Back to reviewing! Finally. Most of the rest of the nation did OK in their voting last week, but Ohio really needs to get their shit together. Another Republican governor? Seriously? Anyway, new review today for Womp Womp by Brandon Lehmenn. Send your comics along for review if you have new books out, I’m going to try to get lots of reviews up before the end of 2018. I may even go back to daily reviews for a bit, if I have the comics/free time for it…
Comics that are actually funny are more rare than you might think, and I say that as a guy who reads all kinds of comics for his “job.” And for fun. And this doesn’t pay anything, so it’s hard to call it a job with a straight face. Ahem. Anyway, this comic is genuinely funny, and that’s always a joy. This is a collection of short pieces, some of which seem like they might have come from his earlier mini comics (based on the titles of those books), and some of which seem new. So if you’ve been reading Brandon’s work for years, I guess you might have seen some of this before. But those were in tiny comic form and this is a giant oversized comic. Also, as a general rule, if you like the work of an artist (in just about any field), pay that artist for their work. Otherwise they might get bored and wander off, meaning you don’t get to enjoy their work any more. This is a lot of rambling before even getting to the comic; my apologies, I’ve been off for a few weeks and have yet to rediscover brevity. Stories in this comic include a conversation between two baddies in the Double Dragon game (who also have the self awareness to realize that they wouldn’t even make it to the level of a mini boss), an admonishment to eat food that turns into a discussion of the real father (and one of the funniest things I’ve read in ages), a bad veterinarian who would prefer to deal with healthy dogs that all those other potentially sick animals, a cat discovering that pooping in the sand seems to be the socially acceptable thing to do, an abstract nihilistic misery hole and what happens when you fall down it, how all of the cool people are going back to flip phones, and the story of a dandy fop who was once forced to wash dishes to pay for his meal. The art style sometimes reminds me of the old clip art David Rees used back in the day (for a few of you that will seriously age me, for the rest of you… look him up. His tv show was also delightful. He spent a whole episode searching for the perfect ice cube. But I digress…), and the stories themselves, as I may have mentioned, are genuinely funny. Reward him with your purchasing dollars! $8
Sorry, not really an update, and there probably won’t be one this week either. Regular readers know that I work in elections in Ohio for my day job (I know, somehow I can’t make a living writing reviews on an obscure website. Weird!), which has taken up all my free time lately. Regular reviews should be back next week, but please, if you’re reading this, vote tomorrow. VOTE!
New review today for Trolls by Michael Aushenker. And if you live in Ohio, you know that you can vote already, right? Early voting is every weekday from now through the election, so go do that.
So as I was reading this I knew that I had seen this art somewhere before. Michael has been working for years on a variety of projects, but all I could think about was Duplex Planet. And, sure enough, in his bio he mentioned making a story for them years ago. Maybe I just have too many comics taking up space in my brain? Because if this is a skill it surely isn’t lucrative. Oh hi, I’m supposed to be talking about the comic! This is mostly a story about Edward and Wayward, two dopes who are air traffic controllers. Their boss doesn’t like them, one of them is on the run from his pot dealer and his landlord has decided that he’s going to kick him out. Throughout it all neither of them takes anything all that seriously (except for the bit where the pot dealer seems like he’s going to murder Edward), and the whole thing reminded me quite a bit of the old stoner comics of the 70’s. Which was great! Those types of books just aren’t around much anymore, and I’ve always wondered why that’s the case. The two of them end up being forced to work the entire weekend shift as air traffic controllers, and they only have one idea as to how they’re going to stay awake all weekend: throwing a big old party. The rest of their story is nonstop debauchery with more than a little bit of surreality thrown in as the sleep deprivation catches up to them. But wait, there’s more! There’s also two short stories in here, one dealing with two other characters working at a McDonald’s in the middle of nowhere (that one also turns into a party with the hobos taking over) and two other characters getting invited to a model party and assuming they got the meaning wrong when they show up to see an array of model airplanes and that sort of thing scattered about. So, naturally, they sniff glue to get away from it all… but there’s a twist! Honestly, I loved this book, and am looking forward to reading the other books he was nice enough to send along. Check it out, or just go to his website and pick out some comics. He has a whole lot to choose from! $4
New review today for Worms, Clouds, Everything by Lote Vilma Vitina. That wraps it up for the mini kus crop this time around, but don’t fret! They’re 70 issues in and have kept up a regular schedule for years, new issues will be here before you know it.
