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

Website

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!

Update for 6/12/20

New review today for The Fifty Flip Experiment #25, which is what I hope aliens will eventually use to judge our entire race. Happy weekend everybody!

Hill, Dan – The Fifty Flip Experiment #25

Website

The Fifty Flip Experiment #25

Aw, Dan’s website (which is delightfully old-timey) has a gif of ladies dancing with sloth heads superimposed over theirs. I’m just going to assume that’s meant as a hello to me, so hi Dan! I also included a rare second sample image because Dan put an ad up for older comics on his back cover, so I want readers with extra time on their hands (I know you’re reading this at work, don’t fib) to go back, read my reviews for those issues, and compare them to how Dan describes them. Do I mention that one thing he mentions? For example, I can’t imagine he did a whole issue (#20) as a Jughead parody, but I’m missing that issue. So it might be true! Ah, that’s enough rambling. I’m paid the big bucks (note: I am paid no bucks) to talk about comics, not to get all self-indulgent and ask readers to compare my reviews to his synopses! This one is part one of a three part series, which should be enough to intrigue/terrify you right there. As such, this one is a bit more linear than some of his other comics, so this review might be more coherent than usual. Emphasis on “might”! This one starts with a space probe cleaning up space junk, and on the first page it disregards a vacuum cleaner for the sake of a toaster. Is this important to the plot? Always assume that it is! The drone is given a treat for finding the toaster, and we follow our hero back to her home, where we get a quick, high detail tour. She then goes on a tour of the local ruined society and ponders what the life of a local monk must have been like. Any more and I’ll wander into spoilers, so I’ll just say that there is a big old fight scene before the issue is done, so don’t you fret about that. And, as always, his thoughts on the back inside cover are worth the price of admission all by itself. Give it a shot, Dan is the weirdo we need for these troubled times. $7

Update for 6/10/20

New review for an older comic: Number #2 by Box Brown!

Brown, Box – Number #2

Website

Number #2

My recent unintentional series of reviews of comics from 2014 continues with Number #2! When it’s said aloud do you think it’s “number two” or “number number two”? The world may never know. As for why I’m reviewing this, I saw it on John Porcellino’s Spit and a Half website and realized there was a Box Brown comic out there that I missed somehow and fixed that problem as soon as I could. This comic has two big stories in it. First up is a piece about a skater in her mid 30’s who we get just enough time to see is riding her skateboard home while drunk and ruing her lack of health care. And the fact that she’s 33 and still riding a skateboard. She gets some drunk food on the way home (White Castle, second only to Taco Bell for drunk food) and runs into a local crank who’s hassled her (and other people; the guy has a reputation) in the past. She tries being nice, that doesn’t work, so she tries skating away. That ends badly, but I should probably stop before I spoil the whole thing. I will say that bit with the cops just casually dehumanizing her, especially with the time I’m writing this (during some gigantic protests against police brutality (I should specify June 2020, as that’s sadly not narrowing it down all that much)), really got to me. It’s so easy for those assholes to, at a minimum, ruin your day. The second story deals with a documentarian, his jealousies (personal and professional), how his work is seen by others, whether or not it makes sense to engage people in comments, what gives him inspiration and some of the people he interviews. It’s a really insightful look into a mindset I admire but don’t understand, if that makes any sense. Anyway, it’s Box Brown, of course it’s a fantastic comic! If you missed this one like me when it came out, John still has copies available… $6

Update for 6/8/20

New review for Glimpses of Life #6 by Brian Canini, who is maybe the most reviewed person on this website? Somebody take a tally…

Canini, Brian – Glimpes of Life #6

Website

Glimpses of Life #6

I’ve been reviewing Brian’s comics since the very early days of this website. 2004ish, maybe sooner (I started in 2001)? Something like that. So I thought I’d check Brian’s website as I was copying the link there and check out the store, see the rough percentage of his books that I’ve reviewed. Keeping in mind that he definitely has older comics that are out of print (doesn’t everybody?), somehow I’ve still only reviewed maybe half of his books. Probably not even that much. Search under his name here if you’re curious how many that equals out to; it’s still a hell of a lot! Anyway, personal digression aside, how’s the comic? I’m always interested in seeing an origin story for a guy I’ve been enjoying for years, and this comic did an excellent job of explaining how Brian got into comics and why he sticks with them now. There’s his genuine appreciation for having a knowledgeable and supportive guy in charge of the local comic shop (The Laughing Ogre; if you’re anywhere near Columbus Ohio it’s worth a trip), how prolific he was even back in the day, how he’d take art supplies everywhere he went in case inspiration struck, how much Jeff Smith has done for the comics scene in Columbus and what he means to Brian, and his own philosophy on what makes a comic and how we still have so much to explore in regards to their potential. He also lists some of his influences, and I have no proof of this but it sure feels like an “oh yeah!” moment in making comics. Meaning that he made a list, got back to work on the comic, remembered several other names and put them into the comic, got back to work on the comics, remembered still MORE names and included them on the back inside cover. I get it! It’s a damned solid list; if you’re just now looking to get into comics you could do a whole lot worse than to just get books from everybody on his lists to start. Another solid issue, give it a look if you’re curious as to how he came to start making comics! $3

Update for 6/4/20

New review for Please Destroy the Internet by Michael Sweater. I mean, enough of the internet, am I right?

