Update for 5/8/17

And lo, a new batch of mini kus comics did arrive to break me out of my comics funk! I can always count on that crew randomly seeming to know when I need a little boost by showing me some amazing international art. New review today for Mirror Stage by Jaakko Pallasvuo.

Pallasvuo, Jaakko – Mirror Stage

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Mirror Stage

As always, the temptation with a review for a mini kus book is to just post the snippet of text on the back of the comic and call it a day. That’s usually more succinct than what I do here, and often more descriptive. But what’s the fun in that? This is the story of an unsettled man who starts off his tale by talking about how he feels the most like himself while he’s traveling. From there we see how miserable he is at home, how he goes about an average day, and how he always feels like he’s waiting for something to happen, but has no idea what that might be. After a fair amount of self reflection, our hero discovers a talking mirror in his apartment. This mirror, at the very least, offers a change of pace from what our hero is used to, so eventually he accepts it as an agent of change and steps inside. Oh, didn’t I mention that the mirror was also a portal? Anyway, I’m getting into spoiler territory if I go even a little bit further, so I’ll leave the rest of it up to you. If you’re thinking “I’ve read dozens of ‘the author is existentially bored/unsettled stories'” and are wondering if there’s anything unique that this one brings to the table, yes, there is! I just can’t tell you here. It’s all about perspective and trying to learn the right lessons from the greats who came before. $6

Update for 5/3/17

New review today for The 50 Flip Experiment #19 by Dan Hill, an old favorite around these here parts. I’m out of comics (and time) for the week, so will I get a comic next week that restores my faith in the medium? Or will I lose interest in comics forever and start selling life insurance? Tune in next week to find out what happens!

Hill, Dan – The 50 Flip Experiment #19

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The 50 Flip Experiment #19

I wonder sometimes how many people are still here from the early days of this website (it goes back to 2001, in case you were curious). I wonder that today because I started reviewing this series way back in 2003 (or was it 2004?), and here it is, 2017, and a new issue is available. And, remarkably, it’s only gotten weirder over the years, and I obviously mean that only in the best possible sense. Things start off here with three naked people who are stuck on a lifeboat. One of the naked people has what appears to be a brain in a jar on her head, another is asking the other people on the boat to imagine that he’s a bear, and the second woman is getting her hair brushed by an invisible force while also wearing what appears to be chickens on her head. And that right there is the first panel, to give you some idea of what you’re in for. Our heroes chat about their predicament, they seem to free themselves… and then we’re moving on to the next story. Yes, I left out the bit about them possibly being time travelers, I have to leave some mystery for you to uncover. From there we get a group of students who are at the beach for their last summer together. Also a seabeast. And hot dogs in a fanny pack. And the Queen. And the fact that whoever touches the dead Queen first becomes the next Queen. This is a delightful array of philosophy, nihilism, hijinx and beach horniness. If you can’t imagine how all those things could possibly go together, well boy howdy are you in for a treat! $6

Update for 5/1/17

Does it feel like this website is running out of steam? Yeah, I’m feeling that way too right now. In the past I’ve just needed a really great comic or two to keep myself motivated, and I’m sure there are some of those that will get here any day now. Yep, any day. New review today for A Witch Named Koko #10 by Charles Brubaker.

Brubaker, Charles – A Witch Named Koko #10

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A Witch Named Koko #10

Could this be the end of A Witch Named Koko? Yes, actually; Charles is pretty clear about that in the issue itself. And yes, people reading in real time, I jumped around a bit with the reviews. Otherwise reviewing his comics would be a full time job, because the man is ridiculously prolific. So what’s the final issue of this series all about? Well, it’s an all ages book, so the bloody violence is kept to a minimum. As for the story itself, about half of the book is strips and half of it is full page spreads by a bunch of guest artists who were asked to send along their interpretation of the characters. The strips deal with the tooth fairy getting captured, the actual agenda of the tooth fairies, and a love potion (along with, naturally, a hate potion). Jim Siergey does his own Koko strip, so he deserves a special mention here. As always it’s a pretty funny bunch of comics, and now the series is done if you’re one of those weirdos who waits until something is finished to start reading/watching it. $1

