Two new reviews today, for You Don’t Get There From Here #36 by Carrie McNinch and Sinaloa Cowboys by Robert Hendricks. Yes, I do still need to figure out a better schedule so that I’m actually reviewing comics during the week. Still trying to adjust to the new work schedule/life in general combo. The job itself seems to be going swimmingly, thanks for asking!
Huh, I can honestly say that I never thought I’d put “Bruce Springsteen” into the tags for any review. This is Robert’s adaptation of one of his songs, and he does take care to credit Bruce every step of the way in here. I’m assuming Bruce would be fine with something like this? I can’t see why not, but it’s not like I know the guy. This song is the story of two immigrant brothers who worked on farms for awhile before being given a chance to work with meth. They couldn’t pass up the money, but inevitably an accident happened that changed everything. Should I be worried about spoilers in a comic based on a song from 1995? Almost certainly not, but the habit is too ingrained in me to stop now. Robert also includes a history of the song, where it lands in Bruce’s discography and the inspiration for it. In other words, if you’ve ever had questions about this song specifically, or just how Bruce gets inspired in general, chances are that you’ll learn something from reading this. If you have no interest in either of those things, I guess you could still get something out of this as another cautionary tale about not cooking meth. Oh, and apologies to Robert for straight up lifting these images from his website, but my scanner is still broken, and aren’t reviews better with images? $4
You Don’t Get There From Here #36
Ten years! That’s how long Carrie has been doing daily diary strips as of this comic. Which covers December of 2014 to March of 2015, so technically it’s more like 12 years that she’s been doing daily diary strips by now. Assuming that she didn’t take an extended break somewhere, as her website has images of her of the cover of #38 recently. But I think Carrie has a solid track record of doing this by now. If you have no idea what this is, shame on you a little bit, but it’s exactly what is sounds like: Carrie does mostly three panel strips detailing notable events from her day. At this point in her life she’s getting annoying hot flashes, dealing with a father with Alzheimer’s, babysitting the child of a friend (pictured on the cover, and clearly one of the great joys of Carrie’s life) and dealing with the sudden kidney problems of one of her cats. Her father seems to be what’s mostly on her mind, although her mother refuses all offers of help and Carrie isn’t dealing with it on a daily basis. Still, she has plenty of memories of her father when he was in his right mind, and they don’t seem to be all that happy, which complicates the recent illness even further. She also loves her cats dearly, and I can certainly relate to trying to research and figure out the best possible diet for a cat while also panicking about possibly making the wrong choice. It’s another solid issue from Carrie, and I’d say that 36 issues (plus however many other comics based on other subjects) makes for a pattern by now, wouldn’t you? She has a new book out with strips about various nonfiction books that she’s read that looks interesting, but you could pick just about any comic that she has available randomly and be in for a treat.
Rare weekend update! What can I say, my new job has increased my travel time by a whole bunch, so I have to get up reviews when possible at the moment. New reviews today for A Witch Named Koko #1 by Charles Brubaker and Zero Sum Bubblegum by mostly David Robertson along with a few guest artists. New reviews when possible, bear with me as I sort this new schedule out!
A Witch Named Koko #1
Yep, without a working scanner this is what I’ve been reduced to: pilfering scans off of the artist’s website. Even though it’s of the first three issues of a series where I’m only reviewing the first issue (today, anyway). Sigh. If anybody out there is independently wealthy and would like to send me a pile of money for a new scanner, please feel free to use that email address for some Paypal cash. Also, use the rest of your fortune for good, as most rich people are profoundly boring in how they spend their money. Oh hi, comic book I haven’t started talking about yet! It’s another funny book from Charles, and it’s another one that the kids could enjoy as much as the adults. This time around Koko finally hears of the witching hour (midnight on a full moon) and how that is when the power of witches is at their highest. Koko has never experienced this before, as she goes to bed early, so the rest of the issue deals with her trying to stay awake (with the “help” of her sister) and eventually dealing with her new power level. There’s also an important public service announcement on the back about skeletons and whether or not you have one, so don’t forget to flip the book over when you’re done. $2
Zero Sum Bubblegum