Sweater, Michael – Please Destroy the Internet

Website

Please Destroy the Internet

Hey look, a collection of (mostly) single page gag strips! Long time readers of this website may remember that I have one simple test to determine if such a book has more funny moments than not (as there’s always a few duds among the strips): how hard was it for me to pick the sample image? If I had to dig around and picked the one funny one, that’s not a great sign! If, like in this case, I had to narrow it down and still am not sure if I picked the funniest one in the bunch? Then that comic is a winner and is full of funny! Of course, another problem with reviewing such books is that nothing kills humor faster than dissecting it, which makes it somewhere between difficult and impossible to talk about it in any depth. So it’s time for my patented (I have no patents) method of mentioning out-of-context snippets from strips in the hopes of intriguing you enough to buy his book. Or you could look at his Instagram page to be convinced, as it’s full of free samples. Strips in this collection deal with crab fighting, coming to terms with being a cartoonist, buried treasure, “reading” on a long bus ride, Hulk vs. Spiderman, how social media came about, banana peels, cat farts, killing a tick, putting everything that isn’t already on the internet onto the internet, having a dog, BRB, giving up on the day, picking your own quote for your tombstone, the fate of all cartoonists, ex boyfriend style, Halloween baby, aliens meeting primitive man, and a comic as a Casper ad. It’s a pile of funny, all in one place, and the man has a few more books available if you like this one. Read a few samples and make up your own mind, but I think this one is worth a look. $10

Update for 6/2/20

New review today for Quarantine Comics by Glenn Wilkinson, which are not actually about the quarantine. Spoiler alert!

Wilkinson, Glenn – Quarantine Comics

Website

Quarantine Comics

Finally, a comic made in the quarantine! Oh wait, I hadn’t read the disclaimer yet. This wasn’t written in the quarantine and isn’t about the quarantine. Oh well, I guess my search for the first quarantine mini comic continues. All kidding aside though, Glenn did have a pretty solid idea for this, considering the time we’re living through: after you finish this comic, send it along to a friend or somebody you think might like it. He has a sign-in sheet in the back so you could keep track of who else has read the comic; he even has plans for how people can post this to various social media accounts. Hey, people have the free time right now, why not give this a shot? Isn’t there also a comic here I should be talking about? Right you are! This is a collection of a few stories, with subjects including a wizard trying to get with the times and support his granddaughter, Peter Cushing as a Time Lord (with the most mundane reason for a body regeneration that I’ve ever seen; Doctor Who take note!), and a man trying to get a better brain. Entertaining stuff, so yeah, why not order it and ship it around to your friends? I suppose you could do that for any comic, so if you don’t want to order this, I don’t know, start your own trend. Find some mini comic from a decade ago and mail it around. Still, you should start with this one, as it was Glenn’s idea first. He’s in the UK so it might take you some dollars to get it, but give it a shot!

Update for 5/29/20

New review for Tinderella by M.S. Harkness, and if you haven’t already opened up another tab to buy it for that title alone, I don’t know what’s wrong with you. Happy weekend everybody!

Harkness, M.S. – Tinderella

Website

Tinderella

Did I have an assumption about this graphic novel from the title? Sure, in no small part because it’s a great title. I thought it would be a series of disastrous Tinder dates, maybe with a “happy” ending but who knows. Nope! Tinder plays a role in this, yes, but barely. This one starts off with her hilariously aggressive pickup technique at a gym and goes right from there to her having lunch with her brother. She’d ended up having sex on a tanning bed, so now she was half tanned and half pale. She takes her time narratively with her walk home, then in her chat with her roommate she goes through the pros and cons of the guys already on her phone. Finally it comes to Tinder, and the avalanche of messages she got right away. Which didn’t come across as a brag; based on the word of my single female friends it’s really a buyer’s market for ladies. Several mundane or horrible comments later, she finally found what she was looking for, arranged a date and had something going on that seemed to be exactly what both of them wanted. Was it? No spoilers here. Other subjects in the rest of the book deal with pink eye, spending Christmas alone, the booty call that she can never resist, Shane vs. Vince McMahon, even the origin of her last name, which I didn’t even know was a mystery. I don’t think I conveyed it properly, but this book is hilarious; her “come hither” look (that’s flirting for you young’uns) has to be seen to be believed. It’s a hell of a book, so I have no complaints. Well, one tiny one: after her wrestling comic (from SPACE 2015 if I remember correctly) and this one, now I have to go back and pick up all of her other comics. Is that a complaint? I don’t think that’s what the word means. Anyway, give this book a shot, you won’t be disappointed. $15

