Update for 5/18/17

New review for the last of the current batch of mini kus books, Bad Ball by Samplerman. No reviews tomorrow, so happy weekend everybody!

Samplerman – Bad Ball

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Yellow

I’ve been threatening for months (years?) now to just post the synopsis on the back of the mini kus comic as the review, as they’re usually more concise and insightful than I am. Well, in this case it might just be self defense, because I don’t have the slightest idea how I’m supposed to review this comic. It’s samples (hence the name of the artist) and dialogue boxes from other comics, all put together to form a story. Sort of. I think. Basically picture if Jack Kirby was tripping his balls off and he got ahold of some old EC comics dialogue to put on top of some of his art. I’m doing a hilariously poor job of describing this so, without further ado, I give you the synopsis from the back of the comic. “What if an old discarded comic book was suddenly bitten by a radioactive, genetically modified spider? Would the cover drawing, or those inside the book, start behaving strangely? Would the dialogue suddenly grow s(tu)pider and s(tu)pider? Would the paper start to melt? Would the story devolve to the point of meaninglessness? None of the questions will be answered in this minicomic.” See? What else do you need to know? I’m genuinely not sure how much this story holds together in a strict linear sense, but it’s quite a ride, and these mini kus books sure do have a knack for nailing the endings. $6

Update for 5/17/17

New review for Rock Thoughts Volume Two by Caitlin Cass. If you’re a completionist who refuses to read a series out of order, I’m pretty sure the first volume dealt with a different rock, if that helps…

Cass, Caitlin – Rock Thoughts Volume Two

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Rock Thoughts Volume Two

Look, there’s no reason to sugarcoat it: things are shitty these days (5/17/17, future readers). We’ll be lucky to get through this current mess as a country, and if it does all fall apart we’ll probably take the rest of the world with us. What we need at this moment in history is a little perspective. A reminder that the history of the world is long, and human civilization is a blip on that history. With that in mind, Caitlin was kind enough to provide us a peek into the mind of a rock. Wait, don’t run away! If you haven’t seen her other comics I understand why you’d be a little skeptical. You’ve also been missing out on a remarkable artist, but this comic in a vacuum is a dubious proposition. But you’re wrong, as this comic is delightful. The rock in question does take the long view of history, and worries about how things will change once people are gone. There are things that he’ll… ok, I can’t assign a gender to a rock. “It” sounds mean after reading the thoughts of this rock, but it’ll have to do. Anyway, there are things that it will miss about humans, and about dogs. But this rock is also well aware that it’s immortal, and that none of us can match the perspective of this rock. And it is correct, assuming that rocks were sentient. Yikes, what a life that would be. I’m digressing big time here, so I’ll just wrap it up by saying that this is a funny and insightful comic, with the absolutely perfect ending for a story like this. $5

Update for 5/15/17

New review today for Yellow by Liva Kandevica, the penultimate mini kus comic that I was sent recently. If only they couldn’t somehow increase their already ridiculous production schedule and put these things out weekly!

Kandevica, Liva – Yellow

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Yellow

How’s your grip on reality going? Feeling pretty solid? If so, do I have a comic for you! If not, this might be the thing that pushes you over the edge, so I’d recommend soothing music of ocean waves instead. What’s so alarming about this comic? It’s the story of a man who is trapped in one very yellow room, with no obvious means of exit or indication of what put him there. We see him wandering around, killing time, and he ends up hurting himself a few different ways. He also makes a real mess out of the bathroom, as either a silent protest or just because he’s a slob. Finally his boredom and desperation can’t take it any more and he puts a tiny hole in his prison. But hey, sometimes what feels like a prison is just keeping something dangerous out from the outside world, right? Yeah, that hint is as close as I get to an intentional spoiler. It’s a haunting little story, and (in the context of the story, obviously, and not real life) we’re left with lots of questions about what actually happened here. But at least booze makes an appearance! $6

Update for 5/11/17

New review today for Acquisition by Catia Serrao, another from the mini kus pile. Happy weekend everybody!

