Feels like it’s been ages since I had to go with “Various Artists” for the author name but, well, the premise of this book is apparently that it comes out several times a year with different artists every time. And since it’s put out by something called “Giggle-O-Gram Studios” and I can’t bring myself to put that in the title line, here we are. And I’m a little annoyed that the only website I can find is a Patreon page; not that there’s anything wrong with asking for help, I just generally prefer to link to the fundraising page and a more neutral website. Ah well, can’t have everything! There are three stories in this issue. First up is a story about a movie star crocodile by the aforementioned studio with the terrible name. It looks like it’s continued from the last issue and continues into the next one, but this chapter deals with our hero (or maybe villain? Again, missed the first chapter) watching a procession of other animals coming out of the shower after filming and finding out that each and every one of them is a fraud. Charles Brubaker is up next with a tale as old as time: the first experience of a young child with coffee ice cream. Finally there’s Kaoru Greendrake with a twisting tale about a passport from a made-up land… but what’s if it’s real after all? It’s an interesting mix of stories, but if you’re going to continue one of them from issue to issue some sort of synopsis would be helpful. Other than that, give it a look, see what you think. There’s always room for another regularly produced comics anthology!
The Fuzzy Princess
One piece of advice I try to give out to people making comics is to make it easy for anybody jumping in late to get caught up, so I feel compelled to point out that this issue is just called “The Fuzzy Princess” with no issue numbers or other unique markers, which would absolutely be confusing to anybody coming in late. It looks like Charles did this issue as a sort of reminder about his ongoing Kickstarter campaign to put a book together (available at his website), which makes that a little better. As for the comic itself, this deals with Kat accidentally getting his tail chopped off and coming to love a new prosthetic tail that, naturally, has a lot more features than the old fleshy tail. We also learn about Kat’s mom, her life and the traveling she did through a variety of odd locales. I’d say more about it, but this is already a comic with 6 pages of story and I already sampled 1 of them. There’s still room for a few funny bits, so if you’re a fan of his previous work you’re sure to like this one too.
Ask a Cat #9
You know, I’m starting to get the sense that there are only so many things you could plausibly ask a cat. Not that I want to start this off by ragging on Charles; if you’ve been enjoying his work up until now you’re going to like this one just fine. It’s just, well… “how do you save on travel?” isn’t something I’ve ever considered asking a cat. Maybe I should accept that this series has become a way for him to answer odd questions without getting too caught up on the “cat” aspect of it. Yep, apparently you’ve caught me in a pedantic kind of mood today. Questions that are asked of cats this time around include whether or not they wear Halloween costumes, their favorite supernatural being (this one was interesting, as it dealt with a ghost cat), how to get rid of a headache, if the cat has a life’s goal, do they always land on their feet, and how to stop sweating so much. Overall there were some funny bits and some less funny bits, and since I’m in such a pedantic mood I feel compelled that there were a few typos, which is rare with Charles. But the man certainly has a prolific work ethic, so check out his website to see the ridiculous amount of comics he’s produced over the last few years.
Ask a Cat Digest #4
Aspiring cartoonists, you could learn some lessons about productivity from Charles. The man puts out a ridiculous amount of mini comics (I should point out that I don’t review every single book he sends me because if I did this website would be all about his comics; yes, he really is that productive). And hey, it’s another collection of his cat strips. Questions this time around deal with why the cat doesn’t use a laptop to answer questions, the concept of a cat cafe, what cats do when there’s a blackout, what they think of snakes, how they deal with it when their owner gets sick, what they do all night when people are sleeping, and their opinion on coupons. It’s another solid collection of strips, and by now you know the drill, right? If you like cats and/or hypothetical cats answering questions, it’s worth a look! $2
A Witch Named Koko #7
Hey, wait a minute. I thought these comics by Charles were entirely for kids. Are kids able to see “hell” as a curse word now? Have I been confused all along? Or am I overthinking this whole thing? Yeah, I’m guessing it’s the last one. In this issue, Marl gets her glasses broken and has to get a replacement pair. Sounds simple enough, right? Well, you’re reckoning a world without magic, as the gang goes with her to pick up replacement glasses and runs into all sorts of shenanigans. The glasses each have different abilities or let the user see the world in a variety of different ways. Some are funnier than others, but I’m not going to go through all the options and ruin the fun for you here. There are also a couple of “ask a cat” strip at the end, as is required by law. Oh, didn’t you know that I passed a law to make that mandatory in his comics? Yep. Could have solved all sorts of problems in the country, sure, but I focused instead on increasing the number of cat stories in his comics. Eh, I still think I made the right call. All in all it’s another comic full of good clean fun (except for the one mild curse word that scandalized me so), if that’s the sort of thing you like you should check this out! $2
