New review today for King Cat #75 by John Porcellino, in an issue that’s all about the original King Cat. Yes, I know that he did not yet have Maisie when he started King Cat, but it feels true nonetheless.
King Cat #75
I had quite an introduction for this review ready in my head. This comic marks the 25th anniversary of King Cat (I’ve been along for the ride for roughly 20 of those years), and I was planning to talk about his impressive body of work, the influence John has had on independent artists throughout the years, all that stuff. Then I read the comic, and all that flew right out the window. This might well be the best single issue of King Cat that John has done. I’m not going to claim that definitively without going back and reading the previous 74 issues again, but if it’s not the best single issue, it’s in the top 2 or 3. The entirety of this comic is the life story of his former cat, Maisie Kukoc. Maisie is instantly familiar to fans who have read his book for years, and what was also known to me was that Maisie had died a few years back. She popped up in stories from time to time, had several about her specifically, and she was basically just a constant presence throughout the series. And, honestly, I thought I had shed all the tears I was going to shed about the death of this cat that I had never met, but I was very wrong on that. Full disclosure: during busy times at work, I sometimes read a comic during my lunch, then write the review on the same break, putting the whole thing together for the website when I get home. Well, today I had to stop reading this comic three different times to keep myself from bursting into tears (as opposed to some manly dribbling of tears that I was denying), and even then it was all I could do to keep from sobbing by the time I got to the inevitable end. This could have easily been a tale about John’s life throughout those years, and he does provide the relevant context as her story progresses, but this is purely about Maisie and the life they had together. There are too many adorable little touches for me to mention them all, but that panel with Maisie stretching her little arms out towards John when he goes to pick her up from the vet after she suffered an illness just about broke my heart. As did him learning from a girlfriend that Maisie sat by the door five minutes before he came home every day to greet him as he came in. They had a great life together (well, she had a great life and John lived a regular human life, full of ups and downs) and she lived to a ripe old age for a cat, so I know the logical thing is to leave it there. But as Harlan Ellison once said, fuck death. There’s no doubt in my mind that some of these tears came from knowing that my cat is currently the same age as Maisie when she died, and although my cat seems healthy, things can change in a hurry, and I have a lot of trouble picturing a life without her. This comic might just break your heart a little, especially if you have pets, but I still can’t recommend it highly enough. Every pet owner is going to have to deal with this eventually, and seeing all the good times mixed in with the ending at least lessened the blow a bit. He also included a few pages of the games she loved to play at the end to try to lighten the mood a bit, but then there was his message on the back cover about how he still finds her hairs occasionally when opening a book, and it was right back to the waterworks for me. All I know is that my cat is getting some serious attention when I get home today. $5
New review today of a tiny preview comic because it’s Friday: Monster Wrestling Mayhem Preview by Jason Davis and Jeremy King. Happy weekend everybody!
Monster Wrestling Mayhem Preview
If you’re reading this in the future this might lack context, but here in present day it’s a Friday afternoon in August and I was in the mood for a light and fluffy comic. If and if there’s one word to describe a comics about monsters wrestling, it’s “fluffy.” Granted, I may not have thought that metaphor through. Anyway, at four pages this is more of a preview for a comic than an actual comic, but there’s still plenty in here to talk about. Please note that if you have no interest in monsters or wrestling, chances are you won’t find anything here for you. The title should have already given that away, but this is just to make it clear that the title is not ironic. Anyway, this one starts off with a match between a mummy and a zombie. Which, as the announcers pointed out, would be a very slow match. Anyway, it’s going along fine under “zombie rules” (meaning that any zombie can replace the zombie in the ring until one of them is pinned) until a mysterious figure appears in the crowd and comes down to the ring. Spoiler alert: it’s a yeti. For such a short comic they did manage to pack in a few goodies for wrestling fans. The opening page with the crowd scene had all kinds of recognizable faces/signs/t-shirts in it, and the artist did some good work with the basic wrestling moves. I’m intrigued to see if anything comes from this, as it sure seems like this could be made into a regular comic series with little trouble. If this is all that ever comes of the idea, that would be a shame. No price listed, but I’m guessing probably a buck.
New review today for Dexter’s Digs #2 by Chris & Gin (Chris and Ginger Ludden). More reviews tomorrow if all goes well!
