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.
The Eye Hand of the Carolinas
Hey look, an Andrew Goldfarb book that doesn’t deal with any of the 1000 sorrows! This is a short mini about a pair of conjoined twins (or two people sharing one circulatory system, not two different sets of people) who can’t stand each other. While fighting to the death they see that creepy thing from the front cover, who looks directly into their souls. Because naturally, you’d think that something that looks like that would be the thing that would bring two brothers together. As always with Andrew, the art in this book is gorgeous, with all sorts of little things scurrying around in the shadows. If you’re afraid of those hefty $3 and $4 price tags above but still want to check out his stuff, this $.50 cheapie is the perfect way to go.
Ogner Stump’s Automotive Sorrows Now Available! $3
More wonderful sorrows here, although fans of chronological order are sure to be outraged, as the sorrows hop all over the place. I believe that sorrows #46-77 are represented here, although some of them are subtle enough to be practically invisible. Again, without the visuals you’re missing the vast majority of the fun, but a few of the topics are car crashes, mechanics, knee injuries, sunburns, and hostile aliens. Also included in here is a delightul poem about an old woman who kills any guests that come over for a cup of tea and a brief autobiographical tale about a monster that Andrew sees late one night. Everything I’ve seen so far from Andrew has been a visual smorgasboard of creepy goodness, and this one is no exception. Anybody who loves comics and skips these things is doing themself a disservice. $3
Ogner Stump’s Hawaiian Sorrows Now Available! $3
Just in case you’re keeping track of the actual number of 1000 sorrows that have been completed, this comic has #26-45. So Andrew should be done with all of these, if that is in fact his plan, sometime shortly before he dies naturally of old age. Maybe it’s best not to think about the mammoth nature of this theoretical project and instead take the sorrows as they come. With the full knowledge that just listing these is useless without your being able to see how they’re represented in comics form, here are some of the topics: insects, bus stops, trains, ghosts, envy, ticklishness, and ritual human sacrifice. I said something along the lines of “demented brilliance” in the last review of Ogner Stump, and despite my not getting the point in most of the rest of the review, I’m sticking by that line. The book is gorgeous and haunting (seriously, I defy anyone to read one of these comics and not have at least one of the characters pop into your dreams at some point), and I’m tempted to quote about half the lines in here just to prove that point. OK fine, I’ll confine myself to one: “Your uncoiled innards will spell abundant appeasement to our mango deity!” $3
I’ve been sitting here for about twenty minutes now, trying to put my thoughts about this book into some semblance of order, but I’ve come to the conclusion that that’s just not going to happen. For anybody out there who likes bizarre, gothic comics (Jim Woodring, Richard Sala, and Edward Gorey, to name a few that fit in at least one of those categories): you have a new hero. Seriously, this is an almost flawless work of demented brilliance. Ogner Stump is a guy who has all sorts of horrible things happen to him, from plague to haircuts to apes to islands to defecation to rock and roll to… I could go on for a while here, but I think you get the idea. The thing is that all of these chapters have the most innocuous titles, like “Eggs” or “Employment”, but there’s nothing remotely normal about any of it. Enough about that, check out his website for samples of things too if you don’t believe me. The rest of the book is various short stories which, while lacking the sense of cohesiveness that the Ogner Stump stuff has, are still wonderfully insane in their own right. There’s a story about a floating head and another one about a truffle tree. Look, just get it. It’s $9 for about 150 pages of insanity and, if that’s your thing, this is perfect. If that’s not your thing, loosen up a little…
Andrew clearly has no interest in helping reviewers like me along, as he seems determined to call every mini he puts out “Ogner Stump”.Â Oh well, if that’s the biggest problem I have today it’ll be a pretty good day.Â This is a little different from his other comics, as even though this continues the 1000 sorrows (#81-94 this time around, indicating that he will indeed be working on these well into his old age), the sorrows are aspects of larger stories and no longer clearly pointed out.Â He does list them all in the beginning though, so half the fun is finding them yourself and seeing how he works them into the story.Â The other thing that’s different is that this is in full color, and if there’s ever been a concept that calls out for full color, it’s this one.Â Anyone who has read anything else from Andrew knows it’s a bit difficult to nail them down in regular, human terms, but I’ll do my best.Â Stories include Swamp Gas (a long, lyrical journey through the swamp and beyond), Ogner Stump Meets the Green Fairy (in which Ogner wishes for lemonade and gets a lot more than he bargained for), The Eye Hand of the Carolinas (see the bottom of the page, it was previously released as its own tiny mini), The Hex (in which Andrew explains, in great detail, how make a hex) and Andrew’s true story about taking a stone from the grave of a “voodoo queen” and what happened after.Â I’d swear that Andrew’s writing has gotten even better, or at least certainly more lyrical than last time.Â The art was always excellent, and it’s even better now that it’s all in vivid color.Â However many of these he can afford to do in color, it would be great if he could stick with that as long as possible.Â Also, Andrew sent me an extra copy, so the first person who buys the rest of his books on this page gets it free.Â Note: if you’re reading this years down the road and wonder if anybody has taken me up on this offer, go ahead and check.Â Sometimes these free comic offers get taken up right away, and sometimes they sit here forever.Â $4