New review today for Doing the Dishes With Batman by Scott Marshall. And Scott is living in Canada, which more of less keeps up the international theme from last week.
Doing the Dishes With Batman
OK, a quick test to see how well we would get along in real life. If you saw a comic on the shelf (or, more likely, the internet) named “Doing the Dishes With Batman,” would you immediately stop what you were doing to read it, or would you move along to other comics with barely a glance? If you picked the first option, we could possibly be friends! If you picked the second option, you are dead to me. So hey, about this comic. It turns out that a good chunk of it is actual instructions on how to do the dishes if you don’t have a dishwasher. It’s practical advice! Damned near unheard of in a comic, but if you have questions about the process, there’s a solid chance that this could help you out. Of course, that leaves out the Batman aspect of the comic, and that’s where it gets interesting. Batman, you see, has never really done the dishes, what with Alfred around all the time. And Batman doing the dishes opens up a whole new world to his mind, and it’s a new world with a pretty great payoff on the final page. So to sum up: this is an informative comic about washing dishes, an often funny comic with Batman in it, and it has a solid ending. I’d say it’s worth a look! Unless you own a dishwasher and hate Batman, in which case it might not do much for you, but who both owns a dishwasher AND hates Batman? It seems unlikely.
New review today for Troubled Teen by Desmond Reed. Yep, sticking with the theme.
This creepy world of Desmond’s is really starting to come together. Granted, I got a bunch of his comics all at once and have no idea what order they were supposed to be read in (if any), but this issue features an appearance by both Scumbag and the Uncles. But enough about them, this is all about our hero, Troubled Teen. This gentleman was discovered in a trash can (“like most folks”) when he was a baby by a group of Uncles. The Teen, in the manner of most characters in this universe, aged to maturity over a span of a few weeks. This would imply that his species tends to reproduce quickly, and this is confirmed when we get a close up look at one of the many zits on his face only to see a tiny Troubled Teen beginning to form. Our hero has his own unique form of population control, which shouldn’t come as a shock to anybody that knows any actual teenage boys. Scumbag is somehow his brother (best not to dig too deep into the logistics of that one), and Troubled Teen delights in tormenting Scumbag whenever possible. The rest of the story deals with a possible origin story (specifically who dumped him in that dumpster), but that’s all we get this time around. Assuming that there are more issues coming, which I have no information about one way or the other. In theory Desmond could build an even more expansive universe out of all this. If the only thing holding that back is an unwillingness to creep his audience out even further, I say bring on the creepiness!
New review today for The Rule by Tetsuya Yamamoto, as impromptu international comics week continues!
OK, this one is going to be exceptionally tricky to talk about without giving away any spoilers, as the last 10 pages or so are fantastic. But hey, that’s out of a 30 page book, so technically that still gives me 2/3 of the book to talk about! That’s right, I’m breaking out some math to stall a little bit. This is all about this one guy who finds “It” on a beach. What this thing actually is is never firmly established, and we never do get a good look at it, but it’s clearly an object of great importance to the world. Or at least to the creatures that he meets. Anyway, this guy takes “It” to the oldest museum in the world and the woman at the desk is able to take a picture and pass along the image to undefined specialists. One of them responds (it’s not one that has ever responded before), and our hero is sent down into a dark and foreboding cave. It’s not clear whether or not he tries to get away to avoid going down, but the door slams shut as soon as he gets inside and it’s a moot point. Down there he runs into…. I don’t know what to call those things. They reminded me of gingerbread men, but less expressive. Basically they just unfolded themselves from the cave wall to talk. They tell our hero some cryptic hints about “It,” but all the while the “Director” of this museum has been running towards our hero, and that confrontation is where the last 10 pages or so of the book come into play. Basically the title of the comic refers to “It” being able to establish any rules for a confrontation with this director, and our hero sets those rules up magnificently. This one is a lot of fun, and clearly I loved that ending, so you should give it a shot. And I just caught something from the image on the back cover that I didn’t notice before, and it all makes even more sense to me now. Check it out, is what I say. $5
New review today for Smoo #8 by Simon Moreton, and judging by the mail it’s looking like this is going to be another international comics week. Hooray, a theme week!
Smoo has either been on a break or I just haven’t been getting the comics, but this is the first new issue I’ve seen in a while. And it is just about as stripped down as a comic could be and still be considered a comic. This is (if I have the gist of it correct) about Simon’s time both with and without a girlfriend, or possibly just a very good friend. Everything is told in a few lines, and you can tell from that cover that the title figure barely qualifies as a stick figure. It still somehow works, as the bare bones of what he went through during that time are more than enough to carry the story. The relationship talk in particular is an explosion of a conversation that quite literally shatters his view of the world, and there are a lot of quiet moments following this before the eventual reconciliation. All of this is told with as few words as possible, but most of us have been in positions like this before and can see what’s going on even in the most simplified terms possible. It’s another solid issue, and it proves that you can identify with characters that barely even look human if the content is universal enough.
New review for Monkey Squad One #13, happy weekend everybody!
