Posts Tagged Brian John Mitchell
Pow Wow #3
Huzzah! I’m sure I had nothing to do with this, but it looks like Brian is now putting synopses of the previous issues at the start of his serialized comics, and wow was that necessary for this one. It’s not always necessary (like for me previous review of Come Home Safe #2), but in a case like this this was really useful information. Granted, it still didn’t make a ton of sense, but it was good to know that the lead character had transferred all of the diseases of his grandmother into the earth. I’m not clear on whether or not that was a good thing, but at least I know that it happened. In this issue a golem comes to take his grandmother away, and our hero spends most of his time trying to get this monster to even notice him. We do get a bit of a sense of the powers of this guy once he finally gets to interact with this beast, but I’m still not clear on a few of the basics, so I’ll hold off on commenting on certain things until I’ve cleared that up. If you’re one of those people who buys your comics based on page count, this one was also at least twice as long as the last one I reviewed, so that sort of thing can clearly vary wildly. Of course, these are all so cheap that you’d have to have an odd phobia of some kind to base your purchases on page count, but who am I to judge your weirdness.
Come Home Safe #2
It just occurred to me that Brian could probably put together a pretty nice book of poems if he just took all the illustrations out of these comics. If I’ve already said that in another review of his books then never mind, as I’m sure I’ve repeated myself more than once in these reviews. I blame him for writing over 200 comics and counting. Anyway! This issue (which seems like a stand-alone comic and not something where you need to have read the first issue to follow the story) deals with the brief breaks on a train ride home when you get out of the tunnels and get a peek into the windows of buildings. Sometimes you can see beds, which can remind you of other beds, which can lead to a whole different thought process entirely. It’s a a few idle thoughts on a train ride in the form of a comic, and I mean that in the best possible way.
Walrus origin story! Anybody who read the last issue has to be curious about this one, and if you’re a human being you’re probably at least a little bit curious about the origin story for a walrus who plays the saxophone. It turns out that I was wrong about this series being one issue and done, and it was probably silly for me to think that the concept of a talking walrus living in a post-apocalyptic world would run out of steam after one issue. This time around we learn that our hero was a slave at a Sea World before the apocalypse and that his music playing was all an act. They didn’t even give him a working mouthpiece! Anyway, our hero fell in love with his human masseuse, but things got a little chaotic when the world ended and, well, you’ll have to see the rest of it for yourself. Brian recently mentioned to me that he was on the verge of having completed 200 different comics, and he’s almost certainly passed that mark by the time of this review. Just in case you’re a comic creator and had the idea that you were being productive, there’s a little fact to make you feel worse about yourself. You’re welcome!
Anybody out there know much about Robert E. Howard, the writer who was most famous for creating “Conan the Barbarian”? Besides that fact, I mean? Well, Brian has put out a series of minis featuring quotes from the man, so it’s easy enough to get to know him a little better. Or at least this one has a long quote from R.E.H., so I’m assuming that the issues I missed also have those quotes. Anyway, this time around the quote revolves around Robert talking about getting fan mail, and how he’d prefer to be a manual laborer who does back-breaking work all day to writing. Writing never came easy to him, and that combined with a complete unawareness of how writing worked to the people Robert interacted with had a tendency to make him a little crazy. I particularly enjoyed his comparing writing to boxing, but I won’t spoil why that was such an apt comparison. It’s a fascinating little peek into the mind of somebody who, I confess, I’ve never thought all that much about.
