New review today for Tortilla #5 by Jaime Crespo. If you’re around Columbus he’ll be here September 26th through 29th for Cartoon Crossroads this year. I’m still kicking myself for missing the one last year, and I won’t be making that mistake again…
Jaime has a new website! I just wanted to make that clear for everybody who only reads a sentence or two of my rambling reviews. And this is his first series to get to five issues, so congrats to him! He mentions in his intro that he attempted to make this an all humor comic, as he knows that some of his stuff gets heavy. Despite the fact that I usually love his stuff, every time an artist says something like that my immediate reaction is “I’ll be the judge of that” and, well, what can I say. I laughed out loud at the end of three of the stories and grinned at the end of the fourth, so I’d call that a successful humor comic. Stories in here include aliens demanding to see our leader (and while I usually hate giving away the gag on a sample page, this was just too good for me to resist), a tale from his childhood about him and a friend trying to avoid a bully that ends with the bully throwing a spear at them as they were fleeing (and probably my biggest laugh of the book), how he came to accept the spider in his house (OK, maybe the final panel of this one was the biggest laugh in the book), and a story about the teenage years of Jesus that he held off on publishing until his very Catholic mother passed away. So if you usually like his stuff but find him a bit heavy, this comic is for you! If you have good taste and already liked his stuff, you already know that you need this in your life. Oh, and if you managed to get a copy of Tortilla #1, he apparently lost the original artwork and the comic is out of print, so you might be sitting on a goldmine. Billionaires buy comics too, right? $4.50
New review today for The Ghost Pirate #1 by Michael Aushenker and Marcus Collar. Should I be making a pirate pun here? It feels like I should, but I’m going to resist that urge. You’re welcome!
The Ghost Pirate #1
Are you interested in ghosts and/or pirates? If so, I’d say the title has probably already convinced you to give this one a look. If not, there’s an awful lot in here about a ghost pirate, as you may have guessed,so maybe it’s not for you? What’s that, you’d like my impressions before you make a decision? OK, but just so we’re clear, I am mostly not interested in ghosts and/or pirates, so bear that in mind. This one starts off in 1775 with a group of British soldiers defending an island. A pirate shows up, murders almost everybody, digs up his old treasure, murders every other pirate who helped him dig it up, then opens up the box. Very bad things immediately happen, to the pirate (Molitar) and the lone British survivor of the massacre. From there we go straight to modern day, and a good chunk of the rest of the book is spent introducing the characters, what their lives are like, worries, motivations… character building! It’s a great idea in a first issue, and kudos to them for doing it when so many first issues are about bang for your buck. There’s a fair amount of that in here too, don’t get me wrong. Once our heroes move to the island a string of deaths happen, which leads to the mandatory creepy old resident telling them the story of the pirate and the curse that befell the island after that. Huh, I can’t remember the last time I used “befell” in a sentence. Feels like I should stop there. It’s an intriguing beginning, and I still have a lot more questions than answers. If the price I saw on Michael’s website is correct, $12 is a little steep for the first issue of a series. Yes, I know that is costs more to produce and distribute your own comics, but that’s a graphic novel price, not a comic price. But if you’re a fan of the subject matter and don’t mind the cost, you’d probably get a lot out of this. $12
New review today for Rodeo #1 by Evan Salazar, have a great weekend everybody!
A peek behind the curtain: generally speaking these days (2019) I review a few comics on the weekend, set them to appear during the week and go about my life. Usually I read a few comics on Saturday or Sunday, see if I have anything mildly compelling or interesting to say about them, then say it regardless. Magic! Anyway, I say all this to point out that I read this one a week ago and I’ve been bouncing the main story around in my brain that whole time. Does that mean I’ll have something especially profound to say? Eh, probably not. But the fact that it’s wedged into my brain (that’s already chock full o’ comics) is notable. Hi, there’s a comic I’m supposed to be talking about! The main story is about a fictional (?) family or a mom, dad and daughter. One day the mother leaves “on a trip,” nobody will talk about it and on that same day a mysterious visitor with a head bandage showed up on their doorstep. Our hero (the daughter, Abigail) tries to get to the bottom of just who this guy is, using increasingly esoteric methods. Until one day, it’s no longer and issue, and she’s left even more confused that before. The kicker puts the story into a whole new light, but I’m not going to give that away here. There are also a few other short pieces in here, one about a man cleaning a mall while he’s trying to compose the perfect sentence in his head (all creative types can relate to working while your mind is a million miles away), another about a cat with regrets, and a brief philosophical discussion by two… creatures on the back cover. The comic looks fantastic, the main story in particular (but really the whole thing) is great, give it a shot why don’t you? $5
New review today for The Rain is Slow Coming by Alex Nall, as “hey, all these comics have kids in them” week continues!
