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.
Ron Weasley and the Ewok Invasion #2
Why #2 when there was clearly no #1? No idea. This is one of those cases where the cover tells you everything you need to know. If you like the idea of the Ewoks invading Hogwarts (and Dave and John make very clear that this is just for their own amusement and that nobody involved should sue them), and if you especially love the idea of the people responsible for Teen Boat and Astronaut Elementary doing said story, then there’s no reason in the world for you not to check this out. There are also a couple of bonus stories, one detailing the morning routine of the Weasley household (as told by Ginny Weasley, written and drawn by actual person Marion Vitus) and one a short Jax Epoch story. I also just noticed that I have two copies of this and no price, so how about this: the next person who orders a complete set of Teen Boat books gets my extra copy. If there’s a mad rush with people ordering sets left and right, don’t worry, I’ll throw something extra in for everybody who gets an order in before I update the website again. If nobody orders any copies, well, then this extra copy will just have to gather dust until somebody does.
Life Meter #1 (by Various Artists including Dave Roman) Now Available! $6
I’m guessing that most people reading this are between 20 and 45, and if that’s the case most of you have played video games on a fairly regular basis at some point in your life.Â If you’re male you almost certainly grew up with them.Â Yes, that may be a sweeping generalization, I’m just speaking of all the male friends I have.Â This book is a collection of short pieces about video games, so that long winded intro was to tell those of you who have never played video games that you will be utterly lost reading this comic.Â It even dealt with any concerns I’ve had about anthologies, as all the pages are numbered, there’s a table of contents and it even lists the video games on which these pieces are based.Â Hey, I’m practically an expert on old video games and even I needed the occasional hint.Â Stories in here include a day in the life of Frogger (by Dan Abdo), Debbie Huey’s take on the obsession of Toad from the Mario games, Faith Erin Hicks has a continuing series about a horny fangirl who is hiding out from zombies, Dave Roman shows us what’s inside the Moto Bug (in one of those pieces that flew right over my head), Jamie Dee Galey shows us the dangers of shaking trees, Phil McAndrew has a piece on Pac-Man commiseration, and Lea Hernandez tells us all about Mickey’s ghetto booty from Kingdom Hearts II.Â There are also full page (or half page) comics about various assorted video games that’ll be better left as a surprise, but I have to mention the highlight of the comic: Jacob Chabot’s piece on Burger Time.Â I don’t think you even need to have played the game to love this strip, as we are treated to an origin story of the chef from Burger Time and shown that a man with a spatula and a salt shaker can, in fact, be a bad ass.Â If you don’t have some love in your heart for video games this comic probably won’t do a thing for you, but if you do it’s hard not to love it.
Astronaut Elementary #4 Now Available! $.75
Time travel! Violence! A panda for a teacher, and on the day that the heroine wears her panda hat, no less! And, of course, a villain! All these things add up to the plot of #4 of this series, such as it is. Sorry about all the exclamation points, but this series just makes me giddy. The dialogue is very true to anime, or at least the anime I’ve seen, and I love the constant random goings-on. Don’t try to puzzle out the whole space-time continuum problems with there being multiple versions of the same person in here though, your head might explode. Good stuff as always, there are also collections of these issues now up in the online store for those of you who like their Astronaut Elementary in neat little packages…
Astronaut Elementary #3 (Dave Roman only) Now Available! $.75
Everybody out there like anime? If the answer is “no”, you probably shouldn’t bother with this series. If the answer is “yes”, or is you just like ridiculous dialogue and incredibly cute characters, maybe you should give this a chance. These issues all stand alone, and they’re all about different kids going through their days at their school, which just so happens to be in space. This issue has a kid who won’t take his space helmet off, a girl who has a crush on her teacher, a boy who builds a robot, and the kid with the helmet becoming the king of space. The art’s adorable, the stories are a lot of fun (especially if you’ve been raised on anime), it’s just an all around good time. Here’s some contact info, explore!
