Symphony in Ink #4
Dan has finally put his comics fancy pants on, as that there is a full color cover.Â Kudos!Â As is the case with a good chunk of Dan’s books, this one is an anthology, all loaded up with talent and goodness.Â Dan has a funny if mildly disturbing strip about a guy in a pool; Andy Nukes has a series of images that I’ll let speak for themselves (because they’re better experienced than described, and I realize that thatÂ accounts for a lot of what I do here, but if I think too hard about it I’ll vanish in a puff of smoke and logic); Kelsey Donald has a piece about a determined fish, a artistic baby genius and an assholish ice cream shop customer; Steve Steiner (if it’s based on a true story) has a girlfriend with some questionable sanitation habits; Josh Blair shows the true meaning of a hybrid car and Jarod Rosello has an epic about trying to find adventure but not being entirely sure how to spot it.Â Whew!Â Having a little bit of space has done wonders for this comic, as people were able to tell a lengthier story when they needed to while other could still stick to the shorties.Â Here’s hoping Dan has this full-size mini comics (just typing that almost caused my brain to short out) thing in his blood now, because I’m very much liking the new format.Â Oh sure, it’s a little pricier at $3, but you guys are still going to buy it, right?
Time Warp Comix #3 Now Available! $.75
OK, technically this is a Dan Taylor production (as this is a series of anthologies he’s working on) but, as this issue is Brad Foster only, I thought it was a good chance to get the man a page on this site and have his links be more readily available. Brad has been doing comics for as long as I can remember reading them, even if I’ve mostly missed his stuff when it was out. I do remember that he did an adults only comic many years ago (the title has gone down the memory hole) that led to me realizing that it was possible to see naked ladies in comics and not have parents or authority figures pester you about it because they were, after all, just comic books. This is a shortie and the story is mostly Brad bitching about how much better things were in the old days, when people actually had to draw their own comics and wait by the mailbox if they were trying to put together an anthology. Trust me, it’s much funnier than it sounds. It’s only a buck and this is somebody you kids today should know about, if you have any interest in the history of mini comics…
Super Hero Happy Hour #1
There’s good superhero parody, bad superhero parody and than there’s the kind that makes no sense to people who haven’t living and breathing this stuff for years. This is good parody, sure, but it’s very insiderish. That can be a good thing or a bad thing depending on your point of view, as it’s not like people who don’t read comics are going to pick something up with a title like this anyway, right? Anyway the concept is that a bunch of superheroes are hanging out at a bar after a hard day of fighting crime. More than a few funny lines ensue and there’s something absolutely mesmerizing about the art. It just feels like it’s moving all the time, or maybe it’s all those drugs in the water. A solid effort all around. There’s just one little problem, and this is my nitpicking and leaning towards the negative more than anything else: it’s the first issue of a series. As a novelty it was fine, I’d recommend it to anybody who likes a good parody. As a continuing series, well, I’m not sure if superheroes sitting around a bar and chatting really has that many places to go. I’m sure they have some ideas of they wouldn’t have made a series out of it, I guess it’s just that I have my doubts about its longevity. This issue earned a look by me for the next couple of issues, but I’m going to have an awfully critical eye on this one. Check out the website…
Ten Itty Bitty Shitty Pieces of Art Now Available! $.75
It is almost completely pointless for me to review this book.Â There, now that I’ve hooked you all in with that cliffhanger, I’m free to ramble about this comic for a bit.Â This is, as you might have guessed, ten pieces of art.Â “Shitty” refers to the show at which these things were introduced to the world, as apparently it’s a regular thing, although I have no idea if there were more shows after this one in 2007.Â Dan left his pieces art there to “find their own way around the world”.Â Some of the detail of these pieces has been lost when they were transferred to the mini comics format, unless that was how they were originally presented.Â Pieces in here include (and this is with my complete knowledge that briefly describing pieces of art, however shitty, does them a disservice) the artists, black goop, a collage piece about commerce, a three part profanity series, marshmallow flowers, a self-portrait, sunflower art and an instructional collage.Â Hey, I’m in this comics business for the stories, so this doesn’t do a whole lot for me, but it does serve as a nice contrast to the rest of Dan’s comics.Â Check it out if you’re already a fan and want to see what the man works on when he’s not drawing comics.Â $.75
The Cloud Now Available! $.75
Hey look, a fable!Â This is the story of Cyrus Helton, a sad man who has terrible luck, and a literal raincloud that follows him everywhere he goes.Â Cyrus has no luck at work, with his landlady, at cards, and has no illusions about anything ever changing.Â Which, of course, means, that something has to change.Â Cyrus wins the lottery, which dispels his cloud… but change isn’t always a good thing.Â Â I’ve probably said too much, as this is a tiny thing and it’s hard to say anything about it without giving the whole thing away.Â Not exactly a shocking moral to the story, although Dan maybe could have spent another panel or two setting up why exactly change isn’t a good thing in this case.Â I get what he’s trying to do, but it’s still a bit much to see Cyrus pining away for the bad old days.Â Still, it’s a decent little story, and as a wise person once said “those who can, do; those who can’t, complain about those who can”.Â Or something like that, I always get all the good quotes confused.Â Point is that yes, I am aware of how silly it is for me to request that the artist add a few panels to their story to make it come together just for me, but hey, that’s the nature of having a website all about the mini comics.