My bias is showing again, but I’m always delighted to get another comic from David. Mostly because I know that it’s most likely going to be a collection of short stories, and that it’s damned near a certainty that at least a few of those stories are going to amaze/amuse/befuddle me, and in the best possible way. The other way, in case you were curious, is the “what the hell did I just read and why did I read it?” reaction. Not a problem here! Anyway, this time around subjects include picking your best possible funeral song (which I would have used for the sample image if my scanner was still working), the history of “A Book With Death in the Title” and what happens to the people who read it, an attempted school assembly and the shenanigans going on, tiddlywinks, Bruce the Rat, the fact that nobody is going to keep track of whether or not you give up your seat on the bus for an old lady, trying to finish a comics page vs. trying to comprehend the new mandatory Windows upgrade, sexy Frankensteins, sexy cavemen, scanning for wedding rings on the ride home, that Iron dude in that one suit, having the conviction to play the scrabble words that you’re given, kitten brains vs. lady brains, getting it all out on the deathbed, Princess Leia’s troubles with men, intimidation in the testing room (with Pam Dye), the victory lap (with Paddy Johnston), a lack of comprehension on stamps (with Tim Kelly), the art of engaging in television (with Neil Paterson), looking for that lost thing (with Eileen Budd), taking the lack of a Facebook reply too personally (with Ludi Price), random cruelty on a carnival ride, a dedicated punker, and falling silently through space to your death. Well, not your death specifically, but you know what I mean. Once again this is a really solid collection of stories; that Princess Leia piece should lead off the next movie as far as I’m concerned. How she trusts any men at this point is beyond me. David also has an extensive afterward as usual, so any questions you might have about these stories have most likely been answered (I know they were for me). So yeah, once again you should buy his book. Sure, you could get a few samples for free, but rarely the whole story, and wouldn’t you rather have the whole story? Not to mention the very idea of supporting an artist whose work you enjoy with your money. You still do that, right? Because it’s easy to forget to do it. And it’s roughly $5, assuming I have the exchange rate right in my head, which I almost certainly do not.
Yep, turns out I didn’t have time to post any reviews last week. Should have just planned it that way from the start. New review today for Hellbound Lifestyle by Kaeleigh Forsythe & Alabaster Pizzo, and I have a new job and a (still mostly) broken scanner, so it might make more sense to plan on 1 or 2 more reviews this week instead of 3. Assuming you plan anything at all around my reviews, which would be very silly.
A couple of points before I start rambling about this comic:
1. It’s still the writer first and then the artist in terms of the order on the cover, right? Or am I the only one who even thinks about such things? and
2. It took entirely too long for Google to think I was typing anything other than “Alabaster Pizza Hut.” That’s not a real thing, right? I refuse to do even the minimal research required to find out if that’s a thing.
So hey, this comic? It’s hilarious. It’s insightful, it’s unsettling, it’s occasionally baffling (in the best possible way) but the most important fact is that it’s hilarious. Which is an impressive fact when you consider than at least a few of these stories are just pages of verbatim conversations taken from Kaeleigh’s phone. This is yet another one of those cases where I don’t want to ruin anything about this book while reviewing it, which increasingly makes me wonder why I’m still doing this, but since all of humanity isn’t going to buy every book that I say they should buy (even though that sample image should reel everybody in), I’ll slightly describe a few things. Fair enough? Subjects include problems in her life that she’s learned to live with, text typos changing meaning, ideas for rebranding herself, the new shoes for the people in Heaven’s Gate, her baffling habit of staring into an empty fridge, all the red flags in her co-worker’s recent engagement, all the dark places her mind goes while working on an edit test for sunglasses, her existential crisis while waiting for people to “like” a photo, the pro (s) and cons of sex, and Siri getting passive aggressive on her. That’s only bits of the first half of the book, the rest is up to you. Kaeleigh also has lots of sample images at her page, including conversations she had after the book came out a few months ago, so convince yourself if you have to, but find $10 and buy this comic. You need it. $10
I’m moved into the new place (please use the new address to send review comics from now on!) but am just now getting reliable internet, so maybe I’ll get a review or two up over the next few days if I really have fixed the problem.
OK, I thought I could balance this being my last week at work and the week that I’m changing apartments along with putting a few reviews together, but since only one of those things is optional, guess which one isn’t going to happen? Yep, no reviews this week, and I’ll post my new address this weekend once I’m actually living there. I should be able to get a few reviews up next week (assuming competence from Time Warner), and there was a bit of good news from all this packing: I’ve uncovered more than a few caches of comics that I got years ago that were never reviewed, as it seems like they ended up in a box during a previous move and then buried. So apologies to those artists and writers, and I’ll check to make sure that they’re still active, but I should be able to get some of those reviews up soon. In this culture would they be considered “retro” if they’re a few years old? Probably so…
New review today for Mutant Punks Fuck Off #1 by Kevin Panetta & Jared Morgan, which is a heartbreaking tale of forbidden love in dire circumstances. Or you could refer to the title and guess for yourself what it’s about. Also sorry about the lack of a sample image, but my scanner is now apparently at the point where it scans the cover image and then needs to rest for several hours. And since I’m moving next week and have to buy a bunch of furniture, I don’t have the cash to spare to get a new one. Luckily the internet still exists and the images aren’t hard to hunt down for those who are inclined to do so.
