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Crespo, Jaime – Los Punkers

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Los Punkers

Are 24 hour comics still a regular thing out in the comics world? Seems like I’m seeing fewer of them now then I was maybe 10 years ago. Which makes it entirely possible that I’m just missing them but they’re still going like gangbusters out in the artistic world. I ask this question because hey look, it’s a 24 hour comic! For the uninitiated, they’re exactly what they sound like: an artist starts a comic and finishes it within 24 hours. Sometimes they have no idea what they’re going to draw, sometimes they know exactly what they’re doing to do, and sometimes their intentions land somewhere in the middle. Jaime did this about 7 years ag0 but lost the artwork and then forgot all about it (he goes over the story on the inside front cover if you’re curious), but now it can be yours! It’s basically the story of Jaime discovering a love for punk music as a kid (this would be late 70’s/early 80’s), starting up a band with friends and the troubles associated with being taken seriously/being allowed to play in different venues when most of the band was still in high school. A pretty clear sense of “right idea/wrong time” also shines through here, as it sounds like the local punk scene really flourished only after they gave up the band. Um, spoiler alert, I guess. It’s a fun story, and as always with 24 hour comics you can also pick through the artwork and try to pinpoint the moments when the artist was wearing down. Eh, who am I kidding, the man’s a pro. This is well worth a look for anybody in a band, thinking about starting a band or just somebody who’s feeling like they’ve left popular culture behind. So anybody reading this, I imagine. And this last message is just for Jaime, because I know I’ll forget to email him back about his potentially moving to Columbus: I can’t help you with the cold weather and lack of oceans, but I have had some damned good Mexican food in this town. Granted, this is coming from a pasty white guy who never even had proper Mexican food until he moved out of small town Illinois, but there are some solid options to be had here. $4

Crespo, Jaime – Tortilla #4

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tortilla41

Tortilla #4

See, here’s where my lack of a working scanner really hurts the review: Jaime doesn’t have a working website. So no free samples to be had there to help you make up your mind. Then again, how much convincing do you really need? Jaime has been making quality comics for 25ish years and he has a new issue out! What more do you need to know? And yes, it would be cheating if I bailed on the review right there. Jaime has had a rough few years (which accounts for the delay between issues), but he hasn’t lost a step with his comics skills. This one has four stories, and the subjects include observational evidence that the worst drivers all own gold cars (which is not something I’ve ever noticed, but it’s certainly going to be on my mind while driving from now on), an especially obnoxious local drunk who eventually motivates the town to pool their resources to get a one-way ticket to get him out of town (and what happens next), Jaime’s efforts (as a child) to help a friend sell some candy bars so they’d be free to play and their chance encounter of a celebrity, and Jaime’s history of skateboarding and surfing. Oh, and in regards to that celebrity, I’m not going to spoil it, but there story is set in the 70’s, so let your imagination run wild in your guesses. Jaime is also still working on a big old graphic novel that I can’t wait to see, and he’ll even be in Columbus for Sol-Con from October 13-16th (2016, in case you’re reading this in the future). That lineup of guests is ridiculously stacked, so come to Columbus for the show! In the meantime, buy this comic. You know that lack of a sample image is driving you nuts, and there’s only one way to learn what celebrity he ran into in the 70’s… $4

 

Crespo, Jaime – Sueno Loco

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Sueno Loco

God damn, this is how you do a dream comic. Not that I’ve run across any particularly terrible examples of them recently, but if you keep a dream journal and have been thinking about turning some of them into comics, you should pick up this comic first. There’s plenty to love in that cover, and once you thoroughly absorb that image the comic opens up with Jaime in a mariachi suit working at a Taco Bell. One of those shrill blond older ladies with the awful orange tans comes in and tries to order an “enchrito.” Dream Jaime doesn’t hear her correctly the first time, which causes her to blow up at him. From there it’s a quick spiral down into madness, as an enchirito chant fills up his dream, the blond lady expands into an enormous angry head and Jaime is left scrambling for his dream life. It’s a quick read but it’s beautifully done, so on top of his other comics that I’m thoroughly enjoying now I’m hoping he keeps going on the dream comics too. Granted, there are only so many hours in the day, but here’s hoping Jaime uses as many of them as is humanly possible to keep making comics like this. Well, and Tortilla. And that he finishes up Turk Street Serenade. One of you publishers, give the man a pile of money to make this easier on him! You’d have a ton of great older material to work with just to start… $2