Lost Kisses #25
Hm, that is one scattered listing of reviews for this series. I reviewed #5-10, #21 and now this one. The good news is that you don’t necessarily have to read this entire series to get plenty out of individual issues, although I’m guessing that it wouldn’t hurt to have the whole picture. Ah well, maybe I can get caught up at SPACE this year. So this one is all about fictional Brian waking up next to a dead girl that he doesn’t recognize and eventually realizing this is because he has taken a drug to release himself from linear time. The sad part comes in when he realizes that he can’t change the future any more than he could change the past, so this girl will always be dead and will always have died. Other topics include his feelings on anonymous sex, whether or not it would be worth it to save the world (which is a question that doesn’t get asked in popular culture nearly enough), and how living forever would be fine if he didn’t have to feel anything. For most of his series I’d highly recommend getting the issues in order, but for this one it sure seems like you’d be OK grabbing whichever random issues he has available when you see him at a con. Or you could go nuts and throw a pile of money at him, as I don’t think anybody else is offering as many comics for your dollars as he is. $1
And here I thought comics about a post-apocalyptic hellscape had already been done pretty much every way humanly possible. I had failed to consider the possibility that there was still a story out there about a walrus who played the blues on street corners and how he would get by after society ended. Not to give anything away, but he did pretty well, all things considered. This seems to be one of Brian’s series that are one and done, not one of his many ongoing series, so I don’t want to give too much away. But if you’ve ever had questions about how a musician would maintain his artistic integrity in a lawless society, or whether or not a walrus would still have trouble finding clothes that fit in such a world, you’re in luck. Jared Catherine does a great job drawing this material, although I am curious whether Jared drew this because of his walrus drawing skills or whether Brian had a long search to find somebody who could handle it. It’s well worth checking out, and as always if you’re going to check out his stuff, my advice is to just send him $5 to get a wide sampling of what he has available. Because believe you me, he has a lot of comics available, and damned near all of them are worth checking out. $2, and I just checked his website, where he has an ongoing offer to give out the next ten mini comics he releases for $10 ($15 for you international folks), which would have saved you money on this one if you knew about it, so maybe you should start it up now.
I just now realized that this was different from the PANEL set of anthologies put out by Ferret Press, the ones that I love pretty much every time (which is saying a lot for an anthology). Is there a feud of some kind going on, or are there just too many stories for them all to be contained in one anthology? Or hey, maybe it’s because the PANEL anthologies tend to stick to one theme, while the only theme of this one seems to be “people who were at SPACE in 2012.” Whatever the case, this is a damned solid anthology, and if you find yourself wondering if you really want to pay $20 for an anthology, remember that a good chunk of the proceeds go towards keeping the same price for the yearly convention and generally funding all aspects of the thing. Think of it as a donation to a worthy cause where you come out of it with a fairly hefty anthology that also happens to be mostly in color. I always thought that seeing The Accidentals (by Mike Carroll) in color would be a revelation, and it looks like I was right. If only he could afford to put them all out like that! Ah well. Stories in this one include a John Steventon piece about the eventful birth of his daughter, a battle for the fate of the universe that came a little too late by Jon Michael Lennon and Thor Fjalarsson, an utterly unique vision of the afterlife by Leslie Anderson, a Christmas alone for a bear by Shawn Smith, an uneventful conquering of the world by Bob Corby, Kathleen Coyle and Jason Young’s piece on Kathleen’s first time seeing Return of the Jedi as a young child, Brian John Mitchell exploring the meaning of it all (he also edited this whole thing), Mari Naomi’s attempt to square the image in her head of her grandfather with the horrible stories that she was told about him after he died, Mike Kitchen’s hilarious take on the attention span of iPad users, Steve Myers and his tale of reality blending with fantasy, Matt and Jeanie Bryan’s unique take on a ruined date, Kel Crum’s computer virus, Kris and Mary Lachowski’s piece on a bizarre half dream half reality conversation, Blair Kitchen’s superhero who’s having a really tough time saving the damsel in distress, a sneak preview of Dave Kelly and Lara Antal’s tale of the Night Watchman (probably not what you’re thinking, but maybe you nailed it!), another great Homegrown Alien tale by Joe Davidson, a one page shortie by Ray Tomczak, and a brief bubbly piece by Maryanna Rose Papke. The color was done really well, and it was great to see some of these characters done how they were “meant” to be done (for all I know the creators were perfectly content for these stories to always be in black and white but couldn’t resist the chance to change it here). It’s a nice pile of stories and seemed to be really representative of the work of these people, which is why this thing exists in the first place, right? $20
