Update for 2/25/15

Been dealing with a cold this week, which explains the lack of updates (this time). New review today for Killjoy #1 by Robert Brown. And, because there are so few continuing series out there, I’m going to do weekly reviews of this series until I catch up. Which means #2 and #3 in the next two weeks, but hey, that does too count as a continuing series.

Brown, Robert – Killjoy #1

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Killjoy #1

Who out there went to camp when they were a kid? If so, you may get some a serious blast of nostalgia from reading this. I went to a couple, but nothing that was an much fun as this one looks, and that’s even with the awkward social interactions. I’m mostly basing that on the abseiling (basically repelling yourself on a rope from a tall structure, although I think I’m thinking of a word other than “repelling.” Whatever the word is for “bounce down a wall like Batman did in the old tv show while holding a rope, which is also being held by an adult to prevent injuries”) and the construction of shelters. Anyway, that wasn’t the theme of the comic, that was just a taste of the nostalgic blast I got from it. This is about a young boy (of around 8 maybe?) being dropped off at camp and not really knowing anybody. There’s an embarrassing moment when he doesn’t know the slang being used for going to the bathroom, a moment of pure panic before he starts abseiling, being falsely accused of wrecking the structure of some other kids, and coming across the instructions for condoms in the woods. But lest you think that this was all about camp drama, I should point out that Robert was much more interested in showing the camp experience itself, and he does a fantastic job of laying that out, all the way down to the look on his face as he gets in the car to go home. His introduction was also damned entertaining, as he detailed the very few reasons why somebody would get their hands on a copy of his book, and I’m just going to flat out copy and paste his explanation for why he hasn’t been too productive with making more comics over the last five years: “…intent is frequently nullified by a toxic compound of doubt and indolence.” Yep, that nailed procrastination for sure. There are two more issues of this to review so I’m curious to see where it goes from here, but this issue was thoroughly entertaining.

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Update for 2/18/15

New review today for When We Were Kids by Andy Warner. Also, should humans be allowed to hibernate through January and February? If not, why not?

Warner, Andy – When We Were Kids

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When We Were Kids

I wonder sometimes how many stories from artists I really like are scattered around in anthologies that are long out of print, never again to see the light of day. Granted, I’m wondering this because the three stories in this book are from the Irene series, which are all (as of now) still in print. And sure, lots of people eventually put these “lost” stories into a collection of some kind. But when I think about the mid 90’s, back when I was getting started on good comics instead of Marvel crap, all kinds of those mini comics artists would put stories into anthologies for friends, often with print run in the dozens. Anyway, tying this back into the comic, this walk down memory lane was inspired by the theme of this book. Which, as you may have guessed from that title, deals with stories (real or imagined) from childhood. Andy picks three big moments here, and they’re moments that might not seem like that big of deal while they were happening. The first story is about a young man and woman who take acid and hike up a dune. The guy has never done it before while the lady has, and the story is delightfully thin on the stereotypically “trippy” visuals that often mar stories like this. No, more often than not these kinds of experiences are all about the conversations, and the revelations that come out of them. The second story deals with two young brothers who are trying to adapt to a new stepfather, and the moment we see here is set before a snowmobile race, after all kinds of beers are drank all around. The final story is between two girls who are on different paths after graduating high school, with one of them leaving and the other sticking around. This isn’t written as an ending for the two of them, but you can see the hints of it in the pauses and quiet moments. It’s a damn fine comic book, and I’m glad that all of these stories are gathered together here, even if what I’ve seen of Irene has been pretty great too. $5

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Update for 2/17/15

You know what? My late New Year’s resolution is to stop guessing how many times I’ll be able to post new reviews in a week. It never ends well. It’ll always be at least 2, maybe as many as 7 (but probably not). There! Simple. New review today for Rosie and Jacinda: Demon Cloud by Richy Chandler, Francesca Dare, Inko, Chie Kutsuwada, Zarina Liew and Jade Sarson.

