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Nall, Alex – Let Some Word That Is Heard Be Yours

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Let Some Word That Is Heard Be Yours

Do kids still know about Mr. Rogers? I don’t think that was addressed in Alex’s latest installment of “Teaching Comics,” but I’m curious. He passed away in 2003, and the final episode was in 2001. Meaning that people who are turning 18, unless reruns are still airing somewhere, might have no clue who this guy was. I’m going to assume that somebody somewhere is still showing reruns, mostly because I don’t like to think of a world with no connection to Mr. Rogers and his neighborhood. Anyway, isn’t there a comic here that I should be talking about? This starts off with a new school year and Alex being increasingly beaten down by his students and his job. We also see the perspective of his partner Keri, and to a lesser extent a teacher friend in Italy. Keri is having an even rougher time with students and seems to be constantly on the verge of giving up entirely. Both of them have nightmares about class, and the only place that Alex gets refuge when he can’t sleep is by watching old episodes of Mr. Roger’s Neighborhood. If it is completely unfamiliar to you, there really was nothing else like it: his kindness and decency shone through, and it seems universally agreed upon even today when people tell their stories of working with him. I didn’t know most of his history so it was fascinating to watch it unfold here, from his earliest days trying to get a show together to stories from other people who worked for him. He wasn’t perfect, at least not in modern terms; he had a cast member who came out to him as gay in the 70’s and Mr. Rogers asked him to keep it to himself, as he didn’t think audiences were ready for such a thing yet. That sounds bad today, and it’s possible that if he had taken a step to support it back then that things could have turned out differently. It’s easy to say that in 2017! A far more likely possibility is that he would have gotten banned from television. Nobody knows for sure, and nobody ever will. This book is worth checking out for the history lesson alone, but wait, there’s more! Alex getting through to the kids in his class is a constant struggle, and it’s frankly baffling and impressive to me that he has the strength to keep trying. It’s not all losses, as things end on a pretty great note (finally getting through to a pretty big troublemaker), but I can see why he takes refuge in the calming glow of Mr. Rogers. I’m thoroughly enjoying this series and hope that Alex has the strength to continue for years to come. That being said, if the final volume of this series is titled “That’s All I Can Stand And I Can’t Stand No More!”, I’ll completely understand. No price listed yet, but contact Alex through his website, he’ll be able to get you a copy…

Nall, Alex – Teaching Comics Volume One

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Teaching Comics Volume One

Have you ever been a teacher, or wanted to be one? Or have you ever just wondered what their life was like? Or maybe do you just like entertaining comics? If any of these things apply to you, maybe you should give this one a shot. This covers roughly six months in the life of Alex as a teacher (I think; not all of the strips were dated), and it’s all over the place. I don’t mean that as a criticism, it’s just that between this and some other conversations I’ve had recently I get the impression that the life of a teacher is basically spent in a constant state of low level panic at the thought of losing their job, while still secretly hoping deep down that something happens to prevent them from ever needing to teach again. While ALSO being genuinely rewarded by the rare moments of creativity and inspiration from the students, and driven to hopelessness by the conditions in the school/classroom and the general apathy of the students most of the time. Like I said, there’s a lot going on here, and Alex does a fantastic job of conveying that on the page without ever getting preachy or morbid about the whole thing. Subjects include his being in charge of the iPods for the school, managing to inspire a few kids to draw about their favorite wrestlers or music, how the look and sounds of a school can be the same as when he was a kid but somehow vastly different, being baffled by the elimination of recess, wondering if he’s doing any good, getting his drawing class cancelled and taking over teaching disabled and special needs kids, meeting a new girl, and a number of the various interactions he’s had with his kids. He clearly had a wealth of material to work with here, and the story of the kid lining him up, bowling him over and then declaring him his soul mate was one of the funniest things I’ve read in ages. So yeah, this is very much worth a look. $20

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Nall, Alex – Morbid Dork #2

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Morbid Dork #2

Who likes awkward party comics? Oh, be honest, you all do. Who hasn’t either been to an awkward party or been an awkward person at a party? Every single one of you. Probably. Eh, play along. This is the story of the three guys who were introduced in the last issue going to a party. They decide that this is the best course of action despite the fact that Alex (the “normal” one of the bunch, not the creator of the comic (unless they’re one and the same)) practically goes into a crying fit at the thought of attending a strange party, much to the consternation of his friends. I’m using far too many big words to describe this comic, as the premise is simple: two out of the three of the guys are there to get laid, while Alex is apparently just hoping to survive it. As the party goes on Coop homes in on an older lady who seems interested, Jamie finds a woman who is attracted to his fro and beard, and even Alex gets shoved into a room with a gorgeous foreign exchange student who is going to be leaving the country the next day and only regrets that she “never got to have American sex.” Who thinks that everything turns out happily ever after for these three gentlemen? That wouldn’t end up being much of a story, now would it? So obviously hijinx ensue, which I’m not going to tell you about because why ruin it. It’s funny, which is all you can ask for out of a comic like this (and by “like this” I mean “meant to be funny”), and Alex (the person) did an excellent job with this story that covered the whole comic instead of a comic of short pieces. There was one copier problem where I couldn’t see what was being said, but other than that I have no complaints. $3

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Nall, Alex – Morbid Dork #1

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Morbid Dork #1

Note to all reviewers: it doesn’t hurt a thing if you include an illustrated letter with your comic explaining your reasoning for sending me your comic. It doesn’t technically help either, as I do try to review everything that comes to me eventually (and if I haven’t reviewed your book it’s because it’s at the bottom of a pile of comics that I think have already been reviewed, or it fell behind my desk, or it might have never gotten to me at all). This comic is mostly about three college kids who are living together, but this is almost certainly not the comic that you’re expecting from that description. We see right away that these people don’t like each other all that much, and to simplify things they’re called “Asshole,” “Pussy” and “Psycho” respectively. We see the psycho in his day job working at a grocery store (he seems to like stabbing people in the face, and he likes mentioning this fact to everybody he meets), the two “evil” roommates thriving on the misery of others, a discussion on the merits of having a kid (including a nice slow mellowing to that fact by the psycho (Coop), which is tempered by the reality of the situation a bit), and the first meeting between Coop and Jamie (the asshole). Odd that Jamie seems to have grown limbs and a body since those early days, but hey, it’s good to include it for the sake of the longer story. Alex has some odd usages of space in here, as the story about the possibility of having a child has vast open spaces in the middle of the pages and a couple of stories just generally peter out, but overall it’s a damned funny comic with nary a spelling/grammatical error to be found. Both good things in my book! Alex sent along a few other books and I’ll be getting to those in the coming weeks to get a better idea of what this dude is capable of, but so far so good. $3

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