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Various Artists – Big Planet Comics Anthology

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Big Planet Comics Anthology

This is an anthology with mostly artists from the area around Big Planet Comics, meaning mostly the Washington D.C. area. I’ll start this review with a complaint about anthologies in general and this one in particular, and this is a complaint I’ll be putting in all anthology reviews until comics society as a whole fixes it. For an anthology you have three ways to let readers know who did each story. You can list the title and author at the bottom or top of each page (still my preferred method), list a table of contents with the page numbers clearly listed there and on each page (that last bit trips up more people than you would think) or you could have the writer/artist clearly take credit for each story either at the beginning or the end of it. This anthology went with the second option, mostly, choosing instead to include a table of contents with page numbers listed… and no page numbers listed on each page. It’s not the worst thing in the world for a 48 page anthology, but it’s still annoying. Anyway! This was still a solid anthology overall, and a nice sampler of the work of some of these artists. Highlights for me included the Horse Story by Jensine Eckwall, a Mark Burrier comic that I hadn’t seen (check the archives, the man has been around for ages), Saman Bemel-Benrud’s tale of internet culture mixing with real life, Robin Ha and the horror of The French Cows, Box Brown’s horrifying tale of what magic is, Angelica Hatke’s story of a hen laying a football egg and what comes after, and Jared Morgan’s harrowing tale of life inside the first level of a video game. I didn’t actively hate any of the stories here, always a plus, and it was a nice mix of talent. Just maybe make it easier to find each individual story next time? Comicland, maybe we can get together and make a law on this. $5

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Brown, Box – An Entity Observes All Things

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An Entity Observes All Things

Who’s up for a good old fashioned science fiction anthology? If that’s not then you’d better move along, although I can’t imagine why you’d rule this out because of that. For one thing it’s Box Brown, who has a hell of a track record with the quality of his comics. Also “science fiction” basically means “any sort of fiction that also has science, real or imagined, in it.” That covers a lot of ground, even though it’s a definition I just made up. Anyway, this is a collection of a bundle of different stories from Box, covering a wide range of topics. The highlight is probably the cover story, because it so nearly wraps itself up by the end, but I can’t dig much more into it without spoiling it. Other subjects include a mysterious pizza tattoo, what happens when you forget your entertainment while piloting a mating giant robot, reliving a painful moment of your life through science, the essence of god on a waffle, being disconnected while taking comfort from the familiar, taking the long view on the effects of social media interactions, a good old fashioned quest, and getting yourself remade after your ego is destroyed. Not a single one of these stories is as simple as I made it appear through that synopsis, so I’ll just retreat to my fallback position of wanting to spoil as little as possible from this comic. Every single story made me either rethink an aspect of my perception of reality of feel all or some of the feelings, sometimes both at the same time. That seems like the best possible recommendation for reading a book, so why not do so? If you’re already familiar with Box’s work then you shouldn’t take much convincing. If you’re not, that’s a situation you need to rectify, and an anthology like this is the perfect place to do it. $12

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Various Artists – Cringe

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Cringe

Quick, think of the most embarrassing thing that’s ever happened to you. Now imagine yourself writing and drawing a comic story about it. That right there should make you cringe, which means you’re in luck, as that’s what this anthology is all about! This book has right around 30 small press artists, some new and some who have been around for awhile, who are willing to share some shameful incident from their past. I don’t think anything in here will get anybody put in jail, but it’s hard not to cringe while reading some of these. I’m not going to review every story because there are so damned many of them (and for a measly $8!), but the highlights include Shaenon K. Garrity wetting herself while out with a group of other cartoonists (including a big name guy, but I won’t spoil the surprise; I particularly loved the way she ended her strip), Sam Spina’s unfortunate method for drinking a rum shot when he met the Bacardi girls, Adam Pasion’s particularly gruesome retelling of an incident involving a finger in the eye, Geoff Vasile dodging a bullet (not literally), Chad Essley and his series of embarrassing moments (hard to top the one where he volunteered to breakdance at school on stage), Fred Noland’s theories on some crayons he used to own, Chad Woody and his racist former roommate, Box Brown and his former habit of eating light bulbs (it’s not quite as life-threatening as it sounds), Stephen Notley and his experience of being “that guy” at a comic convention (you know the one, the guy who gets up to ask a rambling and pointless question and has no idea how to get out of it once he gets started), and Sam Henderson’s experiences with having seizures while surrounded by strangers. It’s a damned fine mix of stories, and at a ridiculously cheap price. Save yourself the embarrassment of not owing this anthology of embarrassment! Ugh, I feel dirty for saying that. I’ll let myself out… $8

