Update for 8/22/22

New review today for The Apartment by Joana Mosi. Didn’t I say recently that I was going to take a mini kus break? Yeah, that lasted less than a week. I cannot resist their siren song!

Mosi, Joana – The Apartment

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The Apartment

Who out there has been in one of those “death by a thousand cuts” relationships? You know the ones, where comments from a partner get more and more low-key hostile and/or passive aggressive until one day you realize that the whole relationship has been hollowed out? If you can’t relate, congratulations on either never dating for long or getting extremely lucky right out of the gate. This comic is, on its face, the story of an apartment going up for sale that’s directly below a couple. Same dimensions, just a floor lower. This, because of where they’re at in the relationship, leads to a series of arguments about how it’s a “better” apartment than theirs, and how they’d be able to have their gym if they bought that one instead. All of this is juxtaposed with quiet images around their apartment, and the story is told almost entirely through blurry, distant images of the couple. That’s the case until almost the end, where there’s a single page shown in realistic, close-up detail, and it’s devastating. If you’re in a rocky relationship at the moment, maybe this one isn’t for you right now? Or maybe it’ll be the thing that lets you take a clear look at your situation and get the hell out of it. Either way, it’s a grim, compelling story that’s expertly told by Joana. $7.99

Update for 8/18/22

New review today for Gecko by Nate Garcia! Also I accidentally published this live for about 30 seconds on the day that I usually write all my reviews for the week. So if anybody is out there compulsively updating this website over the weekend, you may have figured out when that is. If so, congratulations!

Garcia, Nate – Gecko

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Gecko

God damn, but this is a thoroughly delightful comic. Judging from Nate’s website this is his third book (with possibly many more mini comics, who knows), and he presents what feels like a completely thought out sliver of a world, one that had me laughing consistently throughout at several little touches. For everybody who just comes here looking for diamonds in the rough, go to his website right now and buy whatever he has available (as of this writing, it was two out of three of his books). Learn no more information, just go, read and enjoy. For everybody who needs more convincing, read on! This was one of those cases where I could use almost any page as a sample image and be perfectly happy with it. New readers, my general rule of thumb is to use the funniest/most representative page of a comic. First off, this actually starts with letters, which I’m always happy to see. We see a standoff between a horse and a tiny gecko, which the gecko “wins” by licking the horse on the leg. The horse lets out an awful shriek, waking up the cowboy, which leads to the sampled image. Yep, I used the second page. From there our heroes get an early start on the day, then run into their drug dealing friend. They have a conversation I’m not even going to try to sum up before ending up stopping to get some food. Tragedy strikes at this point, and it happens right in full view of the service people at the restaurant, and I sadly have to stop here so things aren’t ruined. I tried! But there’s just too much goodness in here that you should discover for yourself. I mean, I’ve been doing this for 21 years, clearly I have some idea what I’m talking about by now, right? Yeah, so expertise doesn’t work that way. Still! There are also a few other short pieces in here. Two crammed onto one page both take very different paths to get to a similar punchline, another story involves a haunting search for salt, and the last one is a pinup from Josh Pettinger, who is also very good at this comics business. Buy it! Maybe we’ll luck out and he’ll get to make an animated show of this wonderfulness. $10

Update for 8/16/22

New review for I Miss You So Much by Nhozagri, and this mini kus pile is starting to look a bit slim. Maybe I’ll take a break and dig through other piles for a bit. Anybody want to be an Optical Sloth intern and go through all this stuff for me? Pay: zero. Opportunities for advancement: ha! But hey, you’d get to read all the comics you’d like. There are worse jobs!

