Various Young American Publishing
Wild Penny #3
Three stories in this anthology, from three different creative teams. First you have Tod Parkhill & Gabriel Hunt with the cover story, about a panda warrior. That’s probably as ridiculous as it sounds, but it’s done without a hint of irony and has one of the best endings for an action packed story that I’ve seen. The second story is from Tod Parkhill, Briedis (sorry, no first time), and Brian Morante, about a young superheroine called Electrocutie fighting a random large woman in a story that didn’t do much for me, frankly. It was adorable though, which is maybe why it bugged me. The last story is by Tod Parkhill and Rebecca Flowers, about a man who’s weeding his garden for his wife when he’s suddenly stung by a bee in a story that was oddly moving. I say odd because it kind of came out of nowhere, but kudos on that one. Anyway, it’s $2, go to the website and check out everything else they have too.
Wild Penny #4
I think Tod Parkhill might do more comics in the course of a year than anybody else in the industry. This is another collection of stories; it looks like this Wild Penny series has three stories per issue. First up you have a couple of guys in Vietnam going AWOL and betting on cockfights (Parkhill & Menez), then you have a story about romance and incredibly shrinking text (Yost), and finally a story about a giant baby (Parkhill). The Vietnam story was pretty funny, the romance story was OK (and it’s hard to fault anybody who can throw in a Tom Waits reference), and the last story about the baby was pretty much pointless, but how much is there to say about a giant baby that gets bigger than the whole world? I think there are better issues than this out there, but it’s alright. $2, contact info up there!
Wild Penny #5
This is definitely the best issue of this so far. The first story is the origin of one of the characters from The Mighty Offenders, which is a good thing because I had very little who these people were when I read that comic. Then you have the second part of the Panda Warrior story, and I honestly still can’t see the point behind the story, other than the oddity of seeing a giant panda going around threatening people. This chapter was all about him getting hit with snowballs, then it was over. Not to give anything away, but I guess I just did. Oops. The last story is Tod’s from the 2002 SPX anthology. It usually bugs me when people pad other anthologies with already released stories, but this is a really great story that I had forgotten about, so this time it’s OK. No, that’s not consistent at all, but what are you going to do? It’s about Atari banking everything on the release of the E.T. video game and then rushing the thing out in time for Christmas. And if anybody out there has ever played the game, what an awful, awful mess. Contact info is up there, it’s $2. Oh, and Don McInturff wrote and drew the first story (don’t worry, Tod still managed to letter it) and Gabe Hunt drew the second story.
Red Curtain #1
If there has ever been a review-proof comic, this is it. You see, this is a story by a bunch of artists from Young American Comics (Parkhill, Bush, Mason, Briedis, Morante and Hunt are listed but there could be more) that’s done in as random of a manner of possible. Different people pick up after reading a panel or two from somebody else, with no idea of where the story is going, and make up something new. It’s passed around until its done, and it’s a five issue series, so it’s hard to say if anything here is going to work out in the long term. In the short term, it’s off to a good start. In here are Miss Cleo, God, an angry flower, a shadowy figure, poo, blue almonds, war, a parrot, and a fat man. In case you were wondering, no, it doesn’t make a lot of sense yet, and it might not ever, but it’s a great idea for an experiment and I’m curious to see where it goes. Taken as one issue, it’s funny, but that’s all that I can really say about it so far. $1, contact info up there!
Red Curtain #2
OK, it might be necessary to review this series in a different way than other series. On a page by page basis, it’s funny as hell. There’s all kinds of random stuff, the dialogue is great, God says “erf” instead of “earth”… all kinds of good stuff. In terms of a bigger picture, I honestly have no idea what’s going on. I mean, at all, not even a little bit. There’s also a synopsis at the end of the book (and if the folks at Young American Comics ever do this again, they should really put these at the start of the book) that really didn’t do much to clear things up. Tell you what: when I get to #5, I’ll read them all in a row and review them like that. Maybe I should have done that to begin with, but it’s too late now! Contact info up there, $1, check it out if you have a VERY short attention span…
Red Curtain #3
You know, I meant to keep reading these thing weekly so I would retain some semblance of a plot, but it got away from me somehow and here I am, a couple of months later, and I once again have no idea what’s going on here. Why don’t I just tell you what you can find in this comic? If you read this you’ll see a bimbo with her hand super-glued to her hip, a two-headed dog cut in half, a fatal sneeze, a serial killer of mimes, a fish with legs, and doom. All kinds of funny nonsense going on, start to finish, but it’s hard to recommend if you want something coherent. If coherent is a second concern to funny, well, go for it. I still plan on reading them all in a row when I get to #5, so maybe it’ll all be clearer then. Contact info is up there, this is a buck…
Red Curtain #4
This series is officially hurting my brain. I’m going to stick with it until the end though, mostly because there’s only one more issue to go. Whether or not I can manage to read all five of them for the next review is in doubt, as I’m not sure that I could take it. It’d be a weekend thing, some time when I can just lounge and try to make some sense out of this. Honestly, I mostly did this review so I could post the sample below, as I think it sums up everything you need to know about this series, and whether or not it’s something that you think you should be reading. In this one more of the characters die, the flower gets a new pot and any semblance of a story has completely vanished, at least to me. It’s a buck and I continue to insist that these guys do some good work on their own and you should support their other stuff. As for this one, eh, I’ll keep you posted…
The Bizmar Experiment
“Bizmar” stands for Bunny Insect Zombie Monkey Alien Robot, and the idea here seems to be to cram in all six things into a two page comic, making this the best idea for an anthology in the history of anthologies. Some names you might recognize from this site: Ben Snakepit, Tod Parkhill, Tom Manning, Stan Yan, George Tautkus, and Brian Morante. There are more people here (check out the website for ordering info and the complete list), but I want to talk about the comics! There’s a wide and completely absurd collection of stories, including all six things working in a pizza shop, a zombie becoming president, Ben going to see Gwar (yes, he does manage to fit everything in), A giant robot that is made up of 5 smaller pieces ala Voltron, renting movies for Halloween, bizarre sex confessions, a surprise party for a zombie, and even more stuff that I’m not going to ruin for you. Look, this is a brilliant idea that’s pulled off to perfection. What more do you want? $3!