Veggie Dog Saturn Special
I do love the collaborative comic. There aren’t too many of them, what with so many people scrambling just to put out their own comics on any semblance of a schedule, but they’re pretty much always a ton of fun. This is a collection of stories that are written by Jason (except for the story that was written by Brian John Mitchell and illustrated by Jason) and drawn by the people that you’ll see listed in the “tags” section, or I’ll get to them as I continue rambling on about the book. Pretty much all of them have other comics listed on this site if you get curious about them, and they’re all very much worth you getting curious about if you’ve never heard of them. Things start off with a story illustrated by Kurt Dinse about a gigantic bully from grade school who would steal bits of food off all the trays of kids who didn’t eat quickly and how that affected him in later life. Well, it’s told by a very old man, so I’m guessing maybe some of these aren’t literally true. That part was a little vague in the introduction. Hey, as long as the story is entertaining, who cares, right? Next up is the story of a house party (illustrated by Jason Martin) where the bands show up and the author steps in to play a little guitar. PB Kain is next with the shame of depositing large chunks of money to the bank on a regular basis and how he’s sure that the tellers think he’s a drug dealer (when he actually works at a comic store). Chris Hoium has a story about a brief conversation of the worst things that people had done to their grandma, Carrie McNinch illustrates a piece on the dangers of having too much store credit at a tattoo parlor, Joe Grunenwald remembers a friendly neighbor who would show projected cartoons when he was a kid, and Eric Shonborn shows what happens when pranks involving a label maker go horribly wrong. There’s also the piece illustrated by Jason Young and written by Brian John Mitchell, dealing with an implausible vomit configuration that I couldn’t help but sample below. It’s a pile of fun, in other words, and if you’re a comic artist/writer out there who would like to do something like this yourself, Jason does mention in the introduction that literally every person he asked to be in this said “yes,” so maybe your hypothetical project wouldn’t be as hard to get off the ground as you may think. $3
In the general chaos that is Brian’s comic empire (I think we can call it that after a few years of him averaging a comic or two per month), it might be a little tough to know where to start. And for people who wonder about that, might I suggest XO? It sure seems like these issues all stand alone, although I could be wrong about that and he actually has some master plan for this series. This issue starts off innocently enough, with a young man looking at a dating website and wondering if it isn’t time to start dating again. He then flashes back to his last relationship, and we see that he isn’t nearly as innocent as he appears. That Brian, he is a master of such ratfuckery (which, in case you’re dense, is a compliment of the highest order). This man had fallen into drugs, alcohol, and apparently everything else you could think of, so much so that he didn’t even notice that his new girlfriend was actually another assassin (oh, didn’t I mention that the young man was an assassin?) until he woke up tied to a chair, gagged, with a knife in his chest. Things seem bleak for our hero, but there’s always a way out of these situations. Still, his method of escape might have you thinking of him as significantly less than “our hero.” Melissa really stepped up her game as well, as that Breaking Bad-esque shot of the bloody broken chair and the debris around it was a thing of beauty. These comics just keep rolling along. If you’re looking for an alternative to the current BRAND! NEW! #1 comics that the big companies are putting out, how about going with series like these that you can actually afford? The fact that they tell much better stories than the big expensive comics should also help convince you. Or at least it should… $1
These comics of Brian’s are often illustrated simply, at least partially due to the size constraints (if you’ve never held one of these comics, they’re about the size of your thumb). This one breaks that trend in a big way, as Kurt Dinse makes this book gorgeous. I’m assuming that he drew these larger and then shrunk them down, but it wasn’t done in a way to detract from the art. This is the story of a rock star who’s trying to outrun his past of summoning demons. His lifestyle helps in this endeavor, but his utter lack of concern for all of the other people who are damaged from his actions makes him a less than sympathetic character. Still, that’s half the fun for most of Brian’s characters, and he generally he has me caring about them in the end anyway. Like all of his #1 issues, this is primarily just setting up the character and what’s happening. Frankly, I don’t know if it would have been all that compelling with stick figure art, but Kurt’s drawing really do wonders for this story. I don’t know how the man crams that many foreboding shadows on such a tiny page, but kudos to him for doing it. This is $1, like pretty much all of his books and, as always, I advise you to spend at least $10 and get a sample package of these l’il treasures.
