Still scrambling a bit at work, but don’t fret, I still had time to get two reviews in the can for the week. Up today is Meditation Funnies #1 by M. Elias Hiebert!
Meditation Funnies #1
Meditation! Who does it? Do you? I clearly don’t, as I’m already rambling at the start of this review, which can’t be the sign of a calm and collected mind. This comic, as you may have guessed from that title, is based on a meditation session. Or it’s fictional; no further clues are given past that title. In this meditation, our hero is constantly interrupted and harassed by a malevolent imp, although he seems to have enough trouble meditating even when he’s left completely alone. As you can see from the sample image, the art style screams “stuck in a work meeting, trying to look like you’re taking notes,” although maybe “minimalist” would be a nicer way to phrase it. Elias (or maybe he goes by M.?) sent along a gaggle of his mini comics, so I’ll get a more complete idea of his work over the coming weeks and months. Based on one issue? It’s… fine. A couple of funny bits, some interesting interpretations of the idea of meditation, and you’re done. Which is fine! It’s a shortie, and (as you can see on the cover), it’s free. So for the meditating people in the audience, give it a shot why don’t you? I’m assuming he’ll at least want you to cover postage, so if you’re interested check to see what the deal is.
It’s new King Cat day! New review for King Cat #81 yes that’s right #81 by John Porcellino. This will probably be it for reviews until after the election week, but here’s a little tip for you potential Ohio voters: turnout is WAY down this time around, probably having something to do with all the court challenges and the uncertainty of it all. So if you have an underdog you’d like to win a primary in this backwater state, get several of your friends together and vote! You’d have a real shot this time around.
It’s a new issue of King Cat, which means most of this review is going to be me fighting with myself not to leave the review with that simple fact. What, you want more information other than the fact that there’s a new King Cat in the world? I mean, OK, but you and I both know that I’m never going to give a bad review to this man, unless his brain snaps and he goes full Trumper. And since he’s damned near the last person on Earth who that would ever happen to, there are no worries here. So what’s this particular issue about? There’s John’s intro, and life has gotten him down this time around, which I don’t like to see. I get it, what with [gestures arms wildly at the world in general], but John has a seemingly effortless ability to find joy and beauty in the little things, so I hope that’s getting him through. Stories in here deal with a few of those quiet, joyful moments, finding the beauty in his medicine cabinet of all things, some of the landmark groundhogs he found driving around in 2020, a few more simple moments, an absolutely adorable strip called “Where’s Miss Moo” in which we all try to spot his cat, and how sparrows handle rain. Among a few other things, because as always I’m not going to tell you every story. A couple of the highlights are the piece about how Saturdays have evolved for him over the years (starting as the best day of the week, to just another day once he entered retail work, and finally drifting back to the best day of the week) and a brief but hilarious history of his eyebrows. John’s in his early 50’s, and anybody around there will be able to relate with how eyebrows get absolutely ridiculously out of hand as you age. There’s also the usual text highlights of his comics: a list with brief descriptions of some of his more notable dreams, his top 40 list (that, as always, is as many actual numbers as he wants, which may or may not be 40) and his reader letters. It’s still one of the more complete mini comics around, he’s still putting them out, all these years later. Get it, think about life, and enjoy. $5
New review today for Meeting Comics #20 by Andrew Neal, and this is going to conclude my weekly Meeting Comics reviews (missed weeks due to work and/or life not included). Andrew was nice enough to send along the next few issues, and don’t you fret, I will be getting to them, but I’m letting other comics pile up over here. So when I saw that the rest of the issues have their own titles (although technically they’re part of Meeting Comics), I decided to take that very slight excuse and run with it. Don’t get me wrong, these have been an ongoing delight, and I’ll most likely have everything else reviewed in the next few months regardless. Just keeping y’all updated is all…
It’s the final issue of Meeting Comics! … is what I thought before I hovered my cursor over the next few comics Andrew released, as all of them have their own distinct titles but are secretly also considered to be part of this ongoing story. Probably not an issue for anybody who isn’t a reviewer, but I run a full service rambling station here. So what’s going on this time around? We start off with two musical strips about the covid vaccine as sung by a clown doctor and yes, they’re as glorious as you might have guessed. Other stories include Don dealing with some money problems, Gil taking over the company, Val explaining the secret of her sexiness (it’s all about maximizing the hottest shape around), using their porn studio to film a breakup for the drama, Val trying to set up an NFT (that’s really just a setup for a really solid punchline), and Val finally finding her dream woman, among other strips that I’m not going to mention so as not to be a spoiling monster about it. We also finally get to see Thomas and Tina have a conversation, and no matter how awkward you think it’ll end up going, you can probably add a few more points of awkwardness onto that. Did I mention that both of them brought their current girlfriends to the meeting? Yep. Oh, and there’s also a Val centerfold by Adam Meuse, just in case there’s never enough Val in your life. It looks like the issues are getting a bit more self-contained after this, says the guy who’s over here judging books by their covers. Find out what happens along with me! Unless you’ve already bought all these issues, in which case read along with me to have your own opinions validated/get enraged by how thoroughly I’m missing the point! $5
Yep, the election killed another week of reviews, sorry about that! It’s probably going to happen next week too, but at least I managed to get three reviews done this week. New review today for Sludgy #4 by Robb Mirsky!
