Eli mentions right on the cover that these are depression comics, but since it’s late September of 2020 as I write this and all kinds of people are depressed for all kinds of new reasons, these comics can be a bit, you know, depressing. Obvious disclaimer out of the way, there’s some really masterful storytelling going on here. There are nine pieces, mostly touching on aspects of depression (one of them is an adaptation of an H.P. Lovecraft story, but his reasoning for why it was included in here was compelling). He touches on the devastation going on in his brain sometimes when trying to keep up a polite smile around people, the danger of letting your true feelings out around other people, living with a voice in his head that’s always telling him how he’s going to die, trying to pinpoint the last moment he was really happy, his brief periods of being catatonic and trying to figure out why it was happening (and how to stop it if possible), and how he was once thinking of self harm and happened upon the perfect means to do it (but he wisely wouldn’t say what it was) before eventually having his job move away from that location. Now, I’m not saying that the reader should take all of these things literally, that every moment of Eli’s life is plagued by every one of these thoughts. They’re stories, and it’s possible if not probable that I’m misinterpreting a message or two. But these stories are devastatingly accurate depictions of what can go through your mind while depressed, or very suddenly while you’re thinking you’re not depressed at all. Knowing you’re not alone in your darkest thoughts is one of the best ways to manage depression, so if you’re feeling that way at all I can’t recommend this book highly enough. $10
One of the things I really love about this “job” is when I get a new comic from somebody that I haven’t heard from in years. With Eli, I think it had been a decade since I saw his last comic, or at least close to it. The physical size of this one laughs in the face of the name “mini comic,” but nobody ever came up with a better name for these things that I know of, so a mini comic it must be. Eli has a few stories in this one, with a few very short bits coming from his older minis. The bulk of this is new, so don’t worry about that. Things start off with a double story; one story continuing along the top of the page and one along the bottom. The top portion (“Discovery”) deals with that feeling you get when you meet somebody, chat with them for a long time and leave the conversation realizing that you’ve forgotten their name. When you see them again you might have a brief window to ask for their name, but really you shouldn’t do even that, so you’re already stuck. Eli takes that concept to a delightfully extreme conclusion here. The story along the bottom of the page is a silent piece about a therapist and his strategy for bringing couples closer together. This concept is also taken to an extreme, with some terrifying consequences for some of the participants. Next is a story called “The Refresher,” told from a first person perspective with the reader slowly discovering what’s really going on, which doesn’t leave me much to tell you, as why should I ruin the surprise? Finally there’s the first part of “Shift Report” (meaning he’s still working on comics, which is good news), and this one does some genuinely innovative things in splitting up the characters and the story. We see the perspective of various nurses and patients as they go about their routine, sometimes with them bumping into each other, sometimes doing their own thing. And all the while there’s one section of the page that’s in a fog, which is difficult to realize until you start to see vague images in that fog, and once again I shouldn’t say anything else about it. It’s good to see Eli back and making comics, give it a look! $10
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€¦
Ghost Comics (edited by Ed Choy Moorman)
Sometimes I make these reviews overly complicated, and I probably will with this one too, so I wanted to sum it up simply: this is a collection of different takes on ghost stories from some of the best small press cartoonists around.Â Ta-da!Â What more do you need to know?Â There are all kinds of highlights to choose from, and somehow there’s not a stinker in the bunch.Â That’s a rare thing with anthologies, but Ed has put together quite a cast here.Â Things start off strong with Hob’s tale of a dinosaur ghost witnessing everything that follows its death and the eventual destruction of the earth.Â From there Jeffrey Brown talks about making a fool of himself to a member of a band he likes, Corinne Mucha implies that the “ghosts” in her dorm were really just an excuse to get people to sleep together for protection, Maris Wicks goes into detail about the creepy and non-creepy aspects of living with a ghost as a kid, Madleine Queripel relates the reality of trying to scatter ashes, Toby Jones (professional boyfriend) goes into how useless he is when confronted with death, Lucy Knisley visits an old school she attended briefly and is shocked by the sheer number of ghosts still around, Allison Cole finds a practical way to rid herself of ghosts, Evan Palmer tells the tale of a knight misguidedly trying to win love, and Jessica McLeod warns of the dangers of ghost tomatoes.