One of the problems with the constant need for people to escape into nostalgia is that the thing they’re nostalgic for probably never happened. Or if it did happen, it wasn’t nearly as great as the person remembering it may have thought. Don’t believe me? If you’re out of your 20’s, go back and listen to the bands you loved when you were a teenager. Or watch a few movies that changed your lives. Watch/listen to them objectively. Sure, a few of them will hold up, but far more of them will fall apart upon inspection. That’s fine! That’s just your own personal growth; your tastes theoretically improve as you gather more experience. Well hello tangent, wasn’t there a comic here I was supposed to be talking about? Yep, and that little rant should show you the effect this book had on me. This is the story of two socially lost kids who find each other and end up dating. There’s Lisa, who had an abortion during high school and Jed, who’s recently moved to town and has no friends. Lisa had friends and lost them while Jed is just trying to find something to hand onto. He’s singing for old folks even though he has his own music he’d rather be playing, which is where his rant about nostalgia comes in. It’s endearing how quickly Lisa and Jed fall for each other; even though both of them have reason to distrust people, they can instinctively see each other as kindred spirits. Even when Lisa throws a giant party when her parents go out of town you still get the impression that Lisa and Jed only care about each other. This book is also packed with little moments of loneliness, hope, resignation, and yeah, more than a little bit of nostalgia. It’s all set in the mid 90’s, but it has very little bearing on the story, outside of the lack of ubiquitous cell phones. John Porcellino refers to this as Dave’s masterpiece on his website, and I’d be hard pressed to argue with that. If you’ve liked his work, this is the culmination of years of effort, of his researching after school specials at libraries in the hopes of finding one that would speak to him. If you’re somehow new to his work, this is an excellent place to start. $10
One of the problems I didn’t anticipate when I started this website (17 years ago) was that I would lose track of so many artists. I have no excuse, everybody is a Google search away these days, but between the volume of review comics that come in and life in general, some artists that I like a whole lot slip through the cracks. Oh look, what’s this, it’s a package from Dave Kiersh! If you’ve been reading this site for years, you already know that I’ve reviewed plenty of his comics over the years, going back to my earliest days here. Go ahead, click on his name in the tags (or just use the search bar) if you don’t believe me! You’ll also notice that he uses “Last Chance For Love” a lot as a title, often with no numbering, so good luck with keeping all those straight, future comics historians! This is a collection of some of his selected drawings from 2015-2017. Beautiful women, heartbreak and lust have always been big themes in his work, and the same holds true here, along with a few self-portraits. There’s no story for me to review here, but the images have the same haunting but sexy quality to them as always, and this will be a welcome sight to people (like me) who may have lost track of his work over the years. He also sent along his latest book, so that’ll be up here soon enough. In the meantime, the man knows his stuff, so give this book a shot. If you’re new to his work maybe start with one of his more conventional comics (go through the archive here if you’d like a recommendation), otherwise this one is $6.
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.
Wolfgang, Kurt (editor) – Lowjinx #2: Understanding the Horrible Truth About Reinventing Mini Comics
Lowjinx #2: Understanding the Horrible Truth About Reinventing Mini Comics
If this was a perfect world, anybody who bought any mini comic ever would get a free copy if this book with their purchase. Yes, it’s that good. There’s one page that doesn’t do much for the book, but it doesn’t do much to take away from it either. Everything else is golden. I didn’t know much about Kurt Wolfgang before I saw this book (he’s the editor and contributed two pieces, “What the Fuck is a Mini Comic” and “My ‘Career’ in Comics”) and I still don’t really, but reading his pieces did inspire me to go to his website and order some of his other stuff. The new issue of Lowjinx is out and it has everybody who is anybody in it. If you’re wondering about the wisdom of making a comic about comics, well, he addresses that in the intro, so worry no more. The comic basically makes fun of Scott McCloud and James Kochalka and talks about trying to be taken seriously around your family and friends while drawing comics for a living. Jef Czekaj apes the Kochalka drawing style in his piece and pretty much nails the guy. Throw in Sam Henderson, Tony Consiglio , Dave Kiersh and Johnny Ryan and you have yourself a hell of a book. I can’t wait for #3 to get here…
My Favorite (written by Michael Grace Jr.)
