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Various Spark Plug anthologies – Orchid


Orchid Now Available! $8

And to think that I was regretting saving this one for last. After that Bogus Dead book in the middle of the week I was pretty sure nothing else was going to touch it, then along comes this book. In my opinion. there are two ways to make a great anthology. You can either have a lot of pieces, fast and furious, and you’ll come away with a good impression of the book as long as the majority of them are solid, or you can have a book with only a select few, long pieces. Orchid is comprised of seven long tales adaptations of gothic stories. The only one that didn’t do anything for me was Poe’s “The Raven”, and that’s mostly just because I’ve seen so many adaptations of it at this point in my life that I just don’t want to see it again. A personal problem of mine, granted, but that doesn’t change the fact that everything else in here is creepy and good. Kevin Huizenga (the back says that he “used to do a comic book named Supermonster”. Please don’t tell me that he’s done, that’s one of the best series out there and I only just found out about it!) has the longest piece, a disturbing tale about the power of visions. Here’s a list of the other names, and let me know if you need and more convincing: Lark Pien & Jesse Reklaw, Ben Catmull, T. Edward Bak, David Lasky, and Dylan Williams. It’s only $8 and I couldn’t recommend it more highly. Get this and Bogus dead and your anthology needs for the year should be pretty much met. If the website still isn’t working, you can send money to: Spark Plug Comics P. O. Box 10952 Portland, OR 97296-0952.

Catmull, Ben – Monster Express


Monster Express

Christ, where the heck has Ben Catmull been? I knew the art in this looked familiar, but I didn’t know who did this until I turned it over at the end and saw his name. Has he been doing a bunch of stuff that I missed and, if so, could somebody point me to it? This is the story of a man on a train, trying to have a peaceful train ride. He unexpectedly is forced to sit next to a chatterbox, but can’t seem to leave his car for any reason because there’s a monster on the loose, killing everbody on board. The only action we see is through their train car, with injured (or headless) people running by in a panic while the general calm of their seating area remains the same. His art has a simple charm to it that’s hard to match (what does he use for the shading, watercolors?) and the man can tell a story, so I don’t know what more you could ask for here. It’s short and I’d guess it’s between 2 and 3 bucks, as the packaging is pretty simple. Check it out and get the rest of his stuff too, he’s one of the great ones that I’ve seen in the past few years. Send him e-mail or check out more of his stuff online

Catmull, Ben – Paper Theater


Paper Theater

I put a link up to this guy a few weeks ago because I really liked what I saw on his home page (which is down as of 11/18/03, but I have no idea if that is a permanent thing), but I also knew that his comic was coming soon so I wouldn’t do a page until I saw his book. Well, I’ve seen it now, and I’m impressed. It’s a series of short stories about a variety of different things. His ability to go from creepy to laugh-out-loud funny is amazing. It starts with the subtly disquieting “Emily” (about two childhood friends) and goes from that right to “All Zombies Attack!”, which is funny as hell. It’s basically all about every living creature getting turned into a zombie and Death running around frantically trying to make sure that everything that is supposed to be dead stays dead. Funny stuff. I’m not going to analyze the whole damned thing, it’s a pretty big book. Other stories include an astronaut going to hell accidentally, a man trying to find a bottle of whiskey while being tormented by a dead kitty that he didn’t kill, and a taxidermist who breaks his glasses in the middle of the night with disastrous results. Sometimes funny and sometimes at least slightly disturbing, this one’s a fun read all the way through. Go ahead and visit his page, he has all kinds of samples up.