New review today for My Hot Date (And Other Embarrassments) by Noah Van Sciver. Those Kilgore Comics folks were nice enough to send me a half dozen of their newest comics, so expect to see more from that pile in the coming weeks.
My Hot Date (And Other Embarrassments)
For anybody who gets everything Noah puts out (which isn’t a terrible idea, as the man is awfully good at making comics) this is NOT the same as the previous edition of “My Hot Date.” I reviewed that one already, so I’d recommend reading it before digging into this review. It’s one of my old reviews that I can read without cringing, so it looks like I was having a good day. Ah, memories! The bottom line is that I thoroughly enjoyed the story, although this second time around his 90’s dialogue was almost completely unbearable. Historically accurate, from what I remember, but just unbearable. But still, it’s not like he’d bother putting this out again without some new material, which is why it’s still worth a review. Besides, Noah is maybe the most prolific guy out there (outside of Brian Canini maybe), so if anybody is entitled to poof up an old story a bit while adding new short pieces, it’s him. This one starts with a short piece about how poor he was back in the day and how hard it was for him to get Star Wars action figures (he made his own Millenium Falcon), and about how the whole “playing with toys” bit fails to impress other people right around the time you turn 14. Then there’s the main story, and I honestly can’t tell if he added any new material to it. Maybe? Check around the internet, I’m sure somebody out there knows. I don’t think “Lemon Juice in the Sun” (where he believes his sister when she tells him that lemon juice in his hair, along with sitting in the sun, will lighten his hair before his date) was in the previous edition, but I could be wrong. If I could ever be bothered to organize these mounds o’ comics I could check on things like that. He also included his top albums at the time (which are mostly cringe-worthy new, but not entirely), a depressing “where are they now” about a few of his old friends, and finally a comic called Holly Hill. This story is one hell of a bonus story, as it could easily be expanded into its own graphic novel based on what I’ve read. It’s the story of him trying to find ways to avoid becoming a “real” adult after leaving home, and it involves an extended stay in Florida along with some other couch surfing. How he manages to make things grim yet hilarious is always a wonder to behold, and this one is no exception. I just checked and saw that the original edition is sold out, so this is the only way left to get the story. And the extra bits more than make it worthwhile even if you do have a copy of the older comic. Why don’t you give that dusty old thing to a friend and get yourself of the new and improved version? $12
New review for O Human Star Volume Two by Blue Delliquanti. See? I told you I’d review somebody who I was hoping to see at Cartoon Crossroads this week!
Just in case you don’t like suspense in your reviews, this is the graphic novel I was most looking forward to getting at Cartoon Crossroads in Columbus this year (before I found out the hard way that there wouldn’t be any in-person distributors), and it fully lived up to my expectations. For once I actually remembered to order the book from the artist instead of just saying that that was something I should do in a review. I also got the third volume, and as I’m already sneaking glances at the cover, chances are the review for that one should be up in the next week or so. Or maybe the day after this one, if I just give in completely. Anyway! I’m assuming you’ve already read the first volume, as it would be very odd to jump right in with a review of the second of three volumes. Most of the lingering mysteries from the previous volume are still left lingering when this one is over, which is fine, and the story has moved along nicely. We get to see significantly more context in regards to just how Alastair died and his relationship with Brendan at the time. Blue also dedicates some serious time and space to exploring their professional past, their relationships with other inventors and what gave them the ability to really get their big idea off the ground. We also see a significant progression in Sulla’s character, as she gets to spend more time her potential love interest (who still has no idea that she’s a synthetic being). There’s also an incredibly relevant short story in the back from an anthology that shows the moment when Sulla decided to transition, and even though it’s not technically part of the story proper I do hope that it sticks around in any future editions of the series. What else can I say without giving too much away… Brendan crosses several names off his list of the possible suspects who may have brought Alastair back without him knowing about it. We get to see significantly more of the apparently robust robot culture, and their reaction at seeing the man who they’ve always thought of as the father of robotics. And, while this may not be as important, the glimpse into Al’s “negotiating skills” was absolutely hilarious. It’s a thoroughly engrossing read with a compelling mystery and it deals with several questions involving identity seemingly effortlessly. I’d call it one of the best comics series of the year, and there’s a serious chance I’ll upgrade that to THE best series after the third volume. Either way, if you like comics, you’re only hurting yourself by not giving this a shot. $25
New review today for Meeting Comics #2 by Andrew Neal, and just in case you only read these blurbs and not the reviews (you weirdo you) I’m going to start reviewing these suckers weekly. Hey, if you have a dozen plus issues of your series out, send them to me in a chunk. Maybe I’ll start reviewing them weekly too! I’d hold off until next year though. Can’t be doing several weekly review series at the same time, otherwise when would I get the time to review other stuff? I’m just one man!
