In case you missed the pun, this is a collection of work from mostly female cartoonists and, like most anthologies, has good things and bad things. It’s a great concept though, as it has bios for everybody in here along with links to their sites and even interviews with a few people. At least two of them work for Marvel in some capacity, but who am I to judge? Granted, a few of the stories are more than a bit cute (as admitted by the creators, so it’s not like I’m being sexist or anything), but the strength of this collection is the sheer variety of stuff involved. You have a nine year old girl reading and dealing with a comic about the atomic bomb in Japan on one page and a mostly wordless story about lazy cats working in a glue factory on the next. All kinds of great female cartoonists in here too. Check out the website if you don’t believe me. $9.95 is pretty cheap for something this packed too, so check into it, see what you think.Â Contributors: Sara Varon, Becky Cloonan, Raina Telgemeier, Ariel Bordeaux, Ellen Forney, Diana Sprinkle, Miss Lasko-Gross, Missy Kulik, Jen Benka, Kris Dresen, Hellen Jo, Kristen Petersen, Jen Sorenson, Michele Roman, Abby Denson, Jenny Gonzalez, Rachel Hartman, Mary Minch, Megan Kelso, Doreen A. Mulryan, Lark Pien, Sarah Anderson Lock, Elena Steier, Jennifer Moore, Lela Lee, Vanessa Satone, Shaenon K. Garrity, Catherine Tutrone, Ellen Lindner, Elayne Riggs, Robin Riggs, Janet Hetherington, Donna Barr.
I’ve been sitting here, trying to come at this from an objective angle, and I just can’t. Sorry. Too many of the events of that day day are still too close to me, even though I didn’t directly know anybody involved in this and I’ve never been to New York. My fear about this book, honestly, was that it would be too much. It would stir up too many memories, the stories of what happened to various comic artists that day would all have a kind of awful sameness: panic, searching for loved ones, wondering if it was the end of the world. I guess a lot of them do have that theme, because that’s what they were going through, but these artists are way too talented to leave it at that. There are individual touches everywhere, from Dean Haspiel having burning office papers blow in his window to Jenny Gonzalez seeing the day through a haze of psych medication, to Donna Barr being too hung over to really know what was going on, to everybody else. On a purely comic level, this book shows you the insides of a lot of comic people who hide behind being sarcastic, or weird, or just plain mean at times. This benefits the Red Cross and everybody you can think of from comics is here. There’s no reason in the world not to get this, unless those events are still too close to you, because this will bring it all back. It’s worth it for the internal dialogue Tom Hart has with Hutch Owens alone. Sadly, a lot of the things Hutch was cynically talking about have come true since then, as everybody in any kind of political office is using this tragedy to shove their own agenda through, and every big business is laying off all kinds of people after taking money from the government not to lay people off, and people don’t seem to care. Before I get to rambling too much about this and the state of the world, let me just say one last thing: God bless Peter Kuper for keeping some things in perspective.
It’s always great to see a good random anthology. Seems like these are a dime a dozen, but real quality books are always hard to come by. Here are some familiar names from this website, at least: Nick Jeffrey, Larned Justin, Jen Sorenson, and Jenny Gonzalez. All kinds of good strips in here from people that I’d never heard of too, and a former sex worker who had an essay about how great boobs are, Candye Kane. What’s the book about? Well, you can read the cover for a few themes (it’s magazine sized, I just shrunk it down), but it also has Pickle Dude by Ben Liesch, a story about the ironies of eating meat from Jeremy Kirk, tattoo revenge by Bill Krupinski, some old strips from Denis Kitchen (you know, the guy who ran Kitchen Sink Press), a couple of incredibly funny strips from Dug Belan, and a disturbing story about a young girl who wants to be a robot from Heather Shinn… and that’s only the the first half of the book. Great stuff all around, probably the best anthology I’ve seen so far this year… but it’s early yet. Here’s an e-mail address, #3 is available too, and this is a great way to spend $4 if you like comics.
