There’s a long list of things I would do if I was a rich man, but high up on that list would be funding comics journalism, or graphic journalism. Whatever it is that Joe Sacco established roughly 20 years ago, anyway. This is a rare occasion where I’ll cite Wikipedia, but they list Emi Gennis, Jen Sorenson, Dar Archer, Matt Bors and Josh Neufeld (among others), and I’m constantly surprised that this isn’t more of an established thing by now. As Anne makes clear in the introduction, that’s mostly because funding is incredibly difficult to come by, especially with a project like this one that covers years of interviews, travel and multiple artists. I’m only going to briefly summarize these sections, as they’re chock full of details (and footnotes after the fact), so the only way to really do them justice is to read them yourself. The title gives you the basics of what’s covered in here, and it’s broken down into four sections. First up is The United States, which deals with fast fashion, the real life of a model, clothing stores, thrift stores, warehouses full of clothes to be recycled, and the trade agreements that “govern” this whole mess. The story of the model (and her description of the ones that were best able to adjust to the environment and the ones who weren’t) is heartbreaking, as is the general waste and pollution caused by the thrift industry (and how little of the profits actually make it to charities). The second section deals with Austria and the history of textiles and fashion, including stories from people who have lived their whole lives in the industry and are seeing it start to vanish due to competition from the larger clothing chains. The third section tells the story of Cambodia, the working conditions and wages of the factories, how that sometimes turns into sex work and how it can cycle back into garment work due to a lack of other options. The fourth section is The World, and it’s probably going to be the most surprising chapter for people who only have a passing knowledge of the sex trade industry and trafficking. The shocking bits (to me, anyway) detail how sex trafficking (slavery, basically) is treated the same in the US as voluntary sex work, and how funding for getting rid of sex slavery often gets tied up in ridiculous moral rules that come from the hyper-religious types. Fighting these moralistic scolds is incredibly difficult because they’re successfully blurred the lines for years, and money that could be more effectively put into housing and counseling for actual victims instead goes into advertising to convince people that their children will be sold into slavery if they leave their parents’ sight for a few minutes. It does conclude on a hopeful note, with some practical advice on how to change things for all of the various problems they’ve documented, but it’s daunting to say the least. Even if you think you’re an expert on this subject I guarantee that you’ll find new information in here, and the comics are drawn by the some of the best artists working today. If you know any millionaires please tell them to throw some money at people who are looking to do this type of graphic journalism, because the world needs more of it. $13.95
Who likes their anthologies to be international? Everybody? Then you’re in luck! Women from all over the globe contributed to this one. It’s a bit of a mixed bag, like all anthologies, but that mix still leans heavily in favor of entertaining/thought-provoking stories. Stories include the mundane aspects of a day in the life of an astronaut in the future by Myfanwy Tristam, Robin Ha’s trials and tribulations while traveling through Italy, Rachael Ball with probably the most visually striking piece about (literally) capturing shadows, Ellen Lindner’s work as an extra and her quest to meet Bill Murray, J. Homersham’s silent tale of a fish party, Patrice Agg’s story of communication problems and their unfortunate resolution, an excerpt from Nicola Streeten’s tale of her abortion (which I’m guessing also includes other subjects, but the excerpt just deals with the abortion and the immediate aftermath), Karrie Fransman’s tales of two different comic conventions, Shamisa Debroey’s plans for the future, Badaude’s story of artists at work and play, Lisa Eisenberg’s homesickness manifesting itself into a floating trip home, Emily Lerner’s tale of a road trip to retrieve some old items from storage, Julia Scheele’s love letter to a bus and Kat Robert’s delightful idea of a very brief interlude between this life and the next. I’m leaving a few out because hey, what’s life without surprises? Overall this is a damned solid pile of stories, more than worth shelling out $10 bucks to give this 90+ page book a shot.
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 might have a different criteria for a good anthology than most people. When I get an anthology, I get it to check out work from a lot of different people at once. Therefore, as long as the vast majority of them arenâ€™t actively bad, I usually feel like it was a good anthology. Well, there wasnâ€™t a single bad story in this, so mission accomplished. Lots of familiar names in this (Cole Johnson, Zack Soto, Dan Zettwoch, Jesse Reklaw, Thien Pham, HOB, Damien Jay, Gabrielle Bell) and some unfamiliar names (Howard John Arey, Ellen Lindner, Andrice Arp), which is always a good thing. More than a few of those people are getting e-mails from me to see if they want to be in the distro, in case you were wondering. Thereâ€™s no theme here, which is also a good thing, and stories include a young girl reluctantly spending time with her father, a man trying to find a working bathroom, a cute pug, getting sucked into the television, dating literal monsters, a stranded pirate rhymer, giant babies taking over the world, and how horrible it is to quit smoking. Great stuff in here all around and itâ€™s only $11.95, well worth a look. Hereâ€™s the Alternative Comics website, or just click on the title if youâ€™re feeling spendyâ€¦
The Egg Mysterious
Sometimes I have no problem with symbolism and being able to tell if a comic is just an elaborate in-joke for the author, and sometimes I have no clue. That’s the case for this one. I like the very few pages of dialogue, then it goes to a movie about a woman who is having a dream about becoming a sperm, if I’m even interpreting that correctly, until she wakes up and it loses me completely. Don’t get me wrong, there’s something here, it’s just that I’m getting dumber as I get older and I’ve lost my ability to figure stuff like this out. Except for the times that it makes perfect sense, of course. The art was expressive and detailed, no problem there. Based on the dialogue pages I believe that Ellen can write and I’d like to see it displayed in another comic, as this one honestly just confuses me. Liked the ending a lot, though. E-mail her to tell her how stupid I am if you wish, or check out her website.
Tea Now Available! $4
You can see the names on the cover, right? I always feel like these reviews are a waste of time, because anybody who reads the site on a regular basis and/or knows mini comics knows that it would be tough for a collection like that to be terrible. So what’s good? The story from Clutch, about a woman going on a first date with a guy she likes and having to break down and tell him that she really doesn’t like tea, Dave Kiersh getting grabby, Dan Zettwoch revealing a secret recipe, and Scott Mills talking about his mom. Nothing particularly bad about this at all, although I think I liked Garlic better. Probably just the subject matter. Oh, and these are both now available, so check them out, or just go to the website if you need more convincing.