Update for 9/23/14

New reviews today for two books from the Mini Kus series: Inverso by Berliac and This No Place To Stay by Michael Jordan (not that one). They sent me a bunch of recent comics from this series so I’ll review a couple of them here and there as I get time. I have mentioned that from now until about mid-October is one of the busiest times of the year at the Board of Elections, right? OK, good. Also buy stuff from the big Top Shelf Comix sale! You only have until Friday and they have all kinds of great comics for cheap, including many for $3 or even $1.

Berliac – Mini Kus #19: Inverso

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Mini Kus #19: Inverso

What’s worth blowing up your relationship over? If your job is to locate and place tracking collars on young jaguars in an effort to increase their population, finding more jaguars would seem like a typical day at the office. But if you had credible reports of something the natives were calling a negative jaguar, well, that might be enough to torpedo the relationship. Things start off in this one with an argument with the couple (although we never see the lady), which ends when the male leaves town to try and find this jaguar. From there he goes deeper and deeper, both mentally and physically, in his efforts to learn more about this creature and to canvas the jungle to narrow down the places where this beast could be living. Theories of what this thing might be abound, and quixotic hunts like this rarely end well. Then again, this is a hunt for a beast that can only be seen by its spots, and then only at night. It’s a thoroughly engaging story, and it leaves you with a lot to think about when you’re done. Give it a chance, is what I’m saying. $6

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Jordan, Michael – Mini Kus #18: This No Place To Stay

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Mini Kus #18: This No Place To Stay

OK, it’s almost certainly cheating to put the synopsis on here from the back of the comic, but I just can’t resist. So: “This No Place To Stay is a semi-fictional, semi-biographical story by the German artist Michael jordan. His bearded alter ego travels through a coffee cup into a labyrinth inside a hospital laboratory. Hopefully the wound in the nurse’s hand can rescue him…” And no, those ellipses are not me letting the synopsis trail off, that’s just how they ended it. Why put the entire thing in the review? Because I couldn’t have put it better myself, and because it raises many more questions than it answers. Things start off with our bearded hero (and I am dying to know which parts of this are biographical) going up a long staircase to enter a cave/mountain wall/waiting room. From here he is meant to be processed, but is told to wait in the cafe, where he sees other sleeping people, is told that sleeping is not allowed, and wakes up in a hospital with his arm in a sling. From here we see the creepy people in charge of the hospital, the nurse who wants to help (it also features a few nurses who see no point in helping), and our hero’s eventual attempt at escape. The whole thing is delightfully surreal and more than a little claustrophobic. No, I’m not sure how that happens in a comic with plenty of wide open spaces either, but trust me, that’s what I was feeling. It’s gorgeous, it’s haunting and I’m not entirely sure what to make of it. Sounds like the perfect comic to me! $6

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Update for 9/18/14

Work is crazy this time of year, especially on the even years (for new readers, I work at the local Board of Elections), but I couldn’t miss Tarn Thursday! New reviews today for Tarn #4: Titanic 2 by Sam Spina and Built #3 by Brian John Mitchell & Joe Badon.

Spina, Sam – Tarn #4: Titanic 2

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Tarn #4: Titanic 2

Oh, so that’s where all this was heading. Still no clue about the title, but there’s still one more issue to figure that out. This time around we meet Mr. Harland, the shirtless person (?) from the front cover. He has commissioned the Titanic 2, which is the largest airplane ever built. When asked about the negative connotations of that name, he merely points out the box office totals from the film with the name “Titanic” to prove his point that it’s a good idea. From there we learn that the entire cast of characters has ended up on this flight by one way or another, and we get the first hilarious interaction between the three characters from the earlier issues. The comic ends with the airplane very shakily taking off, and with a name like that I can’t imagine that the flight is going to end well. But that’s all to be discovered in the next issue and, once again, there’s no reason in the world for you not to be reading this. Find $5 in the couch cushions or something, send it to Sam, and enjoy. But maybe make it paper money first, as otherwise the postage would get ridiculous… $1

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Mitchell, Brian John & Badon, Joe – Built #3