And this behemoth of a page just keeps getting bigger and bigger. One of these days I’ll pare it down, etc. etc. excuses excuses. So, once again, you can see that cover, right? You already read the first two issues of this series and chances are that you’ve been waiting for more for quite a while, and here it is! A few of the artists involved: Stan Yan, Josh Frankel, Lonnie Allen, Peter S. Conrad, Fredo, Jenny Gonzalez, Kate Allen, Adam Suerte, and Dave McKenna, among many others. What sorts of tragedies at sea are they talking about exactly? You have snapping sea turtles, a giant eel, various shark attacks, a whale trying to jump over a boat, horrible storms, and at least one swordfish living up to its name. Great fun to be had here as always, although I was less than impressed with the stories that were told in poetry form. I’m here for the mayhem dammit, not iambic pentameter! $4.50, please keep buying these so they keep making them, next up is “Mauled by Machines”… Website
In case you can’t read the cover, it says “True Stories of People Attacked at the Zoo”. With that being said, how much convincing could you possibly need to check this out? Here’s a partial list of the people involved: Danny Hellman, Jenny Gonzalez, Dave McKenna, K. Thor Jensen, and Brian Musikoff. Those are just the people who are already on this site, but there are all kinds of stories in here of very stupid people being mauled by animals who have every right to take a chunk out of them, as far as I’m concerned. Let’s see, what animals are involved: monkeys, a polar bear, an elephant, tigers, and a panther, among other things. I love stuff like this, so if you don’t feel the same way, you probably shouldn’t bother to check it out. If you do like this stuff, you can get copies through Brian for $3.95.
Symphony in Ink #3
Geez, looks like I was cranky for the review for #2. I try to judge everything on merit and not let me mood effect anything, but really, who knows? However I’m feeling on any given day is bound to have an effect on what I write, which isn’t entirely fair, as my daily mood translates to a review that stays up forever (at least how time is determined online, anyway). Ah well. This one was a blast, and the construction of it had a lot to do with it. The contributors were Jenny Gonzalez, Steve Steiner, Andy Nukes, David DeGrand, Bill Shut and Dan Taylor, and I thoroughly enjoyed how Dan spaced out the stories, even putting little panels of his own under the Jenny Gonzalez strips when there was extra room. Everybody else but Steve Steiner had multiple pieces and Dan scattered them beautifully, with Steve getting the “centerfold”. As for the content, Bill Shut had a few full page pieces of art (didn’t do a lot for me), Andy Nukes had the same thing (oddly, I enjoyed his pieces), David DeGrand had a couple of thoroughly bizarre pieces about shaving a nose and giant fake heads (that I loved), Steve Steiner had a piece about why he hates squirrels (LOVED and am glad to see that Steve can see the truth about those vermin) and Jenny Gonzalez had 5 hilarious strips (she can do no wrong as far as I’ve seen). Oh, and Dan, in his job of “filling in the blanks” under the Too Negative strips, had a few decent funnies of his own. Definitely the best issue of the series so far. $2.50
Too Negative #12
Ah, love.Â It’s all over this comic.Â Well, that or lust, or reasons for or against love/lust.Â The bulk of the comic deals with Killbaby trying to have sex with somebody, first Akie (a fallen angel with mysterious genitalia) then Aaron Amoeba, as Aaron has the ability to change between male and female.Â The trouble is that Aaron is a chubby chaser, which leads Killbaby to some rushed, inadvisable lifestyle choices to fill that role.Â Then there’s one of the better titles you’ll see for a story: You’re Ugly and You’ll Die Alone.Â It’s only a couple of pages but it’s packed with absolutely useless advice for how to get and then keep a boyfriend.Â Hint: if they’re not stalking you, they don’t like you.Â This still leaves the short pieces, which I can’t into much without ruining them, but they deal with a Mormon vampire (willing to bite but not have sex until marriage), a Pac-Man diet plan, $1.25 per baby and the benefits of cutting your heart out.Â As someone who hates happy endings I always look forward to this series.Â I can always count on some hilarious despair and disastrously bad advice being followed.Â $1
Too Negative #9 Now Available! $1