Monkey Squad One #13
How about that cover, huh? It looks like a big mess of nothing, and it’s not possible to make out the one tiny thing that might be a landmark. Until you actually open the book, where you see that it’s the tombstone for Doug, and it all makes sense. In case I haven’t mentioned this in reviews for this series before (it all tends to blend together after awhile and it’s not like I go back and read old reviews which, come to think of it, might not be a bad idea every now and then), Doug has really improved in his pacing of these stories. Human Doug, that is, not the U.N.C.L.E. Doug who died in the last issue. This issue is downright somber by MSO standards. It’s been one year since Doug died, and Brendan and Connor are both dealing with their grief (and their being trapped on an all-girl planet) in different ways. Connor has kept up his training, even though he still seems to be getting his butt kicked on a regular basis. And Brendan has been spending his time mastering a game called Unicorn Picnic, which I desperately wish was a real thing, but I seem to be stuck in this reality. It’s a little odd that Brendan doesn’t spend more time with the ladies, but I can’t remember how old he’s supposed to be, so maybe it’s for the best to avoid awkwardness. Anyway, we see a bit more of this world, Connor gets his braces taken off (mostly), Brendan discovers something that might help them get home, and that’s the end of the main story. Spoilers, kind of, in the most technical sense of the term. This is the first part of a six part series, so Doug has time to let things breathe, and he’s done a wonderful job of it with this issue. Of course, it doesn’t hurt that he keeps up a fairly regular publication schedule, as this pace might get annoying on a book that only puts out new issues every couple of years. The backup story involves the fake future earth from 2039 and a prolonged gunfight (including robots!), with a pretty great surprise ending that I’m not going to talk about even a little. This book has gradually turned into one of the books that I most enjoy getting, which is something I didn’t entirely expect when I first started reading it, so kudos to Doug. If you’re not reading this, you really should be, and it looks like Doug has most of the issues up for free at his website so you can get caught up.
New reviews today for Killjoy #3 by Robert Brown and Satan Cat #1 by Steve Steiner. Maybe I’ll even have time for more reviews this week! Sad that more than four in a week is an oddity, but that’s where I seem to be these days…
See, this is why all small press comics (that are part of a continuing series) should have notes on at least one of the inside covers. Right away I learned that these stories were taken from a project called Catch A Fairy, which is all stories from “formative years prior to secondary education.” So before high school? That seems to be the case for all of these stories so far. I also learned that these are stories of Robert as a child, as he called upon the memory of the girl involved in this story to fill in a lot of details. It’s called “Valentine,” so you can probably guess where it’s going, and he includes many delightfully awkward moments that brought up a wave of memories. There’s the valentine snuck into his desk, which he shoved back into said desk in a panic, and which the girl who had a crush on him had to basically drag out into the open. There was Robert’s utter cluelessness about the term “going out,” which I could relate to in far too many details, but he managed to figure it out relatively quickly. From there we see all the gory details of a boy in middle school trying to figure out the rules of dating while also being far more interested in hanging out with his boy friends than he was with anything involved with dating. He was remarkably callous and more than a little cruel to Amanda (although he was nice enough to apologize in the forward), which is exactly what most “relationships” are like at that time of life. It’s another really great issue, and I’d say that three in a row makes a pattern. These books are unlike most other “when I was a kid” stories and you should really check them out. I guess if you were the perfect kid you might not find anything to relate to, but if that’s the case then why are you reading reviews of small press comics? $5
Satan Cat #1
Aw, look at the cute little cat mini comic! This is a shortie with a very simple premise: a cat thinks that it is Satan. Or maybe the cat is Satan? There’s at least a second issue of this series, so maybe we’ll find out later! Although it’s most likely just a regular cat. Anyway, this issue deals with the cat (named, according to the food bowl, Muffin) trying to order a bug around as his minion. The bug is skeptical but follows along, mostly because the cat is very much larger than the bug. This goes on for a bit, the cat convinces its owner to give it fish bits, which then annoys it because its mouth is too small to eat as many fish bits as quickly as it would like. Things are resolved (no, I won’t spoil even this), and that’s that. Like I said, this is a very short story, but it’s cute and there’s always at least a little bit of ambiguity about whether or not any one cat is actually Satan. Check it out if you like cats or Satan!
New review today for Night of the Living Vidiots by Andy Ristaino. No sample page on that one because the binding on this graphic novel was too tight for me to use my scanner.
