New review today for Goiter #2 by Josh Pettinger, and I’m moving to the new apartment this weekend: 13 E. Winter St. Apt 1, Delaware, OH 43015. Send comics, I’m running low on review issues so there won’t be much lag time. If there’s a gap in reviews, it’s most likely because something has gone wrong with getting the internet working at the new place. That happens almost every time, so don’t be too alarmed if it happens this time too.
Previously on this review website, I mentioned wondering how Josh would follow up the first issue of Goiter. It turns out that the second issue doesn’t have much to do with the first (or does it and I missed it? Always possible!), but it is a step up in quality. Not that the quality of the first issue was poor, but Josh has a lot more room to play around with panel structure, silent moments, and a mystery. None of which are mentioned on the cover, although I guess there is a death. Um, spoiler alert. I always say that part too late. Anyway, this is the story of Henry Kildare, a ventriloquist from Chicago who’s stopped at a small town to play a gig. He tries several times to contact a missing girlfriend (or at least a girlfriend who doesn’t want to speak to him), gets several comments about Chicago from people who have obviously never been there, has a middling to bad show and takes mushrooms with the bartender. Things take a real turn after that, as he gets stuck in the middle of a missing persons case, and this is probably the part where I should stop talking about the story. The rest of it, including the ending, is delightfully enigmatic, with all kinds of room for interpretation if you’re so inclined. Both issues of Goiter were delightful in their own mildly unnerving way, so here’s hoping Josh keeps putting out Goiters for us all to enjoy!
New review today for The Last Human Alive by Joseph Hewitt. The reviews this week are all done in advance because of my upcoming move, so my apologies if the world ended in the meantime. I mean, only if I’m somehow responsible for it, of course. The unchecked power of a small comics review website can be an awesome thing to behold.
The Last Human Alive
Nuclear war has come, and the only thing to survive (apparently) was a small group of voles. Unless I missed an issue or two where this was explained in more detail, that is. As you may have guessed from the title, the voles think they’ve spotted a human, the creature that they all know was responsible for the end of the world. Do they mind the end of the world since they’re now basically in charge of it? Unknown! The voles react to this news in different ways, with most of them forming an army to take out the human before it takes them out. One of them goes off to see a village elder of sorts, who tells the story of how the world ended, mostly by using the word “ass” a lot (yes, it’s still a coherent and concise explanation). Right around the halfway point of the book, the army confronts the human that they’ve spotted, with the rest of the issue being a desperate battle against it. Sort of. Look, if I cleared it up I’d take away the mystery, and who wants that? It’s a fun story, with Joseph once again providing the Korean translation at the back of the book for interested parties. At this rate I figure I’ll be able to write Korean in… never. Still just about never. But if you have a passing familiarity with it, maybe this will refresh your memory. If you only speak Korean and have stumbled across this review (by some hilariously garbled Google translator, no doubt), you’re in luck! $5
New review today for Flocks by L. Nichols, whose comics I’ve been reading and reviewing here for years. So if you’re guessing I’m a fan, yep, you nailed that one. Happy weekend everybody!
L. has been making comics for quite a few years now (go check the archives here if you don’t believe me, although I really wish the years of the reviews still showed up), but this might be the best thing he’s ever done. Granted, I’d have to go back and read several old issues of Jumbly Junkery to be sure… you know what, I should probably do that anyway. Anyway, Flocks is the story of his life. L. was gender assigned as female at birth and raised by a strictly religious family. Meaning that when she (at the time; please forgive me if I mess up the pronouns and/or correct me so I don’t do it again) was growing up and started to get feelings that didn’t coincide with the feelings church/her family/her school told her that she should be getting, L. had nowhere to turn for better advice. Instead she had crippling self-doubt, what seemed at times to be an inner loathing as she tried to make herself behave the way she was supposed to and like who she was supposed to. L. spares no detail in Flocks, and the details are almost uniformly grim. She did have supportive parents in other areas (specifically scholastic), and she did have supportive teachers, but it wasn’t until she was able to go away in her later high school years that she was able to start to put it all together. It’s a riveting and heartbreaking journey, and he seems to have arrived at a moment now where all is right with the world: loving wife, two kids, happy in his own skin, he even finally found a church that was supportive and loving instead of the hateful mess he had growing up. I guess all that constitutes a spoiler, but since we’re dealing with L.’s life, I thought it was allowed. For anybody out there is struggling with who they are, this comic will speak to you in a profound way. This is especially true if you’re in one of the backwaters of America or anywhere around the world where intolerance is still considered the right way to be. Whatever you’re going through, it can all work out; it’s just a matter of getting through the rough parts first. $21.95
New review today for Little Stranger by Edie Fake, another of the many wonderful books put out by Secret Acres.
