Update for 12/5/16

Posted in Site News on December 5, 2016 by admin

Hey look everybody, I’ve changed the website around! And broken it in a few places, as I’m not sure how to fix the menus and my tech guy is out of the country for a few weeks. That new banner image is by the delightful, talented and incredibly patient (believe me, she had to put up with some serious delays on my end with all the work I was doing for the election) Cailey Tervo, and you should really think about hiring her for your illustration needs before she gets too famous to bother with freelance work. New review today for Everyone is Hungry by Anna Sailamaa, and since my contact information has mysteriously vanished I’ll just post it in these messages every day until I figure out how to fix it. Comments or suggestions (or tech advice), please let me know!
For reviews:
Kevin Bramer 2405 Meadow Spring Circle Columbus, OH 43235

Sailamaa, Anna – Everyone is Hungry

Posted in Reviews with tags , , on December 5, 2016 by admin

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Everyone is Hungry

Regular readers by now probably know the hallmarks of a review where I don’t have much to say about a comic one way or the other. This doesn’t mean that the comic is bad or that I didn’t enjoy it, just that I don’t have much to add to the experience. In those cases I usually start off a review with a rambling bit of nonsense, trying desperately to kill time and/or fill space to give the appearance of writing a proper review. Eventually this runs out of steam, and I have to try to come up with something meaningful to say about the comic. Which would be right about now, I think. Hi, everybody who stuck through that! This is a mostly silent comic about some kids eating, them sharing their food with some birds and some flowers growing in the yard. Every bit of it is gorgeous and it’s a nice moment in time depicting a quiet meal with some natural beauty along with it. Maybe this won’t end up being one of the more memorable mini kus comics I’ve read over the years, but it is quietly charming, which is a welcome respite from the real world these days.

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Update for 12/1/16

Posted in Site News on December 1, 2016 by admin

New review today for Scorched Earth by Tom Van Deusen, and can you believe that this miserable year is almost over? What other horrors can 2016 crap out before it ends?

Van Deusen, Tom – Scorched Earth

Posted in Reviews with tags , on December 1, 2016 by admin

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Scorched Earth

Old timey readers of this website may recognize that title and author, and that’s because I reviewed an earlier collection of this story, um… earlier. But don’t worry, as the story continues into this graphic novel! For those of you who don’t feel like digging into the archives, the previous comic told the story of Tom (or an alternate version of Tom) as he goes on a few OKCupid dates and is generally one of the worst people in the world while doing so. It also tells the tale of his mediocre to awful job and how little he does at work while trying to get through the days. He ends up falling for a lady who doesn’t seem to appeal to him in any way (outside of getting really drunk one time and sleeping with him), but that does launch him into a lengthy obsession with her and the man she eventually started dating instead of him. Along the way he also decides to try polyamory (after looking up the definition online) and is a big old creep at a party that his college roommate ends up throwing (Tom is described as being 8 years older than said roommate). The Scorched Earth story ends up as gloriously as anybody could have hoped, but wait, there’s more! Tom also tacks on two later chapters of the story at the end of the book, depicting a time four years later after that version of Tom has lost a lot of weight and is desperate to show the woman who spurned him just what she missed. He hires somebody through Craigslist as muscle for when he confronts them (not that he wants to hurt anybody), and things naturally go hilariously wrong. Whichever way you’re guessing it goes wrong, trust me, you won’t see this coming. Tom also included a few other strips in here, dealing with his trying to get in on the vape craze (kids, if you’re reading this after the craze has faded, vaping was people smoking either tobacco or some smokeless junk in a douchey mechanized box of some kind, and all of it was completely untested with nobody having a clue what would happen to them if they used it. Hilarious!), Tom bringing a katana to work and Tom getting a taste of power after he’s told to interview a prospective employee while the actual boss was away. It’s a damned funny book all around, and if you’re single it also serves as a handy guide on what not to do around women and how not to behave. Ladies, nobody asked for it, but if you’re looking for dating advice, “don’t date Trump supporters” is the best I can do for you for the next four years. Oops, I got political at the end. Sorry. Buy this book, laugh, and forget about the bleak reality of our lives! $16

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Update for 11/29/16

Posted in Site News on November 29, 2016 by admin

New review today for What Happened by Simon Moreton. Don’t forget to shame a Trump voter today!

