Elfworld Volume 2 #1
I have no idea how I missed the first issue of this series. This seems like something that’s right up my alley, as I like my small press comics with a sprinkling of dorky sorcerers and such, even though finding quality examples of that genre is exceedingly difficult (and hey, send me an e-mail if I’m wrong). I do have to say that I don’t think you’re allowed to start the second volume of a series if you only put out one issue in the first series, but I don’t get toÂ make the rules on such things. With this lineup of talent it was pretty much a sure thing that this book would be damned near indispensable, and I think that ends up being accurate. First up is Grant Reynolds (who has either been quiet lately or he’s just stopped sending me review comics) with a tense chase between two creatures. Very few people outside of Jim Woodring can pull off “what the fuck IS that thing?” better than Grant and those skills are heavily on display here. Next is a piece by Alec Longstreth in which a wizard tries to audition new animals to deliver messages after his owl dies. I chuckled a few times and his cartoony art was perfect for this. Also a clear sign that this book wasn’t going to be either straight fantasy or straight parody of fantasy. Ben Costa and J.R. Parks are up next with a piece about the dangers of pulling a prank on your boss when you work in some kind of evil lair of doom. The Mute by David Enos deals with a mute (duh) wandering around, getting into adventures and saving the girl. Um, spoiler alert, but not really, because that’s not the end of the story so there. This was maybe the highlight of the book, although I may still contradict myself before finishing this review. Jane Samborski is next with a detailed list of dragon rating rituals listed by the types of dragon, and might I just add that this woman has a variety of dragon poses down cold, which I can’t imagine is an easy thing. Dash Shaw has a shortie next that’s the highlight of the book (see what I did there?) about an orc in his final moments before his execution. Brilliant, that’s what it was, and after a story that brutal it was nice to get a laugh out of the ending. Finally there’s a short Icecreamlandiaish (look up their other comics on this site to see what that means) by Eve Englezos and Joshua Moutray that I won’t get into because describing a one panel story is the same thing as ruining it. I guess if you hate all things fantasy you might not like this book, but even then there are pieces that only tangentially relate to fantasy, and it still has a pile of your favorite artists (if you have good taste, that is), so I’d say it’s worth picking up. I also need to mention the production design, as that Sammy Harkham cover and the work that Francois put into designing this book were both top-notch. Look closely at that cover; it took me a minute to get exactly what was going on there. So yeah, I’d say you should buy this book, and if the back of it is to be believed there will even be a new one out soon. $6
It’s books like this that make you realize how stupid everything is. Let me clarify a bit, as that sounds ridiculous. Most everyone gets so used to talking with stupid people, or at least people who pretend to be stupid, that they dumb down their average daily conversation. Don’t say it’s never happened to you, I know at some point in your life you’ve responded to “That’s some weather we’re having” or “How about them (random sports team you don’t care about)”. Everybody has. Not that this book has anything to do with that, but I’ve rarely seen dialogue that expects so much of the reader, and three cheers to Dash for that fact. You’re not going to find a smarter book around. This is about a bulimic young woman who’s definitely not looking for love, a young boy who’s systematically getting his spirit crushed in art class, and a librarian phrenologist. Dash also examines in minute details the aspects of his characters and throws in some interesting asides when the situation warrants. Altogether a difficult book to talk about, but an immensely rewarding experience. It’s $3.50 and it’s huge, in case you think that’s too expensive or something. Here’s an e-mail address, there are also plenty of books advertised in the back of this, so there’s more out there when you find out how much you liked this one.
Goddess Head Now Available!Â $12
I never know quite where to start with something like this.Â Dash has put together a book of short pieces, and if you’re seen anything the man has done over the years you know that he’s in a league of his own.Â I’m sure he’s made a few crappy comics in his day (who hasn’t?), but I’ve yet to see one.Â From the bombastic introduction to the quiet, silent, repetitive day in the life of a young woman, it’s like you’ve been taken, blindfolded, into the woods, spun around a few times and left on your own.Â That’s not a bad thing, just a chance for you to discover everything for yourself, but if you’re left behind nobody is going to help you out.Â Stories in here include Goddess Head (a casual breakup turns into a heartbreaking tragedy, and you’re never going to see a more honest depiction of loss from a banana), Always Seek the Truth. Devote Your Life to Truth. (a convoluted and brief murder mystery with the perfect ending), Teach Me the Guitar (involving a dank basement, young children and a backwards message), Time Travel (juxtaposing two pairs traveling in crates, one talking about their future and one (after fucking) talking about their pasts), Heart-Shaped Holding Cell (about a small female prison in South Uganda, why they got there and how they communicate), Operation: Smile (a mildly whimsical tale that ends in terror and confusion), and Echo & Narcissus (the one piece that mostly went over my head, but with striking enough visuals that it’ll probably stay with me anyway).Â There’s also an afterward by Tom Hart, which says what I’m going for but puts it all together to make sense.Â Errors in interpretation are mine alone, as always, and for anyone who’s in this comics business for the sheer variety of voices out there, Dash is a necessary part of your bookshelf.Â A quick look around his website should convince you of that.Â $12
Anthology time! Well, sort of. Is it still considered an anthology if different artists do each story but they all have the same writer and focus on two central characters? Actually, probably not. This is the story of a witch (more or less) and her eventual familiar, the ghost of a dead dog. Sort of Tales From The Cryptish (again that comparison, sorry), but with a witch calling on the gods for help and Elizabeth using Tarot cards to help her plot a few things out. The first story (art by Adam Boorman) is about said dog, who the witch discovers while he’s about to be killed by a gang of thugs for not being a good enough guard dog. The second (drawn by Dash Shaw) deals with the witch catching a man about to drown a young girl who can see his thoughts and has told him how he’s going to die. Finally, the third story (drawn by Jeff Zornow) has the witch running across a young girl who’s in a graveyard, mourning the loss of her junkie/drunk boyfriend, or at least mourning that loss until he rises from his grave. There are also a few sketches in back by Leland Purvis and Brian Wood, so maybe it is an anthology after all. It’s a pretty entertaining pile o’ stories, and I even learned a bit of the basics about witches and Tarot, although not much more than I already learned from watching Buffy. Still, it was interesting to see how lonely life was for the witch and how she still felt compelled to help people and animals. Worth checking out if you’re into this sort of thing, or I guess avoiding if you hate everything related to witchcraft, you model Christian citizen you… $4.95