While I was looking up Edie’s website I chanced upon some artwork he has for sale, and was once again reminded that I’m not wealthy enough to appreciate fine art. Sigh. If you have money lying around, some of those pieces are absolutely incredible and you should buy one. Or buy me one; I’m certainly not proud enough to reject it. Hi, you’re here to read about this graphic novel, and here I am complaining. If you’re familiar with Edie’s work you probably already do and do not know what to expect, as he manages to shock and amaze me every time out at least a few times. It’s no different with this collection, and once again I’m going to try to encapsulate what cannot be… capsulated. That can’t be right. Stories in here deal with an alphabet snake and its quest for a body, its trip to the convenience store, some of the sexiest food prep you ever will see, more food prep but this time with a sense of existential panic, the pumpkin’s revenge fantasies, gender fluidity in said pumpkin, what you might see if you peek through a window while someone has their pants down, fucking with venereal leeches, trying to get blood from tiny veins and using it in serving sizes, and sexy cow milking. Also about a dozen other stories, if not more, and the descriptions I already gave you are almost certainly wrong at points. Yep, this is another case where you’ll have to buy it for yourself to see what I messed up. Luckily reading this will most likely make you a better person, so it’s worth the money from your end. Unless nudity and sex scares you, in which case get thee to a church as soon as possible and away from this book. For the rest of us, there’s plenty here to enjoy. $21.95
Sorry about yet another week without reviews, but you try organizing a move when you have this many comics to sort out. Oh, the problems I have, boo-hoo, woe is me. But yeah, if you want to send more comics for review, at this point I’d just hold off until I post the new address where I’ll be living on July 1st. New review today for Andros #7 by Max Clotfelter!
I just got lost for a minute trying to count the faces in that cover. Go ahead, try it yourself! This is another collection of short pieces by Max, mostly (if not entirely) pulled from small anthology comics. And since I do this “for a living” (i.e. make no money but keep doing it anyway) and haven’t seen most of these stories before, I’m guessing you haven’t either. The strip I sampled sums up my general mood on America in the middle of 2018; if you’re reading this in the future, the main subject of controversy right now is prison camps for immigrant children. Check around to see if things have gotten better or worse since this moment! Other strips deal with the steps Max has taken throughout the years to make himself almost entirely disguised, a few FEMA funnies strips, the story of a dog breeder who had some creative methods for convincing others that his dogs were pure bred, an alarming double page spead pinup of his Aunt from the 60’s, the time that he learned a valuable lesson about bullying, and a few other short pieces that I’ll leave as mysteries. Hey Secret Acres, Max is bound to have enough strips around by now to warrant a collection of his work. You’re on a roll with what you’ve been putting out, maybe give his stuff a shot? For you, gentle reader, yes, I’d recommend giving this a shot. I’ve been reviewing his stuff almost since I started this website in 2001, and it’s still an unnerving delight every time I see it. $2
New review today for The Fifty Flip Experiment #23 by Dan Hill, which I am still trying to process.
The Fifty Flip Experiment #23
More and more, Dan’s books defy any sort of conventional analysis and, more and more, reading them makes me want to sit in a corner and think about whether or not reality is really how I see it or how Dan sees it, and what it means if it’s more like Dan’s version. So I’d like to start with a quote from the letter Dan sent me along with this comic; the only background you need to know is that in 2018 I spent some time away from reviewing comics because my back was in excruciating pain pretty much constantly over a few months. “It is too bad that we have to carry around heavy brains wiggling around on top of a frail super-extended spine.” Yes… yes it is. Dan starts off with a long text piece that is on both inside covers, in which he describes the contents of the comic. Sort of, while also leaving plenty of room for your own interpretations, and mentioning several things that don’t seem to happen in the comic itself. Maybe I shouldn’t have read that first, but it was right there on the inside front cover! I had to read that first, right? Anyway, I’ll give this is a shot, fraught with peril though it may be. This is the story of Gerard, who’s an average dude. He gets ice cream with sprinkles, then decides that he wants rainbow tears. A Rascal is brought into the mix, then burnt orange wax. Suddenly, a ramp and a crash! Mortality sets in, and is begrudgingly welcomed. All that is needed after that is a golden coin. Huh. It’s only with Dan’s comics that I’m genuinely not sure if I spoiled the ending, or how much it would matter if I did. His comics are about the journey, not necessarily the destination, except that’s probably not what they’re about, and I’ll never know fully what they’re about, as I’m me and not Dan. Sometimes I hope that Dan’s comics are all that survives after the (choose your own favorite type of) apocalypse happens. I’d love to see the world that aliens would put together using only the information contained in these 23 issues. $5
New review for Down & Away by Katherine Wirick, who also sent along the third issue of Nervenkrank recently, so I’ll be reviewing that soon too. Everything’s coming up Wirick!
