Update for 4/23/15

New review today for Drawn Onward by Matt Madden, which should be a familiar name to you if you’ve been reading these funny books for as long as I have. Get off my lawn!

Madden, Matt – Drawn Onward



Drawn Onward

Who likes some experimentation in their comics? Is it you? Do you prefer to have
some boundaries pushed, to see an attempt at something completely different? It’s
impossible to talk about this comic without at least giving away the concept, so if
that’s your thing, and if you have trust in Matt’s abilities since he’s been making
comics for 20 (ish) years now, then I’m going to go ahead and recommend this
unreservedly right now. It’s unlike any comic I’ve ever read, and that is saying
something. That right there is your last chance to just pick this book up without
knowing anything about it, although I suppose it’s likely that the description of
the comic on their website might give something away. If you can manage to read this
completely unspoiled, do so. Anyway, now I’m going to talk about the story, in case
you need more convincing and don’t mind at least little spoilers. This is described
as a “palindromic comic,” which eagle-eyed observers might have already figured out
from that title. Things start off with a young woman and a chance encounter on a
subway with a young man. This man seems overly familiar with the woman, but too
desperate for her to do anything but run away from him. She keeps meeting him on the
subway, and gradually she starts to become less and less afraid of him, until
finally she realizes that she’s looking forward to seeing him again. Things finally
break just right, they kiss… and everything changes. And nothing changes. It’s up
to you to decide which of those things is true, or if they’re both true. This is a
genuinely remarkable book, and one of those rare occasions where I went back and
read through it again right after I finished it. Matt is a member of a group called
Workshop for Potential Comics, and I’m going to look into that after I finish this
to see what else they have to offer. For now, read this comic, especially if you
need a reminder that the only constraints that are on this art form are what the
individual creator brings with them. $5



Update for 4/22/15

New review today for Grampa by Jason Payne.

Payne, Jason – Grampa




Anybody who has been reading this website for more than a few days know that I abhor
spoilers, as all decent people should. But this time I’ll around I’m going to make
it clear that I’m going to be spoiling the ending for this book, mostly because I
just don’t get it. And if I do get it, I don’t care for it. This always leaves the
option that it’s over my head, which is always a possibility, but I wanted you to be
warned. So! This comic is all about a trip with two kids to see their Grampa. They
don’t care for the man, as he stinks, is mean and is kind of racist, but of course
their concerns are shouted down by their parents. Well, mostly the mother and a
nearly invisible father. Anyway, from that setup I was expecting them to either be
proven right or wrong once they reached their Grampa, but we skip over all that
stuff entirely. Instead the first look we get at Grampa involves him telling the
kids not to go into a house near his because it’s haunted. As a warning like this to
children is pretty much an incentive to go into said house, they wander away from
him and into the haunted house. He secretly follows them, notices their reaction (or
lack thereof) and bursts through the window to… really scare them? This is where
it lost me. They’re both all in white, so maybe Grampa cut an artery going into the
window and is now scaring them as a ghost? No, the kids are all white too. So why
would their Grampa busting through a window do anything to convince them that the
house is haunted? Agh, I don’t care for doing nothing but crapping on a comic, so I
should point out that I did enjoy the full color aspect of it and thought it mostly
looked terrific. That joke on the final page about how to be a grampa got a chuckle
out of me. And maybe this book is for little kids and I’m over-thinking it, but
narratively I don’t understand why the problems that the kids have with their Grampa
would be set up so meticulously only to never come to anything. It’s almost like
this comic started as the first half, got set aside for a few years and then started
again, by which Jason forgot or ignored the stuff he was setting up in the first
half. He sent along another book that’s an anthology of stories, and I’m looking
forward to it, but despite the bits that I liked I can’t really recommend this one.



Update for 4/20/15

New review today for Piggy by Niv Bavarsky. I already mentioned that everybody should watch that new Netflix Daredevil series, right? Just making sure. That mom and pop comic company Marvel need all help they can get!

