Who loves gag books? Well, if you don’t, this is going to be kind of anti-climactic. If you do love them, this book is for you! It’s teeming with gags, and while some of it may seem a bit dated (Jar Jar Binks being brutally murdered in many different ways, the trials and tribulations of Hanson), it’s mostly a pretty funny collection. In here you have the longest strip ever made about the quest of a young child to have a cookie before dinner. Well, if not the longest strip, definitely the most violent. There are also comics about a vanity ass, the biggest zit in the world, letting the terrorists win, an old woman trapped in a car, Insane Joe, wacky old people, all of the ways that television has affected us throughout history, and a 63 year old pregnant lady. Oh, and it’s all completely disgusting. Seriously, there’s all kinds of nasty crap in here, so don’t blame me if your kid sees this laying around and ends up scarred for life. Keep this stuff away from the kids! What kind of parent are you? Anyway, it’s funny, it’s jam-packed full of stuff, and it’s $3. Contact info is up there, what are you waiting for?
Doc Smith #1
This one is a whole lot better than the book of gag strips. It’s mostly about a clueless dork, which maybe isn’t the most original thing in the world, but it’s done really well. It’s an incredibly wordy book, as it took me about 20 minutes to read it (it’s 37 pages), so it’s up to you if you like that sort of thing. His art is solid and Dean’s a pretty funny guy at times. The story here is basically a wandering mess, but that’s OK. It starts with Doc being abducted by aliens, who release him because he has too many keys. Then he gets home to find that cockroaches have taped Howard Stern over his Battlestar Gallactica tape, then he spends the rest of the issue going on about his trouble with women. Who would have guessed that a stereotypical dork would have trouble with women, eh? Anyway, this is a dense tome, worth the effort if you’re you like books that are mostly funny with some groaners thrown in. Contact info is up there, and if you’re going to check this guy I’d recommend this one. $2 maybe? No price listed…
Tacklebear and Barko the Stickdog #1
Here’s a book of mostly one page gag strips with a few longer stories thrown in. It often follows the standard gag strip formula of setting something up for the sake of a mostly lame punchline, but it does veer into more entertaining territory here and there. It’s the story of a bear and his guard dog (and yes, he does deal with why a bear would want a guard dog) as they deal with rain, ghost stories, a malfunctioning magician’s hat, “Footbig”, and the “stop hitting yourself” game (come on, you all played it when you were kids). The book suffers from a lack of timing, as a lot of longer stories go on too long and some of the shorter ones could have used a bit more. Still, there are some funny moments here and there and, despite the simplicity of the characters and the general lack of backgrounds, you can tell that Dean has some artistic talent when he uses it. He sent another book along with this that I’ll get to probably in a month or so. I’ll have a more complete idea of his work then. Until then, this has a few moments wrapped around a bunch of so-so stuff. Send him an e-mail or send him $3 if you want to check it out at: Dean LeCrone C/o Sourdirt Comics P.O. Box 502074 San Diego, CA 92150-2074.
Legal Action Comics Volume 2 Now Available! $18.95
It’s always a copout of some degree to just list the contributors involved in an anthology as proof of it’s greatness. Why not go into greater detail about the (in this case) 73 cartoonists and their individual contributions? Well, to me, the joy of a good anthology is discovering things as they come, finding new artists that you like, taking a chance on all sorts of people you’ve never heard of, that sort of thing. So nailing all this down specifically (outside of it being, in that case, by far the longest review I’ve ever written) kills a lot of that sense of discovery. But none of that is really the point of this book anyway. It’s about trying to help Danny Hellman pay some huge legal bills in a lawsuit that is still apparently ongoing (the only update I managed to find about it (as of 8/15/07) is that only one count is left in the lawsuit and that it still hasn’t gone to trial) and, on a selfish level, getting to see a bunch of the best cartoonists working today all gathered into one book. So how about that list? OK, here’s a few names: Sam Henderson, Carol Lay, Doug Allen, Art Spiegelman, Kim Dietch, Kaz, Johnny Ryan, Tony Millionaire, Ted May, Hans Rickheit, Dave McKenna, Michael Kupperman, Miss Lasko-Gross, Pshaw, Lauren Weinstein, Patrick Dean, Mike Diana, Rick Altergott, and Dean LeCrone, to name a fraction of the people that I had already heard of. There seems to be a bit less personal animosity towards Ted Rall this time around (although there’s still plenty here), with the stories being all over the place. It’s a great anthology whether or not you agree with Danny’s legal case (and what’s not to agree with?), and something that everybody who enjoys this genre at all needs on their bookshelf. $18.95
Slam Bang #1 Volume 3 Now Available! $9.95