The Rain is Slow Coming
I’m not proud of it, but the twist in this one got me. Sure, if you think about it for a few seconds it doesn’t make sense, but it’s the sign of a great storyteller if you forget all about that kind of thing while you’re in the story. This is the tale of a farmer and his tiny daughter, maybe five years old tops. His wife has died in an accident and he’s in danger of losing his farm because he can no longer afford it and can’t avoid the bill collectors forever. Meanwhile, his daughter is oblivious to all of this and is fascinated with crocodiles, watching that segment of Peter Pan over and over again. So one day they’re out on the farm, the dad is waxing philosophical and the daughter wanders off to the pond. Once she’s there she thinks she sees a crocodile, but it’s only a frog. She loses her footing, tumbles down almost into the water… and that’s when she realizes that something else is in the water. It’s a riveting and oddly haunting story, so give it a shot why don’t you! $6
New review today for Things Parents Say to Kids by Steve Feldman. Sorry about the lack of reviews last week, real life can do that sometimes.
When is it OK to lie to your kids? Is the Santa and Easter Bunny stuff OK, but not real life events? Is it always OK if you’re “doing it for their own good”? Or is it never OK? It’s all abstract to childless little old me, but that’s the subject Steve explores in this issue, using a tale from his childhood and one from when he was raising his daughter. The first story had a helpful page where he nailed down exactly how old he was when the story took place, then his mom made a fantastical promise/threat to him, and the lesson stuck with him. Or did it? Later, when he was trying to convince his daughter to brush her teeth every morning, he told her that going outside with unbrushed teeth would kill the trees. As she was three, she believed this completely, and his problem was solved. Except, well, now he’d demonstrably lied to his kid, so how does that effect them long term? It was a good idea to use the dichotomy of his own childhood to compare to raising his own child (that Maya Angelou quote was brilliant too), and it’s a thought-provoking little mini comic. Parents, maybe you could learn something here. Other people, this might remind you of the times your parents lied to you as a kid, and that’s always fun! $2
Feels like it’s been ages since I had to go with “Various Artists” for the author name but, well, the premise of this book is apparently that it comes out several times a year with different artists every time. And since it’s put out by something called “Giggle-O-Gram Studios” and I can’t bring myself to put that in the title line, here we are. And I’m a little annoyed that the only website I can find is a Patreon page; not that there’s anything wrong with asking for help, I just generally prefer to link to the fundraising page and a more neutral website. Ah well, can’t have everything! There are three stories in this issue. First up is a story about a movie star crocodile by the aforementioned studio with the terrible name. It looks like it’s continued from the last issue and continues into the next one, but this chapter deals with our hero (or maybe villain? Again, missed the first chapter) watching a procession of other animals coming out of the shower after filming and finding out that each and every one of them is a fraud. Charles Brubaker is up next with a tale as old as time: the first experience of a young child with coffee ice cream. Finally there’s Kaoru Greendrake with a twisting tale about a passport from a made-up land… but what’s if it’s real after all? It’s an interesting mix of stories, but if you’re going to continue one of them from issue to issue some sort of synopsis would be helpful. Other than that, give it a look, see what you think. There’s always room for another regularly produced comics anthology!
New review today for So Buttons #9 by Jonathan Baylis and various artists. Hey, just in case I haven’t said this recently, I’m taking new comics for reviews. Little to no waiting! Unless everybody sends their comics at once, in which case never mind. But if only YOU send your comics…
New review today for Forever and Everything #4 by Kyle Bravo. And if you’re curious, yeah, you should probably watch Chernobyl on HBO. It’ll haunt your dreams, but it’s great.