This one starts off in a thoroughly charming fashion, with us looking at an empty stool. Our narrator then enters from off the page, addressing the reader throughout. If you’re wondering about the topic, it is given away on the cover, just not in the title: it’s mushrooms. Our narrator is obsessed with them, and the highlights of his life are when he’s wandering through the fields and finds a bunch of them in one place. He may have his problems the rest of the time, but this is when all is right with the world. Maybe this is the secret of happiness for everybody? As long as you have your version of mushrooms in your life, the one thing that brings you absolute joy, everything else can fall into place. Our narrator is a hermit, doesn’t seem to get much if any contact with the outside world, but it seems like he wouldn’t have it any other way. Give this book a shot if you’ve ever felt any existential sadness, as it appears to have the solution for such a problem inside. $6
King Cat #78
So I just glanced through older King Cat reviews and realized that I somehow never got a copy of #74. Just so you know, it’s taking all my willpower to write this review instead of tearing through all my old comics to see if I have a copy somewhere that fell through the cracks. That being said, it’s time for a new issue of King Cat! For lots of you, that’ll be all you need to read; I understand completely. For the rest of you, I’m running out of ways to convince you that King Cat is required reading. I’ve mentioned that there almost certainly wouldn’t be a website without John and the inspiration of his Spit and a Half distro, I’ve talked about the influence he’s had on a whole generation of comics artists, I’ve mentioned the feeling of calm that comes over me whenever I read one of his comics… I know! I can talk about this particular comic. If the rest of the arguments didn’t grab you it’s a long shot, but it’s all that’s left for me to do. This time around stories deal with his two dogs and two cats (and their interactions with each other and him), nature facts that he’s learned recently, how the smell of mothballs make his nostalgic and the terrifying warning label he found on an old box of them, and a walk in the woods. There’s also his top 40 list (which has quite possibly never been exactly 40 things) and the best letters page in comics. As always, this is my simplistic synopsis of what’s contained in this comic and, as always, you’d get a whole lot more out of it if you read it for yourself. This issue right here, #78? Give it a shot. $5
Pat sent along a note with his most recent batch of review comics that really blew my mind: he’s been sending me comics since he was 14, and he’s 32 now. So, basically, he’s been sending me comics for almost as long as the website has been around (I started in the middle of 2001). Of little interest to anybody besides myself and Pat? Yeah, probably, but maybe a few people wonder what goes on around the scenes. Eh, or not. Hey, let’s talk about the comic! This is a tale of two stories, as the text bubbles deal with an (I’m guessing) actual conversation on Tinder or one of the dating apps. There’s the awkward getting to know each other, the explanations that always come whenever you mention “comics” anywhere on your profile, the stall in communications that leads to the request for an actual date before it all falls apart, the agreement to said date, and the inevitable ghosting. I’d say spoilers here, but it’s right in the title. The drawn bits of the comic are the usual Pat Aulisio visual insanity, if it’s ever even appropriate to refer to such a thing as “the usual.” Our hero drives his… car (?) through the void and gets out. From there it’s a visual journey that I won’t even attempt to describe; as always you’re missing out if you don’t read it for yourself and let the whole thing wash over you. Pat sent along quite a few comics (the guy just never seems to slow down), so his name should be popping up here quite a bit in the near future. Thanks for all the comics over the years Pat, here’s hoping I’ve directed at least a few sales your way in that time. For the rest of you, check out his books! $3
New review today for Maud by Marlene Krause, another one of those dastardly mini kus comics. I don’t think I’m using that word correctly…
Oh these mini kus books, they do keep you guessing. Just when you get used to the idea of them mostly being abstract journeys where everything is open to interpretation, along comes a comic that’s almost a straight up biography. The story starts in 1908 with a young woman getting an official portrait done. As she removes her coat, the portrait artist can’t help but be a little shocked by the tattoos that this reveals. From here we bounce back a couple of years to see how this all came about, and from there we see snippets of her life as she becomes one of the most accomplished tattoo artists in the world (although she’s overshadowed by her husband, mostly due to the era she was living in) and raises a daughter who she has forbidden from getting any tattoos. Marlene spends some real time showing how they fell in love with each other, and it’s beautifully done in two two-page spreads, presented as conversations between people who are growing increasingly comfortable with each other. It’s a fascinating story, and another triumph for a mini kus company that can seemingly do no wrong when it comes to comics. $6
One of the problems I didn’t anticipate when I started this website (17 years ago) was that I would lose track of so many artists. I have no excuse, everybody is a Google search away these days, but between the volume of review comics that come in and life in general, some artists that I like a whole lot slip through the cracks. Oh look, what’s this, it’s a package from Dave Kiersh! If you’ve been reading this site for years, you already know that I’ve reviewed plenty of his comics over the years, going back to my earliest days here. Go ahead, click on his name in the tags (or just use the search bar) if you don’t believe me! You’ll also notice that he uses “Last Chance For Love” a lot as a title, often with no numbering, so good luck with keeping all those straight, future comics historians! This is a collection of some of his selected drawings from 2015-2017. Beautiful women, heartbreak and lust have always been big themes in his work, and the same holds true here, along with a few self-portraits. There’s no story for me to review here, but the images have the same haunting but sexy quality to them as always, and this will be a welcome sight to people (like me) who may have lost track of his work over the years. He also sent along his latest book, so that’ll be up here soon enough. In the meantime, the man knows his stuff, so give this book a shot. If you’re new to his work maybe start with one of his more conventional comics (go through the archive here if you’d like a recommendation), otherwise this one is $6.