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Brown, Box – Andre the Giant

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Andre the Giant

There are two main groups of people who know about Andre the Giant: the ones who knew him from wrestling, and the ones who knew him from The Princess Bride. There’s some overlap, granted, but if you’ve heard of him today, it’s probably through one of those things. If you somehow don’t know him, or only know him through images, the man lived quite a life, and Box Brown does a hell of a job telling that story. The basics of Andre is that, at his largest point, he was 7’4″ and over 500 pounds. His disease led to him eventually shrinking as he had to hunch to keep up with various body parts and joints failing, but there’s no getting around the fact that he was a giant man. Full disclosure here: I was a wrestling fan back in the Wrestlemania III days, and recently uncovered an old program book of mine from Wrestlemania IV (I went to see it at a theater in Chicago, not the actual event). There was a championship tournament set up for IV and the program had a section where you could fill in your guesses for how it would go. Andre, to my mind as a child, was clearly going to go through all four rounds and win the championship. In reality the poor guy could barely move at that point and he got counted out (along with Hulk Hogan) in his first round match. That’s throwing the timeline off of this review a bit, but figured I should throw it out there somewhere. Anyway, this book tells brief snippets of his childhood (including how he had to stop riding the bus at 12 because it would no longer fit him) and how he basically stumbled into wrestling as an adult. He was a natural, and I had no idea that he was as agile as he was back in the day. He could do leapfrogs and dropkicks, two moves that require the wrestler to get completely off their feet. He was later told to stop doing all that high flying stuff and move as little as possible to appear even more intimidating, but man do I wish I could have seen Andre the frickin’ Giant dropkick somebody. The bulk of the book recounts various incidents on the road and at wrestling shows, and Box makes it very plain in the intro that wrestlers are notorious for embellishing their stories, but he did all he could to get to the truth of everything. The big highlights are the preparation for his big Wrestlemania III match and a detailed retelling of the match itself and his time working on The Princess Bride. I had never heard the real story behind the last couple of years of his life, and had no idea that he was still wrestling in Japan basically right up until the end of his life. It’s cliche to call somebody like Andre a “gentle giant,” and he more or less was, but it’s also clear that there was only a certain amount of shit that he was willing to take. At least that was the case in bars; the casual cruelty of way too many humans was just something he had to live with. If you’re curious about the man, this is the book for you. Ever wonder how he was able to use an airplane bathroom? How people would move him if he ever got drunk enough to pass out (and good lord could the man drink)? How they were able to perform surgery on somebody that size? Every bit of that is in here. I can’t recommend this enough, both as a biography of one of the most fascinating man who ever lived and as a graphic novel. Box has really outdone himself here, and his obvious passion for the subject is delightful. Read this and enjoy! $17.99

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Brown, Box; Kochalka, James – Beach Girls