The saga of the growing children continues! OK, it’s a stretch to call raising children a “saga,” but I’m sticking with it. This one starts out with Kyle bringing home baby Polly, their new daughter, so I clearly missed an issue or two. The format of the comics themselves seems the same: Kyle uses as many panels as he needs to tell his story, then puts up a title card and moves onto the next story, with all of the pages getting filled in this manner. I’m still a big fan of this idea, of not boxing yourself in to a set number of panels per strip per day. My only quibble is that I wish he’d put a date on each strip. Not essential (the strips are obviously in sequential order already), but helpful. Subjects in here include adjusting to life with a new baby, keeping up with the other child (Jamie), Kyle getting back to work after paternal leave, his house getting broken into, why we have to wear pants when we go outside, and getting beaten up by a baby. I was impressed that he even mentioned politics; so few cartoonists do any more. He has to deal with getting a racist text from an aunt, making the decision to not attend a July 4th celebration due to too many racist relatives, and just dealing with the fact that that gross thing is still president. It’s June 2019 as I’m writing this, so fill in his name if you’d like. He also makes an idle observation that perhaps he needs more therapy to deal with his relatives more easily, to which I say: don’t bother! You’re in the right, they’re racist as can be, and you continuing to go and be in their presence, striving all the while to make THEM feel better about themselves, is the absolute wrong way to handle it. The only leverage you have to get them to better themselves (as their child, nephew, grandchild, cousin, whatever) is your presence. If they want to see and be around those adorable children, they have to give up the racism. Seems fair to me, but that’s just my opinion. Meanwhile, if there’s anybody out there keeping track of such things, this is one of those diary strip comics that I thoroughly enjoy. There are plenty that I don’t, so that’s notable! $6
New review today for House to House by Hironori Kikuchi, which is the last of the current pile of mini kus books. Ah, they go by so fast…
This is one of those times when the synopsis on the back cover was a lifesaver, as it revealed a key fact that I somehow missed. Was it obvious in hindsight, or even regular sight? You bet! I missed it anyway. This is a silent tale from an old favorite; Hironori is on this website in a couple of anthologies, but a clear sign of my opinion of him at the time is that I used his stories for sample images for each comic. Anyway, this is the story of a young boy who sets out to visit the house down the street. He is joined by the kid (?) on the cover, they stick around for coffee and doughnuts, and finally agree to bring a book to another house up the hill. This particular house gave me Jim Woodring flashbacks, and I only mean that in the best possible way. The intended recipient is sick (or possibly just sleeping? These are the ambiguities that come from a silent comic), but they manage to deliver the book, and I should probably stop describing the story now, because there’s not much of it left. His art style is adorable while still being vaguely unsettling, which is not an easy line to walk. Yep, the conclusion is inescapable: it’s another winner from the fine folks at mini kus. They should really put out a stinker just to keep me on my toes… $6
New review today for Hot Dog Taste Test by Lisa Hanawalt, but this is really just a sneaky excuse for me to recommend her Netflix show, Tuca & Bertie, to everybody who likes her work. She’s the head writer and it’s amazing; I know it’s easy to miss new shows on Netflix because they all come out so fast, but don’t let this one pass you by.
How is it possible that I’ve been writing reviews on this website for 18 years now and there’s nothing here by Lisa Hanawalt? It boggles my mind. Granted, most of you already know who she is and buy her books, so this won’t be new information to you. But even if you’ve already read this, read it again! Trust me, it’s as funny as you remember. No, this is more for the few who have somehow never heard of her, who have never seen Bojack Horseman (you’ve had plenty of time to see that by now, come on people) or her new show Tuca & Bertie. She’s A writer on Bojack, but she’s the HEAD writer for Tuca & Bertie, meaning it’s a lot more like her humor, and you should all watch it. Good lord, have I really not mentioned her comic yet? Yeesh. Hot Dog Taste Test is a collection of strips and stories, roughly 90% of which had me laughing out loud. Yes, literally! I could only read so much of this book at once, as it was causing me physical pain from laughing. If there’s a stronger recommendation to be had, I don’t know what it could be. It’s tough to even describe her style, but I’ll make a fumbling attempt at it. Some pieces in here are food reviews of a sort, mostly in text but with illustrations, of her trip to Las Vegas, her family vacation to Argentina, her time swimming with otters (and how she knows that she’s experiencing the high point of her life while she’s swimming with them), a review of some of the many street vendors in New York City, and her day spent at one restaurant and its owner. There are also paintings (I’m currently trying to limit myself to just buying two of them), several pieces that are all text (like her attempt at corporate logos or her famous baking tips), and what sure looks like the first appearances of Tuca in Bertie in raw form. I haven’t read a book this funny in ages, so this absolutely gets the highest possible recommendation from me, whatever that is. Huh, turns out I really should have made up a ratings system years ago. Whoopsie! $24.95