Here’s a mini from Dave that’s all lyrics from a band called My Favorite. You can buy the CD here, just in case maybe you want to buy the CD and then try to follow along in the comic. Vampires, hospitals and nostalgia can be found in here. I swear that his art’s getting crisper all the time, and it was pretty good to begin with. Nothing all that fantastic here, but that’s probably just because I’m spoiled with all of Dave’s more personal comics. Probably some great stuff here for anybody who’s a fan of the band and it’s still good to look at. Probably around $1, get it and add it to your pile of Dave’s mini comics.
Eek! Sorry about the way my scanner interpreted that cover. This is kind of a rough print of this comic, as Dave is going to try and get a Xeric grant to get it done right, but I think you can still go to his website and request it. It’s a different perspective from his usual comics as this one is written by his girlfriend (or maybe just “female friend”, I don’t know). It’s the story of a girl and a boy who meet in high school. The boy loses touch with reality more and more all the time and the girl has to come to grips with her feelings for him while he slowly goes insane. That’s all you get from me about this as you should all check it out yourselves, as is the case with all his work. I’d guess it’s somewhere between $3-5, and if anybody from Xeric happens to read this page, give this man some love! He’s one of those people that I could see calling “comic genius” in a few years (and am close to calling him that now but don’t want to give him an ego or anything), so give him lots of money to make this comic look nice!
Not to air all my dirty laundry here or anything, but Dave’s comics are a great therapy for post break-up blues. Not that there’s much in here that is fantastically cheery, but he has a wonderfully lyrical and poetic view of the world, and it’s nice to see women and relationships look on paper the way I think they should feel. Go ahead, read that sentence over again. I dare you to make any sense out of it, but it sums up my opinion of this comic. More girls, 70’s and 80’s movies and boobs in this issue. Maybe it’s better than his other books, maybe it’s just as good, but a lot of what he said in here either helped me or made me think about things, so I’d like to thank him. Probably a dollar or two, I’m sure you know where to get them by now…
For whatever it’s worth, this review is being done on 1/9/10, far into the future from when the rest of these reviews were written.Â Why so late?Â I missed it the first time around, so why not?Â Reading this now, after Dave has done at least a few really polished books, it’s hard not to notice how raw this is.Â Oddly, I mean that in a good way, as there are tiny images of all sorts of things all over the place and panels are only occasionally used.Â The nuggets for his future books are here, as he opines about how he’s obsessed with girls, wishes to be taken on adventures, fears loneliness and wants to throw aside all his responsibilities to become a hobo.Â Those are the linear, easily understood moments, told in (more or less) a conventional way.Â The sampled page is a better illustration of what I’m talking about than anything I could say, but there’s something about the simplicity of drawing the random images in his head, putting dreams and bits of reality together and seeing what comes out of it that’s missing in his later work.Â Granted, his later work is probably “better”, if such a thing can be measured at all, but there’s some serious charm to be seen in his older stuff too.Â No idea if this is still available to buy, but if it is it’s $1.
I’m not sure how many different ways I can tell you about how great this guy is, so I’ll just tell you about the comic instead. I love his Dirtbag series at least in part because it showcases his obsession with bad TV movies. There are a few little text pieces about them, as well as one about his infatuation with a girl when he was in school. Throw in some loneliness, horniness and general longing and you have another great Dave Kiersh book. Oh, and there’s his love of retards, his worry about pregnancy and his story of the drive-in closing down. This is all great stuff, of course, but the main reason to get this book is the simple interpretations of his favorite celebrities. I was going to sample a page but there are only two pages of them and I don’t want to ruin any surprises. Like all of his other books, this is one that everybody should own, although it looks like it’s not up at the USS Catastrophe page, so you might have to e-mail the man himself…
Last Cry For Help #4
At least I think it’s #4 (unless I missed one somewhere, there’s no number in here). More goodness from Dave, Souther, Craig Bostick, Beppu, Ron Rege, Dan Moynihan, Cole Johnson, and one person that I should know but can’t figure out and it’s bugging the hell out of me so let’s just leave it, OK? This is a tall issue with glossy pages, so I have to assume that Dave has made a lot of money recently, so more power to him! What’s there for a reviewer to say about this book anyway? If you like tales of love and loss, then there’s not much better than Dave Kiersh, and this is a collection of stories of that theme from a bunch of the greats, so where could you go wrong? My favorite issue of the series so far, I’m going to guess that it’s $4 because of the fancitude, contact info is all around you!