Chandler, Richy; Dare, Francesca; Inko; Kutsuwada, Chie; Liew, Zarina; Sarson, Jade – Rosie and Jacinda: Demon Cloud

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Rosie and Jacinda: Demon Cloud

Can I be cranky curmudgeon reviewer guy for a minute? Why am I asking, I can’t hear anything that you’re saying. I just wanted to establish the fact that I have a complaint that isn’t entirely fair or relevant, but it bugs me nonetheless: if you’re going to have a continuing series, please either number all of them or give them all a distinct title. Preferably the numbering, as it feels like I missed an issue before this one, but either way works. Granted, at least part of this is because of the labeling system that I use here, which is not a problem that many other humans have. Now that I have that ridiculous digression out of the way, how about that comic? This time around Rosie decides to tell Jacinda her true nature, the true identity of a teacher at school is revealed, and there’s a nice swerve involving _____ at the end that I did not see coming. Oh, and there’s a demon on the loose, and he’s hunting for someone. All this and the usual high school drama, where the leader of the cool girls clique finds somebody “worthy” to be with her, and where Rosie’s story is overheard, which leads to all sorts of issues for her at school. This time around the art chores have been divided among a few new people, and it’s a testament of the skills of the whole bunch of them that nothing jarred me out of the story. Richy is building a world bit by bit and I’m intrigued to see where he goes from here. He certainly set it up so that it can go in a number of ways, and this issue went a long way to fleshing out the characters of just about everybody. Well, except for maybe the potential love interest of Jacinda, who got short shrift this time around, but he wasn’t a relevant part of the story for this issue. The next issue might be an entirely different story. It’s a really solid issue and well worth checking out, unless you hate all stories involving high schools. Even if that’s the case there’s something to love in here for damned near everyone. Once again I’m going to guess on the price and, inflation being what it is, this time I’m guessing $8 (it is quite a large comic).

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Update for 2/10/15

New review today for Scumbag by Desmond Reed. See? A regular week of reviews, he said far too early in the week for it to be true yet.

Reed, Desmond – Scumbag

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Scumbag

Now that was one viscerally creepy comic. It takes a lot to get my skin to crawl after being desensitized over the years by horror movies and video games. but this thing grossed me out. I mean that in the best possible sense, of course. So! This one is all about a Scumbag who was born to two other Scumbags, but they didn’t want him so they left him in a dumpster. You can’t see the entire glorious picture from that cover, but this creature was also born wearing tighty whitey underwear. Anyway, he was taken in by “a pack of wild uncles,” and we’re treated to one of said uncles nursing the Scumbag. They all lived a happy life together until one day our hero felt a sharp pain in his stomach and was astonished to see a tiny Scumbag pop out of his stomach, fully formed. This then started happening every day, and the rest of the comic deals with his attempts to keep his offspring alive against a variety of enemies/nature. And then there’s the babysitter that will haunt your soul. It’s a thoroughly entertaining story, and a good peek into where Scumbags might come from. It does make a certain kind of sense that they would enter this world fully formed, that’s for sure…

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Update for 2/9/15

New review today for Ask A Cat by Charles Brubaker. Last week was actually really busy at work (petition reviewing), which is why there was only the one update. This week looks a lot slower, so maybe a regular schedule of reviewing this week? Let’s go with that.

Brubaker, Charles – Ask A Cat

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Ask A Cat

This is one of those cases where your tolerance level for the subject matter is going to be key to your enjoyment. I have a cat and she means the world to me, so I’m much more tolerant of most forms of cat humor than people who don’t have cats (probably). So the idea of a fictional cat answering fictional (?) letters had me intrigued from the start, and Charles also nailed it with the execution. This is a collection of single page answers to these questions, and subjects include whether or not humans landed on the moon, what should they do with a drunken sailor, what are their favorite places to puke around the house (I loved how they had an intricate process in place to determine the best places to puke to maximize the chances of their human stepping/sitting in it before seeing it), how to properly pet a cat, what they see when they appear to be staring off into space, why they’re so obsessed with that little red dot from laser pointers, what is the deal with those strange seasonal trees that are brought into the house, and where do cats go when they die. A solid chunk of these made me laugh out loud, which is always the goal for funny books like this, and a few of them might have even incidentally made me understand cats a bit better. So yeah, I’d say that this book is worth checking out. Unless you’re hopelessly cynical, and even if that’s the case this might make you thaw out a little and see a little bit of joy in the world. $2

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Update for 2/3/15

New review for Zombre #3 by Ansis Purins, which is actually more of a graphic novel in the guise of a numbered comic book.