So if you read the review for the previous issue (I am, as always, assuming that anybody who has the time to read a single review here also has the time to read all several thousand of them), you’ll know that I was trying to figure out how I’d manage to review every issue of this series, as Andrew sent along a significant chunk of them at once. Well, I’ve figured it out: it’s time for another in my very occasional series of weekly reviews! So you can expect one of these reviewed every week probably for the rest of 2021. If you hate them, they’ll be easy enough to skip! Still, that’s pretty harsh. I’ve only written one and maybe a third of a review so far; it’s a pretty extreme reaction to hate them. Anyway, another problem with reviewing four panel funny strips is how to avoid spoiling the funny when you do inevitably buy a copy. One excellent method (and one I’ve honed over my two decades of reviewing comics) is to avoid the comic altogether, usually while rambling about some other subject, like the idea of reviewing these comics weekly. See? You’re way into this review and I haven’t said a thing about any specific strip. Useless, you say? I’m failing in my duty as a reviewer? Yeah, probably. Feel free to dock my $0 pay for each review. OK, fine, I’ll mention the comic. For the second time I had all kinds of trouble picking the sample image, as a solid dozen of them at least got a chuckle out of me, and several got a literal “laugh out loud” reaction. Once again, you’ll relate to this stuff a lot more if you’ve had or have an office job, but I think damned near anybody would enjoy them. Subjects in these strips include (see, I’m getting to some specifics) the charm of a people person, the lingering desire for death, pulling up the ladder after you’ve made it to the top, bitcoin, breaking through that glass ceiling, the percentage of pants being worn during teleconference meetings, fuck the police, the always helpful H.R. department, and taking a moral stand. There are also several strips I haven’t mentioned, and I might have been a little misleading on a few of the ones I did. Yep, ever helpful, that’s me! Look, it’s a solidly funny collection of strips that I’m thoroughly enjoying so far. What else do you need to know? $5
New review today for Pelican Bastards by Michael Aushenker. He wasn’t supposed to be at Cartoon Crossroads this year, but next week I should have more reviews for people who were, if you were wondering why I ditched the theme after one review.
I guess sometimes a title really does tell you everything you need to know. This is the story of four pelicans who are, well, bastards. That sample page should give you the gist of things. In this comic we see pelicans robbing (not that they need money for anything), pooping on anything and everything, occasionally doing some good by harassing the leader of North Korea (not that their motivation was to do something good), and eventually getting captured after one of the cops finally figures out how to take them down. Does it involve a net? Yes it does! Whether or not this comic is for you should be a simple question to answer. Do you like the idea of reading about asshole birds doing whatever they want? If the answer is yes, then absolutely get this comic. If the answer is no, honestly, this comic still might win you over, as there are plenty of funny bits. If you’re the type of reader who demands a compelling, meticulously plotted story, well, it’s kind of on you that had questions about a book called “Pelican Bastards,” but maybe this comic will help you lighten up and enjoy some good old fashioned mayhem. So am I saying that this book is for everyone? That wasn’t where I thought this review was going, but it’s looking like that’s true. Unless you completely hate pelicans, you weirdo, in which case Michael has several other comics that you’d probably enjoy. So yeah, give it a shot! You would not believe some of the stuff these pelicans can fit in their beaks. $5
If you thought I missed last week because I was buried under a mound of comics from Cartoon Crossroads, well, funny story. Turns out that there was no in-person comic artists because of covid. Which was fine, but I didn’t see a thing spelling that out on the website. Ah well, I got to spend some time a local museum while hunting for comics, so that was fun. Anyway, Brian Canini is one of the people I would have seen at the show, so here’s a review for his Glimpses of Life #7.