Bavarsky, Niv – Piggy




You know what we don’t see enough of when it comes to pigs? Pig rampages. Sure,
boars get mad and charge at people occasionally, but your average pig rampage is
rarely seen. That is corrected with this issue, as the main story is all about a
man, his post-coital attempt to smell some flowers, and the fierce reaction a pig
has to this fact. All in all the man stays fairly calm about it, which is not how I
would have handled something as shocking as being attacked by a pig. There are then
a series of single page images (at least a couple of which strongly imply that
things didn’t end well for that pig), a collection of ways that people say that they
would like to die, and a final story about a frantic attempt to plug up an active
volcano using a big boulder. Come to think of it, that’s probably how I’d like to
go: jumping into an active volcano. But only if I already knew that I had cancer or
something like that, and preferably holding onto the last remaining copy of Action
Comics #1. Yep, got it all planned out. Anyway, digression aside, I thoroughly
enjoyed the stories in here along with the single page images/stories, but I’ll
leave the details of those a mystery so you have something new to discover when you
buy this comic. $4



Update for 4/17/15

New review today for It’s Tuesday by Amanda Vahamaki, another one from the rapidly diminishing mini kus pile. I swear that there has been no conscious decision to only review comics from other countries, but they do seem to be the ones sending me review copies these days. America, step up your game!

Vahamaki, Amanda – It’s Tuesday



It’s Tuesday

Sometimes a title really nails the tone of a book, even when it’s a seemingly
nonsense title like “It’s Tuesday.” And, well, that’s what happens here. This is the
story of a typical Tuesday in (according to the back of the comic) “a small town
somewhere in southern Finland.” Once you get past that eye-catching explosion of
color on the front cover, things start off slowly and more or less stay that way,
much like it would in a typical small town on a random day. There’s a cat watching
some people gather apples from the ground, the apples being put out by the side of
the road for anybody who wants them, and we move to a flea market. A gentleman has
just dropped off five garbage bags filled with clothes, and the shopkeeper quickly
realizes that it would make more sense for her to wait until the day when her helper
works to start going through the bags. If all this sounds dull as can be, you’re
probably looking for another book entirely, one with explosions and robots, or
exploding robots. There’s nothing wrong with that, in moderation, but this one is
for the more contemplative moods. Anyway, there’s no sense in me going through this
beat by beat, but other bits I thoroughly enjoyed include the appraisal of a
painting by a moody teenager (and the scene later when this teenager reads over some
of her old diary entries and cringes in embarrassment), a babysitter trying to find
a polite way out of buying some clothes that she doesn’t want, and the creep who
tends to wander through the woods naked and is still on the loose. Translations are
always tricky in books like this, but I really appreciated the fact that Amanda went
through and put the English in for certain signs and locations around town, as it
really helped flesh this tiny world out. I thoroughly enjoyed this, in other words,
and bonus points to whoever did the coloring for this book, as it was stellar



Update for 4/15/15

New review today for Alone in Kyoto by Ian McMurray.

McMurray, Ian – Alone in Kyoto



Alone in Kyoto

What ever happened to all the small press travel comics? They pop up from time to
time now, but they seemed to be all over the place in the late ’90s. Or maybe that’s
just my confirmation bias speaking, as a lot of the artists I liked were doing them,
so obviously that meant that they were more common. Anyway! This is all about Ian’s
trip to Japan in 2003. He makes it very clear in the epilogue that this is a
non-fiction book, but only to the extent that his memory would allow. Meaning that
of course he was going to forget some of the finer points in the 10 years since his
trip, and he was going to misremember some locations, but the heart of it all and
its effect on him remained true. This basically covers three days of him wandering
around Kyoto and then returning to Canada at the end. He very much let events happen
to him on this trip, as he didn’t plan a hotel room or much of anything outside of a
few landmarks/gardens he knew he wanted to check out. He was a single guy at this
point, which left him plenty of time to quietly observe what was going on around
him, and maybe a little too much pure free time. As an aside, I will never
understand why somebody would travel all the way to Japan and then eat at KFC even
once, but as I’ve never been to Japan, maybe you reach a point when any reminder of
home is essential. This whole comic is contemplative by nature, and it’s a hefty 50+
pages. Highlights for me included his not being all that impressed with some of the
big temples that “everybody” recommended, his observations of a creepy guy who hit
on almost every woman he saw (with the custom in Japan apparently being to speed up
walking and keep your head down instead of slapping a guy, it sounds like a
creeper’s dream), and his being unable to just experience what was going on around
him when it mattered most instead of reaching for his phone. Overall it was
thoroughly absorbing, and yet another reminder that I don’t do nearly enough
traveling. If you need a virtual trip outside of your comfort zone or just wish you
could see something completely different without leaving your home, I can’t
recommend this highly enough.