Time Warp Comix #5 Now Available! $.75
This is easily the best “you damned kids, get off my lawn!” comic I’ve ever read, and it manages that feat while being a tiny thing.Â The tone is set right away with the cover, then there’s a one page story by George Erling (which doesn’t have anything to do with the theme I mentioned but is still a fun shortie), then there’s the gem of the book.Â Jim Siergey details the origins of mini comics, including things I’d never heard of, and I like to think I’ve at least kept up with this sort of thing.Â After two solid pages of learning, Jim goes off the rails with a delightful rant about how young cartoonists reading this aren’t going to learn anything anyway as “history to this generation is what happened 10 minutes ago”.Â Brilliant, and sadly true.Â Bob Vojtko has a one page story up next about how conventions have changed in the last 30 years, and the book is rounded off by David Miller and his 8 tracks.Â Not a single thing to complain about here, the whole thing is just good clean fun.
Time Warp Comix #4 Now Available! $.75
Here’s another anthology by Dan and some of the “old school” mini comics guys. Things this tiny (an 8 page mini) generally defy any sort of detailed analysis, but let me make one request to Dan: please list the contributors somewhere in the book. You’re killing all my street cred of being some sort of a mini comics expert (and I hope nobody thinks that anyway) when I can’t place Strauss, Vojtko and D. Miller. Anyway, there are some funny stories in here. D. Miller has a great two pager about a baby getting the hang of things, Vojtko has a funny piece about an old retired mini comic artist, and Krauss does a good job of taking some whippersnappers apart when their questions get too personal. All told, it’s well worth a look if you like old, cranky cartoonists who still have a sense of humor.
Time Warp Comix #2 Now Available! $.75
I hope nobody out there is trying to read these reviews sequentially.Â Once again, I read them way, way out of order, although now that only #3 is left to review I will be reading #2 and 3 in order.Â Whoopee!Â This time around the comic is half one-page pictures, meaning no story of any kind for those bits.Â In order, for the curious, those are an interpretive blot by Bill Shut, something utterly fantastic by M. Roden, a real mystery by… somebody (seriously, is there no space for some sort of tiny table of contents?), and a monkey with Frida Kahlos by Jim Siergey.Â You could take those or leave those (although I particularly enjoyed the Frida Kahlos), but then there’s still the comic story to consider, and it’s fantastic.Â It’s a three page tale by D. Miller about a burned-out artist trying to come up with fresh gags for a magazine about tits, dicks and balls.Â Comic versions of tits, dicks and balls anyway, and this artist is at the end of his rope in terms of being able to come up with anything else remotely funny.Â It’s a great piece and makes the whole comic damned near unmissable.Â Check it out, or go nuts and just get a pile of these cheap things.
Time Warp Comix #1 Now Available! $.75
It’s sad that it’s just now occurring to me that I should have read this series in order.Â Oh well, live and learn.Â And forget, and repeat the same mistakes.Â This is the issue where Dan explains his plans for this series, basically that he’ll put out the 8 page comic every time he has enough art to fill it.Â It started out as a tribute of sorts to Clay Geerdes, someone who was active in the 70’s and 80’s and was instrumental in getting the word out about all kinds of mini comics.Â The first story (by Jim Valentino) in here tells the story of Clay for those of us who are culturally illiterate as to how the mini comics “movement” started.Â There’s only one other piece in here, a two pager by Bob Vojtko of two old geezers pining away for the old days when they could make mini comics.Â The love for Clay is palpable here, it makes me wish I had actually seen something from the guy.Â Actually, chances are that in the piles of minis around my house there must be something with work from the guy in it, but I have no idea where that would be.Â Kids, you should read stuff like this, get a little sense of history.Â And for those of you old enough to remember the early, early days of mini comics, well, a little nostalgia never hurt anybody, right?
