Category Archives: Reviews
The mystery of the missing two issues of Konehedz is revealed! Right there on the cover, actually, making it one of the quickest mystery reveals possible. And something I would have known if I had looked at it before I reviewed the last issue, but these things happen. This one picks up right after #1 (and after one of the more thorough and comprehensive recaps I’ve ever seen, so kudos to Mark for that; seriously, you could miss the first issue entirely and know exactly what’s happening here), with our heroes getting off the boat and confronting… a giant eyeball fish monster? Something along those lines. They find its weakness quickly, then run into zombies (?) with pincers, who may or may not be hostile, but our heroes ripping an arm off of one of them decides that allegiance for them. More chaos, more monsters, and one of our heroes discovers a giant robot suit. And yeah, you’d damn well better believe that the next several pages involve that giant monster suit causing all sorts of havoc. Eventually they meet some friendly aliens, or at least not outwardly hostile aliens, so they follow a series of them to their leader. Which is where we finally get some answers, but I’m not going to tell you them here. One quibble: Mark really needs to work on his spelling. It wouldn’t be so bad if it was just the occasional word here and there, but there’s some long chunks of text towards the end and he misspells several words in most of the text boxes. The quality of his artwork improves as the issue goes on, and spelling words correctly is much easier and quicker than drawing, so… don’t do that! Or do it less, at least. That goes for all you young (or older and spelling impaired) comics artists out there: have somebody else read it over if you have to, but it’s an easy fix. That was a longer digression than I intended, and it really didn’t do much to lower my enjoyment of the book (not much cause for words in some of those glorious fight scenes, after all), which is still very much worth you checking out. Large portions of this one are even in full color! $3
Here’s a peek behind the curtain for the artists out there who have had books reviewed on this site: I usually forget what I wrote about the book pretty quickly. Not always, and not completely, but I review an awful lot of comics, and the specifics often fly right out of my brain in a hurry. Which can make things awkward at conventions when I’m asked questions about a past review, but I’m always willing to fess up about that fact. Why am I mentioning this? Because when I looked up Willard’s website, a review for a previous book of his came up right after his website, and it was from here, from a couple of years ago. Curious, I looked it up… and saw that I had basically cheated on it. The comic is question was so abstract that I just didn’t have a lot to say about it, so the review was one long stalling exercise. Well, that’s a cheat that I’m not going to use again. Granted, this comic is almost equally abstract, but there are a few stories in this one, not just the one wordless story that left me so little to go on. Stories in here include a truly terrifying number of stars, a story told without having a story (naturally, this one takes up the bulk of the comic), a man who is having a very difficult time finding the sun, and a monster trapped in a boat at sea. OK, I mostly guessed on the last one. There’s a lot to hurt your brain in this comic, but overall I liked it. That large story went on a bit longer than needed to get the point across, but it’s entirely possible that the excessive length was the point. It’s worth a look, is what I’m trying to say.
SnowCone City #3
If you’re looking for giant robot action, you’ll have to look elsewhere this issue (but not to worry, the preview for #4 indicates that it’ll be back next issue). This time around we meet The Raven, the SnowCone City equivalent of Batman. And, in this city, Batman is a teenage girl who has to sneak out on her parents to fight crime. With all the various iterations of Batman running around out in the DC multiverse, it’s odd that nobody ever depicted him as a teenage girl (that I know of; DC has an awfully long history to draw from). It fits the temperament of that character perfectly. We also get to meet the Raven’s new sidekick, even though said sidekick has some trouble picking out a good code name. The actual adventure this time around comes from the army of zombie penguins that crops up and their ability to turn other penguins into zombies using their spit. An evil mastermind also manages to trick the Raven into a trap involving a building full of these zombies and no possibility of escape. So everybody dies and the series is over. Kidding! It is entirely possible that the day was, in fact, saved. But I don’t want to get into spoilers. It’s another fun issue by Joseph, and a nice bit of world building to see what things are like away from the big superheroes of this world.