Nhozagri – I Miss You So Much

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I Miss You So Much

When that magical day ever comes that I gather all my old mini kus books together to see what I’m missing, maybe I’ll be able to get an accurate number for this prediction, but I’m thinking that roughly 1 out of every 10 of these books baffle me. Maybe it’s a language barrier, maybe my own brain is at fault (it’s almost certainly that one), but sometimes these just fly over my head. If you’re guessing that I’m also talking about this issue, congratulations! It has some of the cutest creations that I’ve ever seen (along with some understandably nervous raindrops), several pieces of art on the wall that come to life, and an awfully sweet ending. All that being said, I’m not sure that it’s possible for me to sum up the story. Don’t I usually try and end up making a fool out of myself? Yes, hypothetical voice, that is true. But this time around I did some digging through their website, which was also adorable, and figured out that they’re seemingly more of a physical artist (meaning sculptures and 3D pieces, not so much the comics that I could see), and that this is one of those rare instances where it might make more sense if I walked through a room with these pieces in front of me, all laid out. This is the part where I recommend a book (or not), so this time around I’d say take in the artwork from the samples, see what you think and make up your own mind. If you also think it’s darned near the cutest thing you’ve ever seen, give it a shot! Either way, check out their website, as it’s delightful. $7.95

Update for 8/12/22

New review for Mole #6 by Andrew Pilkington, so we’re wrapping up international week with Australia. Happy weekend everybody!

Pilkington, Andrew – Mole #6

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Mole #6

If you like any combination of funny, bizarre and spectacularly gross stories, have I got a comic for you! Andrew has clearly been at this awhile, as he has 7 issues of this series (as of August 2022) along with a few other comics available, and this one has a number of images that are probably going to stick with me for a bit. I barely know where to start, so why I don’t do the traditional vague indication of the content of the stories and see how it goes? There’s one about how the lines on your face are actually literal lines of tiny people, which is probably the most “normal” one of the bunch. Then there’s a profoundly impractical tip for how to unblock your nose, one for how to get rich, and another about someone getting ready to go out. The bulk of the book is made up of a few longer stories, and telling you about these without giving anything away is going to be tricky. First up is the story of a fast food manager who trips on his way out, with his keys flying out of his hand and ending up in the fryer. Obviously he’s not going to dig them out himself, so who does that leave? It goes to a terrible place after that, is all you’re getting out of me. Then there’s Moleboy, which may be a continuing story? It’s “to be continued” after this, anyway. This was another deceptively normal tale about a couple of kids exploring and tagging the sewer, which again took a real turn at the end. Finally there’s the bulk of the book, which gives you no illusions about it being a comforting and quiet tale, about a guy whose face gets up off of his head while he’s sleeping, grows arms and legs and then goes exploring. This might end up being fine if the dude stayed asleep, but… he did not. There’s a lengthy sequence involving a faceless dude trying to make his own way to a doctor, full of hijinx that will amuse and terrify you. And possibly make you sick, I don’t know whether or not you have a strong stomach. So clearly this one is not for the easily grossed out, but for the rest of us there’s some really inventive stuff in here. It’s also not going to fool anybody who is easily grossed out, as that cover says it all, really. Give it a look, I say. $10

Update for 8/10/22

It’s time for another mini kus book! This time the review is for Dawn of the Living Dead Near Kotka Morgue by Marko Turunen, and since he got funding for this one in Finland, international week continues!

Turunen, Marko – Dawn of the Living Dead Near Kotka Morgue

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Dawn of the Living Dead Near Kotka Morgue

It seems like it was only a few months ago that I was wondering where all the coronavirus stories were, but look out! They’re coming fast now. Of course, this is a mini kus book, so you’re not likely to get a straightforward tale about isolation, thoughts of mortality or when to get the vaccine. No, this is the tale of a young man and his dog as they wander through a world of maskless or poorly masked people and are then left to panic about whether or not they were exposed. It’s also a stretch to call them “people,” as the first exposure our hero gets is by an octopus with a mask under their chin, which he meets after walking through a bleak landscape of giant coral, traffic and a moose that’s bigger than the cars. I get the feeling I shouldn’t spoil any more, but it’s fighting hard with my desire to mention the giant cat with the erection who’s reciting the current covid figures and the Donkey Kong on top of the building with a giant skull on it. Dammit, looks like the second impulse won out. It probably would have helped if the actual pandemic was as surreal as this, but since we all got stuck in the real world the best way to remember those times is to get this book. If you’re lucky, these images will replace the images of the actual pandemic, which will help make it a more whimsical, unnerving time in your head. $7

Update for 8/8/22

New review today for Curse of Brick by David Craig, as (unintentional) international week begins with Canada!