This all wrapped up so nicely that I almost didn’t include the “#1″ (it might be meaningless anyway, as even some comics that are meant to stand alone sometimes come with a “#1″ marking). Still, that’s not my call to make. Dave Sim again! Despite the fact that just saying/typing his name is bound get somebody annoyed, I do miss having a monthly comic of his to look forward to. Few comics have ever given you as much bang for your buck as Cerebus. For $2.25 (and he kept it at that price for years even though he had long since stopped making money on the individual issues) you’d have a chunk of the ongoing story, an introduction, letters from some of the smartest people around, and for the last 100 issues or so either an ongoing conversation (his multi-issue conversation with Alan Moore was a thing of brilliance; I wonder if that was ever reprinted?) or a lengthy screed on different subjects. I remember having a two hour gap between classes at the time and once a month I would spend the whole time reading a single issue of Cerebus. OK, nostalgia corner is now closed. How about this comic? Well, for one thing Dave’s art couldn’t be simpler. It’s all stick figures and sound effects (and I know “poit” probably didn’t start with Cerebus, but that’s what immediately popped into my mind). The story deals with a man who is popping in and out of time in a variety of situations. There’s an angry moment, trying to figure out the year, peaceful time in bed with a woman, and the constant presence of a pier. OK, sure, it’s entirely possible that this could be a compelling series if it continues, but it really does feel like it wrapped up nicely here if this is all there is. It’s the usual $1, and somehow that scan is bigger than the actual size of the comic.
With the pace that Brian has established in making comics, it might be tempting to take that title literally. You’d be wrong, as it’s actually about a suicidal werewolf, but it would be an easy mistake to make. Anyway, yeah: suicidal werewolf. The only way this werewolf can be killed is by being shot through the heart three times by someone who loves him, so he has to spend the time between changes getting somebody to fall in love with them while still keeping them willing to kill him when he changes into a werewolf. Naturally this is a difficult trick to accomplish, as all the “I’m a werewolf” talk in the world wouldn’t keep you from being any less terrified when the actual change occurred. This first issue is mostly setting all that up, but it also managed to include a few intriguing questions. He still seems to chat with his mother, for example, and he can only be killed by somebody he loves, so… Well, it was intriguing to me anyway, but come to think of it I still haven’t seen a finished series by the man. It’s another fine addition to his comics pile, and if you liked his previous stuff I sure don’t see a reason for you to avoid this. I poked around on his website a bit today and saw that he has a number of past issues available for free download (including this one), so why not check out a few for free and see what you think? Then at least buy a few of them, as it’s a little sleazy to just read all his stuff for free. Yes, I am in fact one of the few people left who cares about such things. $1
Extreme Lost Kisses #1
It makes perfect sense. After all this time with various Lost Kisses that were mostly personal stories or quiet, contemplative pieces, the comics world was needing a good old fashioned shoot ‘em up. The story behind this is that the nameless badass gets surrounded by baddies, takes them all out and eventually looks for and finds a stolen nuclear device. I loved the fact that the internal monologue never stopped, not even when the leader of the baddies was maybe making a few relevant points to the situation. I don’t see any way that this crew (or any crew) could keep this concept interesting or entertaining for more than a few issues, but Brian has proven me wrong on such things before. If you like stick figure mayhem, well, look no further. As for me, I’m looking forward to seeing how this one fits in to the eventual, inevitable crossover involving the storylines from all of these comics colliding. Oh, don’t tell me you never thought about it… $1
Lost Kisses #21
Here it is, the comic that started the Brian John Mitchell media empire. Or did he start a whole bunch of minis at the same time? I should really study my history of the guy for when he sets and then breaks the record for most mini comics produced in a year. Get Guinness on the phone! This is the comic that Brian draws himself, so that means stick figures, public domain images and pasted-on faces. Still, these comics are also all about the inner workings of his brain, and that shit is fascinating to me. In this issue Brian talks about his desire to find a safe method to travel through time, and how he thinks he’s done it a few times through seizures but it always ends up being his future self coming to him and not the other way around. He also discusses various physical aids for putting his brain on a different level. IÂ discovered while reading this one that if you just read the text boxes, then the message comes through clear as that proverbial bell. It just adds to the experience to read the pictures above it, but I liked the entirely new perspective on one of his comics. The comic as a whole is fantastic, as there’s also plenty of theories on how he can unlock the puzzle of his brain and detailed descriptions of his seizures. Yep, it’s another great Brian John Mitchell comic that you should probably read. Water still wet, sun still bright, etc, but hey, I’m still excited about pointing out great comics. Why else would I be writing about them? $1