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Crespo, Jaime – Tortilla #3

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tortilla31

Tortilla #3

Have I ever mentioned my inevitable first reaction whenever I get a comic with a text story in it? Invariably, it’s “huh, this probably would have made a good/great (depending on the quality of the story) comic.” Which is odd, as I read plenty of novels and books of short stories. But hey, if it’s in the middle of a book of comics, it makes total sense, right? Anyway, Jaime has been on a bit of a roll lately, and he keeps that going here. Things start off with another chapter from his upcoming “Turk Street Serenade” graphic novel, and he’s wisely going to stop putting those chapters in his comic now, as why give away the whole thing for free? Well, not free, but you know what I mean. This chapter deals with him having a shitty day (in more ways than one) at work and his confrontation with a jerk. I can say no more, but it’s always funny to see assholes get their due. Next is the text story I mentioned before dealing with Jaime’s lifelong troubles with math, going back to his early days in middle school and the methods that his teachers used to get him to learn. Well, teaching him wasn’t really their goal, as he lays out in detail, but they seemed to think that cruelty could maybe do it all by itself. Finally there’s a story told from the perspectives of two very different people up until their eventual meeting. It’s another solid mini, and to be fair I do get why Jaime would do a text story instead of a comic about his math troubles: it would have been a lengthy and complex comic and hey, it’s not like him writing this story prevents him from ever making it into a comic. Check it out, and I’m really looking forward to him completing that graphic novel. $3

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Crespo, Jaime – Throb

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Throb

It’s always good to see a labor of love see the light of day. Granted, the impact is lessened a bit when the general public has no idea that this project ever existed, but it’s still heartening to see it. Jaime had the idea for this book (based on Zoom and Re-Zoom by Istvan Banyai, which I hadn’t seen until I checked You Tube just now, and I suggest you do the same for some context) back in the 80’s. He finally managed to put an issue together in the mid 90’s, but printing problems made a mess of the book and he ended up trashing his few remaining copies (out of a tiny print run). Still, he wanted to revisit it and finally put this book together, touching up his art where needed. Oh, and the title refers to the constant zooming in and out of the images, in case you were curious. Which brings us up to date on the history of the comic and the meaning of the title, but what’s this comic about? Well, it’s more of a visual exercise than it is a detailed story (otherwise known as art). Images zoom in and in and in, focus on what appears to be a speck, then zoom back out to show a completely unexpected scene, and on it goes for 24 pages (with a nice surprise at the end). I thought it was impressive as hell and think Jaime should think about making a video out of these panels like with Zoom. As if he hasn’t already spent enough time on this project in the nearly 30 years it’s been rattling around his brain! Well, it’s a thought, anyway. It’s worth a look, and maybe some of you comics creators out there could take this concept and run with it, eh? $3