A Witch Named Koko #10
Could this be the end of A Witch Named Koko? Yes, actually; Charles is pretty clear about that in the issue itself. And yes, people reading in real time, I jumped around a bit with the reviews. Otherwise reviewing his comics would be a full time job, because the man is ridiculously prolific. So what’s the final issue of this series all about? Well, it’s an all ages book, so the bloody violence is kept to a minimum. As for the story itself, about half of the book is strips and half of it is full page spreads by a bunch of guest artists who were asked to send along their interpretation of the characters. The strips deal with the tooth fairy getting captured, the actual agenda of the tooth fairies, and a love potion (along with, naturally, a hate potion). Jim Siergey does his own Koko strip, so he deserves a special mention here. As always it’s a pretty funny bunch of comics, and now the series is done if you’re one of those weirdos who waits until something is finished to start reading/watching it. $1
Yet Another Ask a Cat
Charles has put out maybe a dozen comics over the last couple of years, so it’s not like he’s in need of any professional advice, but I’ll throw one out there anyway: if you have an open-ended series like this, and you plan on putting out an as-yet undetermined number of future issues, it’s time to give in and start using numbers for the issues. Unless this is the last issue of “Ask a Cat” ever, in which case never mind, but these comics are such a delight that I hope I’m wrong about that. And, as I’ve said before, you’re bound to get a lot more out of these comics if you’ve had cats as pets either currently or in the past, but there’s enough funny in these strips for anybody. Subjects this time around include the truth about their relationship to dogs, what cats would do if they had wings, how cats indicate that they want a divorce, what they think about snow, what cats think about mustard, whether or not they have strange dreams and (and this one hit home with me) why cats insist on poking you in the face while you’re sleeping. I’m pretty sure Charles came up with the actual answer on that one. There’s more, of course, but I’ll leave some surprises for you. I’ve noticed the questions got a lot more fantastical this time around, so maybe this series won’t last as long as I thought, but the man hasn’t run out of ideas yet, so enjoy! $2
The Fuzzy Princess #3
Does Charles have a regular newspaper comic strip gig yet? If not it seems like it’s only a matter of time, as the guy has the perfect sense of timing for it and is more than prolific enough to keep up on the grueling schedule. This time around we have Jackson and the Princess looking for a gift. They go into a bookstore, we see the differences in reality for the Princess in how she refers to comics, and we end up back in the Princess’ room where Jackson goes through her dolls, looking for the perfect gift. One of the dolls has a surprise inside, which leads to the conflict that we get for the rest of the comic, so I should probably leave it a mystery. There are also a few single page strips at the end of the book, because Charles clearly abhors blank page, so we get to learn how cars mark their territory (it’s not what you’re thinking), the bureaucracy of the tooth fairy and a master class in blowing bubbles. It’s another pile of funny from one of the hardest working guys in comics today. I mean, unless you don’t like the humor, I guess. Which is what websites are for, as you can just go to his, look at the samples and find out for yourself. You guys already know all that though, so I’ll shut up now. $5
A Witch Named Koko #3
It’s the further adventures of Koko and friends! This time around they try to go camping (which, as with all instances of actually trying to actually go camping, ends up going poorly), gather up some ingredients for potions, and use said ingredients to turn into animals. If I told you what sort of animal then that would ruin the surprise, so I’ll leave that up to you. And for a brief second in here I could have sworn that I saw a Bart Simpson body double, but I must have been mistaken. Charles is basically making comics faster than I can review them these days, so if you’re a fan of the madcap tomfoolery of his characters than you have plenty to choose from at the moment. $2
A Witch Named Koko #2