Â Then there’s my favorite (among many “favorite”) story: Kevin Cannon’s tale of all the major landmarks of the world joining together into a Voltron-like creation to fight evil, how one member of that band is destroyedÂ and, as a ghost, sees a plot to destroy the world.Â Any more detail than that would ruin it, but trust me, it’s a purely awesome thing.Â If that still hasn’t convinced you, here’s everybody else involved: Ed Choy Moorman (duh), Aidan Koch, Mike Lowery, Sean Lynch, Sarah Morean, Jillian Schroeder, Zak Sally, Abby Mullen, Eileen Shaughnessy, Tuesday Bassen, Sarah Louise Wahrhaftig, Jenny Tondera, John Hankiewicz, Will Dinski, Mark Scott, Monica Anderson, Warren Craghead III and John Porcellino.Â Topping off that pile of talent is the fact that this is a benefit anthology, with proceeds going to the RS Eden, which started off as a chemical dependency center and evolved into helping community members at need in all sorts of areas.Â So it’s for a good cause, it’s packed with talent and it’s only $10.Â Sounds like a no-brainer to me.Â $10
Florence of Arabia #2
Ever read one of those comics where you just don’t have any idea what to think about it until it’s over? This is one of those. Not individually, though. The two issues Eli sent me were short but interesting, it’s just that he’s heading towards a conclusion and it’s not here yet, leaving my opinion about the whole thing in limbo. I like what I’ve seen. A disembodied head, a snail disguised as a camel and a naked scientist from the future all lead up to, at the very least, an interesting story.His art is what they call “easy on the eyes” as well. Kind of resembles Scott Mills, if I had to pick anybody, but more layered and complex. Not to be putting down Scott or anything… Anyway, these (this and #1) are worth a look, but you might want to wait until the whole thing is done so you can tell just what the hell is going on… Contact info is above, in case you’ve never seen my page before.
A great wordless mini about couples going into therapy, with a revolutionary technique to get couples to stay together. It’s a good idea and he does a good job of it with this, and you can’t ask for much more than that. Oh yeah, if you don’t want to use your computer to get these, you can always write the guy at: P.O. Box 420596 San Francisco, CA 94142-0596.
An Inside Job #3
Formerly known as Eli Bishop, he will now foverer be known as Hob on this website, only a few years after everybody else has already been calling him Hob. That’s this website, always with the up to the minute info. Anyway, it’s been far too long since there’s been a new issue on An Inside Job, and the whole genre of dream comics seems to have mostly faded away, or at least faded from the comics I seem to be reading. Themes in here include death, zombification, werewolves, failure, flirting, scandal, mystery, murder (eventually), a squat-boy. a survival game, and the ever-popular peeing in your sleep. Of course, picking just the theme of the little stories tells you a tiny bit, but there’s so much more to be gained from reading them as a whole. If you asked me what it was I’d run screaming from the room rather than try to nail it down, but trust me on this one. $4
An Inside Job #2
Sometimes, in my paranoid moments before I fall asleep at night, I think that Eli only sends me his comics to prove how crappy my scanner is. I can fiddle with that thing as much as I want and I still can’t do his comics justice. Anyway, it’s another interesting dream comic. Feel free to buy it and psychoanalyze to your heart’s content, I know how bizarre my dreams are and prefer not to start that sort of thing for fear that people will ask me what I dream about. Things in the dreams include broken legs, pot, sex, snowballs, Senators, and urination. Go to his website and send him a couple of bucks, OK?
An Inside Job #1
Eli wonders on his website whether or not the world needs another comic about dreams, and for good reason. I thought they were kind of rare until I started seeing minis all over the place that were all about dreams. Luckily it doesn’t matter because the world can always use another good comic, and he’s managed to pull that off. There are a half dozen dreams in this little book and he manages to make it feel surreal, which is pretty necessary for this type of thing. Is it odd that we’ve both dreamt of “fly-seats” though (flying seat cushions)? Maybe it’s more normal than I thought. Anyway, this one is a couple of bucks and it’s well worth checking out. Look at his website for samples and a fantastic links page, among other things. By the way, his comic doesn’t really have a rainbow colored border, it’s just plain grey. But for some reason my scanner thought it looked like a rainbow and I thought it was pretty cool, so here you go.