Mutant Punks Fuck Off #1
Call me an old timey punk if you want (or maybe just old), but doesn’t it undermine your case of being a punk book when you cross off “fuck” from the title? Yeah, it’s an odd thing to be cranky about, and the book itself is chock full o’ fucks, but it struck me as odd. Anyway, how about that comic? It’s basically an excuse for an extended fight scene, but it was a pretty great fight scene. The Vomit Lords are leaving a punk show when they go to the local fish market. One of the shopkeepers is despondent because the fish are mutating and he’s barely able to make a living, which is when The Nimrods come onto the scene with an ultimatum: that whole area belongs to the same people who are polluting the river, and the market has to get out of town in a hurry. The Vomit Lords disagree, and the rest of the comic is the aforementioned fight scene. And what sets off the fight scene? Just the most awful word for any punk band to ever hear. It’s a fun comic overall, and my quibble about that title is a very minor thing indeed. If you like mayhem and/or punks you’ll have a lot of fun reading this. $3
New review today for Satan Cat #2 by Steve Steiner. Have I mentioned that I’m moving in a couple of weeks? Because I am. If you have review comics to send, maybe hold off until after 6/24 so there’s no confusion with mail delivery.
Satan Cat #2
Cat people, gather round! Dog people and weirdos who don’t like any pets at all, this one probably isn’t for you. Or maybe it is, if you’re intrigued by the concept of a cat literally thinking that it’s Satan. But is it actually Satan, or is the cat crazy? That’s the premise of this unexpectedly complex issue. Don’t get me wrong, it’s all still easy enough to grasp, but the bulk of this comic is a conversation between the cat and a mouse toy, with the mouse toy playing the role of the sane one of the two. This toy also points out the absurdity of it being the rational one and that the cat should think about that, at which point the comic almost collapses in on itself. It’s another funny issue but, as is often the case with a mini this small, there’s not a whole lot for a reviewer to talk about outside of the basic “yea or nay” issue. So… yea! It’s always fun to watch one of the most smug creatures on the planet question its own sanity.
New review today for Elf Cat in Love by James Kochalka, who was maybe one of the first people I reviewed on this website back in the day. Who can say for sure, that was 15 years ago!
Full disclosure time to new readers: I’ve been a fan of James Kochalka since the days of his mini comic and Little Mister Man in the 90’s. Eventually lost interest in the daily strip and he went in a direction of comics more geared towards kids (like the Johnny Boo series), so I’ve lost touch with his stuff over the years. Except for Superfuckers, which was great. Anyway, this isn’t about me, much as it might seem like it from that intro, it’s about Elf Cat in Love! Which is another of his “all ages” books, so again not one that’s geared towards adults, but it still retains that Kochalka charm. It’s broken down into three chapters and is basically the love story between Elf Cat (a magical (?) cat) who’s afraid of girls but thinks an awful lot of himself and a talking, flying tennis ball. Maybe I missed an origin story somewhere, but how much of an origin do you need for such a pairing? The first chapter deals with Elf Cat on a quest to save a princess that doesn’t go at all as planned, the second deals with his quest to heat up a hot dog, and the third is basically the two of them coming together. Even though they’ve been together for the whole book, but you know what I mean. Their mutual reluctance to admit any kind of attraction was fairly adorable, and their escape from the monster/princess in the first chapter was certainly memorable. Overall it fell a little too much on the kids side of all ages for me to think of it as great (but I’ll remind everybody again that that line is crazy subjective), but it was still a fun read, and I’d have to think that most kids would find it adorable. $15
New review today for Threadbare: Clothes, Sex & Trafficking, written by Anne Elizabeth Moore and featuring several artists, most of which have already been reviewed on this website at some point. Also my scanner now officially only scans book covers and not interior images, so it looks like I really do need a new scanner. Luckily the internet still exists for people who want to see interior art from this book.