For anybody who’s brand new to the website (welcome!) and are just wondering if this particular comic is worth reading, yes, it absolutely is, especially if you’re a fan of autobio comics. Brian has been doing this for roughly a couple of decades now, has damn near mastered the areas of the artform he’s working in, and is prolific to a degree that honestly has me wondering if there are secretly two of him out there. But I wanted to get into a general problem with autobio comics, and this one is an excellent opportunity to bring it up. This is a collection of his journal comics from January of 2021, so if you’re reading this in the distant future, let’s just say that things were extremely screwed up in America at the time. This comic mostly covers the attempted coup (and the fallout) in Washington, the impending arrival of Brian’s third child, and the troubles that Brian and his wife (Amy) are having with his parents. It’s this third subject that I want to talk about, because after reading this comic… I have no idea what the problem is with Brian’s parents. Oh, I know that they’re distant to him (after five months they didn’t ask even once how Amy or the baby was doing), I know that the problem seems to stem from his sister moving back to Columbus two years earlier, and that every attempt to mend fences seem to be coming from Brian’s side. But… what happened? Did they split over politics, as is happening to all kinds of families? Did his sister burn down his house? If your response to these questions is “that’s way too personal a thing to be asking,” well, fair enough! One way I never would have asked about this is if it was never in the comic. That’s the thing about autobio comics: you can’t go halfway. Joe Matt back in the day (I’m really dating myself with this one, as he hasn’t made a comic in at least a decade) blew up chunks of his life with his autobio. He put out some brilliant comics for awhile, but you’d have to ask him if it was worth it. Maybe Brian addressed the origins of the problem in a previous comic and I’m either forgetting it or never read it, but a brief synopsis would have done wonders. Maybe his parents have a legitimate grievance? Maybe Brian and his family are really going above and beyond by even trying to mend fences? The point is that in a truly open journal comic, I wouldn’t have to ask the question. I’m just left with the impression that his parents are assholes, which may or may not be fair to anybody involved. Still, all in all there’s a few great strips in here, and the attempts to patch things up are fascinating. I just think there’s a glaring hole that the reader is missing and that it would probably bug more people than just me. $6
New review today for Brick By Brick from David Craig. Cartoon Crossroads this weekend, anybody who is anywhere near Columbus Ohio! If you see a blond weirdo wearing a Tortilla Comix shirt wandering around on Saturday, come over and say hi! You will freak me all the way out by doing so.
How much can you really do with several stories written about bricks? Quite a bit more than you’d imagine, I’d say. This is a collection of several stories featuring this brick (or is it a different brick every time? Bricks are short on identifying features) having adventures. Sometimes they’re single page stories, sometimes they go a few pages or even longer. The whole book is silent outside of his crossover with Robb Mirsky and his Dingus and Dum-Dum characters, as their chattiness clearly could not be contained. This is yet another review where I try not to spoil too much from a mostly wordless comic, because if I did that you’d have no incentive to see what’s in here for yourself. His website also has several samples, because that’s how websites work. So, let’s see… in here you have bricks rocking out, bricks doing chores, bricks skateboarding, bricks pooping, bricks playing sports, bricks taking an eye exam, bricks carving a pumpkin, etc. There are a whole lot more stories in here, but even describing the premise tends to give away a huge chunk of the concept. I’ll just say that David is able to get more out of the three holes and square shape of a brick than I would have thought possible, and he has a few other comics available as well, so he’s not new to the concept. I read this one before the other comic he sent me, which apparently has the origin story of the brick, so maybe I’ll eventually find out how this brick got sentience? Eh, I’m just guessing here, but I doubt it. Some stories don’t need explanations. He put the price listing under Canadian monies, but it looks like it’s roughly $12 for any American types out there.
New review today for 10 Sim Lane by Essi Nieminen, which is unfortunately the last of the mini kus pile. But that’s OK! Clearly, as this is issue #102 of their series, it’s just a matter of time until new ones are released into the wild.
Who out there has played a Sims game? Or one of the equivalent games that asks you to control the lives of various avatars that generally do nothing more complex than what you do in an average day? Well, this one is for you! This starts off with a misdirect, as we’re introduced in the game to what appears to be our hero. Well, surprise, our hero is being controlled by somebody else! The mundane tasks that the avatar was doing are then carried out in real life by the player, and the juxtaposition of the two of them really brings home the banality of his “life” (and the question of why he feels compelled to play out the same events on the screen). Still, it wouldn’t be much of a comic if that’s all that happened, so eventually the player has to make a trip to the grocery store. While he’s out he runs into either an old girlfriend or somebody he has an interest in (it’s not spelled out), and his first foray into live human interaction in possibly several days goes quite poorly. But that’s OK! When real life goes wrong, he always has the simulation. There were some creepy bits, but generally of the “harmless creepy” category, as no humans were harmed. Maybe call it a cautionary tale of playing too much Sims? Sure, let’s go with that. It’s an oddly compelling story, considering how little actually happens. Give it a shot, you can’t go wrong with mini kus! $7
It’s accidental (almost) silent comics week! Yep, it’s a peek behind the curtain: these days I often write the reviews over the weekend and set them to post during the week. That way you scofflaws can read reviews during the work week and I don’t have to scramble for time. This week I grabbed three comics that either have very few words or none at all and this one (Nugget #1 by Tony DiPasquale) is completely wordless. Hm, maybe I should try to come up with a way to write a wordless review to go with these comics. There has to be a way…
Now that there is one heck of a cover. I mean really, if you were to see that in a comics shop, that sucker practically jumps off the shelves. This is a collection of the surreal adventures of a little dude (purely guessing on the gender over here) called Nugget. It’s also a collection of silent stories, meaning that if I go too far in describing them I’m going to end up writing the whole comic in the review. So, in the interest of pulling off the balancing act of telling you about the stories without telling you THE stories, I’ll just say that the stories in here feature our hero getting sucked into a cup, finding a bottle at sea at ending up in a series of increasingly disquieting adventures, eating eggs and the horrific results (including one solid double page spread in the middle), finding his own twin and the desperate pull of the void, and the horror of the red doppelganger. It’s occasionally funny and often unnerving, which is a solid combination in my book. If that’s the case for you too, give this one a shot! $7.25
Lots going on around here, so you get just the one review this week on top of none at all last week. I know, life sucks! The good news is that Cartoon Crossroads is happening in Columbus next weekend, so if you’re anywhere near Ohio (and if past years are any indication) I’d say it’s a good idea to get your travel plans in order. New review today for Survival Mode by Dileydi Florez, another from the mini kus pile.