It’s everybody’s favorite constantly melting creature who’s just trying to have a good time, Sludgy! Which, in case you’re new to this, is actually more than one creature, and they can make more Sludgys through various bodily excretions. Vomit, specifically, at least as far as this issue is concerned. This one has three stories in it, each showing off a different aspect of life as a Sludgy. First up are two Sludgy friends as they travel through the forest. They get hungry and end up eating some mushrooms that have pretty extreme hallucinogenic side effects. Remember, these creatures can make conscious, sentient duplicates out of themselves, which is problematic enough when you’re not tripping in the forest. As it is, there’s some serious questions about which Sludgy is which and what aspects of what they’re seeing are actually happening. Next up in the story of a Sludgy whose home is in danger of being flooded, and since water can dissolve a Sludgy things get tense in a hurry. Finally there’s the Sludgy who just wants to introduce himself to a pair of young lovers. He stops himself, realizing that his appearance might cause a panic, and thinks he’s come up with a better way to say hello. I’ll leave it to the reader to discover whether or not he was correct. These comics are a hoot, and seemingly every story raises more questions about what exactly is going on with these creatures, so I’m curious to see what happens next. Bring on the Sludgys! $6
When last I talked about my weekly reviews for Meeting Comics, there was a bit of a cliffhanger in whether or not I’d be able to find my copy of #19 before I continued reviewing the series. Then I got busy at work and couldn’t post for a couple of weeks anyway. <cough> Um, anyway, Andrew was nice enough to send me another copy, so the mystery is resolved! Except that I still don’t know what happened to the original review copy he sent along, but that’s more of a cliffhanger for me, not you. New review today for Meeting Comics #19 by Andrew Neal!
Before I get to the comics, I just wanted to commend Andrew for how he’s portraying the whole Tina and Ellie/Kevin and Ellie/Thomas and Tina romantic mess. It would have been the easiest thing in the world to turn it into a big old drama explosion, but he’s instead treating it like a group of adults who are confused by their new feelings but are all crystal clear that they don’t want to hurt anyone involved. It’s refreshing and realistic. Well, up until Tina and Ellie spend the bulk of the issue trying to exorcise the Dark Lord, anyway, but it’s not like he could leave that story thread just hanging out. So, what’s this issue about? The bit on the cover gives it away, and technically the back cover is even a bit of a spoiler. But you can’t see if here, so it’s still a mystery to you! Other stories include Thomas and Marisol being forced to quarantine together (and it’s a testament to Thomas’s restraint that it takes a few strips before they start going at it; that sexual tension has been flying off the page since they first met), Tina and Ellie trying to figure out their relationships, Gil’s secret twin brother Al, and Marisol taking a new job. Still, the bulk of the book is all about trying to get Gil free from the Dark Lord, and you’d better believe that that exorcism does not go exactly as planned. And you’d also better believe that I’m not giving away the ending here, as that’s been an underlying storyline for the bulk of the series run. This one may be a bit less laugh out loud funny than previous issues (although it still does have more than a few hilarious moments), but that’s only because there’s some unexpected heart here. It’s great, and a satisfying conclusion to that whole arc. It’s also apparently the first issue that Andrew didn’t post online for free, so if you’ve been mooching up until now, buy this one to see how the story ends! $5
New review today for Trashcan Private Eye by Rob Jackson. Just to be clear, he LIVES in a trash can. It’s not like he IS a trash can.