Crespo, Jaime – Last Slice

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Last Slice

It’s going to be a long time before we all figure out just how devastating the loss of Harvey Pekar was to the small press comics community. Sure, there was his own incredible work, and the world is poorer for the fact that there will be no new stuff (unless there are unfinished bits and pieces out there, but it’s still a damned finite resource). But the greatest thing about Harvey in my mind was the fact that he was a relentless champion of the medium and did all he could to help out artists that he liked. I’m bringing all this up here because Jaime mentions in one of his strips that he had actually stopped drawing entirely for five years before Harvey tracked him down and talked him back into it. I’ve been a fan of Jaime’s work for years and to think that all that talent was hanging on that thread is disturbing. Here’s hoping that other respected comics elders take up the slack, as I frankly don’t think people like reviewers have the standing to pull it off. So how about the actual comic? Yes, I do remember that that is the point of a review. These are the best of the “Slice O’ Life” strips (as chosen by Jaime, obviously), but he mentions that he had to cut some of them down from six to four panels, which immediately makes me wonder what that changed. He also mentions that these strips lack the detail that he uses on his other comics, as the strip was being printed in color and all that detail didn’t come out anyway, but there’s still more detail in each strip than I see in plenty of entire mini comics. Anyway, these are all four panel strips about a variety of different topics, with 40 of them in all. Topics include a dangerous stretch of river current, creepy religion, a crappy day, entertainment on the bus, the circuitous logic of a running man, assholes telling their most intimate details while talking on their cell phones, a dedicated drunk/druggie from high school, the meaning behind empty vanilla extract bottles that you might see lying around, the best surfer in the world, how risky activities have changed from when he was a kid to now, Santa in the hood, how the “razors in the apples” Halloween rumor ruined the free local caramel apples, the things that a dog brings home, and George Hamilton. That’s just the first half, you can discover the second half of strips for yourself. In case that wasn’t perfectly clear, you should buy this comic, and anything else he does (although I will mention it if he does a terrible comic, it’s just that I haven’t seen one yet). Don’t let this man drift away from comics again… $4 (?)

Crespo, Jaime – Tortilla #2

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Tortilla #2

I have a general question before I start the praising, and this may or may not be rhetorical: why is it that sometimes when a comics artist hasn’t put a book out in a year or two, the book that does eventually come out is filled with previously released material? I realize that making comics isn’t the highest priority when you’re also trying to make enough money to feed your family, and everything in this issue is new to me anyway, but I was just curious about that in general. Jaime says that this issue ended up being all personal stories about him and that it worked as a complete issue, and he’s completely right about that, so consider the previous questions to be about 90% Sunday afternoon ramblings. There are three big stories in here and a short piece about a “Love Bomb.” First up is Jaime’s old habit as a kid of hopping onto moving trains to spare himself some walking. He always managed to jump off before they started moving too quickly until, of course, he doesn’t. Hey, there would be no story otherwise, right? It was a great, tense story with some serious attention to detail, considering that all this happened many years ago. Next up is Jaime’s piece on stealing all kinds of stuff as a kid and temporarily being “the kid who could get booze.” He was too young to care about drinking it, but it was a nice way to make a few extra bucks. You could kind of see his downfall coming, but I loved how he portrayed the utter casualness he had for stealing after getting away with it so many times. Finally there’s the first chapter of a projected graphic novel called “Turk Street Serenade.” Apparently the bulk of this book was completed and on his hard drive when the damned thing crashed. “That sucks” is a massive understatement, as I’ve been thinking for years that it’ll probably take a big old graphic novel to really get his name out there. Sure, it already is among the smart people, but you know what I mean. Anyway, this chapter deals with Jaime taking over a night shift at a hotel, trying to stave off boredom before eventually getting way more action than he wanted. Ah, I remember the life of working nights at a hotel. The people that you’d see, I swear. Like Jaime said, the whole thing works really well as a complete comic, and if you haven’t read any of his stuff already, I’d suggest starting right here. No price listed here or at his website, I’m going to guess $4.