Serrao, Catia – Acquisition

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Acquisition

OK, I can’t resist quoting at least part of the back cover blurb this time around: “Acquisition stages a proof test conducted by an absent master and a semi-present assistant to a candidate in the best tradition of clownish pixelated Kabbalah.” Again, I’m not sure how I can improve on that, but I’ll at least add a bit of description. First we see some idle chatter at the university, with nothing being presented as a particularly odd day. Then the computer is started and poses the question, “what does the duck say?” The answer is, of course, “quack quack.” No, not just one quack, because who has ever heard a duck quack just one time? But this phenomenon has to be explained to the computer, which is not an easy task. Once this is established, it’s more descriptive to call it “quackery,” which leads to replacing the letters in the word with numbers. But based on ducks themselves, a few of the letters can be disregarded. Are you following along? Don’t worry, I wasn’t entirely either. It’s still a fascinating series of questions, and the images that go along with the otherwise sedate and docile computer really punctuate the questions. I don’t think will lead to many conversions to Kabbalah, but I am frequently wrong, so what do I know? If I am wrong it is my fondest wish that this ends up becoming a sacred text of Kabbalah in 50 years.

Update for 5/10/17

New review today for My Life in Records #5: Not Ashamed by Grant Thomas. If you’ve been reading this site for years, that is a name that should be fairly familiar to you by now.

Thomas, Grant – Not Ashamed: My Life in Records

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My Life in Records #5: Not Ashamed

Well, best to get this bit out of the way early: this comic leans way, WAY into religious overtones, which do absolutely nothing for me. There’s a montage early on that shows the secular world and how “it is filled with people who do not know god and has the scent of the fires of hell about it,” and said montage has Darwin and pro-choice protestors as some of the symbols of evil. Since this is one (ok, two) chapters in the ongoing sage of how music has impacted Grant’s life, I don’t know if he eventually came out of all this to see the actual joys of the secular world or if those images were ironic, so I’ve decided to ignore them altogether. Meaning that I disagree with his spiritual points and personally ended up in a very different place, but I’m here to talk about the merits of his comic, not the merits of his spiritual opinions. And on that front, this comic is another winner. Grant more than knows what he’s doing when it comes to panel and page composition and maintaining a brisk pace for his stories. There are two stories in this one. The first one deals with Grant’s early experiences with Christian rock and a concert he attended where the band was miserable when they gave out autographs afterwards. The concert also had a speaker who talked about how people would make fun of you if you tried to convert others, but that a little mockery was nothing compared to eternal damnation. I’ll give young Grant some serious credit here: when a girl from his high school who he had a crush on made fun of his crucifix, the easy choice was to make fun of it too in the hopes of getting her to like him somehow. But he tried to explain the crucifix honestly and lost any chance he might of had with her. The next story is all about the Christian bands who were supposed to sound just like the popular rock artists of the time (I kind of wish I could have seen more of the list, honestly) and Grant’s experience in a church band. It was an eye-opening experience for him, and not in a particularly religious way. Things turn around for Grant again by the end of the book, sort of, so there’s clearly more to the story yet to come. It’s says a lot for Grant’s skills that I still thoroughly enjoy his comics, even when the religious angle is something I don’t agree with at all. I’m really curious to see how this story reads as one big epic too. Before the next issue comes out I’m going to try to gather all of the issues together to see how it flows. If you knew anything about my comics “organizational” system, you would find that prospect just as hilarious as I do… $7.50

Update for 5/8/17

And lo, a new batch of mini kus comics did arrive to break me out of my comics funk! I can always count on that crew randomly seeming to know when I need a little boost by showing me some amazing international art. New review today for Mirror Stage by Jaakko Pallasvuo.