Dexter’s Digs #2
See, this is why people should go to SPACE and spend their money indiscriminately. Not that I’m saying this comic looked terrible, but I had never heard of it, and I still bought a copy. Granted, this indiscriminate spending means that I didn’t stop by the tables of lots of people I already knew I liked, but I never claimed that this was a flawless strategy. Anyway! This is the story of an archaeologist and his wiener dog and their history lessons. Well, mostly the history lessons come from Dexter, translated into comics that humans can understand. Right off the bat it’s clear that I will approve of this comic, as it starts with Dr. Clark talking about “snatching national treasures from impoverished nations across the globe.” From there the two of them go into a Chinese restaurant and, despite the protests of the staff, launch into the history of the first emperor of China. It’s probably a good sign when my main complaint about a comic is that the funny bits were coming from too many different directions, as their time on television had tons of subtle visual jokes along with the captions on the tv screen. It’s clear that the tales from Dexter about various historical happenings has practically limitless possibilities, so here’s hoping Charles and Ginger keep exploring the oh-so-exploitable past. Sure, a lot of history looked grim in real time, but tragedy + time = comedy, everybody knows that! $5
New review today for Autobiographical Conversations by Ryan Claytor, and maybe reviews will be back to normal this week? I’ll go with probably. Either way, this is the last week of SPACE exclusives, as mailed review comics are starting to pile up too, so I’ll go back to my random comic reviewing next week. Yep, another exciting peek behind the curtain on how I pick the comics to talk about…
It’s probably best to start this one off with a “warning” of sorts: this is a comic between the writer/artist and a professor about the nature of autobiographical stories, specifically comics. That’s right, an autobio comic about autobio, so if those aren’t your types of comics generally, this is most likely a comic that you should avoid. Unless the intense focus on the subject matter (and the lack of much in the way of personal details about the author) flips it back around to being interesting again to you. What do I know, I’m not in your brain. Anyway, it’s right up my alley, and also impossible to review in any coherent form without giving away some of their conclusions and/or making this a 3000 word review about my own thoughts on the subject. But my thought come from years of reading such comics, while theirs come from years of schooling and, as such, their thoughts are the better ones to follow. Anyway! The vast majority of this comic is a conversation between Ryan and a professor on his campus. They discuss the merits of showing autobio stories from the perspective of the author versus only focused on the author, emotional truth versus literal truth, and how your perception of yourself is most likely different from how other people see you, and whether or not it’s possible to tell that truth if you’re also including your own perceptions of other people. It’s heady, fascinating stuff, or at least it will be if you like autobio comics. I think it would be anyway, purely for anybody out there who spends too much time in their own head. If that sounds like you, give this a shot! Ryan has been a favorite of mine since the early days of this website (2001), and it’s always nice to see those guys and ladies still making great comics. $12
Work has blown up yet again, and if you think it’s been bad recently, keep in mind the I work at a Board of Elections in Ohio, so it’ll get a lot worse next year. Anyway, if all goes well I’ll be able to put together a few reviews before the end of the week, if not I’ll try to get some extras up next week to make up for it and to try and get through that SPACE pile. Oh, and my fundraiser is closed. Good to know that that was a bad idea, but I’m shooting to get to England myself for that convention next year anyway, assuming that I can save enough.
New review today for Not Dog #2 by Amalia Degirolamo. And fine, one last plea for money to get me to England for that comic convention. Please note that I gave an inflated amount to begin with in the hopes of a perfect trip; at this point I’d happily go for less than half of that ($2000 should get me there with enough money to at least buy a few comics). If I get a tiny amount of money (which seems optimistic at this point) and can’t afford to go, that money goes right into buying comics that I’ll review here, most likely from John Porcellino and his Spit and a Half shop. Anyway, I’ll let this sit here through tomorrow and will be back on Friday with a final update for the week. If this fundraiser goes down in flames I’ll just start saving so I can make the trip next year.