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Built #3

Is it possible for a comic to be one long “awwwww!!!” And just to clarify that, I mean that sound effect to indicate cuteness, not terror. This time around our hero the free robot has taken refuge with a lady who seemingly likes to take in strays. As such, in this issue the robot gets to know a stray cat she has taken in, and gets to observe the behavior and speech patterns of this creature. The bits about it not functioning properly (as it’s a bit panicked about being taken in initially) and it malfunctioning but being strangely endearing regardless (while purring) were hilarious. I’m generally against spoiling such moments in a review, but there are more than a few of them sprinkled in here. I have no idea of the direction of this series overall, as this entire issue was confined to the house, but I’m still intrigued to see where this is going. This issue, all by itself, is adorable, and one of those issues that you could show non-comics reading people to get them on your side. $1

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Udpate for 9/11/14

It’s Tarn Thursday, so a new review for Tarn #3: Sans San by Sam Spina. And that Top Shelf sale is still going on for a couple of weeks, so now is the perfect time to stock up on comics for the winter.

Spina, Sam – Tarn #3: Sans San

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Tarn #3: Sans San

Well, we’re at the halfway point in the Tarn saga (I’m aware that it doesn’t make any sense to call five issues of a mini comic a saga, but I’m sticking with it anyway). And characters are starting to interact with each other a bit more, so it’s clearly all leading to a dramatic conclusion with them all pointing guns at each other. I haven’t read the last two issues yet, obviously, but I am so very hoping that that is true. Anyway, this time around we meet Sans San, and his thing is that he’s always late. And he speaks Japanese, or possibly gibberish (according to another character), but I’d need a translator to know for sure. He has a job interview, plenty of time to get there and he is determined not to be late for once. But! As he throws up his arms in celebration, his keys go flying off straight into the bag of the guy who eats butts from the first issue. Which might not have been that bad, but said guy was riding on a scooter at the time, so he’s out of earshot before Sans is even able to register what happened. The rest of the issue is a desperate chase involving a language barrier, the constraints of honor and an unexpected team-up. OK, maybe it’s expected because they’re both in this issue, but the way in which they teamed up was still unexpected. Another solid issue, one more reason for you to check out this series. $1

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Update for 9/10/14

New review today for The Cruising Diaries by Brontez Purnell and Janelle Hessig. And hey, the big yearly Top Shelf sale is going on now! All kinds of stuff on sale, even more stuff for $3 or $1. That’s right, a buck for some really great stuff! And I’ll just come right out and say it: if you don’t own The Years Have Pants by Eddie Campbell (on sale now!), then you’re a terrible person.

Purnell, Brontez & Hessig, Janelle – The Cruising Diaries

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The Cruising Diaries

It’s a sad fact of my upbringing, but whenever I read a book like this I can’t help wishing that overly religious people were forced to read it. Not for punishment, but because I think it would help them understand humanity a bit more. Not that this book aspires to anything so lofty as all that, and you can tell the theme right from the title. These are the adventures in cruising from Brontez, told in full (and often hilarious) detail, and he has no interest in worrying about the delicate sensibilities of anybody. Which is great, as this book would have been ridiculous if it was censored. He writes a story of whatever happened on one side, and Janelle Hessig illustrates them on the other. The image of his drunken face, covered in cum and heading back out to a wedding, was my favorite, but there are lots to choose from. Subjects of these stories (and he’s nice enough to include a map of these encounters in the front) include his finally hooking up at a punk bar, getting fucked by Santa, the reality of a job working in a bathhouse, the family guy with all the warts on his dick, the straight guy and his trouble with condoms, all of the shit that guys with big dicks think they can get away with, getting fucked by a ghost, the homeless guy (and how it was bad to discriminate), the locker room guy, and fisting while on shrooms. And more, but I should leave some surprises for you. If you’re prone to fainting spells and fits of nervousness then maybe you shouldn’t read this, but for everybody else this book had me laughing plenty, those illustrations by Janelle made great stories even better and I even learned a few new terms which, considering all the gay friends I’ve had over the years, I didn’t think was even possible. Buy it and enjoy, is what I’m trying to tell you. $10

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Update for 9/8/14

New review today for Pratfall, edited by Rob Kirby and featuring all kinds of ridiculously talented comics artists. Not that I’m biased or anything…

