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.
Only the Lonely
The world has been begging for it, so here it is: an anthology about being lonely, standing in the rain and dealing with the women folk. Oh, and its collective tongue in pretty firmly in cheek for most of it. Andy Terhune has a story about potential love in the bowling alley, Thien Pham has a story called “Gummi Bears Taste Like Loneliness (don’t know what explanation that needs), Joe Sayers has the best line in the book with “I have procured a lobster, please prepare for coitus”, Josh Frankel explodes and has some “journal” stuff, Alixopulos creepily goes through his day and makes fun of the anthology, Tom Neely jerks off and pees a lot, Jesse Reklaw does a wonderful Kochalka, and Fredo misses his nighttime lover. A great parody of all of the many, many, MANY whiny autobio stories out there about losing girlfriends and staring at the rain. Which I usually like quite a bit, but parody is always a good thing. Here’s an e-mail address, it’s $3 and completely worth it.
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€¦
And to think that I was regretting saving this one for last. After that Bogus Dead book in the middle of the week I was pretty sure nothing else was going to touch it, then along comes this book. In my opinion. there are two ways to make a great anthology. You can either have a lot of pieces, fast and furious, and you’ll come away with a good impression of the book as long as the majority of them are solid, or you can have a book with only a select few, long pieces. Orchid is comprised of seven long tales adaptations of gothic stories. The only one that didn’t do anything for me was Poe’s “The Raven”, and that’s mostly just because I’ve seen so many adaptations of it at this point in my life that I just don’t want to see it again. A personal problem of mine, granted, but that doesn’t change the fact that everything else in here is creepy and good. Kevin Huizenga (the back says that he “used to do a comic book named Supermonster”. Please don’t tell me that he’s done, that’s one of the best series out there and I only just found out about it!) has the longest piece, a disturbing tale about the power of visions. Here’s a list of the other names, and let me know if you need and more convincing: Lark Pien & Jesse Reklaw, Ben Catmull, T. Edward Bak, David Lasky, and Dylan Williams. It’s only $8 and I couldn’t recommend it more highly. Get this and Bogus dead and your anthology needs for the year should be pretty much met. If the website still isn’t working, you can send money to: Spark Plug Comics P. O. Box 10952 Portland, OR 97296-0952.
Couch Tag #2
I’m stunned.Â Jesse Reklaw really didn’t have his own page on this site until mid 2009?Â He’s on at least three other pages in anthologies, but no minis of his own.Â Well, consider that fixed.Â Also, before I even get to the comic, I should point out that he sells all sorts of minis at his website from a variety of people, and at a casual glance it looks like some of the best folks out there.Â Get on over there and give those people some money.Â So, since I ‘ve read his stuff in various places over the years, how does it hold up as one basic story in his own mini?Â Really freaking well.Â This is the story of 13 cats that either Jesse owned or were in his family from the time he was a small child to more or less modern day.Â If you’re a cat person (as I suppose I am), this is already a thing of beauty, as he tells the story of birth to death for these cats with some obvious emotion… and other times he’s more than a little bit detached.Â Which makes sense, he was always on the move as a kid and cats came and went with regularity.Â The beautiful thing about this mini, outside of the cats, is how he manages to work in some powerful personal history.Â His rocky relationship with his father, playing with the cats with his sister (and watching her drift away from him as she got older), even the time of his life when he went back and forth between living with his mother and his father.Â What I’m trying to say is that it succeeds on every level.Â He tells stories of sad kittens that never manage to grow up, of old tomcats that hang around a bit too much, of extreme acts of kindness and a few acts of cruelty, as he was essentially a kid on his own a lot of the time.Â Everybody out there probably already knows all about Jesse, but if you don’t this would be an excellent place to start.Â Let’s see if I can’t get a few more of these minis up by the end of the year to make up for lost time…Â $2
Blue Fuzz the Hero Now Available!Â $4
I’m taking a guess on whether “Blue Fuzz” is one word or two, but as it looks weird all lumped together I’m going with two.Â Another fascinating glimpse into the things I actually think about!Â This, clearly, is the story of Blue Fuzz, who just so happens to be a hero.Â He fights evil, or perhaps people who spill his beer, but things start to go wrong for him when he overhears some people badmouthing the king.Â Blue Fuzz, being a hero and also being unfamiliar with general griping, kills the king, and this gets him in all kinds of trouble.Â He chased out of town by an angry mob, has a chat with a fire he builds (the fire goes on to tell him the history of how people first got fire), descends deep into a mountain and has all kinds of adventures, cross-dresses (but for a very noble reason), tries to figure out a decent gift for the old gods and eventually lives happily ever afterish.Â I’m OK with spilling this large amount of beans because it really doesn’t matter.Â The joy in reading this comes from Jesse’s offhanded descriptions of the heroics, the full page color illustrations before and after each “chapter” (the look on his face as he stabs the king in full color is worth the price of admission) and the general awesomeness of the comic.Â Yeah, it’s a cheat for any reviewer to just say that a comic is great, but screw it, this comic is great.Â Fantastic and wonderful even.Â Not a bad piece or illustration in here is what I mean, and the writing is perfect for these little adventures.Â Buy it already! $4
Another day, another random mish-mash of an anthology. I really had high hopes for this one too. It’s edited by Peter Conrad and here are just some of the names in it (don’t you hate it when people do that? You know that they’re always leaving off the lesser-known people for no good reason): Sam Henderson, Neil Fitzpatrick, Jesse Reklaw, Keith Knight, Carrie McNinch, James Kochalka, John Hankiewicz, David Lasky and Ted Rall. It’s an OK book, but very few things stand out when you get done reading it. The Sam Henderson and James Kochalka stories weren’t even funny, and those are usually a sure thing. Keith Knight, John Hankiewicz, Neil Fitzpatrick and Ted Rall were the highlights for me. Everything else was somewhere between pretty good and unremarkable. It’s cheap at $7.95 and you can’t beat that lineup, but… eh.