Update for 12/3/18

New review today for My Pretty Vampire by Katie Skelly, which has already been out for awhile but hey, maybe you missed it like I did when it first came out. Now’s your chance to fix that mistake!

Skelly, Katie – My Pretty Vampire

Website

My Pretty Vampire

It turns out that the nipples of vampires are invisible when they appear on the cover of a graphic novel. Who knew? They’re still visible on the inside, so relax, pervs. Why start out the review on a cynical note when the book is fantastic? Eh, who knows. Bad mood maybe? It’s just one more data point showing you that the opinion of reviewers is never meant to be fully trusted. Which is odd, as I’ve been reviewing Katie’s comics here for a decade maybe? And I couldn’t be happier that she’s getting books put out by Fantagraphics these days. This is the story of a vampire who’s being kept in a mansion by her creepy (to her) brother. She has all the comforts she could want, except she’s forced to live on ox blood, which is apparently terrible but able to keep vampires alive. After four years of this (and four years of being a vampire) she finally manages to escape, but she’s not used to the rules of being a vampire while being out in the open, not to mention having to worry about money, not getting noticed, etc. Oh, and she obviously needs a safe place to sleep every day when the sun comes up, which is more trouble than you might think. Meanwhile her brother has hired a private detective to bring her back, and she’s not particularly difficult to track with the trail of bodies she’s leaving behind. This isn’t the tale of a cunning ancient vampire who knows how to keep the body count to a minimum, Clover (the vampire lady) is basically feral, and when the need for blood hits her, she just lashes out, with very little regard for who sees or what else is around. It’s a tense story with atmospheric use of sound effects, subtle touches that you might not even notice the first time through (like the detective noticing the blood that one woman trailed into a bar), and a few genuinely horrifying moments. If you’ve been reading the website for long you’ve obviously already heard me sing Katie’s praises before, but if you’re new here or if you just never gave her a shot, here’s your chance. I don’t have a single bad thing to say about this graphic novel, so check it out. $19.99

Update for 11/29/18

New review today for Goiter #3 by Josh Pettinger. If you look inside you might find Nazis! Of course, if you look outside you might also see Nazis, so maybe the novelty has worn off…

Pettinger, Josh – Goiter #3

Website

Goiter #3

When I was trying to find a place to buy this comic online (still not that easy if you’re not logged into Instagram), I came across a brief conversation between Josh and a fan. Josh mentioned that #2 was back in his shop, and the commenter asked about the availability of #1. Josh lamented that he had seen copies of it in the discount bin at Chicago Comics (so if you live in/near Chicago, now’s (11/29/18 as of this writing) your chance!) and said he was too embarrassed to ask for them back. To which I say… don’t feel bad about the discount comics bin! It has no bearing on the quality of the comic. Back in the day, when I was first getting into Fantagraphics/Drawn & Quarterly/mini comics, do you know how I got damned near every issue of Peepshow, Palookaville, Yummy Fur, Naughty Bits, Love and Rockets, even Eightball? Discount bins! This concludes my public service announcement to everyone who has comics in discount bins; you’re in good company. And there’s an even better chance that somebody without much money is going to pick up your book. Sure, it sucks now, but in the long run you probably gained a few fans. Isn’t there a comic somewhere in here I should be talking about? Ah, here is it, Goiter #3! This is the story of a fairly lonely young woman who’s stuck in a dead end job and has just turned 30. She could always move back home, but doesn’t want to admit that this is all there is. Sound familiar to anybody? If not, you’re one of the lucky ones. Anyway, our hero works this dead end job until one day a a giant head appears to her, acting like he has known her forever. Turns out that this giant head is Joe Murphy, or the only part of his that has come through from an alternate dimension. He’s also time traveling, so this version of him had already been dating our hero. She quickly falls in love with him, but meanwhile, things aren’t going so well on Joe’s end, both as a giant head (he has an unknown illness) and for his body back in the other dimension. The rest of the comic deals with those struggles and whether or not our hero can come to terms with the life she’s living. Josh also mentions in the back of the comic that while the book isn’t autobiographical, he also turned 30 and was working a dead end job while he was making this comic, so there are bound to be some elements that are true to his life. It’s a great story, both unnerving and somehow hopeful, so give it a shot, maybe you can find something in here to help with your own dead end job.