Crespo, Jaime – Slices #1

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Slices #1

Please note: this is not listed as #1, and I have no reason to believe that there is more of this series to come.  It’s mostly just a hopeful gesture from me that he keeps these coming, because you’re not likely to find a more entertaining pack of short bios of the lives of all sorts of people.  This strip is based on a much older strip that Jaime gave up years ago, so the people described are mostly folks Jaime knew 20+ years ago.  He tries to give “where are  they now?” type information whenever possible, but there are plenty of people in here who just faded away.  Some of the highlights of this 40 page comic (and, with each page being a strip, that’s basically the life story of 40 people) include the life of a 22 year old cat, an annoying drunk who at least always paid for beer, a “ladies man”, a busybody, a rich asshole (is there any other kind?), going way too far with “God’s will”, an acid casualty, the perfect stereotype of a stoner (that happened to be a real person), the stupidest guy in the world, “dog face”, a punk rock girl who just couldn’t seem to leave town, a very creepy gay guy, a born hustler, a girl shaped like a cylinder who never spoke, a self-destructive musician, Jaime getting stuck on a train, the mystery of Skip, and a dog that peed everywhere.  I’m still leaving out about half of the stories, and I’m barely scratching the surface of the ones I did talk about, but there are a few samples up at his site so you can pick through them at your leisure.  I’m glad to see Jaime getting all the way back into comics, I was just starting off with the small press stuff right around the time that he quit originally, so I only saw a few of his earlier books.  Still, he was on his way to becoming a small press legend (for whatever that’s worth) when he dropped out because of the need to raise a family and make a few bucks, so I’m thrilled to see a couple new comics from the guy and the fact that he’s working on a graphic novel at the moment.  If you’ve started reading these things in the last 10 years or so you might not know the guy, but keep an eye out for his name, as I think he’s going to win over all sorts of folks.  It was tough as hell to pick a sample strip for this comic, which is always a good sign, and pretty much all the strips in here are either entertaining, informative of just plain weird, which is the right mixture for me.  $4

Crespo, Jaime – Numb Skull #3

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Numb Skull #3

I hate doing this. I’m putting this comic up because it’s the most recent thing I’ve seen from him, but I mostly don’t like it. This is a shame because I loved Narcolepsy Dreams and hadn’t really seen anything bad from him, and I don’t want the only impression on this website of Jaime to be negative. If anybody out there knows of any of his more recent work, or a place online to get his older stuff so I can review it too, please e-mail me. As for this comic, there wasn’t too much for me to get excited about. The two strips with the man sitting in front of his television, complaining, were OK up until the silly punchlines. There was a long text story about a man and his wife sticking up to some people who were assholes during a movie that read quite a bit like therapy… but it was macho, silly stuff. I liked a couple of the shorter pieces, like the one where me mused about things that make him wonder about the coming century (this is from 1999 and I guess it’s entirely possible that he’s just not doing comics any more), but overall there isn’t much here. Like I said, I’ve loved everything I’ve seen from him up until this, so don’t take this negative review as anything more than me not liking most of one issue. If you ever see any old issues of Narcolepsy Dreams, pick them up and you won’t be sorry. Send him an e-mail and see what he has available…

Crespo, Jaime – Narcolepsy Dreams #4

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Narcolepsy Dreams #4

See?  My recent trips down memory lane don’t always show a comics artist who has vanished from the face of the (comics) earth.  Jaime has a functioning website and a couple of new minis that seem to be available.  He was somebody I always just missed back in the day, as this is his only mini that I managed to get.  I remember his stuff was sold out and was supposed to be reprinted, then I got distracted (as I often was back in my college days, not that I’m much better now), and didn’t think of it again until I found that recentish issue listed below.  This is a long-winded way for me to say that while I’m not sure of the quality of the new stuff, I’d have to read both books he has listed and hate them both for me to even kind of say that he’s no longer fantastic, and I have some serious doubts about that being the case.  This issue was put out in 1994 and has a selection of short pieces and one hefty story.  The shorties include a rent party while riding the rails, a historical piece about a Hispanic bandit from back in the 1800’s (why he fought, who he fought, how he ended up), a story about a stupid thing he said to a bully back in middle school (and the obvious result), and a recurring dream he had about working at Taco Bell (in a full mariachi outfit), a horrific customer and the resulting bloodbath.  There’s also the main piece, called Sleepwalk, dealing with a man stuck in a lousy job, living in a lousy apartment, and how an ordinary day turns ugly when a crazy person jumps off their roof after he tries to get him down.  One thing I’m struck by looking at this now is how professional the art looks.  He’d been at this for awhile when this issue came out, and this mini is miles above most of the stuff but out back in that era.  Once again, here’s an excellent choice for a hefty reprint of someones old work, if anybody out there with a pile of money and a publishing company is listening.  It’s listed at $1, but good luck finding it…