I’ve read plenty of anthologies over the years that I’ve been writing reviews here, but very few of them could qualify as a love letter. This comic here? That’s exactly what it is. This is 20 of some of the best artists going right now, and they all have one thing in common: an obvious love of the tv show Friday Night Lights. If you’ve never heard of this show, or if you dismissed it out of hand because “it’s about high school football,” all I can say is that you missed out. There’s still time to fix your mistake, as it’s still on Netflix as of May 2016; just watch the first few episodes and try not to get hooked. Or maybe the fact that so many great artists came together for this project will clue you in to how great of a show it was, I don’t know. Does it seem like I’m not reviewing the stories? Yeah, I’ll get to that. I’m just trying to convert the last few decent people in the world who haven’t already seen this show. Frankly, I remember most of the stories as giant hearts on the page, so it’s tough to write anything mildly intelligent about that. OK, I’ll flip through this again. Highlights include the Tim Riggins cut-out doll as the centerfold (comes with different outfits!), Tim Riggins in the year 2050, a story about young Billy Riggins, the conversion of a skeptic into a fan of the show, how the team playbook got leaked to a rival, a growing rage of somebody trying to convert friends as they get increasingly sleepy while watching the show, and Coach Taylor sitting on the Iron Throne. Seriously, if nothing else, just look at that list of artists and give it a shot for that reason alone. Or do it the right way: watch the series, then go back and enjoy this fanzine. I’m not going to close with the team motto right here, but know that I am thinking it.
Hey kids, or anybody who has started reading comics in the last few years? Are you interested in the history of mini comics, why they’re such a source of passion for so many people? Well, maybe not in numbers, but in level of interest and dedication in following certain artists? Your answer is this volume. If you have no interest in the history, away with you! This one can be for the old timers. This is a collection of the best of the “Not My Small Diary” anthology, and if you read small press comics in the 90’s and 00’s, you will recognize plenty of these names. In fact, good luck not getting lost in a Google hole or trying to figure out what so many of these people are up to these days. Notable names include (but are not limited to) Jeff Zenick, Dan Zettwoch, Patrick Dean, Raina Telgemeier, Jesse Reklaw, Carrie McNinch, Sam Spina, Roberta Gregory, Kurt Wolfgang… you know what, there are just too damned many names, and they’re all in the tags, so check that part out. If any of those names made you say “hey, I wonder what they’re up to these days” then this book is for you. These are mostly snippets of stories, but they’re all complete by themselves. Sometimes the stories follow a theme, like notable dates or moments in their lives, but really they’re all over the place. If it seems like I’m avoiding getting into specifics, that is entirely the case. If you were around for all these artists when they first started, you’re going to get lost in this instantly. If not, this is an excellent way for you to figure out what the big deal was about these people all along. I guess it’s possible that it’s the nostalgia talking and that people might not connect to these stories now, but screw that. These are tales of human weakness (and occasionally triumph), and those stories are universal and timeless. Most of the original issues of this series are out of print, so this is your best option all around. The book itself is $7.50 if you see Delaine at a convention, but if not $10 should be enough to cover the shipping, and I really can’t recommend this enough. It’s rare for any anthology not to have a weak story or two, but these are all golden.
I might have a different criteria for a good anthology than most people. When I get an anthology, I get it to check out work from a lot of different people at once. Therefore, as long as the vast majority of them arenâ€™t actively bad, I usually feel like it was a good anthology. Well, there wasnâ€™t a single bad story in this, so mission accomplished. Lots of familiar names in this (Cole Johnson, Zack Soto, Dan Zettwoch, Jesse Reklaw, Thien Pham, HOB, Damien Jay, Gabrielle Bell) and some unfamiliar names (Howard John Arey, Ellen Lindner, Andrice Arp), which is always a good thing. More than a few of those people are getting e-mails from me to see if they want to be in the distro, in case you were wondering. Thereâ€™s no theme here, which is also a good thing, and stories include a young girl reluctantly spending time with her father, a man trying to find a working bathroom, a cute pug, getting sucked into the television, dating literal monsters, a stranded pirate rhymer, giant babies taking over the world, and how horrible it is to quit smoking. Great stuff in here all around and itâ€™s only $11.95, well worth a look. Hereâ€™s the Alternative Comics website, or just click on the title if youâ€™re feeling spendyâ€¦
Three cheers for a regular series from Dan Zettwoch! OK, I’ll reserve the cheers until it’s an actual series instead of an intended ongoing series (I know how these things sometimes turn out), but if he does keep it up and if the other books are as good as this one, there should be a lot of happy folks out there. The first big story in this book is about an illustrator talking to a high school class. They’re bored silly, although he does finally manage to win some of them over, but the dialogue and the actions of the students are just priceless. There’s one short story about a man who gets his chicken dinner stolen and then a great little tale about making sweet tea. I won’t get into the details here, but if I had all of things needed to make this in glass form (which is apparently essential) I’d sure give it a try. Everything I’ve seen from Dan has been great and this didn’t do anything to change that opinion. Contact info is up there, it’s only $2 and well worth a look.
You know, I would think that historical comics would be pretty boring things. I don’t think I’ve seen one yet that has been dull, maybe it’s just latent memories of school or something. This is the tale of the beginning of iron battleships when they were used in the Civil War. He uses all kinds of references and has a great ear for realistic, old timey (I know there are better words to use, I just wanted to say “old timey”) dialogue. What makes it fascinating is that nobody actually died in the battle he depicted, as both of the ships were evenly matched. Great art and it’s pretty much a history lesson, which is the kind of thing that you don’t get much in comics. Go here, or to the Catastrophe page to see all of this comics…
Gag-Hag Now Available! $4
This reviewing thing is, at times, the easiest thing in the world. Dan Zettwoch, Ivan Brunetti, John Hankiewicz, Jeremi Onsmith, Chris Cilla, Ted May, David King, Bryce Somerville and Johnny Ryan contributed to this collection of one-panel gag strips. So what you have here is some of the funniest people around and probably the best title for a collection of this type imaginable. What, you’re still reading this? OK, I’ll also mention that I had a really hard time just picking one sample, but I’m trying not to give too much away for free here. It’s $4, as you can see, and it’s available here, as you can see. What’s stopping you? Don’t you like to laugh?
Tea Now Available! $4
You can see the names on the cover, right? I always feel like these reviews are a waste of time, because anybody who reads the site on a regular basis and/or knows mini comics knows that it would be tough for a collection like that to be terrible. So what’s good? The story from Clutch, about a woman going on a first date with a guy she likes and having to break down and tell him that she really doesn’t like tea, Dave Kiersh getting grabby, Dan Zettwoch revealing a secret recipe, and Scott Mills talking about his mom. Nothing particularly bad about this at all, although I think I liked Garlic better. Probably just the subject matter. Oh, and these are both now available, so check them out, or just go to the website if you need more convincing.
I was going to just write the names of the contributors here to try and convince you to get this, but that scan came out nicely, don’t you think? You’ll notice that I really like most of the people on there, so it shouldn’t come as a surprise that I think this is amazing. I can’t even say that I didn’t like whole stories, just certain panels. People talking to cats in comics is either cute to me or way too cute, and Dave Lasky’s entry fell into the latter category. The rest of his story was good though. The bit by Austin English didn’t do much for me one way or another. Everything else is more than just worth reading, it’s required reading. That’s right, I’m forcing you to buy this. The only thing I’m not sure of is the price… $5 maybe? It’s a pretty big book. Eh, go to the website (down as of 7/22/07) for this (it’s the first in a series of anthologies about food) and e-mail the guy to see how much it costs. You can’t go wrong with this assemblage of talent.