Hey kids, or anybody who has started reading comics in the last few years? Are you interested in the history of mini comics, why they’re such a source of passion for so many people? Well, maybe not in numbers, but in level of interest and dedication in following certain artists? Your answer is this volume. If you have no interest in the history, away with you! This one can be for the old timers. This is a collection of the best of the “Not My Small Diary” anthology, and if you read small press comics in the 90’s and 00’s, you will recognize plenty of these names. In fact, good luck not getting lost in a Google hole or trying to figure out what so many of these people are up to these days. Notable names include (but are not limited to) Jeff Zenick, Dan Zettwoch, Patrick Dean, Raina Telgemeier, Jesse Reklaw, Carrie McNinch, Sam Spina, Roberta Gregory, Kurt Wolfgang… you know what, there are just too damned many names, and they’re all in the tags, so check that part out. If any of those names made you say “hey, I wonder what they’re up to these days” then this book is for you. These are mostly snippets of stories, but they’re all complete by themselves. Sometimes the stories follow a theme, like notable dates or moments in their lives, but really they’re all over the place. If it seems like I’m avoiding getting into specifics, that is entirely the case. If you were around for all these artists when they first started, you’re going to get lost in this instantly. If not, this is an excellent way for you to figure out what the big deal was about these people all along. I guess it’s possible that it’s the nostalgia talking and that people might not connect to these stories now, but screw that. These are tales of human weakness (and occasionally triumph), and those stories are universal and timeless. Most of the original issues of this series are out of print, so this is your best option all around. The book itself is $7.50 if you see Delaine at a convention, but if not $10 should be enough to cover the shipping, and I really can’t recommend this enough. It’s rare for any anthology not to have a weak story or two, but these are all golden.
Elfworld Volume 2 #1
I have no idea how I missed the first issue of this series. This seems like something that’s right up my alley, as I like my small press comics with a sprinkling of dorky sorcerers and such, even though finding quality examples of that genre is exceedingly difficult (and hey, send me an e-mail if I’m wrong). I do have to say that I don’t think you’re allowed to start the second volume of a series if you only put out one issue in the first series, but I don’t get toÂ make the rules on such things. With this lineup of talent it was pretty much a sure thing that this book would be damned near indispensable, and I think that ends up being accurate. First up is Grant Reynolds (who has either been quiet lately or he’s just stopped sending me review comics) with a tense chase between two creatures. Very few people outside of Jim Woodring can pull off “what the fuck IS that thing?” better than Grant and those skills are heavily on display here. Next is a piece by Alec Longstreth in which a wizard tries to audition new animals to deliver messages after his owl dies. I chuckled a few times and his cartoony art was perfect for this. Also a clear sign that this book wasn’t going to be either straight fantasy or straight parody of fantasy. Ben Costa and J.R. Parks are up next with a piece about the dangers of pulling a prank on your boss when you work in some kind of evil lair of doom. The Mute by David Enos deals with a mute (duh) wandering around, getting into adventures and saving the girl. Um, spoiler alert, but not really, because that’s not the end of the story so there. This was maybe the highlight of the book, although I may still contradict myself before finishing this review. Jane Samborski is next with a detailed list of dragon rating rituals listed by the types of dragon, and might I just add that this woman has a variety of dragon poses down cold, which I can’t imagine is an easy thing. Dash Shaw has a shortie next that’s the highlight of the book (see what I did there?) about an orc in his final moments before his execution. Brilliant, that’s what it was, and after a story that brutal it was nice to get a laugh out of the ending. Finally there’s a short Icecreamlandiaish (look up their other comics on this site to see what that means) by Eve Englezos and Joshua Moutray that I won’t get into because describing a one panel story is the same thing as ruining it. I guess if you hate all things fantasy you might not like this book, but even then there are pieces that only tangentially relate to fantasy, and it still has a pile of your favorite artists (if you have good taste, that is), so I’d say it’s worth picking up. I also need to mention the production design, as that Sammy Harkham cover and the work that Francois put into designing this book were both top-notch. Look closely at that cover; it took me a minute to get exactly what was going on there. So yeah, I’d say you should buy this book, and if the back of it is to be believed there will even be a new one out soon. $6