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.
Hey look, anthology reviews on back to back days! Readers in the future, never mind about that comment, but for today I can compare the two, and I’m happy to say that this one got every single little thing right that made me cranky about the last one. Clear and legible table of contents, the pages are numbered, and most of the strips had the name of the artist on the bottom of the page. Yep, my only complaint here is that they managed to put together an anthology of U.K. cartoonists and left Rob Jackson out of it, but maybe he lives somewhere else and I’m just confused. OK fine, so they got the basics right. What about the quality? Pretty much top-notch all around, which is always at least slightly rare for an anthology with this many people in it. Highlights include a chopsticks dilemma by Luke Pearson, putting all of the eggs in one basket by Lizz Lunney, the wisdom of using egg whites instead of cream by Philippa Rice, the fantastically destructive Skull Force by Jack Teagle, one seriously destructive romance by Luke Pearson, a great example of a comic about nothing that ends up being pretty damned great by James Downing, a horror show called Dream Leader by Joe List, an excellent way to turn the tables on door to door salesmen by Joe Decie, deciding who you would like to survive the apocalypse along with you by Stephen Collins, video game monster advice by Dan Berry, judging someone from their shoes by Lizz Lunney, “I Was Attacked by some Naked Children” by Isaac Lenkiewicz, being stuck as a conscious fossil by Kristyna Baczynski, terrible story ideas that Gareth Brookes has been given over the years, and the Death Train by Lizz Lunney. Huh, I seemed to like Lizz Lunney’s work quite a bit, but there’s a pile of great stuff in here. Check it out, support both Hic & Hoc and the idea of getting more international anthologies going over here in the U.S. $12
Always Comix #4 edited by Erin Griffin & Sarah Louise Warhaftig
Once of these days I’ll settle on a universal standard for reviewing anthologies.Â Is it best just to list the talent involvedÂ and leave everything else a mystery?Â Or is it best to go through every story and one page image one by one, leaving nothing for a future reader to discover? How about splitting the difference.Â Here’s a list of the people involved, outside of the editors because duh: Falynn Koch, Jeremy Tinder, Will Kirkby, Josh Blair, Colin Tedford, Matt Wiegle, Alvaro Lopez, Colleen Macisaac, Amanda Kirk, L. Nichols, Ed Moorman, Box Brown, Alisa Harris, Josh P.M., and Joe Decie.Â As this is the Activity issue, there’s plenty in here to do, for the active comics reader.Â There’s recipes, a maze, even a mad lib.Â Specifically I enjoyed the guide to getting over your cat allergies by Sarah Louise Warhaftig (because any “how to” guide that ends with acheiving Nirvana is hard not to love), the attack of the clouds by Falynn Koch (not so much an activity but still funny), Amanda Kirk’s cut and paste page, Ed Moorman’s guide to inner peace, Joe Decie’s guide to fun with matches, and Box Brown’s “wrestler or tattoo artist” quiz.Â There, that still leaves plenty to the imagination, right?Â It’s a fun anthology even without all the practical tips and with them, well, what more could you ask for?Â $4