Moreton, Simon – What Happened

Posted in Reviews with tags , , on November 29, 2016 by admin

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What Happened

I’m going to end up trying to make a bigger point about the nature of art and minimalism, so be warned, and maybe abandon ship on this review while you’re still able if that sounds insufferable. Here, I’ll even give you a short review to make it easier: I liked this comic, and you probably will too, assuming you have normal human feelings and a memory of how confusing things were back before you knew all the rules of social interactions. Because that’s what this comic is about: a six month span in 1995 (found that bit out from Simon’s website) when he was trying out different friends and what was and wasn’t OK to say to them. We get glimpses of a day spent watching a VHS tape on UFO’s, a walk through the woods, a day at the beach, a quiet day inside reading comics and watching TV, a brawl between a friend and his brother, and losing himself while listening to a cassette with a friend. Some or all of those vignettes will probably trigger a memory in you, probably fromĀ  a time that you can barely remember… which has become something of a specialty for Simon. His minimalistic style, the choice that he makes to portray the past this way, mirrors faded memories remarkably well. Go on, try it out for yourself. Picture a memorable day from when you were a kid. Now picture the faces of the people around you and your environment. Really picture both; try for details. You’ll probably end up with something that looks a lot like what he’s drawn here, in one way or another. So yeah, this is another really solid comic from Simon. But it’s also one of the better representations of the fog of older memories that I’ve seen recently. $6

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Update for 11/28/16

Posted in Uncategorized on November 28, 2016 by admin

New review today for Meat Locker by Michael DeForge, and I think things may actually be back to normal enough to resume regular reviews.

DeForge, Michael – Meat Locker

Posted in Reviews with tags , , on November 28, 2016 by admin

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Meat Locker

What’s your relationship to physical fitness? Casual gym person? Utterly indifferent to the very idea? Or fanatical health freak? This comic has three strips that deal with the more rabid side of that spectrum, although if you’ve somehow managed to combine being addicted to the gym with the ability to be easily offended if people are poking fun at you, you might have a little trouble with this comic. First up is a series of testimonials from personal trainers, giving their best pitch as to why people should choose them for training. If you’ve ever even been around a personal trainer for more than a minute you’ll find this hilarious. Next is a piece about a personal trainer as the equivalent of a sex phone operator, and the two are a lot more closely aligned than you might have thought. Finally there’s the story of the struggles that jocks go through in their daily lives, how they have to hide who they are and how even the children are forced to choose sides. It’s a dystopian jock nightmare world, which was a welcome change of pace from the actual jock nightmare world. If you’ve ever thought of an obsession with physical fitness as being a sort of mania, you’re going to find plenty that’s funny and/or mildly unnerving about this one. Oh, and Michael is yet another Adventure Time artist who makes incredible comics on the side (or is it the other way around?).

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Update for 11/20/16

Posted in Site News on November 20, 2016 by admin

That’s right, an actual update! Mostly because this is my first day off in a month. New review today for The Plunge by Emi Gennis! As far as the recent election goes, I’ve had some time to think it over (even if my job requires me to relive the trauma every day by looking at ballots), and I’m torn between wanting to go down fighting and wanting to flee the country entirely. So if there are any single ladies in Europe or Canada who are looking for access to a ridiculous comics/graphic novel collection that spans 20+ years of small press comics from all over the world, get in touch with me! At this point I may even be OK with a loveless marriage just to get to a country that isn’t turning into a banana republic in a couple of months.

Gennis, Emi – The Plunge

Posted in Reviews with tags , , on November 20, 2016 by admin

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The Plunge

So how much do you know about the first person to go over Niagara Falls and live? If you’re anything like me, it’s probably something along the lines of “some woman did it first, right?” If you already know everything about it, congratulations! Even so, I’d be willing to bet that Emi has uncovered a few things in here that you didn’t already know. The first woman to go over the Falls and live was Annie Edson Taylor. She lied to reporters and said that she was 43 when she was really 63. And, as was the case with damned near everything in those days, the man who did it after her ended up much more famous and financially set for life. It’s odd not to want to give spoilers for a historical comic, but that habit of mine is too hard to break at this point. Bits of information in this comic include the story of Annie’s early life, the various unexplainable holes in her biography, her reasoning behind wanting to go over the falls, how she got the barrel constructed and her life after the event. I had no idea that the first person to go over Niagara Falls was in her 60’s, which makes an already impressive feat downright ridiculous. This comic is a fascinating bit of history that I knew nothing about, something that Emi has come to specialize in for the last 5 years or so, and, as always, I can’t wait to see what she comes up with next. $6