Somehow this massive book has been available in the store here for almost a year and I’ve somehow missed talking about it. I blame the elections and the loss of my appendix last year; that’s my story and I’m sticking to it. Want some details? As the cover says, there are over 50 contributors, this massive thing is over 200 pages, the cover art is gorgeous (even though the girl on the cover doesn’t actually appear in any of the stories) and keeping something this packed to under $10 is an impressive achievement. As for contributors, there are way too many to list them all, so I’ll just stick with the ones who have pages up here at the old Sloth for reference: Dan Taylor, Brad Foster, Tim Corrigan, John Lustig, Stan Yan, Dean LeCrone, Matt Levin, and Jim Siergey. That leaves all sorts of new cartoonists for you to discover in here, doesn’t it? As a whole, well, it’s an anthology, so some parts are stronger than others, but there’s more than enough in here to make it worth your while. Highlights include Ethan Wenberg and Stan Yan’s tale of the poo-flinging reporter (which makes this the most political book I’ve seen all year, sadly enough), the brief Kevin Hanna puppet theater story explaining to kids how the fast food is made, Ron LeBrasseur’s vampire love story, Dean LeCrone’s tale of an old lady trapped in a hot car by her dog, Tyler Sticka’s fly fight over some poo, Dan Taylor’s story about a successful weight loss clinic, Dan Lauer’s Iron Chef Funnies, Anton Bogaty’s tale of a space crew trying to defeat an unstoppable alien, and John Lustig’s always amusing Last Kiss comics, which are scattered throughout. The heart of the book though (figuratively and literally) is the Tim Corrigan Mighty Guy piece about the slave driver that is Allen Freeman and the methods he uses to keep all his cartoonists happy. Mighty Guy has been around for decades (although if I remember correctly it was always self-published) and I’ve always thought it was vastly underrated. What fan of cartoons ever wouldn’t appreciate Mighty Guy being shoved into a tin can (when trying to take over “Marvelous” comics) by the “Bulk”? All told, this is a pretty solid bunch of comics. A few stinkers, naturally, but more than enough good stuff in here to make up for it. $9.95
Slam Bang #3 Volume 2 Now Available! $4
It’s time to go back to another forgotten issue in my constantly growing online store, and three cheers for it being another good one. There’s only one mildly weak piece in this anthology, and on further review I might have even misread that one. This starts off with a story from Allen’s childhood (drawn by Christine Wald), where he tries to keep up with a friend on a much better bike through a raised dirt trail with disastrous results. Next is Moose of Terror by Mark Monlux, in which two moose (meese?) wander into a small town, followed by a small gang of wild turkeys. Eric Weems then has what is essentially an ad for the comic in which a variety of celebrity spokespeople are chosen and then discarded, and I confess to being mildly baffled by the punchline. Anton Bogaty is up next with The Short Biography of an Unknown Artist, the “weak” piece I mentioned, but looking again at that title I think this story works well as a one-pager that ends abruptly. Revenge of the Booth Babe by John Lustig (who should be on this page much more than he is, as I always get a kick out of his Last Kiss series) has an abused model of comic conventions turning the tables on the middle-aged fat guys who always make her dress up in degrading outfits. Finally there’s one of the better stories of pure mayhem that I’ve ever seen, Power Struggle by Dean LeCrone. There’s a young boy, you see, who wants a cookie. His father does not want him to spoil his dinner and so refuses said cookie. What follows is ten pages of constantly escalating violence including power tools, crapping on the carpet, stuffed animals and flesh-eating ladybugs, and that only covers the first few pages. Seriously, if the rest of the comic sucked I’d be recommending it for this story alone, and the rest of the comic is already pretty good. If you’re a fan of mayhem, this is required reading. If you prefer the quiet stories, there are plenty of those on this website too, you big baby. $4
Slam Bang Volume 2 #6
Kudos to Christina Wald for that cover, there’s plenty to unpack before you even open the book.Â In case you can’t read the fine print (which is a shame, as there are jokes all over the cover) this is the advertising issue, basically an excuse for the people involved to take the “random fake ads” gag and have some real fun with it.Â Edward Pun (which can’t possibly be his real name) shows a bad day that ends in a clever ad for a massage chair, Brad Foster has a “rehabilitated” quack doctor, Ryan Estrada shows off the civic conscience of the actual Big Boy, Roger Langridge has the inspired idea of selling “mother in a jar” (just in case you’re too independent), Dean LeCrone & Allen Freeman have a time machine for sale, Tyler Sticka plays with celebrities in his bit (and hopes to get sued to “land a major distribution deal”), John Lustig again steals the show with his bit about the biological clock and where to place the blame after a bad break-up, and Jim Siergey has some games for children to help them find their place in life (as automatons).Â That’s leaving out plenty of stuff, as this thing is packed with ads that are only 1/2 or 1/3 of a page long by all sorts of folks.Â Big laughs, big issue, all kinds of stuff to pick through, what more do you want?Â $4