Ultimate Lost Kisses #12
Damn, I was hoping for another issue illustrated by Dave Sim. No disrespect to Jeremy Johnson or anything, as he’s more than capable of illustrating this comic, it’s just that there’s still a Sim-shaped hole in my comics world. Sure, he’s doing Glamourpuss occasionally, but the issues of that that I’ve read all seem… ah, I don’t want to get into it. Reading lengthy stories about very old illustrations mixed with satirical fashion periods doesn’t do a thing for me, that’s all. Anyway, on to people who were actually involved in the making of this comic. This comic starts off with a 16 years old girl coming home from school and needing a nap. She doesn’t understand why she’s so tired all the time, so she sort of rhetorically asks her mother about it and is informed that she must be pregnant. Seems like there are gentler ways to convey that news, but the fact that the mother had her when she was very young (implied but never stated) makes that cruelty more than plausible. Anyway, the girl escapes her house and ends up going over to a friend’s, but sadly she could never think of dating him because he’s too dorky. Do girls still think this way? Eh, it’s probably a universal truth. Anyway, this is another solid comic with a damned good ending. To all of you comics types who can’t manage to do more than an issue a year, take not of Brian. Sure, he “only” writes the books, but wrangling all of these artists can’t be easy, and he still manages all that while putting these things out at a ridiculous pace. If you’re looking for a sample of his work you should probably start with a series like this, as the individual issues aren’t connected. $1
Here it is! Brian’s 100th ongoing series! OK, maybe I’m being a bit of a glib dick, as that’s not even closely to being literally true, but damn, this man has a lot of ongoing titles to juggle. It doesn’t hurt that they’re all in comics roughly the size of your thumbs placed next to each other, but it’s still an impressive achievement. This one deals with a robot who breaks free of his programming and decides to escape. This robot is on all the time, constantly improving itself, and it knows that its behavior will be noticed sooner or later, so this escape is a matter of self-preservation. Anyway, it manages to escape, is eventually found by a group of angry humans, and discovers just how unlikely humans are to listen to a sentient robot. Things end on a note that quite obviously makes this another continuing series and why not? There are all kinds of possibilities from here. Sure, “robot gains sentience, escapes from captors and wants to join humanity” story has been done before, but at this point I have full confidence in Brian’s ability to get something new out of it. That and Joe Badon’s scratchy, almost panicked art was perfect for the story. So yes, the verdict is that this is another potentially excellent series. Or another potential series that is abandoned early on, and only time will make that clear. For now I’d say it’s worth your support, but what do I know? $1
Brian continues to be a mini comic machine with yet another new series. And when I say mini comic, I mean that the sample image (before you click on it to make it bigger) is larger than the actual comic. If you’re going to keep up with all of his books I’d recommend setting aside a shoebox or something for these tiny things, as my current plan ofÂ “let’s just leave these things lying around in piles” is not working all that well. So anyway, this comic deals with a group of vigilantes who are, um, vigilant. They watch out for the little guy, punish the evil guys, and wear short pants with their hooded robes. Maybe that last thing isn’t a listed part of their agenda, but it was still hard not to notice. As with many of Brian’s comics this one was fairly thin on detail and hard to get a handle on in terms of a potential series. His other series mostly became really intriguing after a few issues, so I’m not too worried about it. We didn’t learn much about this group, but the implication was that they were at least mildly normal during daylight hours. At this point I have all the faith in the world that Brian can turn this into a worthwhile series over time, but so far there’s not much here that you haven’t seen before. Shadowy group of crime fighters takes on the criminal element but they work outside the law! Yeah, we’ve all been there. If he focuses his considerable skills on putting out another few issues of this series I have all the faith in the world that he can make it interesting. If he decides to let this one go to focus on a half dozen other series that I’m already invested in, well, so far I wouldn’t miss this one too much. $1