Death in Oaxaca #3
As you may have guessed from that fake post-it addition to the title, there’s a bit more hanky panky in this issue than there was in the first one (I missed the second one). Steve did put a recap at the start of this book but it’s a little light on specific details for the characters, but it’s still clear that this issue is mostly about these people trying to live their lives, with the occasional outside forces trying to complicate things. There’s Eduardo (the vampire with a heart of gold who has given up blood), Gertie (with her secret identity as the Lucha Bruja), and Caroline (trying to get in on some of that hanky panky with Eduardo), all going about their lives, and all on the verge of doing some serious damage to those around them. Still, that’s what’s going on behind the scenes, mostly. There are a lot of quiet moments that make up the bulk of this issue, like Rex getting some fresh tuna, the family gathering together for a meal, a jam night with some local musicians and a mysterious cave that seems to be able to let people fly. OK, maybe that last one was more fantastical than the others. It’s another solid comic and another step in the mystery completed. Steve has been a pro in this business for decades, so you can be sure that he knows what he’s doing when it comes to pulling all these loose threads together. Check it out why don’t you! $5
R. R. Whitehead
It’s history lesson time! Wait, artists, don’t go! This one could affect you directly. Caitlin mentions that there’s some confusion and inaccuracies with regards to the history of the man, but she does an excellent job of going through what it confirmed in this comic. He was a man with a dream, and that dream was to start a colony for artists. Well, that was eventually his dream, anyway, but we learn all about the story here. He eventually married into wealth (after he got over his little problem of already being married, which could maybe have used another few pages but I get why Caitlin didn’t want to make that the focus of the book), which enabled his dream to really take off. We get to see the beginnings of the place, how they tried to make money (making goods while eschewing advertising), how it gradually grew and how people came together from living there. It’s a fascinating story, and the kicker is that Caitlin made this comic while living at Byrdcliffe (the name of the colony), so it’s still a place for artists to visit and create even today. So check it out, artists! Get away from the real world and make some art!
So while I was reading Mark’s intro for this book I misread one bit of it and thought he said that this was a “scream of consciousness” book. That’s obviously not what he was going for, but it oddly fits the tone of this book, so let’s go with that. This is the story of two amorphous blobs who go on a bunch of adventures, often accidentally, as they also will themselves to evolve the various physical tools needed to complete those adventures. Huh, and here I thought I’d had some serious trouble describing the plot! There’s more to it, of course, but that’s about where the coherent descriptions from me stop. It’s chaotic fun through and through, with lots of funny lines and situations, which is all you can ask for from two rapidly evolving blob people. I don’t have the slightest idea how this idea can continue to escalate indefinitely, but Mark was nice enough to include #4 of this series, so he clearly managed. I’ll be solving that mystery in the coming weeks, but meanwhile there’s a lot to love here. $3
You Don’t Get There From Here #39
The majority of this issue is basically Carrie holding her breath over a couple of serious issues in her life: the condition of her ailing father and the condition of her ailing cat. Her cat has some sort of kidney disease and Carrie has been trying all sorts of methods to get her to eat more, with varying degrees of success. As somebody with an aging cat (16!), I can relate, even if mine is more or less healthy. That doesn’t stop every little possible health scare from being a major source of panic. As for father, that’s a complicated relationship in her life, as he’s never been the best father to her, and his condition is destroying the quality of life of Carrie’s mother… but he’s still her dad, with all that comes with it. This constant worrying, the lack of free time and her own depression comes through in her strips, which are usually three panel daily stories/summaries, but in this case transform into odd flowing images and lines, punctuated with her thoughts of the day in question with very little concrete imagery to hold on to. It’s a haunting depiction of that mindset, and should be instantly familiar to anybody who’s ever had to go through waiting with a terminally ill relative. As always, this issue is worth seeking out. This one is just a bit more raw than most. $2
Magic Whistle #3.2
