. And a few assorted boxes. Possibly random bags here and there that somehow have comics in them too. Did I mention unpaid? <ahem> Hey, how about this comic? This is the story of a lonely lizard man who’s roaming the galaxy by himself. He eventually realizes that he’ll need fuel and runs through his options on how to get it; the short version is that all of his options come with varying levels of risk. So he lucks out and stumbles across an asteroid field with the ore he needs to refuel, but alas! It has been claimed with “dibs” from some human settlers. The lizard man isn’t clear on the exact definition of “dibs,” which leads to him breaking off a piece of ore for himself, which naturally leads to some irate humans coming after him with their space lasers. The rest of the comic is a lengthy space battle, occasionally broken up with talking as one side tries desperately to talk the other side down. And just in case I somehow haven’t mentioned it in previous reviews of his work, Ryan’s use of colors is unmatched by damned near anybody that I know of. That cover alone should give you some idea, but everything in here is gorgeous and it makes me hope that he goes back and colors some of the earlier work when the inevitable gigantic S.F. omnibus comes out. Hey, a guy can dream, right? $15

Cass, Caitlin – Pre-History

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Pre-History

Sometimes during a move comics will end up getting shuffled off somewhere that leads to me not reviewing them in a timely manner. Or at all; I’m sure I’ve lost a comic or two during a move before. The good news is that when the comics reappear (like, in this case, by checking under a mound of other nonsense in my car), it’s like there’s a brand new Caitlin Cass book waiting for me. This comic tells an ambitious story in a tiny package: the entirety of history before civilizations. Caitlin takes us through the very first forms of life, the length of time it took for them to get up and running, the various setbacks to life that almost ended all life on this planet several times, followed finally by the extinction of the dinosaurs. Um, spoilers I guess, in case you thought the dinosaurs were still out there somewhere. She also designed it in the same manner as those old “find out whether the boy likes you” hand puzzles from grade school, meaning it was impossible to get a second sample up here to show you. But you know her work by now and that it’s always amazing, so I doubt you’ll need much more convincing this time around. It’s Caitlin telling the history of the world before people were in it, what more do you need to know? $6

Lehmann, Brandon – Womp Womp

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Womp Womp

Comics that are actually funny are more rare than you might think, and I say that as a guy who reads all kinds of comics for his “job.” And for fun. And this doesn’t pay anything, so it’s hard to call it a job with a straight face. Ahem. Anyway, this comic is genuinely funny, and that’s always a joy. This is a collection of short pieces, some of which seem like they might have come from his earlier mini comics (based on the titles of those books), and some of which seem new. So if you’ve been reading Brandon’s work for years, I guess you might have seen some of this before. But those were in tiny comic form and this is a giant oversized comic. Also, as a general rule, if you like the work of an artist (in just about any field), pay that artist for their work. Otherwise they might get bored and wander off, meaning you don’t get to enjoy their work any more. This is a lot of rambling before even getting to the comic; my apologies, I’ve been off for a few weeks and have yet to rediscover brevity. Stories in this comic include a conversation between two baddies in the Double Dragon game (who also have the self awareness to realize that they wouldn’t even make it to the level of a mini boss), an admonishment to eat food that turns into a discussion of the real father (and one of the funniest things I’ve read in ages), a bad veterinarian who would prefer to deal with healthy dogs that all those other potentially sick animals, a cat discovering that pooping in the sand seems to be the socially acceptable thing to do, an abstract nihilistic misery hole and what happens when you fall down it, how all of the cool people are going back to flip phones, and the story of a dandy fop who was once forced to wash dishes to pay for his meal. The art style sometimes reminds me of the old clip art David Rees used back in the day (for a few of you that will seriously age me, for the rest of you… look him up. His tv show was also delightful. He spent a whole episode searching for the perfect ice cube. But I digress…), and the stories themselves, as I may have mentioned, are genuinely funny. Reward him with your purchasing dollars! $8