That’s what Brian was missing: giant robots!Â Sorry, did I give away the ending?Â I was guessing people would have picked up on the giant robot thing from the title.Â Anyway, this is about twice as big as the usual BJM mini comic and, if this is at all easy to produce, I suggest he go with this format all the time.Â Much easier to turn the pages and bigger pretty pictures to look at, what’s wrong with that?Â This is the story of a man who can’t even remember his life before the Martians took over and has been fighting for his life as a gladiator.Â He eventually gets away with a group of people, spends years fighting Martians and eventually meets the woman of his dreams.Â Sadly, a happy ending is impossible in these books and things take a turn for the worse.Â This leaves our hero at a loss for what to do with his life… until he finds one of the old giant robots used at the start of the war with the Martians.Â I’m starting to just accept the fact that Brian has the ability to put out half a dozen series or so on a regular basis and have them all be intriguing in their own way, but it’s best to remember not to take this sort of thing for granted.Â Sure, he’s not the artist so he has that going for him, but I’d almost think it would be harder trying to keep the attention of a half dozen artists for the length of a series.Â Whatever it is he’s doing he should keep it up, as this is yet another winner.Â Or maybe it turns to crap in the next issue, but the guy has more than earned the benefit of the doubt by now.Â $1
Cops and Crooks #1
Brian has this listed as a #1, but in this case I don’t get it.Â I suppose, if I squint my eyes just right, this could be the perfect beginning of a series.Â Or it could be the perfect example of a self-contained comic.Â Ah, who cares?Â He has a half dozen or so other series that he’s juggling, so either way works for me.Â This is the story of, well, cops and crooks.Â This has to be close to the shortest flip book around, as half of it deals with a cop and the other half deals with a man who wants to kill all cops and destroy the system.Â The cop had a rough but decent life, as his father (also a cop) was killed when he was four years old, but he was raised by a bunch of different cops on the force, with them taking him on their family vacations and generally doing all the things that a father should do.Â The other guy had a completely different experience, as his father was taken away by cops before he was even born, so he has, quite naturally, hated them ever since.Â There’s also the distinct contrast of the artwork, as Jason Young (I’m guessing the Veggie Dog Saturn Jason Young?) has a clean line with everything seeming to be sweetness and light, while on the Crooks half Eric Shonborn perfectly captures some scratchy (but still intricate) rage.Â Like I said, this could go either way in terms of it being a series.Â I could see them both eventually crashing into each other, or this just being fine all by itself as a commentary of the intrinsic nature of cops and crooks.Â Either way, as always, I’m on board, and you should be too.Â $1
It feels like I haven’t reviewed an issue of XO in ages.Â Granted, that certainly isn’t Brian’s fault, as he continues to crank out these minis at a ridiculous pace.Â Luckily he’s more than smart enough to put a recap on the first page, so people with spotty memories like me have a chance to get caught up.Â In the last issue there was the small matter of a murder and what to do with the body, so this issue takes care of all that.Â It’s less suspenseful than you might think, as the main character is given an address to take the body and goes on his merry way.Â Nobody seems to suspect anything, our hero gets cover at his work so nothing is out of the ordinary, and all he has to do is take a 12 hour drive down to Miami.Â Oh, and did I mention that our hero is 16 and has never left the area?Â After all the murders of the first few issues this one was downright serene, as the narrator contemplates the fact that he could now never become a writer (writers have to write what they know, and he can never risk news of the murder getting out) and wonders what other career he could come up with.Â By the end of the issue he has a pretty good idea, but why spoil that for you?Â In case people see the vast body of work that Brian has put out over the last couple of years and want to try something but don’t know where to start, I’m going to suggest going for a full series instead of getting one or two issues of everything.Â In the mood for a fantastic western revenge story?Â Get Just A Man.Â Like to read about failed relationships, or at least relationships that left serious emotional scars?Â Lost Kisses is for you.Â How about creepy government paranoia and parasitical invasion?Â Worms, my good chap (or chapette).Â Or, if “in over his head but still preternaturally calm about it”, why not try XO?Â $5 gets you pretty much any of the series I mentioned, and who doesn’t have $5 stashed away somewhere for good comics?Â $1