Pallasvuo, Jaakko – Mirror Stage

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Mirror Stage

As always, the temptation with a review for a mini kus book is to just post the snippet of text on the back of the comic and call it a day. That’s usually more succinct than what I do here, and often more descriptive. But what’s the fun in that? This is the story of an unsettled man who starts off his tale by talking about how he feels the most like himself while he’s traveling. From there we see how miserable he is at home, how he goes about an average day, and how he always feels like he’s waiting for something to happen, but has no idea what that might be. After a fair amount of self reflection, our hero discovers a talking mirror in his apartment. This mirror, at the very least, offers a change of pace from what our hero is used to, so eventually he accepts it as an agent of change and steps inside. Oh, didn’t I mention that the mirror was also a portal? Anyway, I’m getting into spoiler territory if I go even a little bit further, so I’ll leave the rest of it up to you. If you’re thinking “I’ve read dozens of ‘the author is existentially bored/unsettled stories'” and are wondering if there’s anything unique that this one brings to the table, yes, there is! I just can’t tell you here. It’s all about perspective and trying to learn the right lessons from the greats who came before. $6

Update for 5/3/17

New review today for The 50 Flip Experiment #19 by Dan Hill, an old favorite around these here parts. I’m out of comics (and time) for the week, so will I get a comic next week that restores my faith in the medium? Or will I lose interest in comics forever and start selling life insurance? Tune in next week to find out what happens!

Hill, Dan – The 50 Flip Experiment #19

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The 50 Flip Experiment #19

I wonder sometimes how many people are still here from the early days of this website (it goes back to 2001, in case you were curious). I wonder that today because I started reviewing this series way back in 2003 (or was it 2004?), and here it is, 2017, and a new issue is available. And, remarkably, it’s only gotten weirder over the years, and I obviously mean that only in the best possible sense. Things start off here with three naked people who are stuck on a lifeboat. One of the naked people has what appears to be a brain in a jar on her head, another is asking the other people on the boat to imagine that he’s a bear, and the second woman is getting her hair brushed by an invisible force while also wearing what appears to be chickens on her head. And that right there is the first panel, to give you some idea of what you’re in for. Our heroes chat about their predicament, they seem to free themselves… and then we’re moving on to the next story. Yes, I left out the bit about them possibly being time travelers, I have to leave some mystery for you to uncover. From there we get a group of students who are at the beach for their last summer together. Also a seabeast. And hot dogs in a fanny pack. And the Queen. And the fact that whoever touches the dead Queen first becomes the next Queen. This is a delightful array of philosophy, nihilism, hijinx and beach horniness. If you can’t imagine how all those things could possibly go together, well boy howdy are you in for a treat! $6

Update for 5/1/17

Does it feel like this website is running out of steam? Yeah, I’m feeling that way too right now. In the past I’ve just needed a really great comic or two to keep myself motivated, and I’m sure there are some of those that will get here any day now. Yep, any day. New review today for A Witch Named Koko #10 by Charles Brubaker.

Brubaker, Charles – A Witch Named Koko #10

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A Witch Named Koko #10

Could this be the end of A Witch Named Koko? Yes, actually; Charles is pretty clear about that in the issue itself. And yes, people reading in real time, I jumped around a bit with the reviews. Otherwise reviewing his comics would be a full time job, because the man is ridiculously prolific. So what’s the final issue of this series all about? Well, it’s an all ages book, so the bloody violence is kept to a minimum. As for the story itself, about half of the book is strips and half of it is full page spreads by a bunch of guest artists who were asked to send along their interpretation of the characters. The strips deal with the tooth fairy getting captured, the actual agenda of the tooth fairies, and a love potion (along with, naturally, a hate potion). Jim Siergey does his own Koko strip, so he deserves a special mention here. As always it’s a pretty funny bunch of comics, and now the series is done if you’re one of those weirdos who waits until something is finished to start reading/watching it. $1