Update for 4/19/17

New review today for Magic Whistle #3.3 by Sam Henderson and pals and yes, that’s it for the reviews this week. I’m going to see if I can dig up some old comics that I never got around to reviewing last week, assuming no review comics come in…

Henderson, Sam (editor) – Magic Whistle #3.3

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Magic Whistle #3.3

Oh, Magic Whistle. What do you have against a table of contents? If you’re intimately familiar with all the artists listed in the tags, you’re in luck! If, like me, some of the names were at least mildly unfamiliar, best of luck to you in determining who did which story. Except for the Sam Henderson bits, of course. If you’re not familiar with his style, I don’t understand why you’re buying Magic Whistle anyway. Or how you can draw breath without a functioning sense of humor, but that’s your problem, not mine. So we’ve established that all right thinking people love Sam Henderson, what can I tell you about this issue specifically? There’s the Lonely Robot Duckling story by Steven Weissman, a haunting tale of living too much in the digital world and getting advice about disconnecting from it all. Also featuring horrific violence, of course. There are a couple of strips done in old timey comic strip art, with boxy panels and tiny writing underneath. Possibly by Jim Campbell? They were also my clearest indicator yet that I am seriously getting old, as the tiny text was too tiny for me and I gave up on both of the strips. But if you’re still young and healthy and haven’t had terrible eyesight for most of your life, have at them! Stay Out of the Closet by Jen Sandwich tells the story of the time she ruined Christmas, but mostly it let us peek into the world of her family, her parents, and the various tricks they all played on/to each other around the holiday. Yellowed Kid by Roy Tompkins shows us a “3D” space adventure featuring Frankenstein’s monster and a planet filled with cheese. Finally Honey by ____ shows us a disturbed peeper (more disturbed than most based on the subject matter of his peeping), the ways that the family deals with said peeper and their delightful holiday meal. And I haven’t even gotten to Sam’s bits yet! There’s the immaculate conception of Dirty Danny, a sentient snowman discovering heroin, even the return of Gunther Bumpus and his cat door. And lots more (Sam probably contributed to about half of the comic), but why spoil it? If you’re already a fan you either already have this or are going to get it now that you know it exists. For the rest of you… take a chance on laughter! $9.99

Update for 4/17/17

Sorry about the lack of reviews again last week, things are a bit crazy around here at the moment. New review today for How to be Human Day One by Joseph Hewitt! And I’ve mentioned that there’s no waiting list for review comics at the moment, right? So if you have comics and like people to ramble about them, that’s what I do here!

Hewitt, Joseph – How to be Human Day One

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How to be Human Day One

This one got off to an intriguing start, as we learn that our hero is an existential investigator very quickly. We learn this because the case we observe is one in which he’s trying to discover when a client lost her innocence,and he’s able to track down the exact date along with the contributing factors that led to its demise. We also quickly learn of his next job: tracking down an old tape called “How to be Human,” which is exactly what it sounds like: an instructional tape on how to be human. He’s allied with a crew of misfits who have also never seen the tape, and the tape is lost because nobody ever thought to digitize it. Which is quite a hook, as there are countless movies/shows/ads/etc. from the 70’s and 80’s that you kids have never seen because nobody bothered to upload it. Think of all the culture you’re missing! OK, granted, that was mostly a cultural wasteland. But think of all the hilariously earnest and/or just plain weird videos that you never got to see! Anyway, most of the rest of the comic is introducing us to the wide and varied cast of characters for future issues (including a drug-sniffing dog, a granny who isn’t easily frightened, those six misfits and a vampire), so there are more chapters coming to clear that up. After all, we haven’t even gotten a good look at the bad guy yet, even though he’s already up to shenanigans. Is murder considered a shenanigan? Oops, I’ve said too much. It’s an intriguing story about looking past the obvious to solve mysteries, and I’m on board to see what happens next. It’s odd that this isn’t listed at Joseph’s website at the moment, but send him an email, I’m sure he has a few copies of this around. Probably. Better hurry to be sure!

