I’m probably going to be rambling about this for awhile, so strap in, but there are only two facts to consider in whether or not you want to give this a shot. 1. Take a look at that list of tags under the review. If you can look at that list of names and not want to buy this immediately, the only other thing I have to say is 2. It’s only $8. And it’s roughly 150 pages. So now that you’ve placed your order with Spit and a Half, what exactly do you have to look forward to? Well, I should have been more honest about one thing before you placed your order: this one is occasionally rough to get through, especially if you have older pets that are noticeably slowing down. Like, for example, me, with a 19 and a half year old cat who mostly sleeps these days and is losing her most adorable habits one by one. Don’t get me started, I’m perfectly content here in the land of denial. So are you in for a giant comic full of stories of pets dying? No, nothing so grim as all that. There are all sorts of types of pet stories in here. There’s Ben Snakepit with the heartwrenching tale of Buster (who died trying to get back to his house after his family had to give the dog up), Mark Campos with his cat’s reaction when she finally got the freedom she seemed to want, Cara Bean’s story of a dog that was found in the wilderness and how it became a constant traveling companion, MariNaomi and the angriest chameleon I’ve ever heard of, Ayun Halliday and the snake who was born again, Andrew Goldfarb and the guinea pig who could keep time to his music, Jenny Gonzalez-Blitz and how her rats eventually got along with her boyfriend’s cats, and T. Motley with his recollection of what mice sound like when they’re utterly defeated by a cat and sobbing. And that’s not even the first half of the book, which leaves you plenty of surprises. It really is impressive how is covers so much ground. Some of these people were indifferent to pets and eventually warmed up to them, some stayed indifferent, some used pets as a jumping off point for the larger story they wanted to tell, or told the story of their first pets. And, of course, there were the people who told the stories of how their pets died. That was the part where I had to take a few breaks while reading this to pet my cat, because sure, I can see the writing on the wall there, but she’s still here now, and I intend to enjoy that right up to the point where she’s no longer enjoying life. Now if only there was a manual of some sort to tell me exactly when that was… Anyway! It’s not about me or my great cat. This is a thoroughly enoyable book, somehow both something an animal lover would find a lot to relate to and a book that’s sometimes hard to take with the deaths and all. Still, I’d just like to repeat: that list of talented artists and that price. Give it a shot, if you haven’t already! $8
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.
Before anybody gets any preconceived notions about this book, it’s not a collection of stories about rock bands. There’s some of that, I suppose, but it’s not the main focus. These strips (they’re each only one page long) are mostly about music and the ways people try to express themselves through it. And then there are plenty of strips that are just about an important moment in someone’s life (a lot of these stories are submitted to Joel by various people, including John Porcellino), sometimes having little or nothing to do with music. There’s some really great stuff in here and it’s rare that I’ve been impressed by so much of a collection of strips. The worst of these are just people aimlessly wandering through life, while the best of them are about people doing exactly what they’d like to be doing at whatever moment they’re chosen to remember. My scanner is too small for this huge book, but here’s the man’s website. Go and enjoy what there is to see, then buy his incredibly cheap ($6.95!) book.
What a thoroughly beautiful book. This is the story of a young man on his last weekend before going off to join the Army, and his time with his very new girlfriend. It’s told in a haunting, dreamlike way, with flashbacks and bits of dream interspersed with the quiet acceptance of his last weekend. Deserting is discussed briefly, but isn’t something that’s ever seriously considered. Instead we see a mostly deserted town and campus, where the pair wander around, taking every little thing in and trying to enjoy this last weekend together. Everything is lingered on, from the falling snow to every quiet moment that usually flies right by. The are is deceptively simple for large stretches of the book, as complexity is not necessarily the name of the game here (but in a good way), but some of the bits at the end show Joel’s chops as an artist in a big way. You could do a whole lot worse than this book if you think everything is flying by and you need to take the time to enjoy everything. $14.95