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Beach Girls

Ah, girls going to beaches for vacation. Why are they there and what does the local population think of them? I suppose neither of those questions is a big mystery, as they’re mostly there to let loose in ways that they can’t at home, and the local population thinks of them as either easy marks or obnoxious invaders to their town. This comic digs a little deeper into both of those things, as it wouldn’t be much of a comic otherwise. We’re introduced to the three girls first: the unnamed (or I missed it?) leading lady and her two friends Ducky and Katy. Our hero would like to be like Ducky (uninhibited) and Katy (gorgeous), but she also wants to make her own way and is more than a little annoyed at the two of them in general. On the other side we meet a muscle bound oaf and his friend. The oaf is thrilled that the tourist ladies are coming to town, while his friend just wants to surf and work at his skateboard shop and is most than a little annoyed at these intruders. Along the way we see various little interactions in the town, the nightlife options, how our lady heroine decides to spend her vacation time and how it changes her (and how it doesn’t). It was, simply, a damned near perfect representation of a vacation spent in a strange town, all of the days blurring together with all of the booze and marijuana. If you’ve ever been on one of those trips (or lived in a town where those people visited), good luck reading this without getting hit with some serious nostalgia and/or general memories and regrets. There’s also a story in here by James Kochalka, and I have to admit that I’ve lost touch with his work (other than Superfuckers) after he started aiming his comics more at kids. He has a pretty funny story in this one, as two… mushroom people? Whatever they are, they follow a trail of empty beer cans until they run into a passed out lady. The elder mushroom dude leaves when she starts to wake up, but the smaller one (Dweeb) starts yelling at her that she’s a pretty princess, and in her still-drunken state she takes this as her boyfriend from the night before making up with her (it doesn’t seem like she ever opens her eyes to see this little monster). So hey, there’s two solid stories in one comic for you to enjoy, all for the reasonable price of $6. What a deal!

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Brown, Box – Number 1

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Number 1

Most people probably have that moment as a kid when they learn that something that they believed to be real isn’t actually real. Mostly this is because our parents have lied to us (about Santa Claus or the Easter Bunny or “work hard your whole life and good things will happen to you”), but in the case of this comic this comes about when our hero meets a wrestler and learns about “kayfabe.” In wrestling terms, this is the acting out of the story, where the winners and losers have already been pre-determined, and pretending that this is all real life and they’re making it up as they go along. Once our hero learns of this it’s impossible for him not to apply it to the rest of the world around him. For example, when the anti-drug people came to his school and sprayed something that was supposed to smell like marijuana at them, he couldn’t help but notice that he had also smelled the same thing when he went to visit his father at work. From there the kayfabe theory spread into everything, and the only thing he had left to do was to start a magazine explaining his theories and the proper way to view the world at large. The rest of the comic deals with chasing his hero, expanding the business (by learning how to properly exploit the dopes who were willing to pay for it in the first place), and learning how wrestlers “blade” so that they can properly have a crimson mask for certain matches. It’s a damned fascinating mash-up of the hopefulness of starting a new business mixed with the bleakness of starting that business to tell everybody that the world is all bullshit, and the uncomfortable reality that a hero of his who inspired the entire thing can easily be forgotten by the world at large. There are also two one page strips at the end, showing a documentarian who goes about his daily life while not being entirely clear on how to interact with humans. The inside back cover showed that Box was working on the life story of Andre the Giant, which will be required reading for any human once it comes out. I don’t know if the full story of Andre has ever been properly told, but the idea of it coming from Box sounds just about perfect to me. As for this one, it’s well worth a look, but Box’s name alone should have been enough to clue you into that fact… $6

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Various Artists – The Hic and Hoc Illustrated Journal of Humor Volume One: The United States

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The Hic and Hoc Illustrated Journal of Humor Volume One: The United States

Do you like your comics funny? Do you like some or most of the creators I listed in the tags section (right below this post, in big letters, you can’t miss them)? Then this one should be an easy call for you. There, now that I’ve made that case, I’ll go about my afternoon… wait, you want something of substance? Egh, fine. Laurent Barnett does the “Me Likes You” comics (which you should already be reading on a regular basis), and she was one of the editors, so there, that’s substantive. Strips in here include Noah Van Sciver’s fever dreams (both with and without music), funny jokes that aren’t really jokes by Bort, Martha Keavney’s tales of a pet human, Nikki Burch showing us that saying “that’s what she said” too many times will end up with you getting what you deserve, Anne Emond’s cat style, Sam Spina’s ridiculously awesome sex comic, a couple of pages of single panel jokes by Sam Henderson (which should be worth the price of admission right there), Grant Snider’s fears and feats (he had four pages of strips and I don’t want to ruin any of them), KC Green’s depressed fish, Jane Mai’s dream of male lingerie, Nathan Bulmer’s tale of ninja tricks, Julia Wertz’ attempt to get serious and Ian Anderson’s tale of a bear that’s just trying to fit in. But wait, there’s more! And you can discover it for yourself if you buy this. Unless you just have an unnatural hatred for all anthologies, which I guess I could almost understand, but it makes no sense to hate the good ones too, and this is one of the good ones. Hell, just pick three of the names of people who contributed to this, go to their websites and see what there is to see. If you don’t laugh once then I release you from your duty to buy this, but seriously, good luck with that. $10