Update for 4/6/17

It’s the end of the big monster theme week! This time it’s At The Shore by Jim Campbell, with a monster you just might be able to spot on the cover, if you take a very close look at the swells in the ocean…

Campbell, Jim – At The Shore

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At The Shore

I don’t usually do this, but here’s a link to an old review of mine of one of Jim’s comics. Why am I linking this? Mostly because the review is at least a decade old (I really wish, and not for the first time, that the reviews still had actual publication dates on them), meaning the guy has been at this comics thing for quite a while, meaning that it’s a good idea to pay attention when a guy like that puts out a graphic novel. This is the story of… huh, it’s trickier to describe than I thought. It starts off with a group of teenagers hanging out, complete with some pretty great dialogue and some low-key flirting. They all decide to go to the beach, but one of them (Gabi) really doesn’t want to leave the car. When they wonder why that’s the case, she starts a hilarious running gag of attempting to tell them why they’re all in danger, but being such a poor storyteller (who is also stuck with friends with no attention span) that they keep interrupting her and shutting her down. Meaning that they don’t get around to learning what the potential danger is until they’re actually in danger, but that’s jumping ahead a bit. Before that they end up trapped on the beach after dark, see a few Nessie’s while they’re out (which is exactly what it sounds like: the mythical Nessie from Loch Ness), and are there zombies involved? There are certainly zombies involved. There’s also a professor who is the only one who knows how to stop things, Gabi’s family knowing how to combat those things but not being all that great at it, and just a touch of more flirting and some of them not being able to stand each other. Since I really don’t want to ruin the story bits, I’ll just add that the dialogue was consistently funny throughout, the story itself wrapped up very nicely, and Jim is really a master of facial expressions. With a few tweaks this could damned near be a wordless comic and you could follow along from their faces alone. Also if you’re one of the people who was buying this in comics form, don’t fret, as this book includes a few issues that look like they were never released as individual comics, so you’re finally getting the ending you were no doubt wondering about. For everybody else, you get Nessies, zombies, teenagers and possibly a mad scientist. What’s not to love? $19.99

Update for 4/4/17

New review for another comic with giant monsters, this one being the most obvious one of the bunch: Giant Fiend Comics by Aaron Norhanian.

Norhanian, Aaron – Giant Fiend Comics

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Giant Fiend Comics

There’s a threat rising from the land of Scandinavia! OK, it’s really a tourist with too much vacation time on his hands. But when he comes to America and succumbs to the American habit of eating and drinking too much, he succumbs to… American’s disease! Is it possible to write an entire review using unnecessary exclamation points? Well, no, because I just blew it with that question mark. Dammit! So our tourist friend eats way too much and turns into a giant monster. Well, not really a monster, just a giant human being who’s drunk and stumbles a lot, causing all kinds of damage. Normal weapons don’t work, so the top scientists are forced to call… other giant monsters! Ah, I knew I had another unnecessary exclamation point in me. Another giant monster is called, it’s not enough, yet another giant monster is called, and soon the scientists have far bigger problems than just one giant flailing tourist. This one is a big pile of fun, unless you’re one of the rare people who doesn’t like to see giant monsters fight each other and knock down buildings. I’m assuming a few people like that exist out there, but I’ve never met one. For the rest of us, get ready to enjoy some monster punching! $4

Update for 4/3/17

New review today for Konehedz #4 by Mark Velard, and it looks like there’s an accidental theme week here: it’s giant monsters week! Which wasn’t intended, but all the comics I grabbed to review this week just so happened to have at least a few giant monsters in them, so ta-da! Theme week.