Full disclosure: Andy works for Adventure Time (he was, according to Wikipedia, instrumental in their getting their only Emmy so far), which means that this book automatically just went up a few notches in my mind. And if you haven’t watched that show because you’re an adult and think that it’s only for kids, you’re wrong. Pendleton Ward, Tom Herpich and Jesse Moyhihan were all mini comics people before making that show, so their hearts clearly come from the right place. Says I, even if I am biased. Anyway, I’ll take a calm step back and evaluate this book purely on the merits. This is a collection of short stories from Andy, done between 2004 and 2013, put together with the invaluable financial assistance of Kickstarter. Stories in here include the title story (about humans who are consumed by literal televisions and end up spouting inane advertisting/self help lingo as they convert everybody they come into contact with), a wolf man and his hot rod (and the law on his tail), an anime extravaganza featuring smaller ships that form a larger robot against nature, Dr. Mario Bandini and his unintentional (and often horrific) heroism, the continuation of that wolf man story (also featuring a vampire lady and a giant squid), and the high price of winning a race to impress the ladies. That anime story was probably the best of that really solid bunch, as the idea of two giant robots playing poker with cars (with card symbols painted on the hoods) to go with the stakes of said game was a thing of beauty, and there’s no getting away from the sheer joy involved in that ending. Recurring characters play a big part of this book too, and it never hurts to break up a collection like this with short single page strips. These are mostly the Death Shirt and Frosty Beveraged Man, who is just like the Kool-Aid Man but full of beer. He gets into all sorts of ethically questionable adventures and, again, Andy really stuck the landing with that character. Oh, and there’s Mangfish, who deals with all of the problems that a man-eating monster would deal with while taking his date to the prom. It’s a really solid collection of stories, many of them are in full and glorious color, and I’m of the continuing opinion that everybody involved with Adventure Time should be as rich as humanly possible, which doesn’t leave you very many reasons not to buy this. Unless people misusing “your” sticks in your craw, that is, as he gets that wrong an alarming number of times. But he gets it consistently wrong, which is oddly comforting to me. Anyway, I highly recommend this, and don’t let my nitpicking at the end here scare you off. $20
New reviews today for Killjoy #2 by Robert Brown and The Littlest Pervert by Desmond Reed. Trying to make up a bit for lost time over here…
Ah, childhood. Last time around we got one long tale about camp, this time around we get several smaller tales of some of the more traumatic moments possible for a kid. Stories in here include the secret of Robert’s crush getting back to the source (I’m just assuming that the character is based on Robert because his name is “Robert,” but I have no idea if these are all things that actually happened to him. In some cases I very much hope that they’re fictional), getting in trouble for pushing down a kid that was making fun of him, the urban legend of concentrating hard enough to leave your body behind but then never managing to get back to your body, the forbidden thrill of watching something that you’re not supposed to be watching after your parents have gone to bed (and the way that the cartoon in question undercut their argument at a critical moment was priceless) and getting lost in a crowded space. That last one happened to me as a kid and let me tell you, it’s terrifying. All you can see is a tall, endless sea of people who aren’t your parents, and Robert nailed that image. Two issues in and this series is still delightful. The only way I could see anybody hating it is if they wanted to pretend that they were never a kid, but for everybody else you’re bound to find at least one story that you can relate to in a big way. $5
The Littlest Pervert
Have you ever wondered what it would be like to read a children’s story based on the life of a pervert? Well, wonder no more! Maybe this isn’t technically a children’s book (no “maybe” about it, really), but that’s how this comic reads, which makes it extra creepy. As the title would suggest, this is the story of the littlest pervert. His tiny size makes him the butt of jokes amongst the other perverts, and it also makes him really stand out in police lineups, so eventually the perverts gang up on him and chase him out of town. From there our “hero” goes on a quest in the forest, and I have rarely been more tempted to spoil an ending. I’ll just say that I wasn’t sure if it was possible for an ending to be deeply creepy and somehow still a happy ending, but Desmond has managed it here. There are plenty of times when I wish a comic I was reading was a continuing series, but Desmond has put together a bundle of one shot comics that could only work in that format, and he has done it beautifully. I hate to think what would actually happen to this character after the end of this issue, but as a single issue it’s funny and unnerving, which is exactly what it should be.
New review today for Harold by Antoine Cosse. It’s a little embarrassing, but I have found quite a few comics that somehow didn’t get reviewed when I first got them, which I’ll be getting to in the coming weeks. And hey, it’s not too early to start making your plans for SPACE in Columbus. Actually, I just checked the website and they’ve moved the date to July instead of the usual April. So maybe it is too soon to start making plans!
What an absolutely fascinating book. I don’t think this is any part of a larger universe, which is a shame, as all kinds of themes/characters in here could be expanded upon pretty easily. This is ostensibly the story of a famous man, his bodyguard and them hiding in their vehicle when the princess is getting ready to leave her hotel to avoid the swarm of paparazzi. Leading up to that we see a pack of wild dogs roaming, suggesting that civilization doesn’t stretch far in this world, and the bodyguard is wearing a square covering over his mouth… assuming that is his mouth. From there the bodyguard tries to tell the story of the princess to his client, but the client falls asleep on him before we get to see the ending. What we do see shows a pampered young lady who remained in her apartment, cut off from the world below, as society crumbled. As for the princess leaving her hotel, things are not as they seem, and a trick is pulled on the assembled paparazzi. And a secret is revealed about the nature of the bodyguards, as you may be able to guess from their picture on that cover. Antoine does a fantastic job of letting the images speak for themselves and having quiet images serve to build up the world and the status of certain objects in that world. The slow build to the apartment of the princess took many pages, but it was the perfect way to show exactly how cut off she was from any kind of reality outside of that apartment. I said earlier that this series could go on, but don’t get me wrong: this book works really well as a self-contained story. I’m left with more questions than answers, but there’s no law that says that that has to be a bad thing. $6