Sorry once again for the lack of sample images, but Charles’ website has you covered if you’re curious. You can also see sample images on past reviews of his comics, but you already knew that. This issue is mostly all about getting to a train station and taking a train ride, so naturally you’re going to get a scene where a damsel in distress is tied to some train tracks. Charles had an innovative solution for getting her free with the least amount of fuss, I’ll give him that. I’ll also be honest here and admit that I didn’t really get the ending, as it seemed like things just petered out after the train got it their destination, but maybe I missed something. There were a few funny bits to this one, as always, but overall it felt more scattered that most issues. Still worth taking a look, but there are funnier issues of his out there to check out. His pace is ridiculous, so when I say that there are other issues out there, I mean that there are lots of other issues out there. Go on, check out his website, see if I’m wrong… $2
A Witch Named Koko #1
Yep, without a working scanner this is what I’ve been reduced to: pilfering scans off of the artist’s website. Even though it’s of the first three issues of a series where I’m only reviewing the first issue (today, anyway). Sigh. If anybody out there is independently wealthy and would like to send me a pile of money for a new scanner, please feel free to use that email address for some Paypal cash. Also, use the rest of your fortune for good, as most rich people are profoundly boring in how they spend their money. Oh hi, comic book I haven’t started talking about yet! It’s another funny book from Charles, and it’s another one that the kids could enjoy as much as the adults. This time around Koko finally hears of the witching hour (midnight on a full moon) and how that is when the power of witches is at their highest. Koko has never experienced this before, as she goes to bed early, so the rest of the issue deals with her trying to stay awake (with the “help” of her sister) and eventually dealing with her new power level. There’s also an important public service announcement on the back about skeletons and whether or not you have one, so don’t forget to flip the book over when you’re done. $2
Cats and Witches #1
OK, I guess technically this isn’t false advertising, but I was expecting a cat-heavy issue this time around. And sure, there several “ask a cat” strips, but the rest of it is all about witches with no cats involved. Yes, this is my fault for expecting such a thing, so there’s no reason to blame Charles. The bulk of this comic is about Koko and her brother Jodo and their various adventures. They crash land (with a funny bit about them trying to decide the softest thing to land on while they’re falling), end up sleeping in a “cave” (you might figure out this gag before they do), and head off into town to do some shopping. They then meet a frog who says he’s a prince that needs to be kissed by anybody willing to say that they’re a princess, so the rest of the story is their search for that person. Some funny bits for sure, but it’s obvious that I was hoping for more cats. Which makes me biased and therefore a terrible reviewer, but I never claimed objectivity. Subjects for the “ask a cat” strips include the reasons for their hatred of water, why they have so much attitude, why they ask for belly rubs when they clearly don’t want them, why Ben Franklin is considered one of the main sources of evil, the merits of long haired and short haired cats, whether or not a cat would make a good superhero and to please stop leaving dead mice in shoes. It’s another solid comic from Charles and this time around there’s even a full color cover, so give it a shot. Unless your heart is also set on an all-cat comic, in which case check his back catalog. $3
Smallbug Comics #9
Aw come on Charles, don’t sell yourself short! Your comics are delightful. Yep, that’s right, I’m starting off the review by talking back to the comic cover. That can’t be a good sign. This time around is another collection of short pieces (almost exclusively focused on cats, meaning I’m on board) and one longer piece. The longer piece started off slow but won me over with the page that I’m using as the sample, even though it may just slightly spoil a bit of the proceedings. Basically the gang is flying low, one of them says maybe they shouldn’t fly so close to chimneys in case the broom catches on fire, which naturally means that the broom catches on fire. This shouldn’t a huge problem, as they can just use magic on any old broom to fly home, but they have unfortunately managed to land in a town of hobos. These are stereotypical old-timey hobos who are basically like Pigpen from the Peanuts comics, not actual real humans who don’t have homes. An important distinction in a funny comic! Anyway, these hobos don’t even understand the concept of cleanliness, so it’s not possible for them to get a broom, but they do hatch a plan to get the inhabitants of the town more naturally interested in cleaning themselves. It goes nowhere, a second (and more morally ambiguous) plan is formed, and that’s about as far as I can dig into it here. It’s a fun story, I will say that. As for the shorter pieces, they deal with cat questions such as what’s in their dreams, what’s their problem with water, where did the nine lives thing come from, why no love for Benjamin Franklin, what’s in that box, and why do you ask for belly rubs even though you clearly don’t want them. All solid questions, and all of interest to cat people such as myself. If you hate cats you’d probably still find them funny, but if you hate cats I can’t really put myself in your shoes, so I don’t know what goes on in that head of yours. It’s another solid comic all around, and still a deal at $2.