Update for 11/27/18

New review today for Stoner Alien by Pat Aulisio. Do you have all the comics that this guy has made since the mid 00’s? Because it’s entirely possible that I do…

Aulisio, Pat – Stoner Alien

Website

Stoner Alien

Some of you might be looking at that title and thinking that there must be a lot more going on in this comic, that maybe it holds some of the secrets of the universe or that the stoner alien is a jumping off point for a prolonged ethical discussion about stoners and/or aliens. Nope. Sometimes a stoner alien is just a stoner alien. But it’s still Pat, so there are plenty of funny bits involved. The story, as you may have guessed, deals with the stoner alien and his friend, who happens to be a teenage mutant ninja turtle. Were they aliens? Seems like they were just regular earth turtles who got hit by some radioactive goo. Anyway! Our heroes have a brief discussion about comics (Stan Lee vs. Steve Ditko specifically), demonstrate some advanced techniques for breathing in/out while smoking pot, and head off to their job at a deli counter. As you may have guessed, our alien friend has all sorts of problems paying attention to people when they’re asking for help, which leads to hilarity that lasts all the way through the point where we see how helpful a sneeze guard can really be. So yes, it’s true that this probably isn’t the comic you’re looking for if you’re on a nonstop crusade for enlightenment and the greater truth behind it all. On the other hand, if you’d like to get a few chuckles out of the behavior patterns of stoners (or if perhaps you are a stoner who is curious about these new smoking techniques I’ve mentioned), then step right up and send the man some money! I’m not sure how much money because it’s not on his website at the moment, but maybe $5?

Update for 11/22/18

New review today for Break the Cake by David Robertson and a bevy of other artists, happy Thanksgiving everybody!

Robertson, David & Various Artists – Break the Cake

Website

Break the Cake

Hey comics creators! David is back with another gigantic comic full of stories to shame you for your feeble efforts at getting your own books out in a timely fashion. Of course, he does have a small army of talented artists to help him along, so maybe not everybody has that advantage. That’s right, it’s time for another pile of stories, and, as usual, the good ones vastly outnumber the baddies. Based on my subjective opinion, obviously. There’s a lot in here, and I’m going to leave parts of it as a surprise, but highlights for me included his story about getting over Star Wars (not exactly a novel idea at this point, but he told his story well, and his losing interest is more based on all the clues he got over the years about future movies being abandoned by Disney than anything else), Jonathan Swift’s response to a question about where he got his ideas, a day in the life (starting with a night shift job, then trying to get any sleep and finally traveling), coming across a secret comics library at the University of Dundee, a time travel story by a 12 year old David featuring him feeding an entire cow to a tiger, the “lady” that isn’t Betty or Veronica, trying to feel sorry for somebody who got very rich at a young age and who is currently having an existential crisis about it, a lady reporter trying to honestly answer the question of her assignment and running smack into misogyny instead, keeping the reviews of Star Wars Episode 1 under wraps before it came out in the U.K., some acting advice by William Shatner to the new guy, how a puffer fish attracts a mate, and finally the lengthy story of an alien who comes to Earth with a mysterious purpose. Why is he shooting that gun? Does he have our best interests at heart? Does he even care that we’re here? I’ve mentioned his all star team of artists, but the range in this one was really impressive. Flipping through the book it looks like a regular anthology, which I guess it kind of is, except all written by the same guy. Still, it’s a visually impressive mixture, and it’s sure so send anybody who sees it down a few comic lanes that you might not have ventured otherwise. So yeah, check it out, there’s something to love in here for everybody.

Update for 11/20/18

New review today for Songs of the Field by Ryan Cecil Smith, and I’m also scheduling a review on Thanksgiving afternoon, just in case you were wondering if it was worth checking back in over the holiday for reviews. It is!