Update for 4/14/15

New review for Logbook by Terhi Ekebom, another in the mini kus series. Say, that new Daredevil Netflix series was thoroughly entertaining, if you were curious. Granted, I was required by law to watch it because I run a website about comics, but it was still well worth my time.

Ekebom, Terhi – Logbook




So hey, death. That’s what this comic is about, basically, unless you have another
interpretation of it, in which case you may be right and I may be wrong. It
certainly wouldn’t be the first time! Anyway, this one starts off with a long
sequence involving large white pods bobbing to the surface in the ocean and the
process involved in collecting them and bringing them back to the lighthouse. They
are all quite large but appear harmless. Once these pods are brought into the house
we see why they were collected: there is a man on the bed, but he is covered in
literal darkness. Once these pods are split open a bright light shines through them,
enabling the family to see the condition of the man on the bed. Perhaps they thought
that these pods would be enough to assist this man, but they soon learn that the
darkness is not getting any smaller, with the rest of the comic involving them
dealing with this fact. It’s surprisingly haunting, probably because it’s impossible
to fight against it for long. Is that too grim for you? Eh, I could see that. Still,
the art is gorgeous, and this is one of those cases where full color really brings a
lot to the book. This is worth a look, assuming that you’ve made peace with your own
mortality. If not, you can also ignore the unspoken implications of the darkness, as
it’s not like Terhi smacks you over the face with the message. It’s there for you to
pick up on, or not.


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Update for 4/8/15

New review today for Colonel MacTaggart #2 by Steve Steiner. Also I know the text blocks look weird for the reviews, but I don’t know why that is happening, so apparently that’s just the way they look from now on!

Steiner, Steve – Colonel MacTaggart #2



Colonel MacTaggart #2

Oh Colonel, don’t you know better than to go up against an angry monkey? Colonel
MacTaggart, in case you don’t know (and why would you, as I’m pretty sure this is a
new series), is an an explorer who wanders around with his manservant February.
February is a silent mountain of a man, and the Colonel is a proper English
gentleman, with all the obvious comedic potential that entails. I seem to have
picked up the second issue before the first one, but this one is so completely
self-contained that I doubt there will be any confusion. Unless I skipped the origin
story, and even then I’ll get to it soon enough. Anyway! The story for this one
could not be simpler. The Colonel is out wandering the jungle when a piece of fruit
hits him in the head. After a brief period of confusion as to the source of the
fruit, he finds out that it’s an angry monkey. And the chase is on! The rest of the
comic is all about the hijinx and the joys of purple fruits getting splattered. This
is where the full color really comes into play, because who doesn’t love purple
splatters? It’s a fun little story, unless you have something against monkeys and/or
English people. And even then there’s some mayhem involved that might make up for
it. Check it out! $3



Update for 4/7/15

New review today for Collector by Zane Zlemesa, another one from the mini kus pile o’ comics.

