Big Funny #1
Oh sure, I could shrink that image down and make this page nice and pretty. I choose not to because this comic is so vast that you need some visual representation, and it also serves as a handy explanation for why there are no samples from individual strips: this thing is too damned big for it. This is a collection of newspaper-style comics, done in a newspaper-style format, with one notable exception: these are actually funny. Kudos to these people (who are, it should be mentioned, mostly from Minnesota, or at least the planners seem to be) for being the first to send me a comic in a poster tube, or whatever those things are really called. There’s a huge variety of strips in here, from parodies of early newspaper strips to “where are they now” versions of those strips to what appears to be honest homages to those strips. Then there are a very few autobio strips, some gag strips (again, which are almost all funny), and one particularly memorable example of breaking the fourth wall.Â Contributors include (but are not limited to, as this is 48 pages) Ryan Dow, Henry Chamberlain, Paul Fricke, Kevin McCarthy, D.C. McNamara, David Sandberg, Steve Mason, Stephanie Mannheim and Jenny Schmid, to pick a few names randomly. Leaving aside the comics for just a second, I also enjoyed the actual newspaper articles, such as the one where they discussed who exactly killed the print medium, and they also did a great job with the classified ads in the back. Highlights include (but are in no way limited to) Jesse Gillespie’s Little Emo in Slumbaland, Daniel Olson’s circular strip Hey Rube, Kevin Cannon’s Army Men (the second comic I’ve read today to mention an ankylosaurus), Kirk Anderson’s Banana Republic (about keeping torture light), Andy Singer’s strip about wealth redistribution called Middle Management, Madeline Queripel’s brilliant strip about how the old serials would just use the last panel of the previous strip as the first panel of the new strip to keep readers caught up, Kevin McCarthy’s creepy funnies (apparently breaking the rules of good taste for the strip, but it was worth it), and a good old fashioned donnybrook by Lonny Unitus. I put a “#1” next to the title more because I’d like to see more of these than anything else. It’s a remarkable achievement, and if anybody is going to be in Minneapolis on August 7th you should click that website for details on picking up a copy. If you get one there, it’s a measly $5 for this beast. If not you’ll have to pay for shipping, which just about doubles the price, but this thing is utterly unique in the comics world and worth the expense. I’m old enough to remember pulling the funnies out of the Sunday paper, spreading them out on the ground, laying down to read them and have them actually be funny. Of course, it’s possible I only thought they were funny because I was a kid, but thanks to them for giving me a good reason to relive that experience. I didn’t even know I was missing it. $5
Symphony in Ink #1
Ok, technically speaking this is an anthology, but as you can get copies from Dan, he gets to have these (there’s at least one more) on his page. Besides, that Various page is a behemoth at the moment. First up is an amusing tale about the hilarity that ensues when a new employee mixes up his job title between “business anarchist” and “business analyst” by D. C. McNamara. Next up is a wonderful example of a rampaging problem I have with some anthologies, as a little story called Weird Light (about, oddly enough, a weird light with a few historical figures) doesn’t have any indication of an author, so let’s just say that one’s by “Steve”. Thomas Ferranti has a rambling piece up next about a general lack of inspiration and his characters that are easy to draw. World of Voodoo is a gorgeous piece about various types of voodoo, although not much there in way of a story, if that’s your thing. Tony Consiglio, always a welcome addition anywhere, has a piece about a dead guy in a fast food bathroom and the inevitability of taking a shit. Tim Kelly has the longest piece in the book (and probably the oldest, as it’s dated 1991) about a couple taking a bath and the dangers of shrinkage. Finally there’s a one pager, also by “some guy”, with a wonderful, wonderful punch line. One of those mystery guys is Tom Brinkman and the other is probably Dan Taylor, but I’m not sure which is which, and seriously people, that can’t be that hard to nail down before publication. Not that I’m trying to single Dan out here, as all kinds of people do it, I just wish they would stop. All in all a pretty good anthology for $2.50.