Aushenker, Michael – Trolls

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Trolls

So as I was reading this I knew that I had seen this art somewhere before. Michael has been working for years on a variety of projects, but all I could think about was Duplex Planet. And, sure enough, in his bio he mentioned making a story for them years ago. Maybe I just have too many comics taking up space in my brain? Because if this is a skill it surely isn’t lucrative. Oh hi, I’m supposed to be talking about the comic! This is mostly a story about Edward and Wayward, two dopes who are air traffic controllers. Their boss doesn’t like them, one of them is on the run from his pot dealer and his landlord has decided that he’s going to kick him out. Throughout it all neither of them takes anything all that seriously (except for the bit where the pot dealer seems like he’s going to murder Edward), and the whole thing reminded me quite a bit of the old stoner comics of the 70’s. Which was great! Those types of books just aren’t around much anymore, and I’ve always wondered why that’s the case. The two of them end up being forced to work the entire weekend shift as air traffic controllers, and they only have one idea as to how they’re going to stay awake all weekend: throwing a big old party. The rest of their story is nonstop debauchery with more than a little bit of surreality thrown in as the sleep deprivation catches up to them. But wait, there’s more! There’s also two short stories in here, one dealing with two other characters working at a McDonald’s in the middle of nowhere (that one also turns into a party with the hobos taking over) and two other characters getting invited to a model party and assuming they got the meaning wrong when they show up to see an array of model airplanes and that sort of thing scattered about. So, naturally, they sniff glue to get away from it all… but there’s a twist! Honestly, I loved this book, and am looking forward to reading the other books he was nice enough to send along. Check it out, or just go to his website and pick out some comics. He has a whole lot to choose from! $4

Vilma Vitina, Lote -Worms, Clouds, Everything

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Worms, Clouds, Everything

This one starts off in a thoroughly charming fashion, with us looking at an empty stool. Our narrator then enters from off the page, addressing the reader throughout. If you’re wondering about the topic, it is given away on the cover, just not in the title: it’s mushrooms. Our narrator is obsessed with them, and the highlights of his life are when he’s wandering through the fields and finds a bunch of them in one place. He may have his problems the rest of the time, but this is when all is right with the world. Maybe this is the secret of happiness for everybody? As long as you have your version of mushrooms in your life, the one thing that brings you absolute joy, everything else can fall into place. Our narrator is a hermit, doesn’t seem to get much if any contact with the outside world, but it seems like he wouldn’t have it any other way. Give this book a shot if you’ve ever felt any existential sadness, as it appears to have the solution for such a problem inside. $6

Porcellino, John – King Cat #78

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King Cat #78

So I just glanced through older King Cat reviews and realized that I somehow never got a copy of #74. Just so you know, it’s taking all my willpower to write this review instead of tearing through all my old comics to see if I have a copy somewhere that fell through the cracks. That being said, it’s time for a new issue of King Cat! For lots of you, that’ll be all you need to read; I understand completely. For the rest of you, I’m running out of ways to convince you that King Cat is required reading. I’ve mentioned that there almost certainly wouldn’t be a website without John and the inspiration of his Spit and a Half distro, I’ve talked about the influence he’s had on a whole generation of comics artists, I’ve mentioned the feeling of calm that comes over me whenever I read one of his comics… I know! I can talk about this particular comic. If the rest of the arguments didn’t grab you it’s a long shot, but it’s all that’s left for me to do. This time around stories deal with his two dogs and two cats (and their interactions with each other and him), nature facts that he’s learned recently, how the smell of mothballs make his nostalgic and the terrifying warning label he found on an old box of them, and a walk in the woods. There’s also his top 40 list (which has quite possibly never been exactly 40 things) and the best letters page in comics. As always, this is my simplistic synopsis of what’s contained in this comic and, as always, you’d get a whole lot more out of it if you read it for yourself. This issue right here, #78? Give it a shot. $5

Aulisio, Pat – Ghosted

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Ghosted

Pat sent along a note with his most recent batch of review comics that really blew my mind: he’s been sending me comics since he was 14, and he’s 32 now. So, basically, he’s been sending me comics for almost as long as the website has been around (I started in the middle of 2001). Of little interest to anybody besides myself and Pat? Yeah, probably, but maybe a few people wonder what goes on around the scenes. Eh, or not. Hey, let’s talk about the comic! This is a tale of two stories, as the text bubbles deal with an (I’m guessing) actual conversation on Tinder or one of the dating apps. There’s the awkward getting to know each other, the explanations that always come whenever you mention “comics” anywhere on your profile, the stall in communications that leads to the request for an actual date before it all falls apart, the agreement to said date, and the inevitable ghosting. I’d say spoilers here, but it’s right in the title. The drawn bits of the comic are the usual Pat Aulisio visual insanity, if it’s ever even appropriate to refer to such a thing as “the usual.” Our hero drives his… car (?) through the void and gets out. From there it’s a visual journey that I won’t even attempt to describe; as always you’re missing out if you don’t read it for yourself and let the whole thing wash over you. Pat sent along quite a few comics (the guy just never seems to slow down), so his name should be popping up here quite a bit in the near future. Thanks for all the comics over the years Pat, here’s hoping I’ve directed at least a few sales your way in that time. For the rest of you, check out his books! $3