I guess there are probably a few people out there in the world whose lives have never been touched by any sort of depression or mental illness (either their own or that of loved ones). I mean, it must have happened out there somewhere, right? But for the rest of us, who will never forget the sight of _____, or the sound of _____ as _____ (details removed to protect anybody from figuring out any real part of the scarring events mentioned), either mental illness or the aftereffects of it will always be around. This is Katherine’s story of her 2015, spent in a psych ward and/or trying to figure out effective types of medication. She says that the images in here are the sum total of her artistic output from that year, as she tried to figure out reasons for staying alive, to live, to make it through each day. She mentions other people in the same ward (all names removed, of course, although she says it’s because she can’t remember any of them) and their troubles, the difficulty in trying to relax when somebody checks on you literally every 15 minutes every single day, and the slow realization that every single thing in her room was designed to prevent someone from hurting themselves. Saying something is “deeply personal” has maybe been overused over the years, but it’s hard to imagine a more deeply personal book than this. She talks frankly about every aspect of this process, before and after, and refuses to plaster any sort of happy ending onto it. Mental illness is a constant struggle and she doesn’t sugar coat it, although I am glad that she knows of Maria Bamford (who talks frankly about thinking of killing herself in her act but somehow remains hilarious). If you have any of these issues yourself, or know somebody who does, I honestly can’t recommend this book enough. It’s mostly text, and it’s riveting; don’t go into this expecting a normal comic where you get to relax with laugh lines here and there. I’m sitting here now and thinking of more lines that cut right to the core of me or broke my heart a little, so I’d better end it now. Get a copy of this, and then do what I’m going to do: loan it out to loved ones, but don’t be pushy about it. A lot of people could be helped by what’s in between these covers. $7
New review today for Humans in Peril by Caitlin Cass, who puts out quality comics at a pace that should shame at least a few of you. Hell, it even puts my reviewing schedule to shame. Enjoy!
For any artists out there who have been daunted by Caitlin’s productivity, especially considering the amount of research she has to do for most of her comics, but were perhaps selfishly holding out hope that maybe she wasn’t funny: sorry, this comic should kill off that hope for you. And really, you should be worried more about your own work than comparing yourself to others. That’s just common sense! This is a collection of 50 strips about humans in some sort of peril; more often than not the peril is existential, but there’s some physical danger thrown in here and there as well. These are all single panel strips, mostly reminiscent of New Yorker strips, but funnier than the average example of that type than I’ve usually seen. And bleak as hell, mostly, so adjust your expectations accordingly if you’re expecting a wacky laugh riot full of outlandish hijinx. Subjects include… ugh, is there anything worse than describing the basic outline of single panel jokes? I might as well be telling you where the punchline is heading for verbal jokes. Subjects include ennui, dissatisfaction at the state of the universe and your place in it, an unwillingness to disconnect from the virtual world to join the actual world, the futility of engaging with reality with forced cheer, and kittens falling asleep. One of those things is not discussed in this book of strips, but I’ll leave it to you to suss out which one was the lie. $6
New review today for Goiter #1 by Josh Pettinger, and in another month I’m moving again, this time slightly north of Columbus to a town called Delaware. I’ll put up the new address when I’m getting closer to moving, but if you have review comics to send my way I’d recommend either sending them in the next week or so or holding off on sending them until the first week of July.
This is one of those cases where I’m tempted to leave the review blank, except perhaps for a brief note telling you to let the sample image speak for the comic. That’s cheating, and I don’t want to run afoul of the independent comics reviewers review board (you wouldn’t like them when they’re angry), so I’ll soldier on with a few more thoughts. This one came out of the blue, which is always a delight; yes, that’s also true when the comics aren’t that great. This is the first of two issues with the same title, but I don’t know yet if the story continues in the next issue or if it’s something entirely different. The story of this mini is, again, encapsulated in that sample image: a man finds someone to help him fulfill a niche sexual desire of his on an internet message board, with said fantasy involving a fake mugging. The comic shows the mundane aspects of his life, how he gets through an average work day, and the specificity with which he plans out his mugging, including what he can bear to part with in his wallet when he does get robbed. Things take a turn towards the end, which I suppose could be said of most works of fiction, so I don’t think that’s giving too much away. It’s a quietly haunting mini and something that leaves me intrigued to see what Josh does with the much larger follow-up issue. Check in here in a few weeks to see how that goes, or you could cut out the middle man and just order comics from Josh himself, which is something you should think about doing regardless. I don’t see the first issue mentioned on his etsy shop at the moment, so I’ll guess the price is… $5.
New review today for Spaboon by Chris Carlier, and this is most likely it for reviews on the week, but who knows, maybe if life cooperates I’ll manage another one on Friday…
Any questions you might have had about that title were taken care of on the cover: Spaboon is half spoon and half baboon. What more do you need to know? Plenty, as it turns out, but have no fear, this comic will answer all of your questions! Except maybe for how he came into being, but if we’re lucky #2 will be an origin story. This comic seems to have come about because of Chris’s fascination with mascots (I included a link to his website about mascots because it’s amazing) and it tells the story of Spaboon after he is fired from his job as the mascot of a large corporation. They merged with another company and decided to stick with the other mascot, a large capsule named Capsuro. Spaboon runs into him as he’s getting fired, a brawl ensues, and some local protesters mistake this fight as a sign that Spaboon is on their side in protesting this corporation. Plans are hatched, Spaboon is introduced to drugs, and a raid is conducted at a testing facility. This goes extremely poorly, but we do get to see a lab with some rejected mascots in it. I’ll leave the rest of the story to the readers, because I’m assuming I had most of you at “half spoon, half baboon.” It’s funny and disturbing, with just a dash of social commentary thrown in here and there. Me, I’m just hoping this is the first of many comics about mascots, either entirely centered on Spaboon or each featuring different mascots. There are so many to choose from, not the mention the horrors that could be made up entirely. $5