A Last Cry For Help #2
Souther Salazar helped out on this one, but I’m not sure how much so I’m only going to post it on Dave’s page. That OK with you? Anyway, I was pretty indifferent to the first issue of this. I’ve been meaning to read it again because I’ve liked everything else I’ve seen from these two, but the first one seemed like a mess to me. This one was a lot more together and, consequently, a lot better. I love how Dave ignores word balloons more often than not. I don’t know why the cast majority of comics people feel that they have to use the bubbles. They don’t have to do anything, it’s mini comics! Anyway, this is more goodness from Dave about loneliness, girls and trying to fit in. You won’t find a comic more packed with info than this one if you try. Busy, busy pages, you really have to read this slowly to get everything out of it, and even after doing that I still feel like I missed stuff. It’s $2.50 and you can get a copy at the ever-expanding usscatastrophe page. Support that page because you’re not going to find a better selection of minis anywhere.
Dave K Greatest Hits
How many people out there have a hard time keeping up with Dave’s work? Probably quite a few of you, unless you spend many hours keeping it all in order. What with all the minis, some of them available here, some of them available there, and all the various one page stories in anthologies all over the place. Well, lucky for you Dave put out a book of his “greatest hits” from the last 5 years. All kinds of stuff I’d never seen, and I try to keep close track of his stuff. Sketchbook-like pages with incredible, minute detail of various scenes and all kinds of one page stories dealing with stealing, staying home on a Saturday night, spying, kissing, hanging out at an all night supermarket, dancing, driving, rocket skates, being stuck on a bus, and going out. You know, all the things that make life important and some other things thrown in. This is available at the Highwater website for $5. I just went there for the sake of this review and boy do they have all kinds of great mini comics. They even have all the old Tom Hart books! Sorry, went off on a tangent. OK, everybody who’s read anything on this page knows that I think Dave can do very little wrong, but if you didn’t want to mess with getting all kinds of minis and just wanted one book, well, you’re silly to begin with, but this is a great place to start. I defy anyone to read this without wanting to see more. Contact info is all over the place, I’m sure you can find it…
Man, it’s been way too long since I’ve seen any comics from Dave. Granted, it’s mostly my own fault, as he certainly hasn’t stopped making comics, it’s just that there’s a definite lack of quality comic stores in Columbus Ohio. Oh sure, The Laughing Ogre is OK, but all their minis are crammed on one shelf and in no sort of order at all. So how about the comic? It’s the story of Dave (or a fictional Dave substitute) wishing he could go back in time to when he was a kid and get his life in order before it all goes out of control. He wanders around his hometown, remarking on how nothing changes, at least except for the things that he wishes would stay the same. He eventually falls asleep while reading Peter Pan and has an oddly sexy dream involving Tinkerbell, some mermaids and Captain Hooker, all of which leads him to wake up and realize exactly what it is he wants, even if he isn’t entirely sure how to get there. He tells the tale in a slightly less hokey way than I do, but the man’s a visual artist and I’m here typing away on a website trying to describe this incredible book without giving too much away. As for the art, I’ve always like his drawings, but he seems to have improved from even the last time I’ve seen a mini from the guy. The level of detail here is amazing, most of the panels look like he only quit working on them because he ran out of room. The two pages right before the end in particular, depicting a fairytale forest, deserve some serious attention. Go ahead, if you have the book, open it up and just try to count the number of creatures and events that are going on in tiny corners of those pages. So yeah, obviously this is well worth a look, as is damn near everything I’ve ever seen from the guy. You can get this, and a few of his other books, through Bodega Distribution, this one is a measly $6.