New review today for Artema: The Exile #1 by Rachel Cholst and Angela Boyle. Hey, if you happen to have comics for sale in my store, please get in touch with me. I’ll be contacting everybody, but since the store barely works anyway, I’ve been thinking about shutting it down and getting your comics back to you. Meanwhile, if you want something from the store, I’d hurry. If all goes as planned I’ll shut that down by the end of the year…
Ah, the first issue. Difficult to review, because I know so little about the world in the comic so far. Well, I guess there are some #1’s that are easy to review: terrible comics. And this isn’t a terrible comic, so that’s out. This is the very beginning of the story of Artema. The story actually starts at the end (or at least further along), as the first thing we see is a noticeably older Artema reaching the end of what has obviously been a long, difficult journey, but without a clear idea of what to do now that she’s made it. From there we see a bit about the unique view of time as believed by Artema and her people, and then we’re taken back to see how Artema got her name. We next see her in training, and it’s obvious that she’s chafing under all the rules. This is a part where I could have done with a few more specifics, but since this is only the first issue it’s entirely possible we’ll learn more later. The rest of the issue, without giving too much away, deals with Artema struggling to fit into this world, her reaction to that defeat and the consequences of that action. It’s an intriguing start, that’s for sure. Rachel has a great grasp of pacing and leaving breadcrumbs to be uncovered later (who is that painted warrior?), and Angela does some solid work letting the faces tell the story in some otherwise silent panels. It’s definitely worth a look, and a solid first issue for two people who are apparently new to comics. One piece of advice: get that second issue out quick! Don’t join the vast pile of comics that only ended up with one issue. You’ve got me hooked early, so keep up the pace! $5
New review today for Behind Thick Glass, I Saw the Stars by perennial favorite Rob Jackson. And I was so caught up in everything else that I didn’t even notice the website’s anniversary this year, so…. happy 17th anniversary to Optical Sloth a couple of months back! Thanks to anybody who’s been here from the beginning (assuming you exist), to new visitors, and to everybody who checks in to dig through the archive whenever they’re bored at work. I have no plans to quit any time soon, which is probably good news if you like the site! If you don’t, why are you reading this? Life’s too short. Thanks again everybody!
Beyond Thick Glass, I Saw the Stars
It never ceases to amaze me how far Rob can get from the humble beginnings of a story. This one, for example, starts off simply enough, with a gang of guys waiting for the right moment to strip a car of its tires. Right away the title doesn’t make a whole lot of sense, right? Yeah, you have to wait for the payoff on that one. Anyway, we learn that these guys had been saving money, and they finally have enough to go to “Big Town.” From here we learn that this gang is actually made up of tiny people, and there’s some serious friction with the larger folk. But we also soon learn that there are even larger people involved, and eventually we start to piece together exactly what kind of a society we’re dealing with. They’re forced to retreat to yet another society, which is where we learn exactly how people ended up as different sizes, with different expectations as to what roles they’re meant to fill in society. Oh, and at this point the comic isn’t even halfway done yet. Rob has always excelled at filling his comics with imaginative details, which is even more impressive when you consider that (outside of a few exceptions) he works in single issues, meaning he’s starting over from scratch every time. Anybody who’s looking to excel in comics should take a look at his workload and history, there’s a lot here that should be emulated. About the only negative thing I have to say is the same thing I’ve said a bunch of times probably by now: I wish he had a better command of the your/you’re differences. Oddly, I enjoy his comics so much that I’ve made peace with it. And if you knew how much I enjoyed being a pedant about that sort of thing, you’d understand why that’s such a big deal. Prices are listed in Euros, so in American dollars for this 52 page book I’m guessing… maybe $10? Somewhere around there, anyway. It’s worth a look, so go look at conversion rates. If you give him too much money, just ask him to send along some of his other books to make up the difference…