Ah, what’s more fun than making fun of backwoods hicks? Not a whole lot. The bulk of this issue is taken up with the story of Aaron Amoeba, who decides to climb a mountain in an effort to get out of his rut and actually have something interesting to talk about in his autobio comics. Aaron meets a horny hick housewife, and hilarity ensues. Also in this issue is Dahlia trying to break all seven deadly sins over a 24 hour period, and if you think there’s nothing funny to be found in that, you obviously haven’t been paying attention to this series. And if that’s the case, why not? $1 an issue too much for you, you cheap bastards? Ahem. Anyway, the last shortie in here is about a couple who both need to use their imagination to get ready for sex, with their fantasy images being much more similar than either of them realize. No troubles with the copy machine or anything here, and as such there’s not a thing for me to complain about. $1
Too Negative #8 Now Available! $1
More fun from Jenny, even if this one seemed sloppier than the other ones. Or maybe I’m just projecting because she says in the intro that she’s rushing through it to get it out for a con, so who knows? In here she deals with side effects from antidepressants, being called an indy snob, the most ladylike part of her body, letters to the editor, bums, coke and a used and abused easter basket. The highlight of the book though (as with #7) has to be the biggest piece, in which “Won’t somebody please think of the children?” comes to a logical conclusion, as the government takes over and decides to take Springer off the air, thereby depriving a housewife of her most crucial programming of the day. Naturally, Jenny is called in to fight an amputee midget in a homemade version of Springer, and all is rightish with the world. One minor complaint: this is probably an issue more with the copy machine she uses than her drawing, but occasionally the text pieces were so faint that they were barely legible, which becomes an issue when the ensuing piece was a reaction to that text piece. So, um, fix all copy machines before using them! Somehow. $1
Too Negative #7 Now Available! $1
Everybody here remembers the breast (singular) that destroyed America, right? Janet Jackson had a boob pop out at the Superbowl a few years ago for a second or two, and the entire country went crazy for a few weeks. Now that that national nightmare is over and the world will never again have to see a breast, Jenny was able to make a wonderful comic about how tits can, in fact, cause serious injury. While that’s the definite highlight of this issue, there are plenty of other goodies in here to enjoy. There’s the awkward concept of talking to children about a teabagging strip in the paper, taking a market research survey about a giant dancing tongue, biting the heads off of barbie dolls, babies as the most precious thing in the universe, proving heterosexuality by strenuous gay sex, hippies living off their parents, and an attention-starved lamp. So, once again, you have a mini that is packed to the proverbial gills with comics and even assorted goodies in the margins, all for a measly buck.
Too Negative #3
Hey, here’s a perfect test to see if my new scanner makes any difference. #2 was scanned with the old scanner, #3 was scanned with the new one. See any difference? Here’s another good one from Jenny. I love how she adds all kinds of tiny things all over the margins of the page. It makes you examine everything, which always leads to a more complete experience, although that does look stupid now that I’ve typed it. Oh well. This one has Bin Laden too, and Dahlia attacking him with a model of the World Trade Center. Oh, and Eminem was involved. Add the page I sampled and some birds attacking a giant hot dog and you have another pretty good comic, although this one seemed shorter for some reason. Maybe the one long story? Whatever the case, it’s still only a buck, so what do you care? Contact info is up there, you know what to do…
Too Negative #2
Who doesn’t love mayhem in a comic? If the answer is you, maybe you shouldn’t bother with this one, although you’d be missing out. For the rest of us, this is a welcome and extremely intelligent kick in the pants. It’s mostly about a girl called Devil Dahlia. This isn’t just a collection of wacky adventures though, or I probably wouldn’t have liked it this much. There’s a story about Dahlia trying to convince her friend Killbaby that he’s gay, one about her new roommate, one about Bert from Sesame Street riding a bus with Bin Laden, a relative epic about stabbing herself and ESP, a day in the life of Killbaby, a piece about exorcisms and some doodles on the back cover. Good stuff all around. This is only #2, but it sure looks like she’s been doing comics for a while, if the art here is any indication. It’s only $1, check out her website or just send her an e-mail.