Purins, Ansis – Zombre #3

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Zombre #3

It’s always a good sign when my main complaint about an artist is that their comics are too short/come out too infrequently, as it’s clear that I just want to see more of their stuff. That problem is taken care of in this masterpiece, as it’s gigantic. And yeah, I did just call it a masterpiece. This comic is damned near perfect while still telling an epic story, often without using words. Shall I try to sum this up? It’s a hopeless task, but I’ll at least mention some highlights. If you’ve never heard of Zombre, you might want to at least look through some old reviews (or, better yet, read previous issues in this series, although it’s not required to enjoy this one). Basically Zombre is one of the more harmless representations of a zombie that I’ve seen, as he is basically a friend to small woodland creatures and doesn’t seem interested in hurting anybody. This time around, as Ansis has room to wander, we start off with a small hungry dog who’s having a tough time of it. This dog has been separated from his human, but he detects a scent and sets off in pursuit. As his human is a forest ranger (not that the dog knows this yet), this leads the dog through some dangerous woodland territory, until he is eventually saved by Zombre in one of the more cute and heroic acts that I’ve seen. From there we check in with the ranger, learn how he became a ranger, see his co-workers, and meet a horrific actual zombie from the forest. This zombie is also wrapped up with some creepy bugs that have a disturbing tendency to form into one giant bug or dog, and things get intense from there. But! Some comics like this just veer into weirdness and stay there, content to leave things as ambiguous as possible. This issue of Zombre, on the other hand, wraps everything up fairly neatly, while also still leaving some mystery and plenty of other questions to be explored. It’s my favorite issue of the series, and I was delighted to see (in the note that Ansis sent along with the comic) that he’s drawing for 3-4 hours a day. The man deserves to be rich and famous, and I absolutely believe that if I’m reviewing #6 a year from now, he’ll be well on his way. Not that the act of my reviewing his comics has anything to do with it; I’m talking about the places he can go if he sticks to the comics and keeps up a consistent schedule. The only possible complaint I could see anybody having is that this issue is $20 but, like I said, it’s gigantic, and it’s that rare occasion where a $20 comic is worth every penny. Buy it and enjoy, you will absolutely not be disappointed. $20

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Update for 1/29/15

New review today for Lucy the Octopus #3: And Less The Freak by Richy Chandler. Has anybody else out there read the Discworld series by Terry Pratchett? I ask because I wonder how I’ve missed it until now. Too many comics, I suspect…

Chandler, Richy – Lucy the Octopus #3: Any Less The Freak

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Lucy the Octopus #3: Any Less The Freak

OK, any lingering doubts I may have had about this series are now officially over. Is it OK to call this a series if these books are collections of webcomics? Eh, we’ll leave it to the historians. Who will probably be entirely online, and will have no idea that these books even existed. Assuming that civilization survives long enough to have historians, that is. Wow, have I gone off on a tangent. This is the third volume of this series, and Richy has smoothed out whatever bumps may have existed in the early days and put together a compelling collection of characters. He’s even managed to put together some fairly compelling pets of these characters, which is no small feat. Putting the cast of the characters on the first page was an essential step, as they are all basically blobby sea creatures. Stories in here include Lucy (in disguise) and her ongoing attempts to stay in a popular band (and not get her identity discovered), the life of the new girl who lost all her cool after hanging out with Lucy in past strips, the ongoing attempts of large chunks of Lucy’s family and friends to mess with her in various ways, and a few brief glimpses by the popular kids into what it must be like to be Lucy. The bulk of the issue is taken up by a field trip, that giant monster on the front cover and Lucy and a popular kid getting separated from the group and meeting up with a new bunch of underwater creatures. Who see Lucy as the cool one, much to the chagrin of the “actual” popular kid who’s stuck with Lucy. There’s some nice character development all around this time, and all while Richy still keeps this safely in the “kid friendly” zone. This is what “all ages” entertainment should always be: full of lessons and laughs for the kids, with more than enough of the same for adults. And all without seeming cloying or overbearing. It can be a tough line to walk, but Richy seems to have it nailed.

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Update for 1/27/15

New review today for The Palace of Ashes by Andy Warner. In case you were wondering how that saga with the roofers played out (I’m sure you were all on the edge of your seat), there is now a pile of roofing materials outside, buried under snow.