Dirtbags, Mallchicks & Motorbikes
An entirely new collection from Dave, all in glorious (and that word certainly applies in this case) color.Â Sorry, you needed more than that?Â OK, that’s only fair.Â This is a collection of awkward coming of age stories, all told in a way that makes this collection accessible to teenagers.Â Or at least I think it would, I have no idea what goes on in the minds of teenagers right now.Â First up is Motorbikes, the story of a young man who isn’t well thought of by his mother or seemingly anybody else, as he tries to take care of his mother after she has an accident while also trying to get with the attractive nurse who is staying with them.Â Next is Mall Chicks, where a young woman gets very poor advice about how to attract boys and the practical trouble involved.Â Dirtbags is the story at the center of the book, telling the tale of a young woman playing tennis and a young man who watches her a little too intently every day.Â What, you thought that was it for the book just because that’s all the stories in the title?Â Hell no!Â The Party is up next, showing a high school party, what the party thrower had wanted to happen and what actually does happen.Â Finally there’s That’s My Baby, a heartbreaker of a story about a young man who gets a young woman pregnant and is confronted by her intention of giving the baby up for adoption to anyone but him.Â Dave was made for color comics and his stuff has never looked better than here.Â You’d think that “angst-ridden” only dealt with one or two facial expressions, but you’d be wrong.Â I swear that Dave must have stopped his growth in high school, as he has the unerring ability to portray exactly what these poor kids are going through just by the looks on their faces.Â This is self-published, goes for $20 with postage and is quite possibly the best thing he’s ever done.Â Of course, I may have said that with a few other things on this page too, but it’s certainly the best full color graphic novel he’s done.Â Unless there’s one I missed out there somewhere… $20
Do I have to write a review? Look, I think this guy is incredible. The page I sampled here is just about dead-on, at least in my experience. Granted, he didn’t say it, but he had the wit to draw it and put it in his comic. If you’re a male and you’ve ever been confused about females, his comics are bound to help at least a little, if for no other reason than you can find out some things that you shouldn’t do in certain situations. It’s supposed to be the same color as the cover but I wanted to make sure you could read it and that it wouldn’t be a giant-size file, so here you go.
I think the best way to describe Dave would be “graphic poet”. If he leaves anything unsaid, he sure hides it well. I just get the impression that everything he has is going into these pages, and that makes for some compelling reading. This issue is more of the same of what we’ve come to expect from him: tales about loneliness, girls and trying to fit in anywhere in the world. I think he should be rich and famous, but that’s because I’m biased. It probably wouldn’t suit him anyway, because why would he feel compelled to make comics if he was content? Anyway, everything I’ve seen from him is really close to essential reading, and this one isn’t any different. Get as many issues of this series as you can and see if you’re disappointed. Go here to get his stuff, as well as just about every other mini you can think of.
This is a hard guy to track down, at least as far as the internet is concerned. I managed to find an e-mail address, but that’s it. Apparently he’s in Non #4 and Lowjinx #2 also, so you’ve probably seen his work somewhere. This one is from back before he was “famous” in 1998, and it’s the tale of Tracey Gold (from Growing Pains) falling in love with Hugh O’Conner (from The Young Poisoner’s Handbook) and vice versa. A quick read, it still shows a little bit of what this guy is capable of. Kind of looks like he uses a regular pen and just scratches out some of the backgrounds, but that’s probably not true. The name I’ve seen him compared to the most is John Porcellino, and that’s a good comparison. It has the same feel of teenage hopelessness and a sense of not fitting in with the rest of the world. Both of those things have become something of a cliche in mini comics and it takes a real talent to pull them off without becoming obnoxious, and Dave fits the bill. You can find some of his book over at the fantastic USS Catastrophe page. He was nominated for an Ignatz in ’99 for best new talent and I’ve yet to see a bad story from him in any of the various places I’ve seen his work. This one is quick but good.
A Last Cry For Help
I regret to inform you that I have no idea which issues of Last Cry For Help make up this comic.Â I looked and looked online (and found it at Amazon and Bodega Distribution) but nobody seems interested in listing where the individual bits of this came from.Â Ah well, what difference does it make?Â Unless you obsessively follow everything Dave has done over the last ten years, at least some of this is going to be new to you.Â If you scroll down you’ll see that I’ve read plenty of what he’s done and at least half of it seemed new to me.Â Or maybe it’s just because I read most of this stuff four years ago and have a lousy memory?Â In any case, from what I’ve been able to gather this is essentially a ten year retrospective of Dave’s comics, with one page stories thrown in with about a dozen longer bits.Â Mostly the best of teenage awkwardness, with stories involving a young girl not really wanting to be making out on the beach, two young guys getting drunk and smashed their parent’s car, a pregnant woman stuck in prison, the merits of fantasy life versus actual life, drunken dancing, a lonely waitress, a humiliating Halloween and more than a few sexy nurses.Â If you haven’t read Dave’s stuff I can’t think of a better introduction, and if you have this is damn fine collection.Â Few people out there cover awkwardness and loneliness better than he does, all while never veering completely over into whiny self-indulgence.Â $10
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.