Update for 4/19/17

New review today for Magic Whistle #3.3 by Sam Henderson and pals and yes, that’s it for the reviews this week. I’m going to see if I can dig up some old comics that I never got around to reviewing last week, assuming no review comics come in…

Henderson, Sam (editor) – Magic Whistle #3.3

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Magic Whistle #3.3

Oh, Magic Whistle. What do you have against a table of contents? If you’re intimately familiar with all the artists listed in the tags, you’re in luck! If, like me, some of the names were at least mildly unfamiliar, best of luck to you in determining who did which story. Except for the Sam Henderson bits, of course. If you’re not familiar with his style, I don’t understand why you’re buying Magic Whistle anyway. Or how you can draw breath without a functioning sense of humor, but that’s your problem, not mine. So we’ve established that all right thinking people love Sam Henderson, what can I tell you about this issue specifically? There’s the Lonely Robot Duckling story by Steven Weissman, a haunting tale of living too much in the digital world and getting advice about disconnecting from it all. Also featuring horrific violence, of course. There are a couple of strips done in old timey comic strip art, with boxy panels and tiny writing underneath. Possibly by Jim Campbell? They were also my clearest indicator yet that I am seriously getting old, as the tiny text was too tiny for me and I gave up on both of the strips. But if you’re still young and healthy and haven’t had terrible eyesight for most of your life, have at them! Stay Out of the Closet by Jen Sandwich tells the story of the time she ruined Christmas, but mostly it let us peek into the world of her family, her parents, and the various tricks they all played on/to each other around the holiday. Yellowed Kid by Roy Tompkins shows us a “3D” space adventure featuring Frankenstein’s monster and a planet filled with cheese. Finally Honey by ____ shows us a disturbed peeper (more disturbed than most based on the subject matter of his peeping), the ways that the family deals with said peeper and their delightful holiday meal. And I haven’t even gotten to Sam’s bits yet! There’s the immaculate conception of Dirty Danny, a sentient snowman discovering heroin, even the return of Gunther Bumpus and his cat door. And lots more (Sam probably contributed to about half of the comic), but why spoil it? If you’re already a fan you either already have this or are going to get it now that you know it exists. For the rest of you… take a chance on laughter! $9.99

Update for 4/17/17

Sorry about the lack of reviews again last week, things are a bit crazy around here at the moment. New review today for How to be Human Day One by Joseph Hewitt! And I’ve mentioned that there’s no waiting list for review comics at the moment, right? So if you have comics and like people to ramble about them, that’s what I do here!

Hewitt, Joseph – How to be Human Day One

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How to be Human Day One

This one got off to an intriguing start, as we learn that our hero is an existential investigator very quickly. We learn this because the case we observe is one in which he’s trying to discover when a client lost her innocence,and he’s able to track down the exact date along with the contributing factors that led to its demise. We also quickly learn of his next job: tracking down an old tape called “How to be Human,” which is exactly what it sounds like: an instructional tape on how to be human. He’s allied with a crew of misfits who have also never seen the tape, and the tape is lost because nobody ever thought to digitize it. Which is quite a hook, as there are countless movies/shows/ads/etc. from the 70’s and 80’s that you kids have never seen because nobody bothered to upload it. Think of all the culture you’re missing! OK, granted, that was mostly a cultural wasteland. But think of all the hilariously earnest and/or just plain weird videos that you never got to see! Anyway, most of the rest of the comic is introducing us to the wide and varied cast of characters for future issues (including a drug-sniffing dog, a granny who isn’t easily frightened, those six misfits and a vampire), so there are more chapters coming to clear that up. After all, we haven’t even gotten a good look at the bad guy yet, even though he’s already up to shenanigans. Is murder considered a shenanigan? Oops, I’ve said too much. It’s an intriguing story about looking past the obvious to solve mysteries, and I’m on board to see what happens next. It’s odd that this isn’t listed at Joseph’s website at the moment, but send him an email, I’m sure he has a few copies of this around. Probably. Better hurry to be sure!