Oh, Magic Whistle. The world can’t be all bad as long as you’re still around. This is another issue of the latest iteration in the series, in which Sam keeps doing his thing but he brings in other cartoonists to also do their thing, which lets him put comics out on a more regular basis to keep the rest of us happy. I’m just assuming everybody in America is reading this by now; since it’s been around since the mid 90’s there’s no excuse not to be reading it. This time around we have Tom Van Deusen with a tale of how great life is for Jeff Bezos, and Seth Cooper with another story of Zissy and Rita, which is a series he’s been working on since the early 90’s. I’d tell you more about the other strips by people not named Sam Henderson, but there’s no table of contents and nobody else signed their work, so other stories (that may be by Brigid Deacon, Devin Flynn or Amy Lockhart) include an adorable puppy and the incredible shrinking man who takes an unhealthy liking to it, how everybody wants to have sex all the time in the hopes of briefly distracting themselves from the inevitability of death, and three single page strips, each with a different theme. I’m pretty sure I’ve guessed who did which strip, but I’m not positive and I’d rather not get it wrong. And then there’s Sam’s strips, dealing with single panel gags, the continuing story of Cappy Jenkins, a dropped piece of pizza, and a billionaire trying to find somebody worthy to leave all his money to. So yeah, it’s Magic Whistle. Of course it’s funny and you’ll love it. If that ever changes, I’ll let you know! $6
The True Adventures of Jep Comix #6
The story of Jep falling away from (or escaping, depending on your perspective) continues in this issue! And possibly concludes; Jep seems like he’s running out of steam, but I don’t think he’s completely done with this story yet. The other big story in this issue is his version of an older story he wrote 20 years ago, mostly because he got a new iPad and wanted to use its features for the story. It deals with a man dying in a car wreck, getting to heaven (all messed up, which requires some healing time even in heaven apparently), and getting a chance to get reincarnated and possibly find the woman he still loves, as she survived the crash. It was an interesting story, but the part I was most curious about is where Jep says that the story was headed next. Which I won’t say here just in case it does go there next, even though it sounds like he’s done with it, which would be a shame. But going back to his strips about religion, subjects include getting disowned from his father (he makes it seem like a compromise would be possible, but he’s just not willing to give in), going off to school right after that happened, being broken and depressed at school, finding Richard Bach while looking for a new religion (somebody I’d never heard of), adjusting to life without a family or religion, and the moment when he completely gave up on his idea of becoming a priest. There’s more, and it’s educational to see him express his doubts about the direction of the story and what he wants to say with it on the page, but it’s starting to lead to the story floundering a bit. Maybe the traditional four panel strip format is boxing him in, or maybe it’s just that there is no perfect message to end this story on or life lesson to be learned. There are a number of fascinating pieces to this story so far, but here’s hoping he’s able to tie it all together before it’s all said and done.
Now that was one awkward love story. If I had known that I could have gotten to it a week ago and posted a Valentine’s review. This is a story that’s told as a series of diary entries by a lonely man who really thinks that he’s on the verge of getting a woman to go out with him. By the second diary entry the woman has mysteriously vanished, and after bugging her relatives for a few days he’s finally given a way to contact her. He does, they chat, and she manages to convince him to come work for the same company that just hired her. Hey look, they must live happily ever after! Yeah, not so much. He gets to the job and spends weeks without seeing the woman, surrounded by people who don’t speak his language, trying to understand what’s happening around him, and falling further and further down into a pit of despair, loneliness and confusion. That’s about the time when he gets promoted to be the guy who’s cutting off heads. That’s more information than I generally give away in a review, but this comic manages to be both mini and vast, so there’s plenty of story here yet to uncover. I’d almost say that this comic should be required reading for stalkers, but I doubt most of them could grasp the nuances here and understand that it’s a bad thing to fall too far down the rabbit hole of chasing a lady around. It’s alarming, occasionally grotesque, and a completely engrossing read. $6
Kay H & Zee
I am a sucker for these tiny, self-contained mini comics. I’m also a fan of longer series. Could it be that I just like comics? Huh, I might be onto something there. Anyway, this is one of those shorties that’s hard to talk about for long without giving the whole thing away. The basic setup is that two friends are hanging out and one of them (Zee) decides that he wants to show the other (Kay H) a secret. Once they find the tall, mysterious structure, they obviously have to climb it to see what’s going on. From there we get an epic stair climbing, followed by a peek at what’s on top of the structure. Sure, there are twists, and sure, there’s humor, but this is a short book and that’s the gist of it. I did have a slight technical issue with it, as it looks like the story was originally done in four panel strips, but now those strips are two on a page, making it look like one long story going across instead of two distinct sections being broken down into fourths. Eh, if you read the comic you’ll know what I mean, and at least Mark tried to make that clearer in places. Overall it’s just a fun little adventure comic, and the world could always use more of those.
