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.
In case you missed the pun, this is a collection of work from mostly female cartoonists and, like most anthologies, has good things and bad things. It’s a great concept though, as it has bios for everybody in here along with links to their sites and even interviews with a few people. At least two of them work for Marvel in some capacity, but who am I to judge? Granted, a few of the stories are more than a bit cute (as admitted by the creators, so it’s not like I’m being sexist or anything), but the strength of this collection is the sheer variety of stuff involved. You have a nine year old girl reading and dealing with a comic about the atomic bomb in Japan on one page and a mostly wordless story about lazy cats working in a glue factory on the next. All kinds of great female cartoonists in here too. Check out the website if you don’t believe me. $9.95 is pretty cheap for something this packed too, so check into it, see what you think.Â Contributors: Sara Varon, Becky Cloonan, Raina Telgemeier, Ariel Bordeaux, Ellen Forney, Diana Sprinkle, Miss Lasko-Gross, Missy Kulik, Jen Benka, Kris Dresen, Hellen Jo, Kristen Petersen, Jen Sorenson, Michele Roman, Abby Denson, Jenny Gonzalez, Rachel Hartman, Mary Minch, Megan Kelso, Doreen A. Mulryan, Lark Pien, Sarah Anderson Lock, Elena Steier, Jennifer Moore, Lela Lee, Vanessa Satone, Shaenon K. Garrity, Catherine Tutrone, Ellen Lindner, Elayne Riggs, Robin Riggs, Janet Hetherington, Donna Barr.
I’ve been sitting here, trying to come at this from an objective angle, and I just can’t. Sorry. Too many of the events of that day day are still too close to me, even though I didn’t directly know anybody involved in this and I’ve never been to New York. My fear about this book, honestly, was that it would be too much. It would stir up too many memories, the stories of what happened to various comic artists that day would all have a kind of awful sameness: panic, searching for loved ones, wondering if it was the end of the world. I guess a lot of them do have that theme, because that’s what they were going through, but these artists are way too talented to leave it at that. There are individual touches everywhere, from Dean Haspiel having burning office papers blow in his window to Jenny Gonzalez seeing the day through a haze of psych medication, to Donna Barr being too hung over to really know what was going on, to everybody else. On a purely comic level, this book shows you the insides of a lot of comic people who hide behind being sarcastic, or weird, or just plain mean at times. This benefits the Red Cross and everybody you can think of from comics is here. There’s no reason in the world not to get this, unless those events are still too close to you, because this will bring it all back. It’s worth it for the internal dialogue Tom Hart has with Hutch Owens alone. Sadly, a lot of the things Hutch was cynically talking about have come true since then, as everybody in any kind of political office is using this tragedy to shove their own agenda through, and every big business is laying off all kinds of people after taking money from the government not to lay people off, and people don’t seem to care. Before I get to rambling too much about this and the state of the world, let me just say one last thing: God bless Peter Kuper for keeping some things in perspective.
The first thing that struck me about this book was the fact that it was on #30 and I’d never seen it in a comic store. 30! Amazing. I should also add, right off the bat, that this is the only thing I’ve ever read from her (outside of any anthology work I’m not remembering), and it’s right in the middle of a long series. Meaning that I don’t have a clue what’s going on here, and there’s no handy synopsis or anything like that, so I’m kind of in the dark. So, obviously, this review is going to be another one of those “I saw five minutes in the middle of the movie, but I could tell it wasn’t any good” kind of reviews. I didn’t like this much. I had a hell of a time trying to figure out who was who which was, granted, mostly my fault, but some slight thought has to be given to new readers. It’s the story of a bunch of soldiers and other people in WW2, and apparently these were the people who were trying to do good. Bits of dialogue were clever and I had no problem with the art, so that’s not why I didn’t like it. This is a big book for a regular issue (64 pages) and it should have left me wanting more, but it didn’t. I don’t know how to explain my feelings towards it any better than that. Still, she deserves a chance, and I’m sure one of these days I’ll get around to getting one of her collected books so I can have a better idea of what I’m talking about here. Until then, visit her website and I’ll put up everything that’s in print so you can check for yourselves if you’re interested.