Warner, Andy – The Palace of Ashes

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The Palace of Ashes

Quick, without using the internet, answer this question: can you be buried in San Francisco when you die? Not that it’s something I’ve ever thought about, as I’ve never been there, but it must have crossed the minds of at least a few people reading this, unless you’re still young enough to think you’re immortal. It turns out that you can’t, and that has been true for a very long time. Who knew? Andy uses this comic to relate the history of that decision and what happened after. In 1902 burials were banned because they were running out of space for the living, and they finally got around to digging up the bodies in the 20’s. It gets even more grim, as they smashed most of the tombstones and used the bits to fill in walls and gutters. One building was eventually designated as a place to hold cremated remains, and was promptly basically forgotten until the early 80’s. The rest of the comic deals with the building finally being rediscovered and the quest of one man to return it to its former glory. I love the modern touches of the urns compared to the older ones (and the container that the main repairman is going to eventually use for his ashes is brilliant) and had no idea that this was even an issue. It makes sense, but the thought never even crossed my mind. This is a genuinely informative comic with some serious heart, and it’s well worth a look if you’re interested in San Francisco, society forgetting about the dead or mortality in general. $3

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Update for 1/22/15

New review for My Life in Records #3 by Grant Thomas, and those people are still working on the roof while I type this. Again, it’s freezing outside. Makes sense to me.

Thomas, Grant – My Life in Records #3

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My Life in Records #3

I’ll say this right off the bat to save some suspense: this comic probably has the most realistic depiction of playing with toys that I’ve ever seen. Not just the simple act of playing with them, which is easy enough to show, but the ways that the experience changes when he plays with his brother, how the music from the “Star Wars” soundtrack enhanced the experience, and even how his brother making sound effect noises added on top of it all combined to form a completely immersive experience. If you grew up playing with toys it’s hard not to get more than a little bit nostalgic for the simplicity of it all, and the magic that was required to make it all work. Do kids today play with toys or is it mostly computers and handheld games? If that’s what they mostly use, they’re missing out. Anyway, the rest of the comic deals with Grant’s grandparents and the way that his grandfather had an amazing video/audio system at home, taping movies off TV so that the kids could watch. Well, when I say movies I mean “The Empire Strikes Back” specifically and, again, it’s hard to appreciate what an amazing experience that was back in the day when you could think of almost any movie right now and be watching it within five minutes. Crikey, this is getting far more nostalgic than I intended. Grant also deals with the time that his gerbil got lost after they left it playing in their Ewok village, and how they were so excited to watch “Return of the Jedi” that they took a wrong turn and ended up getting slightly lost going to their grandparents. I should also add that there was a great finale to that story (with the reaction of the grandfather being priceless), but I won’t ruin it for you here. It’s another solid issue in the series, and it looks absolutely gorgeous. This is a little pricier than past issues at $7.50, but it’s full color and worth it.

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Update for 1/21/15

New review today for Magic Whistle #14 by Sam Henderson. Also, why do apartment complexes decide to replace tiles on a roof in a rain/snow storm in the dead of winter when there’s no leakage? Because that’s what’s happening outside my window right now.

Henderson, Sam – Magic Whistle #14

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Magic Whistle #14

My favorite Sam Henderson is filthy Sam Henderson, and he’s fully back in that mode with this issue. The last thing I read of his was an all-ages collection of strips, which was still great, but severely lacking in the number of “fucks” thrown around. And, as the man has proven countless times in his 20+ years of making comics, he has no trouble putting out a thoroughly hilarious comic. Which, as always, is problematic to review, as there’s only so many times I can say that this part or that part was comedy gold. If you’re new to comics and just now hearing his name, there’s a wealth of older material out there from the man that I’d highly recommend if you enjoy laughing. If you’re already a fan, then you should know that the strips in here include some very modern pickup lines, the return of Dirty Danny, easy ways to ruin a joke, an update of his classic strip about LSD with him using his modern sensibilities, how the older cast was always better on SNL (told from a perspective 700,000 years in the future), new shows coming this fall, and Nancy and her exploding head. Scattered around the comic are his usual single panel gag strips, and nobody does them better. Still, the highlight of the comic was the story on high school urban sex legends and the descent of that story into complete madness. The image of that guy slipping on the condom, rolling down the stairs and eventually turning into a giant rolling ball of snow had me practically crying, which is as high a mark as a funny book can achieve. Anyway, there probably wasn’t much doubt from anybody who has read this site for any length of time that I was going to highly recommend it, so no surprises there, but come on, who doesn’t like to laugh? Buy this and laugh! $4.99

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