Craig, David – Curse of Brick

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Curse of Brick

I’m sure David’s already thought of this, but if he doesn’t eventually put all these brick stories into a giant omnibus edition that’s shaped like a brick, he’s a fool. A fool I say! While we’re all waiting for that happy eventuality, he’s out with another hefty collection of stories about our hero, who just happens to be a sentient brick. Or is it about different bricks who all look the same? Anyway, this one is chock full of stories, and the subjects include being in the Olympics (a couple of those, actually, which makes me think he made those during the actual Olympics), trying to figure out the weakness of a hockey goalie who’s a cinderblock, a barber trying to figure out how to give Brick a shave and a haircut, feeding the wildlife, taking a union job, the price for eating too much candy on Halloween, the magical world Brick discovers under him after he hibernates for the winter (with art by Montevarious), Brick in space (with art by James Spencer, and after seeing him wearing a spacesuit I’m suddenly confused by whether or not he needs to breathe, which means I’m thinking too much), and a too brief glimpse into some of his friends, each one of whom seems like would be capable of having their own stories told. Finally there’s the sprawling title story, which starts off as an Indiana Jones parody, wanders in to a flashback dealing with how the pyramids were actually made, and ending with a cliffhanger that throws all of human history into question. Unless, once again, I’m thinking too hard, in which case it’s just funny. It’s another solid collection of stories, and once again I’m impressed and amazed at how much story David seems to get out of a literal brick. He also has plenty of samples on his website if you’re skeptical, but give it a shot why don’t you?

Update for 7/27/22

New review today for Lemonade Tango #3 by Henry Uhrik. There’s an election less than a week away in Ohio (it’s a little one, tell all your friends to vote and you could maybe actually get a dark horse candidate of your choosing to win), so this may be it for reviews until that’s over. Probably, actually. But we’ll see!

Uhrik, Henry – Lemonade Tango #3

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Lemonade Tango #3

It’s time for the exciting conclusion to the “Bonjour Paris” saga! Is it a saga if it’s a three part story? Eh, either way. He also starts a new story called “Out of Tune” that I’ll get into in a bit, but I’m going out of order with this one. That’s right, there are no rules here! If you haven’t read the other parts of “Bonjour Paris” you’re going to be a little confused, but that’s the case for all the reviews I do of ongoing stories. Rick has decided that he’s going to climb that tower to be with Martha when and if the aliens do come, so they end up waiting for the end as a couple. Without getting into specifics, it’s a lovely, quiet moment full of doubt and yearning, and a solid (if ambiguous, which I imagine was the point) ending to their story. “Out of Tune” is a bit more of a puzzler to me, at least as an ongoing story. It works great as a single piece, but I am curious where it goes from here. It’s the story of three musicians who get hired to play at a creepy old mansion. As they’re playing the owner of the house coaxes his wife out of hiding, and it’s an open question whether she’s enjoying the music or just likes crying. Later, while they’re bowling, a new theory emerges for the couple, and I guess that’s the direction things will be taking in future installments. Henry’s afterward was damned near brilliant, like they all have been so far, and it’s an extended meditation on bowling and yes, it does also end up as a metaphor for life. So I’m cautiously optimistic about the new storyline and completely happy about the ending to the old one. Sounds like a recommendation to me! $7.99

Update for 7/25/22

New review today for Meeting Comics #22: The Musical by Andrew Neal. Sure, I may have stopped doing weekly reviews of his book, but I still have a few left to talk about. Also I just saw his new stickers on his website, and two of them made me laugh out loud, so go there are see if you can guess which ones!

