Update for 7/29/20

New review today for Blirps #2 by Brian Canini, who is maybe putting out more comics than anybody these days? Maybe.

Canini, Brian – Blirps #2

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Blirps #2

Do you mean to tell me that Brian has yet another series out there? Yep, he sure does. Feel shame, comics artists who are only putting out one series at a time! This is a series of four panel strips meaning, as always, that some are going to be funnier than others to me, and that humor is subjective anyway, so what do I know. Each starts with something like a mantra from the main character, as he repeats whatever is bothering him in that strip. The one sampled shows the dangers of getting lost on the internet, despite your best intentions. Other subjects include fitting in, patience, blinking, trying to not be a jerk on a date, pretending to be rich, convincing the bully that you’re tough too, and avoiding panic. Plus a couple of others I’m not mentioning, because who doesn’t like a surprise or two? Anyway, this is a mostly funny book, which is all you can ask for out of four panel strips like these. It’s also very cheap at $2, so why not give it a try? Or just send him $20 and ask for a grab bag; the guy has a vast back catalog at this point. Send him money and ask him to surprise you!

Update for 7/27/20

New review for King Cat #74 by John Porcellino, the issue that somehow got away. No longer!

Porcellino, John – King Cat #74

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King Cat #74

So I noticed recently that I never got around to reviewing King Cat #74 (it’s July 2020 right now, this book came out in 2013). How does this happen? Who knows? And is it worth it for me to remind the readers that this book came out in 2013? Eh, if it reminds anybody to get caught up on their King Cats, it’s worth it. This one actually recounts his life at the time in a three page essay, which is rare for these books, so the whole story of his move from a small, grim town in Illinois to just over the border in Wisconsin is in here. Later it’s also one of the comic stories, but with something he didn’t mention in the essay: they found a bat soon after he moved in, and since it was too cold to release it into the wild, they had to quickly come up with a plan to save it. Other stuff in here includes several short poems of his thoughts while lying in bed, a series of pictures of local bridges, letters, his top 40 list (as I’ve said, it’s from a different time, and actually reminded me of a few more books that I missed), and an obituary for his girlfriend’s dog. The main story highlight for me was his tale of how he gave up on deodorant nearly 20 years earlier (at the behest of his 1994 girlfriend who thought it caused Alzheimer’s) and lived his life without it until one fateful day. He had no time to shower, had to spend the day at a convention where he was working closely with people, and his usual methods to control the smell weren’t working. As somebody who’s run into John at several cons now I can honestly say that I never thought he stunk, for whatever tiny bit that’s worth. Bottom line is that this is another issue of King Cat and, as such, well worth picking up. And now I can rest easy knowing that I’ve had at least something to say on King Cat #61-79, with several other odds and ends included… $4

Update for 7/23/20

New review for Hero by Harukichi. This concludes a rather short mini kus week, but don’t you fret: they sent me 8 comics this time around, and I only got around to 2 this week. Meaning lots more mini kus to come!

Harukichi – Hero

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Hero

How many times can DJ Cat Gosshie save the day? However many times you’ve guessed, it’s probably going to be more. He (or she) is a hero! Things start off with Gosshie selling his LP’s on the street; we are shown early on that he is a fair street merchant, stopping someone from accidentally paying him too much money for an LP. Next is an impossible traffic jam after an accident. What can DJ Gosshie do, how can he help? Well, different LP’s have different colors, and those colors can be used to help direct traffic. From here all this cat wants to do is to take a nice peaceful nap while listening to his music, but then a woman and her baby come along to screw that up. Can he solve this problem as well? Well, yeah. Spoilers! There are two more calamities yet to come, one of which the cat is well equipped to solve on his own, and the other which involves, well, water. And everybody knows water is not a thing that cats like. So how does he solve that one? Obviously you’ll have to read this to find out! I’m hopelessly biased towards almost all comics that involve cats as heroes (there are more than you’d think!), so I’m not the most objective voice here, but this one was a blast all the way through. Quick on his feet, willing to help everyone regardless of personal opinion, while still managing to maintain that certain catness all the way through. Give it a shot, you won’t be disappointed. $7

Update for 7/21/20

It’s mini kus week! A short one, granted, but so are the mini kus books. New review today for The Book Fight by Chihoi!

Chihoi – The Book Fight

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The Book Fight

What would happen if a bunch of different types of books got into a fight to see which one was the best? Would they eventually join together or tear each other apart? Granted, the idea of this eternal struggle probably hasn’t taken up too much of your time, but this should answer all your questions regardless. This is a unique and more than occasionally ridiculous book (I say both in the best possible way); even a lot of the dialogue is done in a rhyming, sing-songy way. So who are the contenders? Things start off with a list of 4 challengers on the first page: zines, comics, photo books and pop-ups. Things start off with a beating, as zines tries to convince comics that they can both get along, and indeed that they can be better together, but comics doesn’t want to hear it. The photo book takes the stage, followed soon after by the more crowd pleasing images of the pop-up book. Finally there’s one more contender that threatens to take the crown from all of them, but hey, I might as well leave one to your imagination. Have you guessed the type? I was fascinated by this from start to finish, but I am a weirdo who’s been running a review website of comics (and occasionally zines and things in between) for almost 20 years now, so my opinion is undoubtedly skewed. If you’re a weirdo like me you’ll love this book, and if you’re not, reading this book may well transform you into exactly that type of weirdo. You’ve been warned! $7

Update for 7/7/20

New review today for XTC69 by Jessica Campbell, and to anybody reading this who needs to hear it, put your mask on, dummy!