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Gennis, Emi (editor) – Unknown Origins & Untimely Ends

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Unknown Origins & Untimely Ends

You should have a pretty easy time knowing whether or not you’d be inclined to like this book from the title alone, and I’m happy to tell you that the contents more than live up to it. Emi has been doing mini comics on this theme for a few years now, and she took her chance to edit this anthology and ran with it, doing a really fantastic job of picking out/accepting these stories. I should say up front that I have no patience for those stupid “ghost hunting” shows with the shaky cams and the loud noises and won’t believe that aliens have visited us until I see solid proof (which is not the same thing as declaring that no other life exists in the universe), but overall this isn’t that type of book. These are all, as Emi says in the introduction, unsolved mysteries, so the reader doesn’t get the satisfaction of getting the story neatly tied up in a bow by the end. Instead you’re left wondering what the hell happened for these 32 stories. If you’re a naturally curious person and/or at all interested in the weird and bizarre then you’ve probably already stopped reading this and ordered a copy. For those of who are too polite to quit reading in the middle of the review (and it’s OK if you do, I’ll never know), subjects include a mysterious gelatinous goo that rained down on a town, the monster with 21 faces, an unexplained shower of meat from the sky, an arcade game that quickly came and went in 1981 under mysterious circumstances, a tumor that was bigger than the carrier, Gef (of which I will say no more but this may have been the most intriguing tale in the book), that weird hum in the air that some people can hear all the time, the Nain Rouge and his continuing destruction of Detroit, the money pit of Oak Island (which some bored billionaire should look into), creepy kids with black eyes trying to enter homes, the Leatherman and theories of who he might have been, unsolved murders at a campsite, the former Prime Minister of Australia vanishing while swimming, the missing body of Addie Mae Collins, why 9 campers in Siberia ran from the safety of their tent (sometimes barefoot) and why they never went back to it, two bodies and their lead masks, Rasputin (an oldie but a goodie), Frederick Valentich and the UFO that seemed to by toying with him, D.B. Cooper and his disappearance (it’s an ever funnier story to anybody who watched Justified this season), a bridge where 600 dogs have committed suicide, the Axeman, and a serious skeleton in the closet of Orson Welles (possibly). DC comics used to do a series of “Big Books” on various subjects, and after seeing this I’d suggest that they start it up again and put Emi in charge. Not every story was perfect, granted, but good luck not having several of these stories haunt your dreams. Also good luck on not taking to the internet to learn more about them, as I already know how I’m spending the rest of my afternoon. And look at that pile of talent in the tags section! Why would you possibly need any more convincing to check this out? $12

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Brown, Bryan G. – Brown Vs. Brown

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Brown Vs. Brown

My sozzled brain is still recovering from all the cold medicine and nasty side effects of this cold, so I’m sticking with small comics like this for the time being that have simple concepts. This one, for example, deals with Bryan’s rage at being confused with Box Brown (who makes the delightful Everything Dies series, among other comics). The rage builds for a bit before Bryan snaps and has to attack Box, but Box has a secret weapon up his sleeve (that I couldn’t help but spoil in the sample, for which I apologize, but how could I pass up that image?). It’s funny and you might end up being surprised by the winner of the fight, so what more could you ask for? It’s also a short 8 pages, so you might want to go for one of Bryan’s other comics if you really want to see him flex his artistic muscles. Or you could apparently just buy some of Box Brown’s comics instead just to piss him off…

