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Various Artists – DoubleThink Spring 2015

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DoubleThink Spring 2015

I have rarely been as divided in my opinion of the contents of an anthology as I am with this one. They’re mixed bags the vast majority of the time; that’s just the nature of putting a bunch of artists in the same comic together. And my problems with this one have nothing to do with the content of any of the stories, which I really enjoyed overall. But roughly half of the stories in here have no resolution, and that’s just a flatly annoying thing to read in an anthology. For example, the first story (by Matt Aucoin and Holly Foltz) is a great tale of empowerment and having a bully finally get what’s coming to him. But it ends with the introduction of a new character and is clearly going to go on in some other venue. Which would be fine if there was any indication that this was meant to be a sampling of work from different artists, or if I could figure that out because all of the stories were “to be continued.” But that’s not the case here, which makes the whole comic a maddening read, as I never know if there’s going to be any resolution until I finish the story. Maybe that was the point? I don’t know, but since I like the content of the stories a bunch I’m just going to comment on that from here on out. Other stories include David Yoder time traveling with himself (in a continuing story that tricked me because it continued later in the anthology), a great piece on Skeleton Girl by Denis St. John (or the first chapter of it), the origin story of a band with a bad name by Ryland Ianelli and Marisa Chapin (or the first chapter of it), a hilarious story on the true mission for a giant space robot that comes to the planet by Joseph Hewitt, Jarod Rosello’s fascinating story of a boy who tries to make friends with a monster and the characters that are egging him on to attack it (all while commenting on the nature of friendship and humanity), and a small piece of a Kevin Kilgore story (along with an interview with the man) that did get me intrigued about his story but couldn’t be called a complete story here. The highlight of the book was Fight Hero Fight by Matt Aucoin, which is probably a lot funnier if you’re familiar with the Zelda lore but works either way. A young adventurer gets his quest, but he has to fend for himself when it comes to gear and money and has no idea of the skill levels of the various enemies he encounters in the wild. Way too many great touches for me to point them all out, but trust me, any gamers will think it’s hilarious, as should most other people with a sense of humor. So overall it would be impossible not to recommend this anthology for that last story alone, but don’t expect everything to be self-contained. It’s not the worst thing in the world if these pieces of larger stories lead to people tracking down these artists, I just wish that had been indicated somewhere in the book. $9

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Jackson, Rob (editor) – Gin Palace #2

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Gin Palace #2

That Rob Jackson, he has to be one of the hardest working guys in comics today.  Well, small press comics anyway, as those guys with Marvel and DC have a monthly schedule to keep up, but you know what I mean.  The first Gin Palace was a success, and this one follows it up nicely.  Don’t be alarmed with the familiarity of my using first names here, and check the tags so see exactly who they are if you’re unclear. Francesca starts things off with a story about how awesome it was to go out to a bar with her dad when she was very young, Andrew has a story about a black dog rib that flew right over my head, Rob has a lovely tale involving a black hole and a robot that became a god, John/Sean has a story about living with a serious regret even though things aren’t all that bad as they are (probably the highlight of the comic), Paul has an excellent mish mish of family drama, Dave tells the story of a pumpkin competition that goes too far, Pete has a great piece about a grandson being tricked into pursuing a career in science, Sin-Cat (I’m guessing that’s the name the creator goes by too, at least judging from the back cover) has another wandering tale that hits and occasionally misses, Jarod deals with his tricky future self, Brad gives us instructions to build our own intelligent robot cubehead, and Barry has a fairly straightforward story about revenge until the ending.  What else do you want to know?  Any comic with Rob Jackson, Dave Hughes, John Robbins and Brad Foster gets my vote, and this one has more than a few great stories besides that bunch.  Buy it why don’t you?  $6ish

Taylor, Dan W. (editor) – Symphony in Ink #4

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Symphony in Ink #4

Dan has finally put his comics fancy pants on, as that there is a full color cover.  Kudos!  As is the case with a good chunk of Dan’s books, this one is an anthology, all loaded up with talent and goodness.  Dan has a funny if mildly disturbing strip about a guy in a pool; Andy Nukes has a series of images that I’ll let speak for themselves (because they’re better experienced than described, and I realize that that  accounts for a lot of what I do here, but if I think too hard about it I’ll vanish in a puff of smoke and logic); Kelsey Donald has a piece about a determined fish, a artistic baby genius and an assholish ice cream shop customer; Steve Steiner (if it’s based on a true story) has a girlfriend with some questionable sanitation habits; Josh Blair shows the true meaning of a hybrid car and Jarod Rosello has an epic about trying to find adventure but not being entirely sure how to spot it.  Whew!  Having a little bit of space has done wonders for this comic, as people were able to tell a lengthier story when they needed to while other could still stick to the shorties.  Here’s hoping Dan has this full-size mini comics (just typing that almost caused my brain to short out) thing in his blood now, because I’m very much liking the new format.  Oh sure, it’s a little pricier at $3, but you guys are still going to buy it, right?

Jackson, Rob (editor) – Gin Palace

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Gin Palace #1 (edited by Rob)

“Welcome to the first meeting of the society of enormously be-hatted gentlemen!”  I don’t usually start with a quote, but how on earth could I pass that up?  This is a fantastic anthology put together by Rob, with only one story that was mildly disappointing in the bunch (and that was mostly because the copies were a bit off and cut off some text).  Rob has two pieces, although you could argue that it’s just one piece split up into two: The Ballad of Hatty Jack.  It’s the story of a land where wearing hats is practically required, but a poor young boy isn’t allowed because his mother was killed while chasing a hat into the street, so naturally he takes to fighting crime while wearing a giant hat that covers most of his body.  Other stories in here include Little Scary Monsters by Dave Hughes (in which the world of science learns how to avoid making little monsters), In The Gin Palace by Simon M. (dealing with trying to get the attention of a bartender on a busy night to buy drinks), Interview by Ant Mercer (the sampled piece below, as it starts well and ends poorly), Measuring Up by Francesca Cassavetti (relating the story of how she reluctantly grew to love alcohol, and how that reluctance faded over the years), The Rain by Jarod Rosello (a silent piece about a dog in the rain and the heartless people who would keep him outside), Kennedy by A. Mercer (a shortie with a good punchline), and The Adventure Journals of Sin Cat by Lee Johnson (a meandering story of Sin Cat, damaged because of the awkward cropping but still with plenty of funny; if this is the worst piece in the bunch you just made a hell of an anthology).  Other than that all you need to know is that it’s $4, mostly looks great and is something you should probably rush out and buy.  $4