Smith, Ryan Cecil – Songs of the Field

Website

Songs of the Field

Ryan’s comics are one of the rare examples of a book that makes me want to dig through my old comics to reread everything else the artist has done. Because I like his books, sure, but also because he’s one of the few people working who keeps most of his comics in a self-contained universe; everything with “S.F.” on the cover or in the title is all part of the same story. Granted, he says that these are entirely new characters so you don’t need to go back to anything, but even if that’s completely true I still want to go back and see how everything that’s come before runs together if I read them all at once. So, once again, I’m accepting offers for unpaid interns who want to organize over a dozen long comic boxes full of mini comics. And a few assorted boxes. Possibly random bags here and there that somehow have comics in them too. Did I mention unpaid? <ahem> Hey, how about this comic? This is the story of a lonely lizard man who’s roaming the galaxy by himself. He eventually realizes that he’ll need fuel and runs through his options on how to get it; the short version is that all of his options come with varying levels of risk. So he lucks out and stumbles across an asteroid field with the ore he needs to refuel, but alas! It has been claimed with “dibs” from some human settlers. The lizard man isn’t clear on the exact definition of “dibs,” which leads to him breaking off a piece of ore for himself, which naturally leads to some irate humans coming after him with their space lasers. The rest of the comic is a lengthy space battle, occasionally broken up with talking as one side tries desperately to talk the other side down. And just in case I somehow haven’t mentioned it in previous reviews of his work, Ryan’s use of colors is unmatched by damned near anybody that I know of. That cover alone should give you some idea, but everything in here is gorgeous and it makes me hope that he goes back and colors some of the earlier work when the inevitable gigantic S.F. omnibus comes out. Hey, a guy can dream, right? $15

Update for 11/15/2018

New review today for Pre-History by Caitlin Cass!

Cass, Caitlin – Pre-History

Website

Pre-History

Sometimes during a move comics will end up getting shuffled off somewhere that leads to me not reviewing them in a timely manner. Or at all; I’m sure I’ve lost a comic or two during a move before. The good news is that when the comics reappear (like, in this case, by checking under a mound of other nonsense in my car), it’s like there’s a brand new Caitlin Cass book waiting for me. This comic tells an ambitious story in a tiny package: the entirety of history before civilizations. Caitlin takes us through the very first forms of life, the length of time it took for them to get up and running, the various setbacks to life that almost ended all life on this planet several times, followed finally by the extinction of the dinosaurs. Um, spoilers I guess, in case you thought the dinosaurs were still out there somewhere. She also designed it in the same manner as those old “find out whether the boy likes you” hand puzzles from grade school, meaning it was impossible to get a second sample up here to show you. But you know her work by now and that it’s always amazing, so I doubt you’ll need much more convincing this time around. It’s Caitlin telling the history of the world before people were in it, what more do you need to know? $6

Update for 11/13/18

Back to reviewing! Finally. Most of the rest of the nation did OK in their voting last week, but Ohio really needs to get their shit together. Another Republican governor? Seriously? Anyway, new review today for Womp Womp by Brandon Lehmenn. Send your comics along for review if you have new books out, I’m going to try to get lots of reviews up before the end of 2018. I may even go back to daily reviews for a bit, if I have the comics/free time for it…

Lehmann, Brandon – Womp Womp

Website

Womp Womp

Comics that are actually funny are more rare than you might think, and I say that as a guy who reads all kinds of comics for his “job.” And for fun. And this doesn’t pay anything, so it’s hard to call it a job with a straight face. Ahem. Anyway, this comic is genuinely funny, and that’s always a joy. This is a collection of short pieces, some of which seem like they might have come from his earlier mini comics (based on the titles of those books), and some of which seem new. So if you’ve been reading Brandon’s work for years, I guess you might have seen some of this before. But those were in tiny comic form and this is a giant oversized comic. Also, as a general rule, if you like the work of an artist (in just about any field), pay that artist for their work. Otherwise they might get bored and wander off, meaning you don’t get to enjoy their work any more. This is a lot of rambling before even getting to the comic; my apologies, I’ve been off for a few weeks and have yet to rediscover brevity. Stories in this comic include a conversation between two baddies in the Double Dragon game (who also have the self awareness to realize that they wouldn’t even make it to the level of a mini boss), an admonishment to eat food that turns into a discussion of the real father (and one of the funniest things I’ve read in ages), a bad veterinarian who would prefer to deal with healthy dogs that all those other potentially sick animals, a cat discovering that pooping in the sand seems to be the socially acceptable thing to do, an abstract nihilistic misery hole and what happens when you fall down it, how all of the cool people are going back to flip phones, and the story of a dandy fop who was once forced to wash dishes to pay for his meal. The art style sometimes reminds me of the old clip art David Rees used back in the day (for a few of you that will seriously age me, for the rest of you… look him up. His tv show was also delightful. He spent a whole episode searching for the perfect ice cube. But I digress…), and the stories themselves, as I may have mentioned, are genuinely funny. Reward him with your purchasing dollars! $8