Zlemesa, Zane – Collector




Oh abstract comics, you put me on the spot every time. Sometimes I feel compelled to
try to analyze every little bit of it, sometimes I throw my hands up in despair and
leave it entirely up to the reader, and either way I feel like I failed. Ah well.
Anybody who comes here for detailed, intellectual analysis went to the wrong corner
of the internet and somehow never left, so that’s kind of on them. This is the story
of, well, a collector. The cover gives as to what type of collector this person is,
and the back cover makes it even more explicit, but I like mystery, so I’ll leave it
up in the air. What this comic details is the process of collecting these subjects,
what they see and imagine, and eventually how it all ends up. It’s not as ominous as
it sounds! Unless it is and I lied to you right there. Ah, now you’re intrigued! If
so, good. After all, don’t you want to be able to say that you have a complete set
of the mini kus series of Latvian mini comics? As somebody who has mentioned them
out loud to regular humans, I can attest to the fact that it’s an automatic
conversation stopper. Anyway, it’s an intriguing comic, with a sometimes mesmerizing
and sometimes baffling story. Is that a recommendation? It’s up to you to parse that


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Update for 4/2/15

New review today for Smallbug Comics #4 by Charles Brubaker. Say, I’m thinking about going far away for a comics convention this year, like maybe London or somewhere in the vicinity. Can anybody from around there recommend a con in particular? Also if anybody would like to buy one of my kidneys to finance the trip that would be grand.

Brubaker, Charles – Smallbug Comics #4



Smallbug Comics #4

Well, it’s finally happened. I seem to have reached peak cat. For today anyway; chances are I’ll love all cats just as much as always tomorrow. But this comic tested the limits of my tolerance for the adorable nature of cats. As always, your opinions may (and probably will) vary! The bulk of this one is taken up with a mostly silent story involving a witch and her search for a particular cat. This is where words would have come in handy, as I wasn’t entirely sure what was going on here until going back and looking at it again. She can’t find this cat, but she does find a different cat, which was completely unacceptable to her. For reasons that I don’t understand, as in real life almost all cats are equally adorable. Anyway, this cat hitches a ride on her broom and returns to her home (?) with her, where this cat immediately makes a favorable impression on her roommate. It’s possible that I should remember the names for these characters from previous comics in this series, but I do not. Anyway, the cat is taken away for some reason (again, words would have been helpful here), the roommate is very sad, and the rest of the story involves her attempts to make it right. Not a bad story, but not particularly compelling either, and as I’ve already driven the “it could have used a few words here and there” point into the ground, I won’t mention it again. Other short stories in here include a funny piece about a guy who made a living putting cat videos on the internet and his comeuppance, another one of the reliably amusing “ask a cat” entries, and a back cover that I’ll leave a complete mystery just because. As the main story takes up so much of the comic I’d call the whole thing fairly so-so, but I did thoroughly enjoy the short pieces. $2



Update for 4/1/15

New review today for The Unmentionables by Jack Teagle which, you’d have to admit, is a pretty great name for a “superhero” team.

Teagle, Jack – The Unmentionables



The Unmentionables

Do you like wrestling? If so, you’re going to love this comic and could save yourself some time if you just went ahead and bought it now. If not, hey, it’s a free country and all, but this comic is still a pile of fun and you’ll be doing yourself a disservice if you don’t at least look into it a bit. Hey, let me help you with that! So this one starts off with two lady wrestlers in the ring. The good guy is Lizard Woman and the bad guy is Vulturella. Eh, let’s just go by “face” (good guy) and “heel” (bad guy), OK? There, now you learned something about wrestling terminology, which sometimes also works very well in real life! Anyway, as these two are fighting the face learns that the heel is fighting for real even though the face has been scripted to win. She’s breaking out of holds, punching much harder than she should be, and ignoring all of the usual cues to play along. After a lengthy battle the face wins the match and heads backstage. At this point there’s just the promoter and one other wrestler around, as it’s the end of the night, and the promoter actually thanks the face for putting on such a good show. While they’re chatting they learn of a crime going on: a crew of heel wrestlers has robbed a bank and, as they are basically superheroes, the cops are unable to put them down. The face, the other wrestler and the promoter all set out to confront them, and it occurs to me that I have told you enough about the plot. From there it’s one big fight scene, ending with a pretty great scene of the “team” picking a name. It’s a fun book from start to finish, has plenty of respect for wrestling while still not being stupid enough to think that it’s for real, and has a distinctive cast of characters that could certainly be explored more fully in future issues. Assuming that there will be future issues? There’s no “#1″ on this that I can see. Still, I live in hope, as this was a blast. $6