Aulisio, Pat (editor) – Dirty #1

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Dirty #1

At least I’m pretty sure Pat is the editor for this issue, with all that artistic expression going on around that guy it’s hard to tell sometimes.  This is another anthology by what appear to be locals around Philadelphia, as they include a class schedule for people interested in signing up… back in September.  Just a note to anybody who sends me time sensitive comics: send me an e-mail mentioning this fact, as if it comes on a note with the comic those two things often get separated.  I try to do new releases first and then go back to the older stuff, but what with the whole “Pat Aulisio Tuesdays” theme I’ve just been grabbing whichever book of his is handy.  Wasn’t there a comic here somewhere?  Ah yes.  This is short but tall and vibrantly colorful.  There’s Ian Harker with a piece about… yeah, not going to touch that one.  Beth Heinly has the sampled piece, as I have an elderly grandmother’s resistance to cat-related strips.  Box Brown, Pat Aulisio and James T. Arnold share a page of strips about fantasy, the distant future and animal funnies respectively.  Bradford Haubrich then has the bulk of the comic with different pieces using layered techniques to make a better whole.  Or something, I’m not so good with the technical descriptions of art, in case that wasn’t blindingly obvious by now.  Steven Streisguth brings up the rear with a couple of gorgeous black and white pieces.  Pterodactyl is the group putting this together, and their motto is in part: “To revive the enjoyment and practice of creating art for personal fulfillment, to create exhibitions and experiences that resonate with diverse audiences, and to bring people together through the arts.”  Sounds good to me and, especially if you know and love the people involved, this is definitely worth checking out.  How you get a copy is another question, but I’ll pass it along here if I find anything out…

Harker, Ian (editor) – Secret Prison #2

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Ian Harker website

Secret Prison #2

Here’s hoping it’s still OK to use images from the internets for the review, as it’s impossible for me to scan the newspaper sized stuff.  And if you agree with me that Benjamin Marra is tearing shit up with that cover, you should see the back cover by Pat Aulisio.  I’m also not entirely sure if it’s possible for any old schmuck online to get a copy of this, as I think it’s only available at cons, but that’s a damned shame for a pile of great strips like this.  Share it with the world!  If I’m not mistaken (and I probably am) this one is even longer than the last issue, and it’s one of those rare anthologies with no really weak pieces.  Sure, some things are better than others, whatever that means, but everything in here has something going for it.  Strips in here (and they are strips, nothing is longer than 2 pages) include Pat’s tale of deliciously sorrowful soul, Luke Pearson’s absolutely brilliant “How to Exist For a Day,” Ian’s silent cubed spy story, Josh Burggraf’s text message-a-rific story of need, Cody Pickrodt with some true confessions, Bob Pistilli going a long way for a great ending, Box Brown and his experience with an exotic “delicacy,” the story behind that ridiculously good cover by Benjamin Marra, Art Baxter loving the summer, Simon Gardenfors getting the most out of his page with a series of mishaps involving a round dude wearing underwear, Kelly Phillips wondering if there’s a line cardiologists should not cross, Cyn Why with a tale for the ages, Steve Teare going to heaven, Doug Slack with a pile of funnies, and Jose Mochove & Rusty Rowley using photos to destroy us with reality.  I skipped a few to leave some surprises for people who manage to find an actual copy of this, not that I spoiled too much for the other stories, but everybody likes surprises, right?  Seriously, show this to the world, you guys!  A working table of contents, a huge pile of talent, this should not be kept away from the world at large.  Unless it isn’t, and I’m wrong, in which case let me know and I’ll tell people here how to buy it.

Aulisio, Pat (editor) – Philly Alternative Comic Con 2010

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Philly Alternative Comic Con 2010