Smallbug Comics #6
This issue is just plain fun. Is that too simplistic for a review? Eh, probably, but it’s true. This comic has about half a dozen “Dear Cat” strips (which is exactly what it sounds like: hypothetical questions answered by a hypothetical cat) and a longer story involving one of the characters getting her glasses broken and needing a new pair. That sounds like one of the duller possible setups for a story, but this is a land of magic and magical equipment, so every pair of glasses has its own unique abilities, happily played up for their comedic effect. There’s magnifying glasses, marketing executive glasses, glass for minotaurs, and several others that I’ll leave a surprise. That last pair of glasses was hilarious and I’m left wishing such a thing existed in the real world. As for the cat questions, they deal with subjects like why cats need the same door opened several times a day, what they have in common with dogs, why they can be jerks, and why they sit on the keyboards of laptops. If Charles has enough cat questions I really liked this format (roughly 2/3 one big story and the other 1/3 cat questions), and he was even nice enough to put a little bonus strip on the back cover. Like I said at the top, this comic is a pile of fun, and you should check it out if you are favor of such a thing. $2
Smallbug Comics #4
Well, it’s finally happened. I seem to have reached peak cat. For today anyway; chances are I’ll love all cats just as much as always tomorrow. But this comic tested the limits of my tolerance for the adorable nature of cats. As always, your opinions may (and probably will) vary! The bulk of this one is taken up with a mostly silent story involving a witch and her search for a particular cat. This is where words would have come in handy, as I wasn’t entirely sure what was going on here until going back and looking at it again. She can’t find this cat, but she does find a different cat, which was completely unacceptable to her. For reasons that I don’t understand, as in real life almost all cats are equally adorable. Anyway, this cat hitches a ride on her broom and returns to her home (?) with her, where this cat immediately makes a favorable impression on her roommate. It’s possible that I should remember the names for these characters from previous comics in this series, but I do not. Anyway, the cat is taken away for some reason (again, words would have been helpful here), the roommate is very sad, and the rest of the story involves her attempts to make it right. Not a bad story, but not particularly compelling either, and as I’ve already driven the “it could have used a few words here and there” point into the ground, I won’t mention it again. Other short stories in here include a funny piece about a guy who made a living putting cat videos on the internet and his comeuppance, another one of the reliably amusing “ask a cat” entries, and a back cover that I’ll leave a complete mystery just because. As the main story takes up so much of the comic I’d call the whole thing fairly so-so, but I did thoroughly enjoy the short pieces. $2
Ask A Cat
This is one of those cases where your tolerance level for the subject matter is going to be key to your enjoyment. I have a cat and she means the world to me, so I’m much more tolerant of most forms of cat humor than people who don’t have cats (probably). So the idea of a fictional cat answering fictional (?) letters had me intrigued from the start, and Charles also nailed it with the execution. This is a collection of single page answers to these questions, and subjects include whether or not humans landed on the moon, what should they do with a drunken sailor, what are their favorite places to puke around the house (I loved how they had an intricate process in place to determine the best places to puke to maximize the chances of their human stepping/sitting in it before seeing it), how to properly pet a cat, what they see when they appear to be staring off into space, why they’re so obsessed with that little red dot from laser pointers, what is the deal with those strange seasonal trees that are brought into the house, and where do cats go when they die. A solid chunk of these made me laugh out loud, which is always the goal for funny books like this, and a few of them might have even incidentally made me understand cats a bit better. So yeah, I’d say that this book is worth checking out. Unless you’re hopelessly cynical, and even if that’s the case this might make you thaw out a little and see a little bit of joy in the world. $2
Smallbug Comics #2
13 years into me running this website, do you think it’s too late for me to put some of these comics into categories? Yeah, I figured it was too late too. Anyway, this comic would be considered “all ages,” and I tend to review those a little differently than other comics, as I no longer have the mind of a child <insert obvious joke about my mind here>. I think kids would probably enjoy this quite a bit. The basic story involves a king who is so unremarkable in every way that he finally comes up with an idea to get people to remember him: he has a special crown made of a golden cat. It’s such a ridiculous crown, the theory goes, that people are bound to remember it. And it works, but it doesn’t exactly cast him in the best light, for obvious reasons. As this is going on a young brother and sister are arguing, as the younger one wishes more people would pay attention to him. Things happen and, as this is a comic, the crown ends up falling on the head of the younger brother. Soon people are paying attention to him, but it ends up being unwelcome attention in some cases, and the king is also soon on the lookout for his missing crown. Hilarity ensues! I liked the attention to detail on some of the panels, especially the one full page panel of an outdoor market. All kinds of stuff going on there if you look for the little things. And it looks like Charles has done a good job of building up a credible world with interesting characters in it, or at least a wide variety of people. So there, it has been established that kids would probably like this just fine. What about adults? Um, probably? It might be considered a little cutesy by some people, as some people are very cynical, but I consider myself pretty cynical and I liked it. I even laughed a few times, which is always welcome. So yeah, I’d say it’s worth a shot for everybody. For $2, why not?