“Update” for 11/5/18

Sorry, not really an update, and there probably won’t be one this week either. Regular readers know that I work in elections in Ohio for my day job (I know, somehow I can’t make a living writing reviews on an obscure website. Weird!), which has taken up all my free time lately. Regular reviews should be back next week, but please, if you’re reading this, vote tomorrow. VOTE!

Update for 10/18/18

New review today for Trolls by Michael Aushenker. And if you live in Ohio, you know that you can vote already, right? Early voting is every weekday from now through the election, so go do that.

Aushenker, Michael – Trolls

Website

Trolls

So as I was reading this I knew that I had seen this art somewhere before. Michael has been working for years on a variety of projects, but all I could think about was Duplex Planet. And, sure enough, in his bio he mentioned making a story for them years ago. Maybe I just have too many comics taking up space in my brain? Because if this is a skill it surely isn’t lucrative. Oh hi, I’m supposed to be talking about the comic! This is mostly a story about Edward and Wayward, two dopes who are air traffic controllers. Their boss doesn’t like them, one of them is on the run from his pot dealer and his landlord has decided that he’s going to kick him out. Throughout it all neither of them takes anything all that seriously (except for the bit where the pot dealer seems like he’s going to murder Edward), and the whole thing reminded me quite a bit of the old stoner comics of the 70’s. Which was great! Those types of books just aren’t around much anymore, and I’ve always wondered why that’s the case. The two of them end up being forced to work the entire weekend shift as air traffic controllers, and they only have one idea as to how they’re going to stay awake all weekend: throwing a big old party. The rest of their story is nonstop debauchery with more than a little bit of surreality thrown in as the sleep deprivation catches up to them. But wait, there’s more! There’s also two short stories in here, one dealing with two other characters working at a McDonald’s in the middle of nowhere (that one also turns into a party with the hobos taking over) and two other characters getting invited to a model party and assuming they got the meaning wrong when they show up to see an array of model airplanes and that sort of thing scattered about. So, naturally, they sniff glue to get away from it all… but there’s a twist! Honestly, I loved this book, and am looking forward to reading the other books he was nice enough to send along. Check it out, or just go to his website and pick out some comics. He has a whole lot to choose from! $4

Update for 10/16/18

New review today for Worms, Clouds, Everything by Lote Vilma Vitina. That wraps it up for the mini kus crop this time around, but don’t fret! They’re 70 issues in and have kept up a regular schedule for years, new issues will be here before you know it.

Vilma Vitina, Lote -Worms, Clouds, Everything

Website

Worms, Clouds, Everything

This one starts off in a thoroughly charming fashion, with us looking at an empty stool. Our narrator then enters from off the page, addressing the reader throughout. If you’re wondering about the topic, it is given away on the cover, just not in the title: it’s mushrooms. Our narrator is obsessed with them, and the highlights of his life are when he’s wandering through the fields and finds a bunch of them in one place. He may have his problems the rest of the time, but this is when all is right with the world. Maybe this is the secret of happiness for everybody? As long as you have your version of mushrooms in your life, the one thing that brings you absolute joy, everything else can fall into place. Our narrator is a hermit, doesn’t seem to get much if any contact with the outside world, but it seems like he wouldn’t have it any other way. Give this book a shot if you’ve ever felt any existential sadness, as it appears to have the solution for such a problem inside. $6

Update for 10/11/18

New review today for King Cat #78 by John Porcellino!