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“Update” for 11/1/16

Posted in Uncategorized on November 1, 2016 by admin

I’ve mentioned several times that I work for the local Board of Elections, right? Because that explains the lack of reviews lately. I do have comics here that I’ll start reviewing, most likely in the next few weeks, or if I unexpectedly get a day off I’ll sneak a review or two in. If not, pick a random letter of the alphabet and start going through the archived reviews. Some of them are so old that they’ll feel new again! Also, especially if you’re in Ohio, vote! Let’s maybe make it clear as a country that we’re not willing to elect the most famous con man in America as president, and that’s not even mentioning all his Russian connections and all those sexual assaults. Vote!

Update for 10/14/16

Posted in Site News on October 14, 2016 by admin

New review today for Our Mother by Luke Howard. Also if you’re reading this on the day that I’m posting it and happen to live in or near Columbus, Garry Trudeau is in town for that comic convention I mentioned earlier in the week. Yes, THE Garry Trudeau. And if you miss him today, not to worry, as Raina Telgemeier and Charles Burns (and so, so many others) are here for the rest of the weekend.

Howard, Luke – Our Mother

Posted in Reviews with tags , on October 14, 2016 by admin

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Our Mother

Quick show of hands, who suffers from some form of clinical depression? All the technology at our disposal and nobody seems any closer at being able to fix any of that for a sustained period of time. This comic is the story of Luke’s mother and her history of depression… sort of. Things start off with a darkly hilarious bit about her parents meeting a mysterious figure in an alley and trying to come up with the best way to make their daughter’s life miserable. They settle on making it so that she doesn’t even want to eat food any more, and from there we get to see the incredibly awkward explanation given by Luke’s father (while his mother is slumped insensate on the couch) about why he’s leaving them. Still, a comic purely about her depression would be unspeakably, well, depressing, so Luke mixes it up with a science fiction story about giant robots in the future who are looking for living humans to care for, the humans who are seemingly invisible to them, and the fruitless nature of them trying to change anything. We also get peeks into Luke trying to give his mother any kind of happiness or relief, a quest to find and use a mysterious portal, the attempted training of an ape and finally the actual history of her depression and the efforts she’s made to get over it. The ending sort of petered out about, but since Luke actually incorporated that fact into the story I think he gets a pass on it. Plus we get to see a farting hotdog, which I did not think I would be doing when I woke up this morning. If you have any history of depression or know anybody who does (which should cover the entire population at this point), there’s a lot to love in here. And who knows, maybe you’ll even find something in here to help you or your loved one. If not, at least you get 20 minutes or so away from the harsh realities of the world, and isn’t that more or less priceless? $9

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Update for 10/12/16

Posted in Site News on October 12, 2016 by admin

New review today for the collected Ohio Is For Sale by Jon Allen. What, you haven’t read the series up until now. Boy, are you in for a treat.

Allen, Jon – Ohio Is For Sale

Posted in Reviews with tags , on October 12, 2016 by admin

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Ohio Is For Sale

Three cheers for Alternative Comics for putting out books like this for the last, what, 20 years? I’ve been doing this for 15 years and they had already been around awhile when I started. If it wasn’t for them collections like this probably wouldn’t exist, and the world would be a poorer place for it. I already reviewed the first couple of issues in this series (this volume collects #1-5), and I loved them just as much this time around. It’s a little easier to see the quiet desperation of the characters when the story is put in one place like this, although I don’t think any of the characters (and possibly even Jon) would agree with that description. The overall ennui is such a part of their lives that they mostly don’t even notice it anymore, and they do every stupid thing they can to distract themselves from it. Go back and read the reviews of the first two issues for those reviews; the third issue has one of the roommates (Trevor) being incredibly sick from a cold or something and just wanting an icy treat, but having two other roommates who are too self-absorbed to notice. Their nights end up intersecting in a fairly gross and hilarious way. The fourth issue deals with another one of the roommates (Patrick) deciding to just drive in one direction and hope of the best, and his “adventures” along the way. It’s the most overtly introspective of the bunch, but it still has funny bits like the conversation with the maimed deer that I used for the sample image. Finally there’s Leonard’s sister coming over for a visit, but she ends up inviting her boyfriend. Who ends up inviting a bunch of his friends, meaning there ends up being a party that nobody who lives there really wanted. This issue also ties up a lot of the dangling threads from past issues in such a casual way that anybody who didn’t already realize that Jon was a damned good writer would figure it out by the end of the book. These comics are also filled with little asides that I have no interest in spoiling, and the pacing is masterful throughout. Oh, and he’s clearly using a real map of Ohio in that fourth issue, if anybody cares to follow his route who lives here. This is a pretty great book all around, and if you missed the regular issues I’d recommend this collection to anybody. I do miss not seeing the covers to the remaining three issues, as the covers to the first two were fantastic, but maybe he can put them all in some future fancy hardcover collection. Oh, and the series is still ongoing, meaning there really should be more to come. $20