There’s a long list of things I would do if I was a rich man, but high up on that list would be funding comics journalism, or graphic journalism. Whatever it is that Joe Sacco established roughly 20 years ago, anyway. This is a rare occasion where I’ll cite Wikipedia, but they list Emi Gennis, Jen Sorenson, Dar Archer, Matt Bors and Josh Neufeld (among others), and I’m constantly surprised that this isn’t more of an established thing by now. As Anne makes clear in the introduction, that’s mostly because funding is incredibly difficult to come by, especially with a project like this one that covers years of interviews, travel and multiple artists. I’m only going to briefly summarize these sections, as they’re chock full of details (and footnotes after the fact), so the only way to really do them justice is to read them yourself. The title gives you the basics of what’s covered in here, and it’s broken down into four sections. First up is The United States, which deals with fast fashion, the real life of a model, clothing stores, thrift stores, warehouses full of clothes to be recycled, and the trade agreements that “govern” this whole mess. The story of the model (and her description of the ones that were best able to adjust to the environment and the ones who weren’t) is heartbreaking, as is the general waste and pollution caused by the thrift industry (and how little of the profits actually make it to charities). The second section deals with Austria and the history of textiles and fashion, including stories from people who have lived their whole lives in the industry and are seeing it start to vanish due to competition from the larger clothing chains. The third section tells the story of Cambodia, the working conditions and wages of the factories, how that sometimes turns into sex work and how it can cycle back into garment work due to a lack of other options. The fourth section is The World, and it’s probably going to be the most surprising chapter for people who only have a passing knowledge of the sex trade industry and trafficking. The shocking bits (to me, anyway) detail how sex trafficking (slavery, basically) is treated the same in the US as voluntary sex work, and how funding for getting rid of sex slavery often gets tied up in ridiculous moral rules that come from the hyper-religious types. Fighting these moralistic scolds is incredibly difficult because they’re successfully blurred the lines for years, and money that could be more effectively put into housing and counseling for actual victims instead goes into advertising to convince people that their children will be sold into slavery if they leave their parents’ sight for a few minutes. It does conclude on a hopeful note, with some practical advice on how to change things for all of the various problems they’ve documented, but it’s daunting to say the least. Even if you think you’re an expert on this subject I guarantee that you’ll find new information in here, and the comics are drawn by the some of the best artists working today. If you know any millionaires please tell them to throw some money at people who are looking to do this type of graphic journalism, because the world needs more of it. $13.95
New review today for Billy Demon Slayer: The Complete Series 2 Collection by Hayden Fryer (check past reviews of the series for sample images because my scanner couldn’t handle it today for whatever reason) and the “Reviews by Author” page is finally fixed! If you’re having trouble getting any other pages here to load, please let me know. Except for the store. I know that thing’s a mess, I’m just trying to find the time to build a new one…
Billy Demon Slayer: Complete Series 2 Collection
It’s a little hilarious to go back through my old reviews of this series, note how many times I said I was going to go back and read the series in a chunk (as I reviewed the issues more or less when they came out and forgot a lot of the details between issues), and then somehow I never reviewed the final issue. Or I never got it? Nah, I’ll go ahead and blame me for dropping the ball on that one. Anyway, I was right: this series makes a whole lot more sense when it’s read all at once. Which is the nature of serialized comics, and most people don’t read as many comics as somebody who reviews them does, meaning that they have an easier time keeping all the little details straight. Anyway! For those of you who haven’t read this series (or those reviews when they came out a few years ago), this is the second series, meaning things start off with a recap of what happened in the first series. It was pretty comprehensive, and the only thing I really felt like I was missing out on was some of the more obscure cameos. In this complete volume we start off with a flashback to a couple of swords that are obviously going to be crucial later on, then jump back into life that has more or less gone back to normal after the events of the first series. But things don’t stay normal, as we get a killer hamster to start off with and it’s quickly followed by a mysterious (and, in a hilarious recurring gag, obviously stinky) fog envelops the town and turns almost everybody evil. We even lose our hero for a bit there in the middle, although I’m not going to spell out what that means exactly. Things get pretty dark in this series, but there are quips throughout and (from the afterward) it’s clear that the first series was much more lighthearted and this one ended up darker because that’s just where the story was naturally headed. Buffy and the Evil Dead series were obvious influences, but those are two pretty great influences to have. If you enjoyed those two universes, you’re going to find plenty to love in here. My only complaint is that the two friends of Billy were barely characters at all, which lessened some of their struggles, but again that’s most likely on me for not reading the first series. Other than that I pretty much loved this book. $25