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Various Good Minnesotans – Good Minnesotan #3



Good Minnesotan #3

These people just keep improving the design scheme of these anthologies. This one can go right on your bookshelf, what with the spine and all.  If they keep this up #4 is going to have one of those gold-embossed covers that the big companies were using for a few years back when I cared about such things.  How about the contents?  I’d say this is their strongest issue yet, or at least certainly their most consistent.  Not a bad story in the bunch.  I should note that all these stories have brief bios of the creators before the stories as well as contact info and your best place to get all that is either through their website or by buying the book, as I’m far too lazy to list all that stuff here.  Noah Harmon has a piece about a squid trying to communicate an idea, Toby Jones details his ethical and practical struggle with mice, Madeline Queripel sums up a courtship in one page, Meghan Hogan has the start of a graphic novel about great horned owls (and she might want to avoid dark text against a dark background, but other than that it was fascinating), Justin Skarhus & Raighne Hogan tell the tale of a day of vari0us inescapable sexcapades, Ed Moorman details a year of firsts in one night, Abigail Mullen wants a small house, Anna Bonguivanni eats a baby (and wins the prize for the most gorgeous artwork in the book), Reynold Kissling helps demonstrate why even starting a relationship is so difficult, and Danno Klonowski has a stream of true nonsense from the local crazy person.  I left two stories out, mostly because they could have been comics in their own right.  John & Luke Holden spell out an utterly directionless life just about as well as I’ve ever seen, as a total lump of a man loses his last job and wanders around trying to barely not be homeless, and Nicholas Breutzman shows us the ongoing war between desperate meth addicts and people who live in secluded homes.  This is the best work yet from pretty much everybody listed (that I’ve seen anyway, as a few of them have some pretty extensive credits listed before this book) and it does an excellent job of keeping the reader engaged for its 100+ pages.  Send them some money and/or start thinking about beginning one of these anthologies in your own neck of the woods, why don’t you? $12


Various Good Minnesotans – Good Minnesotan #2


Good Minnesotan #2

Huzzah for a second issue!  Even better news is that this was actually sent to me months ago and I’m just now getting to it, meaning that the third issue is almost out as well.  That level of productivity is never a bad thing.  OK, so the first review was mostly gushing due to how I impressed I was at the concept, so this time I’ll stick more to the content.  It’s the same cast of artists with a few new people thrown in.  First up is Back Pages by Ed Moorman, a fictional (?) conversation with a confrontational Bob Dylan in 1966.  Thoroughly engaging and sharp, and it’s certainly not hard to imagine that conversation taking place with Bob Dylan.  Next is Halloween (Revisited) by Gail Kern, and I have to apologize for using the last page of her story as the sample for this issue.  Regular readers of this site know that I hate spoilers, but that image of the headless horseman frantically trying to save his head is going to be lodged in my brain for weeks.  Meghan Hogan is up next with a bit of poetry about wanting to fight a shark, followed by a surprisingly mournful tale of growing old with someone and the mistakes they made along the way.  Next is an untitled piece by Joseph Nixon, a mostly impressionistic “origin story” on how he knew he wanted to be a painter, which is probably at least a little bit more interesting than most.  Raighne Hogan & Alex Witts team up next to tell the tale of a dictator, his methods and the inevitable conclusion.  Luke has a long but tiny (if you see the pictures you’ll know what I mean) story about… oh crap, a wordless story I have to interpret.  OK, there’s a bird chirping a story to a human about a large monsterish creature going for a walk, playing with its shadow and jumping out of a car.  Yep, that’s why they pay me the big bucks.  Finally there’s The Ripoff by Nicholas Breutzman, possibly the highlight of a collection of solid pieces, involving a pierced penis and the very literal usage of the title.  If you like your anthologies diverse and thought-provoking, you could do a whole lot worse than this.  The $12 price tag may scare a few people off but this thing is packed, and I didn’t even go into all the extra sketches and images at the back of the book.  Worth a look.

Griffin, Erin & Warhaftig, Sarah Louise (editors) – Always Comix #4



Always Comix #4 edited by Erin Griffin & Sarah Louise Warhaftig

Once of these days I’ll settle on a universal standard for reviewing anthologies.  Is it best just to list the talent involved  and leave everything else a mystery?  Or is it best to go through every story and one page image one by one, leaving nothing for a future reader to discover? How about splitting the difference.  Here’s a list of the people involved, outside of the editors because duh: Falynn Koch, Jeremy Tinder, Will Kirkby, Josh Blair, Colin Tedford, Matt Wiegle, Alvaro Lopez, Colleen Macisaac, Amanda Kirk, L. Nichols, Ed Moorman, Box Brown, Alisa Harris, Josh P.M., and Joe Decie.  As this is the Activity issue, there’s plenty in here to do, for the active comics reader.  There’s recipes, a maze, even a mad lib.  Specifically I enjoyed the guide to getting over your cat allergies by Sarah Louise Warhaftig (because any “how to” guide that ends with acheiving Nirvana is hard not to love), the attack of the clouds by Falynn Koch (not so much an activity but still funny), Amanda Kirk’s cut and paste page, Ed Moorman’s guide to inner peace, Joe Decie’s guide to fun with matches, and Box Brown’s “wrestler or tattoo artist” quiz.  There, that still leaves plenty to the imagination, right?  It’s a fun anthology even without all the practical tips and with them, well, what more could you ask for?  $4