Does this comic have the most adorable depiction of Cthulhu ever? Well, I’ve seen plushy dolls of Cthulhu, so no. But it comes pretty close! This comic is based on the story by H.P. Lovecraft; it’s been awhile since I’ve read it but I’m pretty sure that Martin uses direct quotes throughout. If you’re unfamiliar with the story, basically a group of sailors landed on a mysterious island. Everything is chaotic, to the extent that they can’t trust their senses, as some of them see a door as a flat trap door and some see it as a regular standing door. They finally manage to get the door open, are confronted with a horrible smell, and see Cthulhu rising from it. Cthulhu kills three of them before they even know what’s happening, and the rest of the book is a mad dash by the survivors to get away. More than anything this comic has me wanting to dig up my Lovecraft books to see if they hold up, but this comic is delightful and should be read by all potential fans and followers of Cthulhu. Or potential fans of Lovecraft, as the man had a florid quality with his writing that is often imitated but rarely duplicated.
Yet Another Ask a Cat
Charles has put out maybe a dozen comics over the last couple of years, so it’s not like he’s in need of any professional advice, but I’ll throw one out there anyway: if you have an open-ended series like this, and you plan on putting out an as-yet undetermined number of future issues, it’s time to give in and start using numbers for the issues. Unless this is the last issue of “Ask a Cat” ever, in which case never mind, but these comics are such a delight that I hope I’m wrong about that. And, as I’ve said before, you’re bound to get a lot more out of these comics if you’ve had cats as pets either currently or in the past, but there’s enough funny in these strips for anybody. Subjects this time around include the truth about their relationship to dogs, what cats would do if they had wings, how cats indicate that they want a divorce, what they think about snow, what cats think about mustard, whether or not they have strange dreams and (and this one hit home with me) why cats insist on poking you in the face while you’re sleeping. I’m pretty sure Charles came up with the actual answer on that one. There’s more, of course, but I’ll leave some surprises for you. I’ve noticed the questions got a lot more fantastical this time around, so maybe this series won’t last as long as I thought, but the man hasn’t run out of ideas yet, so enjoy! $2
Snow Cone City #2
I’ve read all kinds of black and white comics over the years, and I’ve only rarely thought that the comic would be greatly improved if it was in color. This issue of Snow Cone City has our five heroes from the previous issue (basically Power Rangers but as penguins) meeting the Canadian super hero team with five members. Each of these teams wears uniforms with slight differences so that we can tell them apart. And it would be vastly easier to do so if they were all wearing uniforms of different colors. It’s an odd pet peeve for me to have, but there you go. It’s not a dealbreaker, as the comic itself was a lot of fun. And the Snowbirds (the Canadian team) is in full color on the back cover, so at least my curiosity is satisfied. So how about the story? In this issue the first penguin to make it to Mars comes back down to Earth. Instead of giving remarks he starts singing… and doesn’t stop. He’s also turning into a godzilla monster, there’s an American Idol parody (this did come out in 2012, after all), the super teams clash (as all super teams are required by law to do whenever they meet), and there’s even a Korean translation in the back. So if you want to learn to write Korean, this would be one place to start! Other than that, there’s a lot of punching and one giant singing space monster, so what’s not to love?