I won’t tell you why, but I will tell you that this comic ends with a song. And still I somehow resisted the temptation to not use that final page as the sample image! Sometimes this reviewing thing is a sheer test of willpower. So what’s up with this one? It’s a sprawling conspiracy, all with our hero Trashcan P.I. at the center of everything. Things start off with our hero creepily sizing up a young lady who’s come by his office… er, trash can, trying to get help in locating her missing brother. This is where a traditional noir story would begin their romance, but this comic doesn’t go anywhere near that. Possibly because the dude lives in and conducts business out of a bin, which traditionally has been a bit of an impediment in the romance department. So our hero tracks down leads, gets knocked out (which I’m using as a sample image purely because I’ve also often wondered why it’s so accepted in movies to bludgeon people into unconsciousness), and generally spends the bulk of the comic trying to get to the bottom of things. It all spirals into a vast connected gaggle of characters, and you’d better believe that things end in mayhem. I recently watched The Maltese Falcon and was a bit surprised how many of those tropes made it into this issue. Of course, noirs all have at least similar events happening (femme fatale, double crosses, bad guys accidentally telling the detective too much, etc.), so it’s not like I’m assigning any nefarious intent. Besides, all of the ladies loved Sam Spade, so that’s a pretty substantial difference right off the bat. And since I’m not going to tell you all the bits leading up to the dramatic conclusion, I’ll have to content myself and you by revealing a few of the (fantastic) names that Rob has come up with. Wall Face! Big Orange! Smart Guy Eddie! Big Jim Tuckshop! OK, that last one doesn’t even have a cameo, but what a name to put on a mailbox. If you’re already a fan of Rob’s, of course you should give this one a shot. You probably knew that already, as it’s not like the guy makes a lot of stinkers. If you’re new to his work, I’d recommend one of the heftier titles, but if you’re also on a budget and love noirs, you could do a lot worse than this one. If my internal currency converter is even close to correct (it almost certainly is not), then this is roughly $6.
Sorry about missing a couple of weeks there! If you’re curious about why I’m so busy at work lately, google “Ohio Congressional Maps.” Hours of fun, and maybe an explanation about why somebody who works at the local Board of Elections has been spending a lot of time doing, re-doing and then re-re-doing stuff at work that’s supposed to be routine. New review today for Applewood Canyon #2 by Brian Canini!
The creepy tension from the first issue continues here, overlaid with that wholesome narrator telling an unseen audience about the charms of this town. If you didn’t read the review (or the comic) of the first issue that might be a little confusing, but who would just jump in at the second issue? In the previous issue we saw a bit of the town, and this time around we focus on one house in particular. Our narrator checks the door and, as it’s such a trusting town, finds it unlocked. We get a brief tour, have the residents of the house explained based on a large family portrait, and are suddenly distracted by a loud noise coming from downstairs. Any more than that and I’m well into spoiler territory, which is a constant concern anyway while reviewing 8 page mini comics. Maybe I can get away with saying this: it’s going to be extremely tricky to continue the unseen narrator action going into the third issue. But that’s fine! Two issues in and I’m completely hooked on the mystery, and Brian is doing an excellent job of ratcheting up the tension. Some of the asides are also brilliant; after getting detailed bios of two of the people in that family portrait, we land on the third one and the only piece of information the narrator is willing to dole out is “deceased.” Raises a whole lot of questions, huh? I’d recommend this series pretty highly so far, and since Brian is the man of a thousand comics series, I’ll even go ahead and say that you should start with this one. I suppose it could still fall apart, but it’s certainly off to one hell of a start. $2
Time for the weekly Meeting Comics review, this time for #18 (by Andrew Neal)! There are only two issues left in the Meeting Comics series proper as of this writing, and I’ve got some possible bad news on that front: I can’t locate #19. Meaning either that Andrew sent me #1-20 of this series and forgot #19, or meaning that I misplaced it. I’m betting on the second option, so I’ll do a bit of digging around before next week, but consider this a cliffhanger. Can the hapless reviewer locate the penultimate issue of Meeting Comics before his scheduled weekly review? Tune in some point next week to discover the answer!