Well, at least I think Pat was the editor.  He put the book together, anyway, and that’s basically the same thing.  Sadly, it’s one of those anthologies without a coherent table of contents (although I did like the look of the one Box Brown put together), so a lot of these stories are going to be reviewed through a bit of guesswork and process of elimination.  Stories in here include a very colorful mess from Pat, Liz Baillie keeping the tradition of record collecting alive, Hawk Krall with some disgusting but hilarious pranks, Dina Kelberman’s inimitable comics (with a drunken disclaimer tacked onto the bottom), Mike Sgier with a futuristic tale of trying to cap an uncontrollably spewing well, Ian Harker’s love of flying, L. Nichols and going along to get along, and Sally Bloodbath & Matt Wiegle with a piece on the most horrible child alive and her fitting end.  That leaves a few pieces without a noticeable creator, so in no particular order, the other stories in here dealt with making a friend (literally), trying to make art to please a critic, and two grotesque creatures sharing an apartment and their antics.  Chris McDonnell probably did the first two pieces and Lance Hansen probably did the last story (which was actually a series of smaller stories), and I say “probably” because that’s where my coin flip landed, and when has that ever been wrong?  Box Brown did the covers and has a lovely group of people at the end of their lives bemoaning their lack of buying quality comics in their lives, something you should all take to heart.  As this was from a con I have no idea if it’s still readily available to the world, but as it’s all in color, gorgeous and full of talent, you should hunt it down if at all possible.  Pat would probably know if it was around, why not check it with him?  Or I can post a little update here if I hear anything, how about that?  No price, but $5 sounds nice, if possibly too low.

Brown, Box – Everything Dies #2

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Everything Dies #2

If this series doesn’t win some small press comics award, I’m turning in my fake membership badge.  He has apparently put out a few other comics, but I rarely see stuff this polished and this perfect.  So what’s there to write about when I have no complaints?  Well, how about the good stuff?  Note: it helps if you read the first issue of this series (two of the pieces come directly from the first issue), but he still manages to make them self-contained.  The second part of the modern re-telling of the Book of Job was again a thing of brilliance, as Job gets increasingly baffled by his continued problems, seeks advice and eventually meets God himself (and it never occurred to me how much of a let-down that conversation must have been for Job (if he had actually existed or talked to God (or if God existed))).  Ah, my first triple parenthesis.  I’m so proud.  The other part of this book that puts all other comics to shame with its scope is the adaptation of how various religions view the end of the world.  If you read the first issue you remember that he did this with how all religions view the beginning of the world, so it only made sense to go here.  No matter how knowledgeable you are about all this, I guarantee that you will learn something new.  Whether it’s the utter insanity of the Sunni Islam sect believing that Allah will kill all humans only to immediately bring them back to life to be judged, the Mormons believing that 1000 years of missionary work will follow the destruction of the wicked (who would they be preaching to exactly?), or the simple science of the Big Crunch, this is as close to flawless as a comics story gets.  There are also two pieces about the monk and his pupil, but I’m leaving those stories (that would be the highlight of most other minis) to your imagination, as everybody should already buy this anyway.  Yes, I know I say that often, but I mean the hell out of it this time.  Trust me, you’ll be sorry when he’s famous in a few years and these minis are completely out of print…  $5

Harker, Ian (editor) – Secret Prison #1

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Secret Prison #1

Ah, the wonders of the newspaper style anthology comic.  It’s impossible for me to scan, but luckily I was able to um, “borrow for all time” (sounds so much nicer than stealing, and I’ll be happy to take them down and have this instead posted with no images if necessary) a couple of images, so you don’t have to go into this blind.  One problem with this springs instantly to mind: I’m not sure how people are supposed to get a copy of it outside of being at one of the cons where this and the upcoming issue #2 will be presented.  I say “presented” instead of “sold”, as this one is listed as free right there on the cover.  At the moment Pat is trying to pull together the funds for the second issue.  By donating to the cause you can get the first and second issues in the mail, so that’s at least one way to see them, and you have the added benefit of helping out a worthy endeavor.  As usual with anthologies, this one is a bit of a mixed bag.  More good than bad though, including strips by Art Baxter (dealing with a reluctance to go forward and “living” with the consequences of working up the courage), Box Brown (in which a Googling quest to find news on Audie Murphy turns into self-reflection and slumber), Cyn Why on the high price of becoming Queen on the Internet (at least I think it’s her, if that list of the contributors at the start of the book is the order in which they appear), Kelly Phillips showing the life of a grumpy mountain, Steve Teare with a brutal beating, and Jason Clarke with a problem solver.  Actually, looking through the pieces I didn’t mention it’s not like there’s a ton of badness there either.  There’s Pat Aulisio’s  strip, sampled below, and his art keeps getting tighter all the time.  Bob Pistilli’s Skortch seems to be the start of something bigger and at least has the decency to show us lots of naked ladies while we wait for the story to develop.  Ian Harker has the quiet, sad life of a super villain (?) on an almost inconceivable world.  Beth Heinly has the simplest piece of the comic that I can’t talk about even a little without giving away.  Tommy Rudmose has a man literally confined to the panel walls. Andrea Grigoropl & Dan Fitz have a piece of a man, after being hit by a bus, making his own decision about going on with life.  That’s everything, and there’s not much bad there at all.  Some things need to be fleshed out a bit more, which will have a chance to happen if they can afford to make the next issue, but most everything in there works as a single page story.  I’ll update this page if I get a clear idea of where exactly you could get a copy of this and future issues, but in the meantime keep an eye out at cons.