Do you miss your comics being funny? Tired of angsty messes worrying about their problems instead of punching people? Well, have I got a comic for you! This is a hefty comic that has all seven (so far) stories of Skip Tobey and his adventures. And the chief who loves him. I don’t mention the sample image often, but I picked this one because it has the most pure, concentrated funny of the whole book, although it was damned tough to choose just one. This isn’t even a page from one of Skip’s adventures, but I used it anyway. So what’s all this about? Stories include Skip in space with a sandwich that’s also a gun, time travel and murder, Skip infiltrating a group of hackers, Skip on a coffee bender uncovering clues about the invading reptile people, the “natural causes” of death by meteor, an archenemy finally getting Skip where they want him (for the fifth) time, and the plot of the lizard people coming to fruition. And when I say “funny,” I mean that I laughed out loud at some point in damned near each story, and that’s not even mentioning the short bits between the stories, which were also uniformly hilarious. The “how to draw Skip” bit perfectly mirrored every attempt made by a human to ever follow those instructions, getting a peek into the daily life of the chief was mildly terrifying, good luck getting through those fake classified ads without laughing, and there’s even a functional crossword puzzle included. And I haven’t even mentioned Skip’s pining over his “missing” wife. Look, there are times when I can unreservedly say that everybody should read a book, and this is one of those happy times. Maybe you wouldn’t care for this if you have no sense of humor, but in that case you have bigger problems than deciding on which comic you should be reading. Everybody else, enjoy!
Dark Pants #3
I’ve been wondering what those pants were up to. In case you missed the last issue, this series is about a pair of pants and their effect on a person at a particularly important time in their life. This issue takes place in 1988, and it deals with Phil and his fumbling realization that he’s gay. For the younger readers with little context, let’s just say that it was a whole lot tougher to realize and accept that you were gay in 1988 than it is in 2017. Well, in America, anyway. Well, most parts of America. Well, some parts of America. So far. Unless this current administration criminalizes gay marriage again. Anyway! I’ve wandered off the point a bit, probably due to my constant low level dread of what a President Trump can do. We quickly see Phil fantasizing about making out with John Stamos, but he fights against the feeling. He’s hassled by a bully at school, has one true friend that he hangs out with, a counselor that’s trying to help him, and a girl that he’s desperately trying to convince himself that he likes. Then, during one creepy walk home, somebody (we know who from the last issue, of course) tosses their pants off the car window and they literally fall onto his head. He likes the style and notices how clean they are, then goes about his normal life until his friend suggests they go out to a place that Phil has heard is a gay hotspot (his friend doesn’t know this). So Phil dons the pants and approaches an older guy to buy them drinks. The guy responds a little too positively for a nervous Phil. This all finally leads to a momentous party where everything in Phil’s life collides, but I’m not going to tell you what happens there. I will say that the pants do move on, so we get to see what happens (theoretically) in the next issue to them. As for this issue, it’s one of the better coming out stories that I’ve read, even if he technically doesn’t even come out. $10, but again, this is one hefty comic.
Hey everybody, mini kus comics now have better binding! Yeah, don’t think you can sneak improvements by me. I occasionally notice things. I will give you one spoiler right off the bat: nothing in this comic will help you discover whether or not “Vermacular” is a typo. Maybe it’s the last name of the witch? But I’m getting ahead of myself. This one starts off with a very fancy talking cat on a late night talk show. They chat with the usual talk show banalities, then the host shows Vlad (the cat) an “embarrassing” old photo of him with a witch. The photo is meant to poke some light fun, but it triggers a nostalgia overload in the cat, who loses himself in the memory of his time with this witch. The rest of the comic shows Verma (the witch) gradually getting sick of taking orders from the citizens and deciding to make a name for herself with her talking cat. There’s a lot to ponder here, as the story avoids giving the reader a whole bunch of easy answers. It’s not the first time that I’ve wished for a second issue after reading a self-contained mini kus comic and it probably won’t be the last, but I’m genuinely curious about the time in between the witch and this cat getting famous. If that’s not the sign of a damned good comic then I don’t know what is.