Update for 5/27/20

New review today for The Island of Dr. Miro by Grant Thomas. First person who sends me a corona-themed comic gets a prize! Because I’m just assuming that artists are using this extra time to work on comics. What else would they be doing for the end of the world?

Thomas, Grant – The Island of Dr. Miro

Website

The Island of Dr. Miro

Note: Grant’s website seems to be down, but he linked to it in a Twitter post a few days ago, so I’m guessing it’s just a temporary stop. Or my computer is messed up. Now on to the comics review! It’s going to be a short one, because this is a very short and wordless comic. It’s a fold-out book, so the comic itself is two long images and one single panel frame to wrap things up. He lists three inspirations to the work, but maybe it’d be more fun for you to figure them out for yourselves, so I won’t give them away. I did think I detected just a hint of Jim Woodring (not mentioned in his letter), so I’ll give you that. The comic itself is the story of an adventure in a bizarre world… or is it? It’s visually stunning, which is the most important factor for wordless comics. If this is your first time hearing Grant’s name maybe start with one of his more traditional comics, if you already know his stuff this is yet another worthy addition to the catolog. $4

Update for 5/25/20

Ach, another gap in reviews, sorry. Work is still busy, although that should be calming down next week. Meaning that if I can keep myself plague-free, I should be putting a lot more reviews up in the near future. New review today for Hot or Not: 20th Century Male Artists by Jessica Campbell!

Campbell, Jessica – Hot or Not: 20th Century Male Artists

Website

Hot or Not: 20th Century Male Artists

Note: the binding for this book was too tight for me to scan a sample image, so all you get is that fantastic cover. Besides, who wants the hotness or notness of even one 20th century male artist spoiled in a review? Nobody, that’s who. Once you get down to it this is one of the more straightforward comics out there: Jessica looks at a work of art from a dude, guesses their relative hotness and then has her suspicions confirmed or denied with (I’m guessing) a Google image search. I haven’t laughed this hard this many times while reading a comic for ages, and this gets as high of a recommendation as I can give for that alone. Not sure what that means, exactly, but I’m really putting my back into wishing that everybody out there buys a copy of this and laughs their ass off. Anyway! Now that that’s sorted, there’s still more to the comic than that! The start and end, where this is all being talked about in the context of Jessica giving a talk, is a few extra pages of hilarity. That last panel alone is a thing of brilliance. One final thing, in case you can’t stoop to buying something with a title of “Hot or Not” unless it’s ready to throw down with a seriously scholarly introduction, you’re in luck! I didn’t know what to expect after reading two dense pages of text about these artists, which made the comic itself even more delightful. In case you only read the last sentence of reviews, you should definitely get a copy of this comic. You’ll become the new authority in your peer group on the bangability of artist dudes from relatively recent history. $10

Update for 5/8/20

New review today for The Audra Show #4 by Audra Stang, and if anybody is using all this quarantine time to make comics, send them my way and I’ll talk about them. Currently no waiting! Unless I find a stash of comics I missed and have to quickly review them to make up for lost time. Happy weekend!

Stang, Audra – The Audra Show #4

Website

The Audra Show #4

Both stories are featured in this issue, with roughly half of the issue devoted to Oliver’s story in 2008 and half to Bea’s story in 1988. In Oliver’s tale we finally dig into just where those octopus arms of his might have come from, and he learns just how long it is that he’s been missing. Bea’s story has her getting increasingly sick of Jonah and his shenanigans and a long phone conversation between her and Owen. One of these stories actually got me to laugh out loud, which is always a welcome surprise, but I’ll leave it up to you to figure out which one. Maybe you’ll laugh at the other one, who knows? I do think that now is the time for Audra to maybe start putting recaps at the start of the book; four issues is about where I start losing track of what happened in the previous issues and missing some of the little bits. Of course, I also read comics constantly, so maybe most people don’t have that problem of retaining information. If so, just keep all the issues handy and reread them when the new issues come out, that also solves the problem. In a lot of ways this felt like a transitional issue, as we learn a bit about what happened to Oliver but not the whole story, and Bea is still feeling trapped in her life. Still, I’m fascinated by the Audraverse (yep, still using it, even if I’m the only one on Earth), and can’t wait to see what happens next. $5