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Derry Green, Delaine (editor) – The Portable Not My Small Diary

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The Portable Not My Small Diary

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.

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Orff, Joel – Strum and Drang: Great Moments in Rock ‘n’ Roll

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Strum and Drang: Great Moments in Rock ‘n’ Roll

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.

Orff, Joel – Thunderhead Underground Falls

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Thunderhead Underground Falls

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