Quick, think of the most embarrassing thing that’s ever happened to you. Now imagine yourself writing and drawing a comic story about it. That right there should make you cringe, which means you’re in luck, as that’s what this anthology is all about! This book has right around 30 small press artists, some new and some who have been around for awhile, who are willing to share some shameful incident from their past. I don’t think anything in here will get anybody put in jail, but it’s hard not to cringe while reading some of these. I’m not going to review every story because there are so damned many of them (and for a measly $8!), but the highlights include Shaenon K. Garrity wetting herself while out with a group of other cartoonists (including a big name guy, but I won’t spoil the surprise; I particularly loved the way she ended her strip), Sam Spina’s unfortunate method for drinking a rum shot when he met the Bacardi girls, Adam Pasion’s particularly gruesome retelling of an incident involving a finger in the eye, Geoff Vasile dodging a bullet (not literally), Chad Essley and his series of embarrassing moments (hard to top the one where he volunteered to breakdance at school on stage), Fred Noland’s theories on some crayons he used to own, Chad Woody and his racist former roommate, Box Brown and his former habit of eating light bulbs (it’s not quite as life-threatening as it sounds), Stephen Notley and his experience of being “that guy” at a comic convention (you know the one, the guy who gets up to ask a rambling and pointless question and has no idea how to get out of it once he gets started), and Sam Henderson’s experiences with having seizures while surrounded by strangers. It’s a damned fine mix of stories, and at a ridiculously cheap price. Save yourself the embarrassment of not owing this anthology of embarrassment! Ugh, I feel dirty for saying that. I’ll let myself out… $8
Shpilkes Volume 3 #1
The great thing about reading more than one issue by any given creator is that it gives me the chance to base my opinion on more than one thing. Should go without saying, sure, but I sometimes give bad reviews that are purely based on what I think the person is likely to do in their comics career, and it’s silly to base that on one issue, but I’m rambling here. My point is that I liked this issue. The contents here are pretty diverse, but it all works. There’s an asshole at a coffee shop, a stupid man trying to describe a long-term relationship, and some really tasteless (so, naturally, pretty funny) jokes here and there. But the bulk of this book, and the best thing about it, is the convoluted epic about Otto VonHoule, a possibly retarded descendent of royalty. It’s set in the hickest of hick towns and involves licking feet, intolerance, a skank and an angry mob. I never had a problem with Fredo’s art and it’s never looked better than is does here. He gets a bit lazy with the backgrounds here and there (as in there are is no background here and there), but that’s a very minor complaint in what was a pretty damned good comic. Check out his website or send him an e-mail. Maybe he can tell you why this is another #1 instead of a #2…
I don’t see a number anywhere, but it’s the size of a real comic thanks to the Xeric Foundation, so let’s just call it #1, OK? If I see anything different I’ll change it. Random buy, and I had really mediocre expectations for this. What can I say, they were met. This was going to be a much more negative review before I went to his website though. There are a few pages there that are pretty funny. Not that the book is bad necessarily, just kind of dull. Stagger Lee didn’t do much for me (comics about songs rarely do, even folk songs), Cracked Actor (about a washed up child actor) was a little better, but I still wouldn’t buy the book for it. King Curmudgeon was downright good though, so the book is saved! Sort of. It’s the story of a grump out with some of his trendy friends, and he decides to mess with the head of one girl who can’t stop smiling and staring at him, no matter what’s said. Funny stuff, but short. The wordless story at the end (Automaton) was OK too. Overall, this is probably something that you can live without. I like his art a lot though and he seems to be going in the right direction, so I’ll buy whatever comes out next. Until then, read the comics on his page and see what you think for yourself.
Contact: PO BOX 12253 Berkeley, CA 94712-5253
Or e-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org