Brown, Box – Everything Dies #1

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Everything Dies #1

Once again, I should give thanks to the internet for leading random people to send me their comics for review.  Sometimes I take it for granted, and sure, I wouldn’t be getting them if I wasn’t willing to review them and all, but the sheer amount of stuff I’ve gotten over the run of this site that I never would have heard of otherwise is staggering.  I have no idea of the history of, um, Box, but this comic shines like something that’s been a long time coming.  That can’t be true, as he also sent along #2 of this series, so clearly he’s already just that good.  There are two main parts of this comic that I’ll get to in a second, but I have to hit the highlight (in a book full of highlights) first: his story of the creationism myth of all sorts of world religions.  There’s Voodoo, Zulu, Mormonism, Islam and Sikhism, not to mention oddities like Maidu and Scientology.  Granted, you could call all religions oddities and you wouldn’t get much of an argument from me, but you get the idea.  His matter-of-fact descriptions of these stories are brilliant without ever being condescending, a difficult task given the subject matter.  His whole comic is suffused with religion, again in a way that manages not to annoy a committed hater of nonsense (i.e. religion) like myself.  The rest of the comic is split into two bits: a monk student asking questions of his master and a modern version of the Biblical story of Job.  The story of Job is fantastic, as many parts of it are taken word for word from the Bible, but everything has been moved to a modern setting.  The questions from the monk are spread out throughout the issue, and serve as welcome breaks from the other pieces.  I can go either way on that sort of thing, but every last one of these was insightful without seeming pointless or cloudy.  It felt like this book was packed but yep, those are the parts of the comic.  They go together beautifully and I’m fascinated to see how he follows this up.  Just a real gem of a comic.  $5

Griffin, Erin & Warhaftig, Sarah Louise (editors) – Always Comix #4

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Always Comix #4 edited by Erin Griffin & Sarah Louise Warhaftig

Once of these days I’ll settle on a universal standard for reviewing anthologies.  Is it best just to list the talent involved  and leave everything else a mystery?  Or is it best to go through every story and one page image one by one, leaving nothing for a future reader to discover? How about splitting the difference.  Here’s a list of the people involved, outside of the editors because duh: Falynn Koch, Jeremy Tinder, Will Kirkby, Josh Blair, Colin Tedford, Matt Wiegle, Alvaro Lopez, Colleen Macisaac, Amanda Kirk, L. Nichols, Ed Moorman, Box Brown, Alisa Harris, Josh P.M., and Joe Decie.  As this is the Activity issue, there’s plenty in here to do, for the active comics reader.  There’s recipes, a maze, even a mad lib.  Specifically I enjoyed the guide to getting over your cat allergies by Sarah Louise Warhaftig (because any “how to” guide that ends with acheiving Nirvana is hard not to love), the attack of the clouds by Falynn Koch (not so much an activity but still funny), Amanda Kirk’s cut and paste page, Ed Moorman’s guide to inner peace, Joe Decie’s guide to fun with matches, and Box Brown’s “wrestler or tattoo artist” quiz.  There, that still leaves plenty to the imagination, right?  It’s a fun anthology even without all the practical tips and with them, well, what more could you ask for?  $4

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