Update for 3/20/17

It’s Rob Jackson week! Well, technically it’s Flying Sausage Academy week, as the man is so prolific that I had to limit his theme week to just one of his series. New review today for #2 in the series, and here’s a link to the review for #1 if you missed that. Hell, here’s a link to all my reviews of his work right here, and I hope you have some free time, because it’s quite a pile of quality comics.

Jackson, Rob – Flying Sausage Academy #2

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Flying Sausage Academy #2

You know, I’ve been saying for years that more comics artists should put recaps at the start of their comics (continuing series, that is), but I’m wondering if that’s still good information. Is this comic available at many comic stores, or at this point do people mostly get them from the creators themselves? If it’s the latter then there’s no reason for recaps, as people would be buying the whole series. Granted, it would always be nice for people with crap memories like me who read the first issue six months ago regardless, but that’s just me. Am I way off here? Do most of you still get your comics from stores, online or otherwise? Oh hypotheticals, you’ll never be answered. So how about this issue? Our hero was selected to become an undercover agent after his troubles in the last issue, and his first task is to uncover a drug ring in the chess club. Along the way we get another brief peek at his mother (“peek” meaning we don’t see her at all, but we do see him caring for her), we see the world of P.E. in this school and the horrors that befall any student who forgets their gym uniform, the school play of MacBeth gets a cast (with the lead not going to Handsome Dan, which is bound to cause problems later), and Daryl continues learning more about these classes and teachers. Oh, and we also learn the secret of that robot on the cover, but I’m not giving up the goods on that so easily. Two more issues to come, and for once I’m doing the smart thing and reviewing them all in one week, so no faulty memory issues this time around!

Update for 3/16/17

New review today for R. R. Whitehead by Caitlin Cass, and if all goes well I do believe I’m doing a theme week next week. Oh, and since I’m low on review comics, send me your comics and I should be able to get them posted within a week or so. Or if you’ve seen some really great mini comics lately and you don’t mind parting with them, send some along my way!

Cass, Caitlin – R. R. Whitehead

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R. R. Whitehead

It’s history lesson time! Wait, artists, don’t go! This one could affect you directly. Caitlin mentions that there’s some confusion and inaccuracies with regards to the history of the man, but she does an excellent job of going through what it confirmed in this comic. He was a man with a dream, and that dream was to start a colony for artists. Well, that was eventually his dream, anyway, but we learn all about the story here. He eventually married into wealth (after he got over his little problem of already being married, which could maybe have used another few pages but I get why Caitlin didn’t want to make that the focus of the book), which enabled his dream to really take off. We get to see the beginnings of the place, how they tried to make money (making goods while eschewing advertising), how it gradually grew and how people came together from living there. It’s a fascinating story, and the kicker is that Caitlin made this comic while living at Byrdcliffe (the name of the colony), so it’s still a place for artists to visit and create even today. So check it out, artists! Get away from the real world and make some art!

Update for 3/14/17

New review for Konehedz #1 by Mark Velard, and happy Pi day, since that’s a thing!

Velard, Mark – Konehedz #1

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Konehedz #1

So while I was reading Mark’s intro for this book I misread one bit of it and thought he said that this was a “scream of consciousness” book. That’s obviously not what he was going for, but it oddly fits the tone of this book, so let’s go with that. This is the story of two amorphous blobs who go on a bunch of adventures, often accidentally, as they also will themselves to evolve the various physical tools needed to complete those adventures. Huh, and here I thought I’d had some serious trouble describing the plot! There’s more to it, of course, but that’s about where the coherent descriptions from me stop. It’s chaotic fun through and through, with lots of funny lines and situations, which is all you can ask for from two rapidly evolving blob people. I don’t have the slightest idea how this idea can continue to escalate indefinitely, but Mark was nice enough to include #4 of this series, so he clearly managed. I’ll be solving that mystery in the coming weeks, but meanwhile there’s a lot to love here. $3

Update for 3/13/17

New review today for You Don’t Get There From Here #39 by Carrie McNinch. Yeah, review silence again last week. Sorry about that. Life in general plus a general shortage of review comics lately, I guess. I’m going to try to get to the local comics store this week to restock.