Kirby, Rob (editor) – Pratfall

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Pratfall

Has the theme of falling on your face/ass/other ever been the subject of a comics anthology before? I can’t think of one, but it’s such a natural fit. This naturally made me think of various falls in my life, and I kept coming back to one what wasn’t really a fall and also wasn’t me. I was walking with a couple of friends on an icy road years ago. One of these friends is 6’6”, and my other friend and I noticed him start to slide. This is one of those moments when time slows down, but after the fact we would both swear that he had fallen far enough backwards for the back of his head to slide on the ground, but he somehow more or less kept his balance and never did completely fall. Not sure even today if that’s a good story or a “you had to be there” story, but it’s notable that I still remember it maybe 15 years later. Anyway! The point of that story is that it’s impossible to read this comic without thinking of pratfalls you know and love, and Rob has assembled quite a talented bunch here to tell their stories. There’s Carrie McNinch’s story of getting her thumb slammed in the door (and her mother driving away with said thumb stuck in the door), Becky Hawkins and her amazing collection of bruises and cuts (not the mention her ridiculously unlucky landing spot), Aron Nels Steinke almost knocking his eye out, Tessa Brunton’s spectacular rolling fall, John Porcellino’s skateboarding mess, Jason Viola’s trip to Russia and the impression he must have left with some of those people, Noah Van Sciver and his preventative precautions taken to prevent ever being hurt again, Cara Bean’s skiing “mishap”, MariNaomi’s bowling injury (yes, it is possible), the cat of Gabrielle Gamboa taking her eyebrow, Tony Breed getting away with one, Max Clotfelter getting seriously punched, and the causes of Rob Kirby’s various scars from waiting tables. With a list of talent like that I doubt that I have to do much convincing, so just do yourself a favor and pick this up. Then, if you haven’t already, work your way back through the older comics of these folks. You deserve it! $5

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Update for 9/4/14

Work has been a madhouse this week, but I couldn’t skip the weekly review of Tarn, this time for Tarn #2: Pigboss by Sam Spina.

Spina, Sam – Tarn #2: Pigboss

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Tarn #2: Pigboss

Oh, so THAT’S what Tarn is. Not that I have any idea of the larger significance of it, or how it ties in to all of these comics, but at least this issue mentions Tarn. Oh hi, did you not read the first issue and/or the review for the first issue? Well, in that case this might be a little confusing to you, even if this issue features an entirely different cast of characters from the first issue. This time around it’s Pigboss, who is filming the final scenes for some kind of action movie. He’s more than a little bit of an asshole, and he says his catchphrase whether or not the cameras are rolling. Still, things are going pretty well for him, except the occasional minor annoyance like not having the right food at the craft services, until he gets a letter from the head of the movie studio. This letter does not go over well at all with Pigboss, and it’s clear that a confrontation of some kind is in the cards. I’m still thoroughly enjoying this series, which is not a shock, as I’ve loved everything else Sam has done. It’s probably a bit early for me to tell you to go ahead and buy this whole series when I’ve only read the first two issues, but eh, what the hell, buy the whole series. It’s only $5, and unless Sam’s brain fell out along the way I feel confident in saying that it’ll be worth it in the end. $1 ($5 for the set)

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Update for 8/31/14

And you probably thought that I gave up on posting those last two reviews for the month, but I snuck them in on a Sunday instead. New reviews today for Time and Money by Pam Bliss and Memoirs of a Muse #3: Egypt by Gail Kern.

Bliss, Pam – Time and Money

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Time and Money

I sometimes wish that more people listed the circumstances that led to the creation of their comics. This one, for example, was made over the course of two days, live on her blog, based on an idea from Jeff Lilly. Not that that has affected the quality, but I do get curious about such things. Then again, “created over the course of two years in fits and starts, then put into a closet for six months, then taken out and reworked, then published” would get pretty old as a description. Oh hello cynicism, and a good morning to you! Anyway, this one is a fairly simple tale of Ms. Ginsberg getting prodded into a quest by a walking piggy bank. They need payment to get into a tower, she refuses to use her obvious resource., but they reach another solution and see the result of their quest. Yeah, this all has to be pretty vague, as it’s a damned short comic and I don’t want to give it all away. It plays a little with perceptions and what your brain absorbs of your surroundings, with a nice little touch of mystery about reality thrown in at the end. Or maybe I’m reading too much into it and it’s really about where that hat came from. $1

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Kern, Gail – Memoirs of a Muse #3: Egypt