Not Dog #2
I’ll certainly give credit to Amalia for truth in advertising: that thing is definitely not a dog. This is the story of two dudes, their many kittens (all named) and a creature that looks kind of like a very large toad, but with teeth. And it scoots around the carpet like a sick dog. Anyway, it’s a horror show, and Dave decides that this thing has got to go, but Morris loves the ugly creature and has even made a harness for it so he can carry it around on his person like those weird people and/or hippies do with their babies. Morris takes the “dog” for a walk (meaning Morris walks around with the “dog” in his harness) and he stumbles across an ugly baby competition. His reaction is hilarious and completely appropriate; I only wish this was a longer comic so we could have gotten to see more of those ugly babies. Anyway, anything after that is a spoiler, so I’ll leave it a mystery whether or not he gets to keep this lovable (?) creature. I thought it had a solid finish and am curious to see the further adventures of this crew. But hey, this is the second issue, so clearly I missed the “origin” story, which is a real shame. Even without it this is a fun little mini, and when my only complaint is that I would have preferred to see more ugly babies, it’s clear that the comic was a success.
More SPACE comics! New review today for Doctor Cat in Professional Cats by Sarah Sobole. As you may have guessed from that title, it features cats!
Doctor Cat in Professional Cats
Quick, what’s your opinion of cats? If you can’t stand them, you’re a monster who should quietly leave polite society immediately. For the rest of us, the only problem with this comic is that this much cuteness condensed into one comic might be too adorable for words. But I’m here to provide words, so I shall persevere! Even though my mind might flash back to the image of all the cats on the back of the lady trying to do push-ups (who gives up more out of cuteness overland than the actual weight of the cats) or the sea captain cat who refused to get onto his boat until it was taken out of the water, I shall stay strong. The basic idea behind this comic (which I’m guessing is comprised of strips taken from Sarah’s website) is that Doctor Cat wonders for the first time what other jobs he (I’m just going to call all these cats “he” for no particular reason, knowing full well that I’m probably wrong) could have taken up besides being a doctor. There’s Artist Cat, Baseball Cat, Garbage Cat, Personal Trainer Cat, Firefighter Cat, and a few more that I’ll leave as a surprise to anybody who buys this comic. Most of the comics are funny, every single last one of them is adorable, and they’re usually both. The art is fantastic, and this being in full color was a nice touch. If you like cats at all, buy this book and enjoy. Also check out her website, as she had t-shirts at SPACE that I’m regretting not getting now, but I only had so much money. And if you don’t like cats, how did you get all the way to the end of this review? I thought I took care of you early on. Shoo! For all the sane people, this is $5 and she has lots of comics to choose from.
Back to the SPACE comics! New review today for Snow Day by Sequoia Bostick. If all goes well it might even be a regular week of reviews around here, meaning 3-5 comics. If things go really well it’ll be more than that, as I have lots of SPACE comics to talk about. Oh, and my stupid fundraiser is still going on for the next few days, so give me all of your stupid money. Or some of it, anyway. And it’s for the good cause of sending me to England for a comics convention where I will spend all of your money on comics, which I will then read about and talk about here. It’s the perfect system!
It’s sometimes tempting to read way too much into a comic. For example, the premise behind this one is pretty simple (and I should point out here that I have no idea if this is fiction or not). A little girl who may or may not be Sequoia takes advantage of some rare snowfall to have a fun day of it with the other kids and ends up making a snowman. Which is delightful, and it would have made an adorable comic if it stopped right there. But nope, she then went home for movie night with her mother, and the movie in question was Jack Frost. Which, for those of you who didn’t watch terrible horror movies as a kid, is a frankly ridiculous horror movie involving a sentient, evil snowman. Granted, it’s not so ridiculous to a small child, and it naturally caused her nightmares and to see the actual snowman she’d made in an entirely different light. The mom was oddly blase about the movie, so either it’s less grisly than I remember or the mom just had a high tolerance for gore. Either way, an odd choice for family movie night. Still, it makes for a pretty engaging comic, and it led to a delightful afternoon of me wandering around Sequoia’s website looking at her artwork, which I recommend that you do too. This comic is also available for free up there, but I’m guessing she’d rather you sent her a dollar or two for the comic (no price is listed) instead.