McNinch, Carrie – You Don’t Get There From Here #39

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You Don’t Get There From Here #39

The majority of this issue is basically Carrie holding her breath over a couple of serious issues in her life: the condition of her ailing father and the condition of her ailing cat. Her cat has some sort of kidney disease and Carrie has been trying all sorts of methods to get her to eat more, with varying degrees of success. As somebody with an aging cat (16!), I can relate, even if mine is more or less healthy. That doesn’t stop every little possible health scare from being a major source of panic. As for father, that’s a complicated relationship in her life, as he’s never been the best father to her, and his condition is destroying the quality of life of Carrie’s mother… but he’s still her dad, with all that comes with it. This constant worrying, the lack of free time and her own depression comes through in her strips, which are usually three panel daily stories/summaries, but in this case transform into odd flowing images and lines, punctuated with her thoughts of the day in question with very little concrete imagery to hold on to. It’s a haunting depiction of that mindset, and should be instantly familiar to anybody who’s ever had to go through waiting with a terminally ill relative. As always, this issue is worth seeking out. This one is just a bit more raw than most. $2

Update for 3/2/17

New review today for Magic Whistle #3.2, edited by Sam Henderson and featuring his comics and comics by about a half a dozen other cartoonists. Happy weekend everybody!

Henderson, Sam (editor) – Magic Whistle #3.2

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Magic Whistle #3.2

Oh, Magic Whistle. The world can’t be all bad as long as you’re still around. This is another issue of the latest iteration in the series, in which Sam keeps doing his thing but he brings in other cartoonists to also do their thing, which lets him put comics out on a more regular basis to keep the rest of us happy. I’m just assuming everybody in America is reading this by now; since it’s been around since the mid 90’s there’s no excuse not to be reading it. This time around we have Tom Van Deusen with a tale of how great life is for Jeff Bezos, and Seth Cooper with another story of Zissy and Rita, which is a series he’s been working on since the early 90’s. I’d tell you more about the other strips by people not named Sam Henderson, but there’s no table of contents and nobody else signed their work, so other stories (that may be by Brigid Deacon, Devin Flynn or Amy Lockhart) include an adorable puppy and the incredible shrinking man who takes an unhealthy liking to it, how everybody wants to have sex all the time in the hopes of briefly distracting themselves from the inevitability of death, and three single page strips, each with a different theme. I’m pretty sure I’ve guessed who did which strip, but I’m not positive and I’d rather not get it wrong. And then there’s Sam’s strips, dealing with single panel gags, the continuing story of Cappy Jenkins, a dropped piece of pizza, and a billionaire trying to find somebody worthy to leave all his money to. So yeah, it’s Magic Whistle. Of course it’s funny and you’ll love it. If that ever changes, I’ll let you know! $6

Update for 2/28/17

New review for The True Adventures of Jep Comix #6 by Jep. Whatever happened to all the people who used pseudonyms in comics? Also, would you kindly get off of my lawn?

Jep – The True Adventures of Jep Comix #6

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The True Adventures of Jep Comix #6

The story of Jep falling away from (or escaping, depending on your perspective) continues in this issue! And possibly concludes; Jep seems like he’s running out of steam, but I don’t think he’s completely done with this story yet. The other big story in this issue is his version of an older story he wrote 20 years ago, mostly because he got a new iPad and wanted to use its features for the story. It deals with a man dying in a car wreck, getting to heaven (all messed up, which requires some healing time even in heaven apparently), and getting a chance to get reincarnated and possibly find the woman he still loves, as she survived the crash. It was an interesting story, but the part I was most curious about is where Jep says that the story was headed next. Which I won’t say here just in case it does go there next, even though it sounds like he’s done with it, which would be a shame. But going back to his strips about religion, subjects include getting disowned from his father (he makes it seem like a compromise would be possible, but he’s just not willing to give in), going off to school right after that happened, being broken and depressed at school, finding Richard Bach while looking for a new religion (somebody I’d never heard of), adjusting to life without a family or religion, and the moment when he completely gave up on his idea of becoming a priest. There’s more, and it’s educational to see him express his doubts about the direction of the story and what he wants to say with it on the page, but it’s starting to lead to the story floundering a bit. Maybe the traditional four panel strip format is boxing him in, or maybe it’s just that there is no perfect message to end this story on or life lesson to be learned. There are a number of fascinating pieces to this story so far, but here’s hoping he’s able to tie it all together before it’s all said and done.

Update for 2/27/17

New review today for Nul by Olive Booger, which is another of the giant and growing list of mini kus comics.