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Memoirs of a Muse #3: Epygt

I may be dealing with an expectations problem here. These occur when I think/wish that a story was going in a different direction, but it turns out that the writer/artist had other ideas. This is entirely on me, as I’m the one passively consuming the comic while the artist is the one actively making it, but I wanted to make it clear right away that most of the problems I had with this book come from that, and through no fault of the artist. Now that that disclaimer is out of the way, I thought this was going to be a set of detailed examples of ancient Egyptian art, how it came about and who made it. Instead Gail is mostly focused on getting her muse back to Enoch. Which makes sense, as that’s the story she has been telling all along, so never mind me. Things start off with the muse getting to Egypt, and the muse helps her host gain some recognition for her skills. Once she is done there we get to see those ancient artifacts that I was so interested in, with my only complaint being that we see them too briefly. From there I don’t want to give too much away, but we do get to see some mummy action before it’s all said and done. Aesthetically I do have a few complaints, as the blacks from some of the art occasionally made text practically illegible. This issue also wins the prize for “most spelling errors in the series,” which is not a good prize to have. Not that it’s out of control, as it was still a relative few, but as it’s never been easier to make sure you’re spelling words correctly, my willingness to let stuff like that slide has been going downhill for years. It would also have helped if her asterisk system had been explained (or numbered as footnotes), as the information she was trying to direct the reader to is all piled up in the back, with no reference for which is which in case you lost track/missed an asterisk or two. All that being said, I’m still thoroughly enjoying the adventures of this muse through time. Weird, right? You’d think all those complaints would lead to a bad review, which is a testament to Gail’s abilities as a storyteller. If you’re interested in art and where it comes from (and chances are that you are if you’re reading this) then this remains a fascinating series to watch unfold.

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Update for 8/28/14

Two new reviews today, for Tran #1 by Sam Spina and Coldheat Special #10 by William Cardini. Two more reviews to go until I reach my monthly goal! After which it’ll be roughly 20 reviews every month like it used to be and I’ll stop keeping track of it again. Although if you have new comics out there and you would like me to ramble about them, please send them to the address on the right, as my review pile is getting a bit thin again…

Cardini, William – Coldheat Special #10

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Coldheat Special #10

It’s been too long since I’ve gotten a chance to read a William Cardini fever dream (otherwise known as a “comic”). As always, it’s hard to talk too much about it without giving too much away, but luckily it’s impossible to give away how you’re going to feel looking at those visuals, so in that way it’s impossible to spoil. The gist of this seems to be the story of a man on a quest to kill a minotaur. Or maybe he’s just trying to get through a maze and the minotaur is a guard? Anyway, even that isn’t clear on the first page (clearly getting ahead of myself), as the first thing we see is an enigmatic creature with three eyes shifting into a large spider. From there we join our hero as he tries to track down the minotaur, until he eventually finds the already deceased creature. Which would be the end of things in a normal comic, but in this case our hero sees something wriggling around in the belly of the minotaur, and that’s when things really get rolling. This is jsut a touch less abstract than some of William’s other comics, but don’t worry, the last three pages will satisfy any cravings you have in that regard. And for the people who genuinely wonder about such things, I saw no indication that there were 9 previous issues of this series, but it’s still listed as a #10. Check it out, see what that spider thing is all about! $5

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Spina, Sam – Tarn #1: Mr. Futtts

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Tarn #1: Mr. Futtts

OK, new policy: I’ll be reviewing the remaining four issues of this series every Thursday until it’s done. Hell, I may convince myself to review them all today before I finish writing this review. Can Sam Spina do no wrong? It certainly seems that way. This is the story of Mr. Futtts. What’s his deal? He eats butts. So simple, yet so beautiful. Things start off a little rough, as Mr. Futtts is trying to psyche himself up to some unknown task. We soon learn that he’s a substitute teacher for the day, and his only duty is to get the kids to read. We also quickly learn that he has a criminal record for previously eating butts, so this job looks like a last chance for him. He takes over the class, panicked, trying to reason with himself, but things quickly fall apart from there. And then he sees an old lady, butt in the air, tending to her garden… and that’s where I have to stop talking about the story, as this is a wee little comic, after all. What does Tarn mean? Why do the other issues seem to have brand new characters in them? How does all of this come together into a series, or does it? These are all questions to be answered later, starting next week. In the meantime, if this was the only comic of this series, or indeed the only comic that Sam had ever made (luckily for us that is not the case), I’d still tell you to read it an enjoy. So do it! $5 (for the whole set of five books)

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