Campbell, Jessica – XTC69

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XTC69

Oh my god, that final image! So unprofessional of me (an unpaid amateur), and how gauche! To start a review talking about the final image! Heavens, however will my fainting couch stand the strain? OK fine, I’ll start at the beginning. This is the story of three astronauts who are on the search for dudes to mate with to help restart their species. They’re human, more or less, so they’re looking for human males, and I already don’t know how much of this I should give away. See, technically they had all willed themselves to be female, and they could also will themselves to be male… but it’s considered unthinkable to even ask anyone to pick a gender that they don’t want. So they wind up on earth, a place with no life signs, but they’ve made it that far and decide to explore. They come across a stasis pod, which contains one Jessica Campbell. Yep, we’re going there! The author is in the comic. Not only that, but “Jessica Campbell” is the name given to the fiercest warrior of that world, while the Jessica that was found doesn’t seem to have much experience in fighting (I make this assumption based on her inability to get out of a pit with the rest of the crew and am referring to the fictional Jessica of the comic; Jessica the real person might be an MMA fighter for all I know). The rest of the book is them all getting to know each other a bit, finding another planet that does seem to have life signs on it, and finally meeting the people that they were looking for all along. And oh, that final image! I don’t break out the “never before in the history of comics” phrase very often, but I’m going to go out on a limb here and say never before in the history of comics has that ended a comic. Her “Hot or Not” book about old artists was a revelation to me, so that’s still my favorite, but this is a damned fine comic too, well worth a look. She seems to be sold out at her website, but luckily John Porcellino at Spit and a Half still has copies as of early July 2020! $12

Update for 7/3/20

New review today for The Marchenoir Library by A. Degen. Happy weekend/holiday, y’all! Don’t do anything stupid just because you want to get drunk and hang out with friends and/or family!

Degen, A. – The Marchenoir Library

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The Marchenoir Library

This is one of those books where there’s no chance at all that my words could ever do it justice, so if you’re one of those people who just take my word on comics recommendations (do people like that exist?), just go ahead and buy this already. If you hate it, never trust me again! There, easy. For the rest of of you, this comic doesn’t have a conventional narrative, and it’s amazing. The conceit is that this is a catalog of books available with the Marchenoir character. Every other page has the title of an imagined book, and opposite of that page is a wordless full page spread depicting some of the hypothetical action in that book. I picked the two samples more or less at random; there’s actually less going on here than there are in most of these two page stories. Even so, one look at that second page should give you some idea of how much detail A. put into each of these images. We see the trail that the villain left behind, we see our heroes trying to track him down (along with what each of them is using), and we get a peek into his home or office. All of these stories come after 8 pages of introductions to the various heroes and villains that populate this world, and I could have happily used any of those pages for samples, as the amount of information he’s able to pack into a paragraph or two combined with an image is stunning. Normally this is the point where I’d say something like “some of these stories are better than others” but really, they’re all pretty damned amazing. The fact that I got lost flipping through this book once again just now really proves that point; it really is just that engrossing. Which, again, is odd for a book with little to no narrative flow. But oh, that cast of characters! I’d buy a full book with any of these characters and any of those titles, sight unseen, after reading this. Check it out, there’s very little chance that you’ll be disappointed. $20

Update for 7/1/20

New review today for The True Adventures of Jepcomix #8 by Jep, and let me just admit here that I don’t love that title. There, I said it!

Jep – The True Adventures of Jepcomix #8

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The True Adventures of Jepcomix #8

Jep mentions in his intro that he spent a long time talking about “the unspeakable orange twat” after he became president, decided it was making him too sad to continue, and so he went back in time to tell a story from 1999. I’d be curious to see all those strips (I just checked out a few on his website and they’re pretty raw), but this comic deals with his girlfriend and himself (they’ve since married) moving into a place that they were convinced would be their dream apartment. The landlady was eccentric but seemed nice, they had access to a garden, and they loved their place. Naturally, this wouldn’t be much of a comic if things stayed that way throughout, and they very much did not. Their landlady had medical problems and the two of them were young and a bit petty in their attempts to fight back (as Jep freely admits), although it’s tough to say if anything could have salvaged this mess. And to think that the troubles all started because they had set up their bedroom in the “wrong room!” It really did set off a cascade of consequences, despite the fact that the original problem never made any sense. I loved the little peeks we got into the creative process as well, how Jep would ask his wife (in real time, on the comics page) if he had the timeline right, or why they didn’t just leave at this point, or if they really knew all along that the situation was going to blow up or if it was a complete surprise. Some of the events that you would expect to have the most impact just got forgotten completely, but they both distinctly remembered things like how the landlady’s husband dropped the keys every single time he came home. It’s a thoroughly engrossing story, and I can’t recommend this highly enough to anybody who’s had terrible neighbors. Which, I’m guessing, is just about anybody who ever left home. Give it a shot, the guy really is a hell of a writer. $4.58 (hey, that’s the price he has listed on his Etsy page)

Update for 6/29/20

New review today for Roulette by Brian Canini. No matter how bored you get in the pandemic, that’s still not a game I’d recommend.