Neal, Andrew – Meeting Comics #22: The Musical

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Meeting Comics #22: The Musical

In case anybody is going into this being all pedantic about the fact that there are no audible sounds in comics, yes, Andrew does address this in his afterward. For the rest of us who just like a good time, boy are you ever in luck! I’m known around these parts (i.e. my website) as a crank who rarely enjoys poems or song parodies in comics, although I seem to be softening on the subject in my advancing years. Case in point: this comic, which is delightful. It’s also not 100% a musical, as since there has to be some story-related reason why this entire crew would start singing, things start off with a phone alert announcing a “musical storm warning.” After a brief conversation about which one is more imminent, a watch or a warning (it’s a warning, and Val’s mnemonic device to remember it should become the industry standard), our heroes find out that they’re too late to escape the onslaught, and they all eventually burst into song. Regular readers of the comic may also remember how messy the relationships in the series have become, and what better time to make an attempt to sort all that out than through song? That’s the part that makes my comparing this to the musical episode of Buffy unavoidable, as they both sort through some issues that couldn’t be addressed in casual conversation. Other highlights include Val running away and ending up in a “solo” song with a mirror version of herself, and the remaining guys breaking into their own song, which may or may not end up with everybody working back at the office. So if anybody out there is silently (or loudly) fuming about how the overall story has gotten away from office culture, you may be in luck! Anyway, yes, the streak of quality issues of this series continues. Andrew also mentioned in his afterward that all of the verses would work as songs, if anybody wanted to throw him enough money to hire some musicians to play them. So if there are any eccentric millionaires out there, go for it. I’d also appreciate it if you gave me enough money so that I could live out the rest of my life doing this instead of working an office job, if you’re going to be throwing cash around… $5

Update for 7/21/22

It’s another one from the mini kus pile, and this time it’s Li’l Jormly by Christopher Sperandio!

Sperandio, Christopher – Li’l Jormly

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Li’l Jormly

Look, I’ll make this review very simple. If you’re a fan of the mini kus books, of course you should get this one too. And the less you know about it, the better. OK? If that’s good enough for you, please click right on that link and buy it. For everybody who wants some (ok, any) details, let’s get into it! Right off the bat, even though you can only see half that cover, it’s obvious that there are some horrors that don’t quite match the whimsical nature of the artwork. Jormly has chicken feet, and what appears to be an octopus hand. And is he a cyclops too? Yep, sure enough. Things start off with one of those fake “back of the comic” ads that I thought were played out at this point, but it made me laugh, so I’m not going to spoil what it’s about. The comic itself starts with one of the denser recaps I’ve seen in a tiny text caption, as we learn that there were three apocalypses that led to this current moment, with some brief detail of each. We also learn that Jormly was “orphaned into the broken world”, and he’s had a miserable life. Don’t let that jolly look fool you! He soon asks a friend where he originally came from, and decides on a quest to return to that location. And then… the comic turns into a children’s activity book, complete with the word jumbles, mazes, etc. that you would normally find in such things, but of course more horrific because of the circumstances. We get some brief updates from our hero along the way, who’s looking a bit worse for wear each time. Basically if you’d rather work on an activity book, this one has you covered, and if you’d like to wallow in a bleakly hopeless future by living vicariously through a pantsless pig, you’ll be doing plenty of that too. Give it a look, is what I say. $7

Update for 7/19/22

Probably not the greatest idea to mention my covid positive status and then take a week off reviewing, huh? I’m fine, outside of maybe some long covid I haven’t found out about yet. But enough about me! New review today for Applewood Canyon #5 by Brian Canini.

Canini, Brian – Applewood Canyon #5

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Applewood Canyon #5

It’s the grand finale for the series, as our “heroes” still have to figure out some way to get the dead body out of town. There’s the north entrance, which is guarded 24 hours a day, so that’s out. And the south entrance is a literal minefield. What can they do? Obviously I’m not going to tell you, as it would be a gargantuan dick move to wait until now to spoil the ending. It’s always tricky when I can’t get into such things, so I’ll just say that I thought the ending was… fine, I guess? It solved their central problem, but it also felt like the ending just kind of happened and that was that. Which, granted, is how endings work, and you can throw this whole review away if there are further issues planned. Honestly, it’s probably one of those things where I was anticipating a zig and Brian instead zagged. Who can’t relate to that! I also thought we were going to get into further detail about the nature of the town (what kind of town has guards at one end and a minefield at the other?), but that never happened. Which I get in one sense, as that probably would have required a whole other series. And since Brian is a comics making machine, there’s every chance that he has such a series in mind or is already working on said series. Overall this was still a really fun and/or disturbing series and I think that fans of his work should definitely check it out. $1.99