Hey kids, or anybody who has started reading comics in the last few years? Are you interested in the history of mini comics, why they’re such a source of passion for so many people? Well, maybe not in numbers, but in level of interest and dedication in following certain artists? Your answer is this volume. If you have no interest in the history, away with you! This one can be for the old timers. This is a collection of the best of the “Not My Small Diary” anthology, and if you read small press comics in the 90’s and 00’s, you will recognize plenty of these names. In fact, good luck not getting lost in a Google hole or trying to figure out what so many of these people are up to these days. Notable names include (but are not limited to) Jeff Zenick, Dan Zettwoch, Patrick Dean, Raina Telgemeier, Jesse Reklaw, Carrie McNinch, Sam Spina, Roberta Gregory, Kurt Wolfgang… you know what, there are just too damned many names, and they’re all in the tags, so check that part out. If any of those names made you say “hey, I wonder what they’re up to these days” then this book is for you. These are mostly snippets of stories, but they’re all complete by themselves. Sometimes the stories follow a theme, like notable dates or moments in their lives, but really they’re all over the place. If it seems like I’m avoiding getting into specifics, that is entirely the case. If you were around for all these artists when they first started, you’re going to get lost in this instantly. If not, this is an excellent way for you to figure out what the big deal was about these people all along. I guess it’s possible that it’s the nostalgia talking and that people might not connect to these stories now, but screw that. These are tales of human weakness (and occasionally triumph), and those stories are universal and timeless. Most of the original issues of this series are out of print, so this is your best option all around. The book itself is $7.50 if you see Delaine at a convention, but if not $10 should be enough to cover the shipping, and I really can’t recommend this enough. It’s rare for any anthology not to have a weak story or two, but these are all golden.
A rare comic from Jeff! This is a cute little comic. Some of the perspective is messed up, but I liked the story. Aliens come down to earth and apparently (it’s a wordless comic) decide that they need to capture someone. They narrow the search down and throw a net over a man as he leaves a liquor store, and hijinx ensue. Without giving anything away (and this won’t make any sense to you until you read it anyway) I love how the end is in the morning instead of at night. Altogether it’s a wonderful little story of running away from things and dancing. It’s probably a buck, send it there and see what happens! Or just send him a letter to see if he’s still there, you should really check out his zines anyway if you haven’t yet…
Portion of Existence
I first heard about Jeff through a glowing review in the Spit and a Half catalog about 5 years ago. He refers to his books as “mini-zines”, and that’s as good a name as any. They’re usually about 4/5 diary-style writing and the other fifth is drawings he makes of the people and places around him. He basically travels all over the place, riding his bike from town to town and telling about the places he goes and the people he meets. Quiet, simple stuff, this issue is about trying to live on the kitchen floor of his drunk schizophrenic friend, getting thrown in jail for 20 days for pot, working a couple of odd jobs and generally questioning a lot of things about the world. Getting any one of these books is a treat. They’re always written about the most mundane things but they never fail to be fascinating. Send him a couple of bucks and a stamp and ask him for his latest, won’t you? Here’s his address, for sure, as of 6/11/03: 7312 Hollis St. Tallahassee, FL 32312. Or e-mail him, but I think he’d get back to you quicker if you just sent him some money or comics in the mail…
It’s hard for me to convey just how peaceful and introspective these zines are without you actually reading them. Jeff is leading the life that I would like to be leading if I wasn’t so caught up in material things. Maybe some day I’ll be able to put all these things aside and live on the road like he does, biking from town to town and picking up odd jobs while selling a few zines here and there, but until then it’s great to know that I can always order a book of his and be dropped right into that world. I don’t think there’s any single thing out there that I can recommend more than his work. This issue is like the other ones I’ve seen, about the people he talks to and about his constant quest to become a better person, even though he seems just fine to me. I’ve never seen anyone that concerned about their own reactions to the assholes of the world. Cops aren’t portrayed in that favorable of a light in here either, but that’s probably because almost every cop I’ve ever met has been a dick. Really, if I could suggest a purchase plan I think you should send him $10 or so and just ask him for a pile of his zines. You’ll have reading material for weeks and I guarantee you’ll be a better person for it. Contact info is above, and I think it’s current now (thanks to Souther Salazar).