Astronaut Elementary #2 (Dave Roman only) Now Available! $.75
If you’re going to do an anime series, it’s only a matter of time before you get to the part about the smaller robots forming into a giant robot body.Â Kids, ask your parents (unless they still make Voltron and similar things, I have no idea).Â This issue is theoretically dedicated to Maribelle Mellonbelly (the richest and most popular girl in school), as she tries to find out more about her newest crush, Hakata Soy.Â Regular readers of this series will remember Hakata from the last issue, and this time his role as the head of a giant robot is examined in more detail.Â Another girl tells Maribelle the story of how Hakata (along with his other buddies in robots) saved her village and all of the bunny people inside of it by fighting off an evil group of invading bird people.Â Once again the dialogue is absolutely perfect, and meant to be said out loud with an exclamation point!Â If you’ve never seen anime that won’t make a lick of sense, but trust me on this one.Â If feels like Teen Boat got most of the love on this page, but this series is fantastic, and going back and reading the early issues has helped drive that point home.Â Get these in their collected editions or get them in the regular issues, but the important thing is to get them.Â Unless you hate anime, but even then (as I’m not a big fan) there’s plenty to like about this series.Â $.75
Astronaut Elementary #1 (Dave Roman only) Now Available! $.75
The reviews start with #3 for this series?Â Really?Â Somebody needs to talk to management about this lack of order around here.Â Well, this is the first (long overdue) step to correcting that problem.Â This issue introduces some characters that we all know and love from the rest of the seriesÂ There’s Miyumi San (trying to avoid the attentions of a boy who thinks he’s hot stuff with any male who’s in the vicinity), Hakata Soy (getting used to school while dreaming of his true calling in the head of a giant robot), and Doug Hiro (enjoying the vastness of space).Â Miyumi is the star of this issue, as she also gets another story dealing with her dinosaur driving lessons and her race against the jerky rich girl.Â All of this is told in the style of an anime cartoon, of course, so the dialogue is hilarious, exclamations are common and nothing outrageous is ever seen an anything but completely normal.Â That dialogue really deserves all the praise I can give it, as you can say damned near anything in this out loud and chuckle.Â For example, when Miyumi is picking out a dinosaur for the race, one dinosaur licks her face.Â Miyumi says “He he – You must be smart because you knew I’d taste good!Â That makes us friends!”Â Is that what makes the panel great, or is her giant thumbs up sign, her anime eyes of that huge grin?Â Maybe it’s all the things put together, which is why comics are so great.Â I’m sticking with that theory.Â $.75
Teen Boat #8 Now Available! $2
So, what happened? Did Teen Boat live through that horrific explosion or what? Well, what do you think, I’m here to tell you the answer to that question? This issue deals with the aftermath of the explosion, the fight to save his life, and how young Teen Boat becomes a man. Aw crap, I ruined the suspense of whether or not he made it. Nothing here but a fantastic story, the highlight quote to me being “This kid is literally in pieces… I can’t tell what part is teen and what part is boat.” This may be the end of the series, or at least it’s a logical place to end things, if that’s what they want. Me, I’d be happy with years of College Boat, Young Professional Boat and Midlife Crisis Boat. With #8 of this amazing series I feel like I shouldn’t even have to mention this any more, but anybody who isn’t reading this is only hurting themselves. $2
Teen Boat #7 Now Available! $2
All is well in the world again, as not one but two Teen Boat’s I’d never seen arrived in the mail today. They’re twice the size of the old Teen Boat’s and this one even has a cliffhanger ending that’s, well, spoiled a bit if you scroll down and check out the cover to #8, but oh well, that’s a spoiler I can live with. As for this issue, Teen Boat learns that the only way to a woman’s heart (at least in high school, insert snarky comment about adult women here if you wish) is through the ability to drive a car, so he takes steps to learn these skills. Naturally being out of the water is not something that comes naturally to young Teen Boat, but he’s able to learn what he needs to know and even has the driving test going smoothly. At least he does UNTIL… I can say no more. But what needs to be said? Who doesn’t know by now that Teen Boat is one of the goofiest, funniest and downright cheeringupingest books in the world? #7 ranks with the best in the series, and after seeing that cover I have the same high hopes for #8. It’s a bit pricier than the old books, mostly because it’s huge in relation to #1-6, and the old books were ridiculously cheap to begin with. $2
Teen Boat #6 Now Available! $.75
Is this the end of Teen Boat? Who knows, but I sure hope not. How’s that for an evasive answer? This one, as you can probably tell by the cover, is all about Teen Boat deciding to run for class president. My favorite sign had to be “Vote for the schooner and you’ll graduate sooner!”, but there were more than a few good ones. Oh, and I should also mention that he’s running against the most popular guy in school who also happens to be on the football team and throws great parties. How’s that for drama? Good stuff again, as if that’s a shock to anybody who’s been reading this series.
Teen Boat #5 Now Available! $.75
And here I was looking for a fight in this issue, what with that provocative cover and all. No such luck. Still another solid issue, don’t get me wrong or anything, but I was looking for more mayhem. What you have is Teen Boat trying to figure out how he could ever love a normal girl and how he could ever love a gondola. More on the “angst” and less on the “thrill” this issue, I guess you could say. Still, 8 pages of angst probably makes a lot of sense in terms of the general overall story, and might help the pacing a bit for a graphic novel. Oh, let’s be honest. I’m just annoyed that there are no more pirates.
