Hard Times #8
There seems to be an endless assortment of ways to make fun of modern office life.Â If you work in an office, these ways are either a helpful way to blow off steam or an unwelcome reminder of where you’re going to be stuck for the next 40+ years of your life.Â Or maybe you’re lucky enough to not work in an office at all and these representations of office life are a bit like looking through the glass at various zoo animals.Â Either way it’s an easy concept to screw up, but Ed seems to have a decent handle on the theme.Â This is the story of Jay, the (unmentioned) giant talking cat of the office.Â There were 7 issues before this one, but it’s no trouble picking up on the action, as the first 7 issues were either about different things or the office life described here is so constant that we don’t even need a recap.Â Jay is working his way up through the ranks, although he’s doing it without a raise and by working much longer hours.Â He’s also dealing with a boss who’s happy to fire everybody around him for any reason he can think of, coffee that tastes like washed feet, an overzealous security guard and the fact that Sunshine Coffee is putting up new stores everywhere.Â You know, flipping through this again it just occurred to me that this was probably done on either a daily or weekly basis, as every page seems to end with a joke.Â The art seems to have unerased pencil lines all over the place, and if that’s a mistake it’s something that grew on me by the end of the issue.Â It seemed to somehow flesh out the characters more, as without the smudges and shading this whole thing would look fairly flat.Â I have one more issue here to help me make a final verdict, but based on one issue I’d say this is worth a look, although possibly best to stay away from if you prefer to think that offices don’t actually exist.Â No price, so… $1?
Decaff Blues #2
Right at the top of my list for things not to do with your mini comic would be to misspell the title.Â Granted, “decaf” is an abbreviation so I suppose you can mess it up a little bit, but it’s also commonly used and it’s hard not to know how to spell it.Â It just gets the comic off on the wrong foot and it’s so very easily avoided.Â Anyway, this is the story of the lead character trying to get into town for a job interview.Â He takes the bus and deals with what everybody deals with while trying to get anywhere on the bus: stopping to pick up a handicapped woman (and the invariable asshole who wonders why they have to stop to pick her up at all), being picked up late, offending other riders, trying to reason with a bus clerk, being hassled by people trying to sell you (obviously stolen) goods, and getting cheated at three card monty.Â All of this leads to our hero finally getting to his job interview very late, and I don’t think it’s spoiling anything to tell you that employer’s don’t care what your excuse is if you’re late to a job interview, they’re not going to hire you.Â It’s a fun story, but I have to point out again how obnoxious all the unerased pencil lines are.Â It makes everything look rushed, and the fact that the pages are poorly centered doesn’t help at all.Â At least he used staples this time, although that just has the effect of occasionally chopping off dialogue.Â See that crease at the bottom right of the cover scan?Â That wasn’t from my scanner.Â There are simple fixes to all of these problems, that’s why I continue to complain about them.Â I read it and enjoyed it, but I run a website about this stuff.Â Most people seeing this is a shop would probably glance at it and move onto something that looked more professional.Â Yes, I am aware of the fact that I’m looking for professionalism in mini comics.Â Not really, just a command of the basics and the ability to make a good story look good on the shelf.Â <angry old man rant over>Â $1
Hard Times #10
Well, one thing is for sure about this issue: if you ever see movies in the theater, you’ll relate to it.Â You can tell from the cover what this is going to be about, and you can probably tell from the cover whether or not it’s for you, but it handled the subject well, while managing to make the subject funny.Â Granted, if you can’t laugh at assholes talking on their cell phone in the movie theater you’re probably incapable of laughter.Â Still, there was every chance that this wouldn’t be funny, so credit where it’s due.Â In this issue our hero and his date decide to take in a movie.Â After choosing a movie from the list of crappy options that are out there today (really, this comic is timeless in this way, as the variety of movies available has been about the same since the TV remake craze started), the two main characters deal with long lines, commercials before the movie, people talking during the movie and the incessant use of a cell phone.Â This doesn’t even get into all the nonsense happening on the screen, as they sneak into two other movies to get their money’s worth out of the experience.Â Â I can’t say any major ground was broken with this comic, and there are still hints of pencil lines (although, in all fairness, not nearly as much as in the last issue) and way too many spelling errors, but it’s still a fun issue.Â $1
Hard Times #9
Regular readers of this site probably already figured out that I occasionally wander all over the map from review to review.Â For example, if you look up at the review for the last issue, I said that all the unerased pencil lines grew on me after awhile, that they fleshed out the characters.Â This time around, it gets on my nerves inÂ a big way.Â It just looks like crap way too much of the time, and while an argument could be made for leaving some of the lines on the characters, when you’re forgetting to erase the pencil lines under whole blocks of text, it makes the comic almost impossible to read.Â So how about the content?Â It’s the same format, except this time it’s an over the hill superhero trying to make an honest living.Â He gets his first paycheck (and considers real estate fraud), tries life as a telemarketer, gives up and gets drunk, considers becoming a super villain, and eventually starts up an internet business and makes a few book.Â These are all four panel strips, mostly with some form of a punchline at the end.Â Some are funny, some not so much, but they’re all at least decent.Â Sadly, none of it matters as those pencil lines just wore me down over the course of the book.Â I’ve said it many times over the years, but it’s such an easy thing to fix that it just gets on my nerves.Â Still no price, so I’ll go with $1 again, and you might like it just fine if you’re a little less annoyed about this sort of thing than I am…