The mini kus folks are breaking off another hundo (hat tip to Comedy Bang! Bang!), as this is #101 in the series. Sure, it’s almost all different creators for each issue, but it’s still one heck of an achievement. So what direction are they going now? Not that one unrelated issue has anything to do with anything else, but let’s pretend that it sets the tone for a minute here, OK? Well, this issue is maybe the most straightforward issue of the series yet. Regular readers will know that once in every dozen or so comics the meaning just flies right over my head; in several other issues I have to make leaps as a reviewer that I probably mostly get wrong. Well, this time around we are introduced to a group of three friends who decide to go mushroom picking in the wilderness. Along the way they (and the readers) get a brief class on which types of mushrooms are edible (if they have a jelly-like consistency, stay away!), how the wilds in Iceland got to their current state, and… well, that’s about it, really. No swerves, no aliens land, no murders, just a straight story about picking mushrooms and talking about the sustainability of the planet. I guess you’d call it a message comic, but it’s a solid message, and you can tell from the samples that Dileydi is a pretty spectacular artist when it comes to conveying the majesty of nature. So if you’re looking for mayhem, give this peaceful comic a shot, then come back for #102. I’m sure the madness will begin again in no time. $7
New review today for Heel on the Shovel #2 by Michael Kamison and Steven Arnold. Y’all are vaccinated, right? I just like to assume that I don’t have any dummies in my audience. Dare to dream, probably, but it’s a good dream…
Sweet Christmas, this is one behemoth of a comic. Can a comic be a graphic novel based purely on size? Because if this wasn’t the second issue of a three issue series, this 80 page beast would definitely qualify. I hope you’ve read the last issue, because this is going to be impossible to review without spoiling how that story ended. Which was by (last chance to bail if you don’t want any spoilers for the first issue) Muriel, the wife and one of three main characters (the other being the husband and the small child), dying. In rather slapstick fashion too, which was particularly brutal considering all the character growth she’d undergone. This one starts off with her funeral, which we get to see entirely from her perspective. Meaning lots of people saying their final goodbyes to her body, and her child just thinking she was sleeping and not getting the whole death thing at all. This time around we spend a lot of time with Klaudia and Rocky, a couple that had broken up in the first issue (which each of them being friends of one of the main characters). This is by necessity, as Adler (husband) has fallen into a deep depression, so most of his scenes in the first half of the comic are with him being completely immobile. Daniel gradually comes to accept what happened, but by then he’s been half adopted by another family who’s willing to take care of him while Adler tries to work through his grief. Still, this all seems fairly normal, and if you look at that cover you see a pretty solid indication that things are going to get weird. Adler, throughout his depression, has been watching several movies over and over again. One of them is called Re-Animator, and if you’ve seen that I don’t have to tell you where this is going. If not, see if you can work it out from the title alone. It’s fairly straightforward! The rest of the issue deals with the complications of making that happen, and naturally that also gets the police involved, which sets everything up nicely for the big finale issue. Well, small finale issue, as I’ve seen it and it’s nowhere near the size of this one. Maybe I’ll get to that one sooner rather than later, as I’m really curious to see how this is all wrapped up. This one could work on its own, I suppose, but I’d really recommend getting both issues. There is SO much here that I’m gliding right on by. Several damned near brilliant sequences with the kids, with the sad cop that gets drawn into things, with the relationship troubles of Klaudia and Rocky… lots of great stuff in here. $10