Teen Boat #4 Now Available! $.75
This is about as flawless an issue as anybody could hope for. Sure, it’s only eight pages, but those pages were just about perfect. Teen Boat travels to Venice with his Yacht Club, hoping to find out if he belongs at sea or on land. He soon meets a talking gondola and falls for her/it, but this only makes him more confused. You’ll have to read it to find out why. Honestly, there’s no reason not to. You could send these guys $4.00 (the shipping gets expensive, relatively speaking) and get the whole run of this comic up until this point. Hell, you could spend that on a single issue of most of the regular independent series. The art is gorgeous, the writing is funny and, as I said, just about perfect. I want to quote every line is this book to convince you to get it, but it’s best to leave them for you to discover as these books are tiny. Hey, here’s a complaint: make the books bigger! It’s hard to consider that a complaint, but it’s the best I can do. Contact info is up there, what are you waiting for?
Teen Boat #3 Now Available! $.75
Before I begin, everybody can read the slogan at the bottom of the cover, right? It’s hard to get much better than that. If you think that anything about this series is even a little bit serious, that’s not the case. The kid turns into a boat, how serious do you expect it to be? Teen Boat desperately seeks the approval of his classmates (and the love of a foreign exchange student), so he uses his powers to… um, “boat” all the cool kids into international waters in the first couple of issues for gambling purposes, after which they’re attacked by pirates. One iceberg and Coast Guard rescue later and Teen Boat is back in school, being made fun of by all the cool kids. This issue deals with that, and also shows that he can’t control his powers when water penetrates his ear. For the most part this is funny, absurd stuff. The art’s flawless, the writing is crisp and delicious, and they can even make it look cool when the kid transforms into a boat.
Teen Boat #2 Now Availalble! $.75
Again, I have no idea how so many books in the store slip through the cracks on this site, but here it is in 2009 and I never bothered to ramble about Teen Boat #2.Â Seeing as how pirates are all the news right now (the actual, terrifying kind, not the lovable Disney rogues), why not get to it?Â Bad things first: the pages in my copy aren’t printed in the correct order.Â This is shocking to me because I’ve sold all kinds of copies of this series and it’s been out for years, so you’d think that little thing would have been fixed by now.Â This is a continuation of #1, and in this issue Teen Boat sails out over international waters with a good chunk of his school (and the girl of his dreams) aboard, and they are quickly set upon by pirates.Â The students see that offering a Teen Boat in trade to the pirates would be a very useful thing indeed, but can’t convince him to transform… until an evil iceberg hits him and knocks him into human form.Â The pirates have the same problem with the iceberg, and things get dicey from there, as Teen Boat can’t seem to transform in extreme cold.Â Just telling the specifics leaves out all the wonderful conversations in here, like the student mistaking the meaning of the word “booty” (an obvious joke, granted, but still funny when done right) or some of the pirates falling out of character.Â For the three people who read this website on a regular basis and still haven’t checked these comics out, I don’t know how many times I have to mention this, but the only person you’re hurting is yourself.Â $.75
Teen Boat #1 Now Available! $.75
Back to the beginning?Â It’s been awhile since I’ve read this, essentially the origin story for Teen Boat.Â This tells the tale of the young Boat growing up (in flashback form, sprouting barnacles and propellers at odd times), then getting found out at school.Â Naturally, as a young outcast who’s desperate to impress a pretty girl, he accepts the invitation of a group of jocks to let them use him as a party boat.Â Soon, however, they get far enough from shore for some illegal activities to start occurring, and this moral dilemma is where we’re left at the end of the first issue.Â The series improved over the years, granted, but it was pretty well perfect to begin with.Â This was made in 2001 and it astounds me to think that people who love comics (and also have a sense of humor; sadly, they’re not necessarily the same people) might not have heard of this by now… which is why I’m bringing it up again.
Astronaut Elementary Book Two (#5, 6 & 7) Now Available! $3
Letâ€™s say youâ€™re having a lousy day, and why not? Itâ€™s possible, even likely sometimes, depending on your job, social life, the state of the world, all that. I defy anyone to read this collection and still feel lousy. You could flip through these and just read the little blurbs on posters and other items in the backgrounds and be amused, then when you stop to actually read the dialogue, well, your soul would have to be awfully black to not get at least a few dozen chuckles out of this. And sure, it is technically an â€œall agesâ€ type of book, but unlike a whole bunch of things in that genre, here it doesnâ€™t automatically also mean â€œstupid to all adultsâ€. Anything but. Itâ€™s an introduction to a few more of the students at Astronaut Elementary and their various quests, like destroying a student and the endless harassment by Team Feety Pajamas. We also get to meet the principal and be impressed by his giant sword, watch Spike with his fruitless crushes on the school boys, and see the richest girl in school. All of these things tie together in some ways, or sometimes not, but itâ€™s not really relevant. These are a pure joy to read and I have almost no interest in any sort of a larger story, which is rare for me. Can you tell yet that Iâ€™m totally sold on these things now? If youâ€™re a complete cynic, I guess you can skip these, although they may very well cure you. Other than that, thereâ€™s no reason in the world not to check them out, and you can get all sorts of free samples on their website if youâ€™re too cheap to actually pay for themâ€¦