As you may have guessed by the lack of updates since Tuesday, work has once again gone crazy. Technically I’m at work right now on Saturday (it’s fine, I’m on a break). So I apologize for the lack of updates, in theory I’ll be able to put more up next week. In the meantime, why not check out the archives of some of the people I inexplicably missed at SPACE this year? Brian John Mitchell has a ton of comics reviewed here, you could kill an afternoon looking at his stuff alone. Or there’s Jeff Zwirek, or Chris Monday, or Max Ink, or Suzanne Baumann, or Pam Bliss, and it’s just now dawning on me how many quality comics people I didn’t see last weekend. I really must have had heat stroke. Oh, and my fundraiser is still going on through the end of the month, although at this point it’s farcical to call it a fundraiser, as it’s not raising any funds. But if you’re rich and want to read about comics in and around England, you still have another week to help get me there! On the other hand, if the overtime keeps up at this pace I might be able to fund my own damned self…
More SPACE goodies, so a new review for A Pantomime Horse #3 by Ben Passmore. Fundraiser still going on, I’m in a rush so you’ll have to scroll down a bit to find it if you have money burning a hole in your pocket that would be better spent sending me to England for a comic convention!
A Pantomime Horse #3
See folks, this is the danger of only picking up one book from an artist at SPACE. Specifically, I usually ask them to pick just one of their books that they think best represents them because, much as I would like to, I can’t afford to buy all the comics from every artist at every table. So I got this comic from Ben, and I can’t tell if this is part of an interconnected series or if it’s just a series of unrelated stories all bundled under the same title. The pace of the comic made me think there was more going on here that the reader was expected to know going in but, as alway, I could be wildly wrong on that. This one starts off with an escape plan, or really more of an escape impulse than anything else, and an internal debate about the wisdom of following that impulse. This is set in a home for “kids who can’t learn to be good, or won’t,” which goes a long way towards explaining the escape plan from earlier in the comic. I love the pace Ben takes to set all this up, as he counts on the reader to not be a dummy to keep up. Please note that I have been watching various tv shows lately where it feels like they take extra time every episode to explain things as simply and dumbly as possible, so maybe I’m just happy to have any form of media where they assume that an adult is reading/seeing it. Anyway, outside of a real sense of foreboding towards the end which I shouldn’t get into, this is mostly about freedom, and a play where many of the kids dress up like ponies and horses. One of those things more than the other, but I’ll leave it to you to figure out which is which. Ben also reprinted a letter in the back, theoretically from an ex-girlfriend, unless he made it up. But it’s compelling nonetheless and will make you think about at least one past relationship. Or it will if you’re me, anyway.
That’s right, an actual update! SPACE was a lot of fun, even if I had heatstroke and had just finished working my 20th day straight, so my apologies to the artists if I seemed mildly insane. My apologies to the other artists that I missed entirely, as I swear that there was either a secret room there or I was even more out of it than I thought. Anyway, all SPACE comics around here for the next few weeks, and today it’s Mean Goat Adventures #1.5 by Kris Lachowski. Oh, and the least fundraisingest fundraiser ever is still going on through the end of the month, at which I will put us both out of our misery and throw in the towel. It’s to send me to a convention in England so I can buy lots of their comics and then come back here and tell all of you about it. I think it sounds like fun, if maybe an odd idea for a fundraiser, so if you agree with me throw some cash my way!
Mean Goat Adventures #1.5
Oh mean goat, I’ve missed you so. For anybody who has been reading this site for any length of time, you may remember Mean Goat as one of the earlier series I reviewed. Note: it’s entirely possible that I’m misremembering. But I must have read those comics in at least the first few years of the existence of this website, and the formula is pretty simple for you newcomers: Mean Goat really, really likes kicking people off of cliffs. Any creature that gets near it, really, but it does seem to enjoy kicking people most of all. Anyway, with that formula in mind, there are few surprises this time around, but it’s still funny, and he kicks a wide range of people and creatures, deserving or not. Things start off with a man who is looking over a cliff and wondering what he could have done differently to fix his failed relationship, which is a nice bit of misdirection by Kris, as he never gets to put his plan of action in play because the Mean Goat got to him first. From there we also get to see the tiniest bit of introspection by our hero, some time spent with clouds, getting a rare bonus from a kick, and the results of an investigation into all the disappearances from said cliff. Oh, and the whole thing is in full color and it looks great, so you have full color carnage. And it’s only a $1 for full color? Well, who am I to argue with what’s listed on the cover. Check it out if you like people getting kicked off of cliffs!