Velard, Mark – Konehedz #4

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Konehedz #4

The mystery of the missing two issues of Konehedz is revealed! Right there on the cover, actually, making it one of the quickest mystery reveals possible. And something I would have known if I had looked at it before I reviewed the last issue, but these things happen. This one picks up right after #1 (and after one of the more thorough and comprehensive recaps I’ve ever seen, so kudos to Mark for that; seriously, you could miss the first issue entirely and know exactly what’s happening here), with our heroes getting off the boat and confronting… a giant eyeball fish monster? Something along those lines. They find its weakness quickly, then run into zombies (?) with pincers, who may or may not be hostile, but our heroes ripping an arm off of one of them decides that allegiance for them. More chaos, more monsters, and one of our heroes discovers a giant robot suit. And yeah, you’d damn well better believe that the next several pages involve that giant monster suit causing all sorts of havoc. Eventually they meet some friendly aliens, or at least not outwardly hostile aliens, so they follow a series of them to their leader. Which is where we finally get some answers, but I’m not going to tell you them here. One quibble: Mark really needs to work on his spelling. It wouldn’t be so bad if it was just the occasional word here and there, but there’s some long chunks of text towards the end and he misspells several words in most of the text boxes. The quality of his artwork improves as the issue goes on, and spelling words correctly is much easier and quicker than drawing, so… don’t do that! Or do it less, at least. That goes for all you young (or older and spelling impaired) comics artists out there: have somebody else read it over if you have to, but it’s an easy fix. That was a longer digression than I intended, and it really didn’t do much to lower my enjoyment of the book (not much cause for words in some of those glorious fight scenes, after all), which is still very much worth you checking out. Large portions of this one are even in full color! $3

Update for 3/30/17

New review today for Zugwang?! #3 by Willard Herman. Happy weekend everybody!

Herman, Willard – Zugwang?! #3

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Zugwang?! #3

Here’s a peek behind the curtain for the artists out there who have had books reviewed on this site: I usually forget what I wrote about the book pretty quickly. Not always, and not completely, but I review an awful lot of comics, and the specifics often fly right out of my brain in a hurry. Which can make things awkward at conventions when I’m asked questions about a past review, but I’m always willing to fess up about that fact. Why am I mentioning this? Because when I looked up Willard’s website, a review for a previous book of his came up right after his website, and it was from here, from a couple of years ago. Curious, I looked it up… and saw that I had basically cheated on it. The comic is question was so abstract that I just didn’t have a lot to say about it, so the review was one long stalling exercise. Well, that’s a cheat that I’m not going to use again. Granted, this comic is almost equally abstract, but there are a few stories in this one, not just the one wordless story that left me so little to go on. Stories in here include a truly terrifying number of stars, a story told without having a story (naturally, this one takes up the bulk of the comic), a man who is having a very difficult time finding the sun, and a monster trapped in a boat at sea. OK, I mostly guessed on the last one. There’s a lot to hurt your brain in this comic, but overall I liked it. That large story went on a bit longer than needed to get the point across, but it’s entirely possible that the excessive length was the point. It’s worth a look, is what I’m trying to say.

Update for 3/28/17

New review for SnowCone City #3 by Joseph Hewitt. Oddly, no giant robots in this one.

Hewitt, Joseph – SnowCone City #3

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SnowCone City #3

If you’re looking for giant robot action, you’ll have to look elsewhere this issue (but not to worry, the preview for #4 indicates that it’ll be back next issue). This time around we meet The Raven, the SnowCone City equivalent of Batman. And, in this city, Batman is a teenage girl who has to sneak out on her parents to fight crime. With all the various iterations of Batman running around out in the DC multiverse, it’s odd that nobody ever depicted him as a teenage girl (that I know of; DC has an awfully long history to draw from). It fits the temperament of that character perfectly. We also get to meet the Raven’s new sidekick, even though said sidekick has some trouble picking out a good code name. The actual adventure this time around comes from the army of zombie penguins that crops up and their ability to turn other penguins into zombies using their spit. An evil mastermind also manages to trick the Raven into a trap involving a building full of these zombies and no possibility of escape. So everybody dies and the series is over. Kidding! It is entirely possible that the day was, in fact, saved. But I don’t want to get into spoilers. It’s another fun issue by Joseph, and a nice bit of world building to see what things are like away from the big superheroes of this world.