Canini, Brian – Roulette

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Roulette

The concept behind this one is so simple that it’s going to be tough to talk about for long: two friends play a game of roulette with each other. Is it right to call it a “game” when they’re using a loaded gun and one of them is going to end up dead? Eh, probably not I guess. Brian does a good job of giving us small reveals here and there as the story progresses. We see a bit of why the narrator agreed to this, we see why they picked the location that they did, and we see a few of their tense pulls of the trigger. A lot of the specifics are left out, I’m guessing intentionally. If we knew why these two friends were this determined to kill themselves, the reader would have a chance to second guess, to say that (insert problem here) was not serious to want to kill themselves. We never learn their exact reasons, only that it’s bad enough that both of them seem determined to go through with it. It’s a good, tense story, and it’s tough to have higher stakes than these. I also feel compelled to mention Cutting Cards, an episode of Tales From the Crypt (with Lance Henriksen), because it also features a game of Russian roulette, with the stakes somehow taken up to an absurd degree. But yes, you should give this comic a shot the next time you send Brian a stack of money for a stack of comics. $2

Update for 6/24/20

New review today for Tatanka by Grant Thomas. Everybody out there is still wearing a mask, right? Nobody is being a moron about that?

Thomas, Grant – Tatanka

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Tatanka

Grant’s website is still down (as of 6/22/20), so I linked to his Patreon page instead. I generally don’t promote such things here; I mean, I’ll list them, and the links are on the websites of artists I review, but I generally leave it up to them. But I have to say that I like the way Grant is doing his. Donations range only from $1-3 a month, with escalating rewards. No crazy requests for thousands of dollars for a few minis a year (not that I’d turn it down, eccentric millionaires!), just practical support. Anyway, this mini is about the history of the bison in America and how us white folk, as usual, ruined it. The idea was the Indians used bison to live, so if the bison were taken away, well, the Indians would be sure to leave too! The sad thing is that this did work, more or less. It pushed them to attack, which led to them more directly getting wiped out. And the idea that people STILL, even now, shoot wildlife from helicopters or trains… “coward” is not a big enough word for those assholes. Grant packed a lot of information into this small comic, so if you’re curious about this time in our history, you’re not likely to find a more compact synopsis. Ignorant American that I am, the first thing I thought about with that title was the ridiculous WWF wrestler of the same name. Hey, maybe Pat Aulisio can put togehter a mini about the wrestler Tatanka! That would make quite a set with this one. $1

Update for 6/22/20

New review today for The Fuzzy Princess: Girl’s Night Out #1 by Charles Brubaker. Hey, anybody out there who gave me copies of their comics to sell back in the day? I’m shutting down the shop, so I’ll be reaching out to you to get your books back to you (and to pay you the few dollars I owe you, although don’t be alarmed if I didn’t sell any of your books. I’m terrible at the online selling stuff thing!). So contact me at kbramer74@gmail.com if you want to get a jump on things, otherwise expect an email soonish, timeframe based on the first letter of your last name. Jeff Zwirek, you have some time to think about things!

Brubaker, Charles – The Fuzzy Princess: Girl’s Night Out #1

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The Fuzzy Princess: Girl’s Night Out #1

So I did my usual “putting the review together” thing where I go to the website for the artist, hoping to put the necessary links on the post (yep, peeling back the curtain here for no apparent reason). It turns out that Charles is so prolific that this issue isn’t even listed, despite the fact that it was put out this year! Is that going to stop me from reviewing it? Nah, especially since I’m pretty sure you could just email Charles and ask for a copy. This is the first part of a longer story, most likely to be collected in a complete volume later. Maybe that’s why the single issues aren’t listed, he might have already wrapped up the story and is putting the book together. Anyway, as the title makes clear, this is a night out for the ladies. I’ve completely lost track of who’s who in these comics; I’d suggest a character gallery on the inside front cover, but this is a man who uses every square inch of issue for comics, so maybe that’s not as practical as it usually is. So our heroes are stuck inside for a night and decide to all go out. They discuss it, and a large pile of clothes is dumped on the floor for them to go through and use. They’ll have to live with their choices throughout the evening, and one of those choices has already had consequences. As for their night out, it doesn’t exactly involve boozy debauchery (are all of these characters adults?), but instead they get some dinner, then head out to an arcade before a movie. That’s where the mayhem happens, but I’ll leave the surprises to you. And it’s left on a cliffhanger, so it sure looks like more antics are on the way. If you’ve read Charles’s comics you know the deal by now: an all-ages read with some jokes and nothing too heavy to deal with, put out at a pace where you could be reading an issue every couple of weeks or so with no problem. There are worse things in the world!