Symphony in Ink #3
Geez, looks like I was cranky for the review for #2. I try to judge everything on merit and not let me mood effect anything, but really, who knows? However I’m feeling on any given day is bound to have an effect on what I write, which isn’t entirely fair, as my daily mood translates to a review that stays up forever (at least how time is determined online, anyway). Ah well. This one was a blast, and the construction of it had a lot to do with it. The contributors were Jenny Gonzalez, Steve Steiner, Andy Nukes, David DeGrand, Bill Shut and Dan Taylor, and I thoroughly enjoyed how Dan spaced out the stories, even putting little panels of his own under the Jenny Gonzalez strips when there was extra room. Everybody else but Steve Steiner had multiple pieces and Dan scattered them beautifully, with Steve getting the “centerfold”. As for the content, Bill Shut had a few full page pieces of art (didn’t do a lot for me), Andy Nukes had the same thing (oddly, I enjoyed his pieces), David DeGrand had a couple of thoroughly bizarre pieces about shaving a nose and giant fake heads (that I loved), Steve Steiner had a piece about why he hates squirrels (LOVED and am glad to see that Steve can see the truth about those vermin) and Jenny Gonzalez had 5 hilarious strips (she can do no wrong as far as I’ve seen). Oh, and Dan, in his job of “filling in the blanks” under the Too Negative strips, had a few decent funnies of his own. Definitely the best issue of the series so far. $2.50
Symphony in Ink #2
Here we have an example of my fundamental problem with anthologies in general: even when I like a series of anthologies (granted, this one was only based on reading one issue), there are times when individual issues of it don’t do a thing for me. This is one of those cases, as I did like the first issue. This one starts off with a story by Lorena Caiazzo, probably the best piece of the book, about a couple of kids trying to figure out what to wear for Halloween. Tom Brinkmann is up next with a piece about Funky Fetish Fashion Dolls, an OK piece about dominatrix action figures. Michael Roden has a poetic piece next, an illustrated ode about flying through dimensions that didn’t do a thing for me. Finally there’s Dan’s story about a cold zombie who hangs around with a hobo for warmth, with predictable consequences. There are also one pagers by Brad Foster, Bill Shut and Thomas Ferranti with faintly amusing shorties. As a whole it’s OK. If you like enough of these people, as with any anthology, that’s probably enough for you to check it out. If you don’t like them or know them already, there’s not a lot here to make a fan out of anybody else. $2
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.
Weird Muse #3 Now Available! $1
More tiny fun from Dan Taylor, this one a wee tale of the history of Muses and their troubles with Sirens way, way back in the day. It’s hard to do dig too deeply into these tiny things, and it’s a fun little light story, if you want to leave it at that. So naturally, I’m going to start picking. Typos always bug me, and even more so in little books like this (where there’s so much less to proof than, say, a graphic novel). In this case it’s even an italicized word (“Godess”), so it’s hard to see how it could be missed, but still a minor thing that most people probably just gloss over. Also, while the second half of the story looks gorgeous, bits of the first half (like the eyes on the Muse on page 3) look rushed and a bit sloppy. Just my two cents, as always. It may be a bit sloppy at times, but it’s still fun, so there are certainly worse things in the world. $1
Weird Muse #2 Now Available! $1
This mini (or at least half of it) is about a subject near and dear to my heart: where the hell does all the time go? A perpetually naked older lady asks this question, noting that Sonic Youth is pushing 50 (!), but also getting some joy out of the fact that the hot starlets of today will eventually be broken down old crones like everybody else. Well, I guess old men are called “fogies” more than “crones”, or at least they are in the 1920’s bubble I live in. Also in this issue is an interesting story about wishful thinking in an abuse victim, and a really, really awful pun in the story on the last page. Seriously, just let your eyes skip over that page if you don’t want to groan loudly. Other than that it’s a pretty solid issue though, and I was thinking that I had already gotten around to reviewing #1 of this series, so that should be up (seriously) in a few weeks or so…
Weird Muse #1 Now Available! $1
I think it was SPACE 2008 (or, sadly, maybe even 2007) when Dan asked me if I was ever going to get around to reviewing the first issue of this series, the one that “brought him back” to mini comics.Â Seeing as how SPACE 2009 is coming up in a few days, that served as a helpful reminder that I STILL hadn’t gotten around to it.Â And the verdict is: this is one solid comic, and I see why it (in part) convinced him to get back to making comics on a regular basis.Â Hell, a more than regular basis, if you look around this page and then check around to see how many other creators have this many books on their page.Â It starts off a little rough, with a really awful pun about fishing (at least to somebody who mostly doesn’t like puns, so what do I know), then gets great in a hurry.Â Dan quotes from a series of newspaper articles involving odd stories like a nine year old suspended for sexual harassment, an angry pack of chihuahuas attacking a cop, a man dying right after bowling a perfect game, terrorists kidnapping an action figure and an odd story about airport screening.Â With each of these stories is a funny comic panel, as these stories are crying out for some feedback.Â Next there’s an obituary for Clay Geerdes,Â (a small press pioneer), some tips and recipes and a collage covering the center spread.Â Finally there’s the big, um comic in this comic.Â It’s a conversation with two people, one of whom is convinced that he has all kinds of freedom, and one of whom manages to convince him rather easily that that’s not the case.Â Three cheers for Dan being pissed off about the absurdity of mandatory seat belt laws too; I’ve been thinking I was in the minority in being annoyed about that.Â If I don’t mind flying through my windshield if I ever get in a wreck, why should police?Â This is well worth a look, clearly, and probably a good starting point for anybody who wants to check the man out and is a bit overwhelmed with all the variety on his page. $1
My Crow Comics #1 Now Available! $.50
Ah tiny comics, you are at least always easy to talk about. This one all about the short life and dreams of Shrimpy, a ghost shrimp who only lived to 20 (days), ate fish poop and dreamed of better things. It’s funny, the art is great (especially considering the odd creatures in a fish tank), so what more could you ask for from a tiny thing like this? Dan sent another mini along too, so I’ll get more of an idea of his work then, but for now I’m impressed.