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Update for 10/10/16

Posted in Site News on October 10, 2016 by admin

I am very much trying to avoid these long breaks between reviews, but life and work are both cuckoo bananas right now, which doesn’t leave much time for me rambling about comics. But there is a big old convention in Columbus this weekend with all kinds of great people attending, so in theory I should have a lot more comics to talk about in the near future. Assuming I can get away from my job long enough to go, that is. Anyway, new review today for A Witch Named Koko #3 by Charles Brubaker.

Brubaker, Charles – A Witch Named Koko #3

Posted in Reviews with tags , on October 10, 2016 by admin

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A Witch Named Koko #3

It’s the further adventures of Koko and friends! This time around they try to go camping (which, as with all instances of actually trying to actually go camping, ends up going poorly), gather up some ingredients for potions, and use said ingredients to turn into animals. If I told you what sort of animal then that would ruin the surprise, so I’ll leave that up to you. And for a brief second in here I could have sworn that I saw a Bart Simpson body double, but I must have been mistaken. Charles is basically making comics faster than I can review them these days, so if you’re a fan of the madcap tomfoolery of his characters than you have plenty to choose from at the moment. $2

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Update for 9/28/16

Posted in Site News on September 28, 2016 by admin

New review today for Teaching Comics Volume One by Alex Nall. I’m posting this before the debate, but Trump looked really stupid, didn’t he? And he said about a dozen things that should disqualify him from being considered human, let alone a viable presidential candidate, right? I’m really going out on a limb here, I know.

Nall, Alex – Teaching Comics Volume One

Posted in Reviews with tags , on September 28, 2016 by admin

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Teaching Comics Volume One

Have you ever been a teacher, or wanted to be one? Or have you ever just wondered what their life was like? Or maybe do you just like entertaining comics? If any of these things apply to you, maybe you should give this one a shot. This covers roughly six months in the life of Alex as a teacher (I think; not all of the strips were dated), and it’s all over the place. I don’t mean that as a criticism, it’s just that between this and some other conversations I’ve had recently I get the impression that the life of a teacher is basically spent in a constant state of low level panic at the thought of losing their job, while still secretly hoping deep down that something happens to prevent them from ever needing to teach again. While ALSO being genuinely rewarded by the rare moments of creativity and inspiration from the students, and driven to hopelessness by the conditions in the school/classroom and the general apathy of the students most of the time. Like I said, there’s a lot going on here, and Alex does a fantastic job of conveying that on the page without ever getting preachy or morbid about the whole thing. Subjects include his being in charge of the iPods for the school, managing to inspire a few kids to draw about their favorite wrestlers or music, how the look and sounds of a school can be the same as when he was a kid but somehow vastly different, being baffled by the elimination of recess, wondering if he’s doing any good, getting his drawing class cancelled and taking over teaching disabled and special needs kids, meeting a new girl, and a number of the various interactions he’s had with his kids. He clearly had a wealth of material to work with here, and the story of the kid lining him up, bowling him over and then declaring him his soul mate was one of the funniest things I’ve read in ages. So yeah, this is very much worth a look. $20

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Update for 9/26/16

Posted in Site News on September 26, 2016 by admin

Yes, sporadic reviews probably will be the norm through the end of this year, as the upcoming election slowly eats me alive. Sorry about that. New review today for Cassie Chadwick: Queen of Cleveland by Caitlin Cass.