Booger, Olive – Nul

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Nul

Now that was one awkward love story. If I had known that I could have gotten to it a week ago and posted a Valentine’s review. This is a story that’s told as a series of diary entries by a lonely man who really thinks that he’s on the verge of getting a woman to go out with him. By the second diary entry the woman has mysteriously vanished, and after bugging her relatives for a few days he’s finally given a way to contact her. He does, they chat, and she manages to convince him to come work for the same company that just hired her. Hey look, they must live happily ever after! Yeah, not so much. He gets to the job and spends weeks without seeing the woman, surrounded by people who don’t speak his language, trying to understand what’s happening around him, and falling further and further down into a pit of despair, loneliness and confusion. That’s about the time when he gets promoted to be the guy who’s cutting off heads. That’s more information than I generally give away in a review, but this comic manages to be both mini and vast, so there’s plenty of story here yet to uncover. I’d almost say that this comic should be required reading for stalkers, but I doubt most of them could grasp the nuances here and understand that it’s a bad thing to fall too far down the rabbit hole of chasing a lady around. It’s alarming, occasionally grotesque, and a completely engrossing read. $6

Update for 2/24/17

New review for Kay H & Zee by Mark Velard, happy weekend everybody!

Velard, Mark – Kay H & Zee

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Kay H & Zee

I am a sucker for these tiny, self-contained mini comics. I’m also a fan of longer series. Could it be that I just like comics? Huh, I might be onto something there. Anyway, this is one of those shorties that’s hard to talk about for long without giving the whole thing away. The basic setup is that two friends are hanging out and one of them (Zee) decides that he wants to show the other (Kay H) a secret. Once they find the tall, mysterious structure, they obviously have to climb it to see what’s going on. From there we get an epic stair climbing, followed by a peek at what’s on top of the structure. Sure, there are twists, and sure, there’s humor, but this is a short book and that’s the gist of it. I did have a slight technical issue with it, as it looks like the story was originally done in four panel strips, but now those strips are two on a page, making it look like one long story going across instead of two distinct sections being broken down into fourths. Eh, if you read the comic you’ll know what I mean, and at least Mark tried to make that clearer in places. Overall it’s just a fun little adventure comic, and the world could always use more of those.

Update for 2/22/17

New review today for another comic from the mini kus pile: Call of Cthulhu by Martin Lacko (and written posthumously by H.P. Lovecraft).

Lacko, Martin – Call of Cthulhu

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Call of Cthulhu

Does this comic have the most adorable depiction of Cthulhu ever? Well, I’ve seen plushy dolls of Cthulhu, so no. But it comes pretty close! This comic is based on the story by H.P. Lovecraft; it’s been awhile since I’ve read it but I’m pretty sure that Martin uses direct quotes throughout. If you’re unfamiliar with the story, basically a group of sailors landed on a mysterious island. Everything is chaotic, to the extent that they can’t trust their senses, as some of them see a door as a flat trap door and some see it as a regular standing door. They finally manage to get the door open, are confronted with a horrible smell, and see Cthulhu rising from it. Cthulhu kills three of them before they even know what’s happening, and the rest of the book is a mad dash by the survivors to get away. More than anything this comic has me wanting to dig up my Lovecraft books to see if they hold up, but this comic is delightful and should be read by all potential fans and followers of Cthulhu. Or potential fans of Lovecraft, as the man had a florid quality with his writing that is often imitated but rarely duplicated.

Update for 2/20/17

New review today for Yet Another Ask a Cat by Charles Brubaker, hope everybody is having a good President’s Day! We had a good run of 44 of them that were at least mildly qualified, so I guess statistically we were due for a narcissistic con man with obvious signs of dementia.

Brubaker, Charles – Yet Another Ask a Cat

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Yet Another Ask a Cat

Charles has put out maybe a dozen comics over the last couple of years, so it’s not like he’s in need of any professional advice, but I’ll throw one out there anyway: if you have an open-ended series like this, and you plan on putting out an as-yet undetermined number of future issues, it’s time to give in and start using numbers for the issues. Unless this is the last issue of “Ask a Cat” ever, in which case never mind, but these comics are such a delight that I hope I’m wrong about that. And, as I’ve said before, you’re bound to get a lot more out of these comics if you’ve had cats as pets either currently or in the past, but there’s enough funny in these strips for anybody. Subjects this time around include the truth about their relationship to dogs, what cats would do if they had wings, how cats indicate that they want a divorce, what they think about snow, what cats think about mustard, whether or not they have strange dreams and (and this one hit home with me) why cats insist on poking you in the face while you’re sleeping. I’m pretty sure Charles came up with the actual answer on that one. There’s more, of course, but I’ll leave some surprises for you. I’ve noticed the questions got a lot more fantastical this time around, so maybe this series won’t last as long as I thought, but the man hasn’t run out of ideas yet, so enjoy! $2