Could it be that things have finally started to calm down for our heroes? Eh, not really. I mean, sort of, but only a little bit. We start off with several strips in a row about Tina and Ellie, as they’re both coming around to the idea that their fling might actually be more than that. Oh, and they also chat quite a bit with Gil/The Dark Lord, as they’re trying to find some way to get them separated. We get to see a bit more of the new office dynamic at the porn studio. How’s Val handling not being the boss? You’ll be amazed! Well, I don’t know what amazes you, but it is pretty damned funny. Although I guess I don’t know your sense of humor either. Eh, trust me already, or why else are you still reading this review? In other strips Thomas get ready for his porn premier (as the Ribbon Cutter, of course), but a new nemesis pops up that could make things tricky. He also has possibly the best super villain name of all time, but I’m not going to spoil that here. Also, if Thomas can’t make his porn shoot, who could possibly step in? The story may have shifted almost completely from the early issues, but it’s still funny as hell, which is all anybody can ask for in this world. No, not free health care or a world without war, you shut up about that. Just the idea that comics that are supposed to be funny actually are funny. Like this one! $5
New review today for Applewood Canyon #1 by Brian Canini, and yes, that’s another brand new series from the man. If anybody is wondering why I don’t give his comics the weekly review treatment like I’ve been doing for Meeting Comics lately, it’s because I’m terrified that Brian would actually be able to keep up with that schedule. The man’s prolific!
Here’s another intriguing start to a series from Brian, the Cal Ripken of comics! Uh-oh, an extremely dated reference. See kids, Cal Ripken is famous mostly for his streak of consecutive baseball games played in a row, which I think was way over 2,000. Google has just told me 2,632, which is insane. Anyway, my point is that Brian has been making comics for a whole lot of years, and in that time he has produced a whole lot of comics. OK fine, so it’s a flawed analogy! I was shooting for a compliment. This follows Brian’s usual (?) format of an eight page mini, and as a first issue the whole point is to get the reader hooked on what might happen next. He succeeded on that front, as I’m very curious. This issue is done like an olde timey tourist commercial for why somebody should visit a town, but it’s peppered with imagery that adeptly disrupts any sense of comfort you might have with this seemingly quaint little burb. As it’s a shortie, it’s tough to say much about it without ruining something for the reader, but putting a panel of a 30 foot high wall (with “expertly equipped guard towers”) in between a panel showing quaint stone walkways and a serene dog park was an excellent way to bat away any expectations I already had going for how the series might develop. This “commercial” ran for the whole comic, so we got to meet a few characters and even learned about a rival town, so I think everything is set up quite nicely for future issues. Brian being Brian, he already sent me the first 5 issues of the series, so I’ll be able to check for myself very soon. And I still have to go back to Plastic People and see how that’s going, but that’s more a note for myself than part of the review, so please ignore this last sentence if you’re not me. Check it out, get in on the ground floor! $2
New review for Meeting Comics #17 by Andrew Neal, and there are only a few more of these suckers left for weekly reviews. In case anybody was wondering.
It’s impressive (especially in hindsight) how on track Andrew was able to keep his series during the pandemic. It also caused a few great issues dealing with some of the funnier bits of it, but with this issue covid has gone into the background and he’s back focusing on his people. I’m assuming covid pops up again, what with knowing that these strips were produced right before the 2020 presidential election and the covid surge after it, but this is as close to “back to normal” as this comic has been lately. Of course, that still means that lots of thing are batshit insane, but that’s just Meeting Comics for you. Tina and Ellie’s affair does get discovered, in absolutely hilarious fashion, but the response from Kevin and Thomas is still being worked out. I was also surprised that it was an ongoing thing and not just a “victory lap” after they solved their case, so we’ll see later how that affects things. The Dark Lord gets more screen time here than usual, but right now he’s not having a huge impact on the story. Kevin has his own secret, which may or may not come up later. Job offerings are hitting the gang, and a good chunk of them have decided to work for their budding porn empire. Andrew also includes The Last Garbageman on Earth, which I’m assuming was its own mini, and the title kind of says it all. He does manage to include the (at the time) upcoming presidential election in the discussion, and if only fixing that problem was as easy as he depicts it here! My apologies if this has gotten boring for the reader, but yes, this is another solid issue, and yes, you should really be giving this series a chance. Before it would mostly apply to people with horrible office jobs, but at this point it’s covering so much ground that it’s damned near for everybody. Well, except the prudes. I’m guessing all the casual sex and working for a porn startup wouldn’t meet with too much approval in that joyless crowd… $5