We can all agree that the world would be a better place with more Magic Whistle in it, but Sam Henderson is just one man with other demands on his attention. What’s the solution to this problem? Bring in more funny artists! That’s the general idea with this latest version of Magic Whistle, and it’s a fantastic idea that works splendidly in this first issue. Sam does his thing better than most funny people so you know going in that that’s going to be good (check the handy chart to see what gum is called in your state; Ohio is “Pennsylvania asparagus”). But what about the newbies? Well, to start with, I think they’re all oldbies (i.e. people who have been making comics for years now), so no worries on that front either. John Brodowski (if you’re a regular around here that should be a familiar name) has a series of strips involving Sid and Sid (basically a carnival barker and a mute ghoul, although it’s probably best not to know for sure exactly what they are) spreading knowledge and horror wherever they go. Manuel Gomez Burns picks apart the traditional gag comic, spending a lot of time with the character in the last panel who always plops over in horror/outrage/hilarity and exactly what might make this character tick outside of the frame. Leah Wishnia devises the ingredients necessary to create the perfect spitball and show the devastating effects of such an object. Jesse McManus’s comic might require some knowledge of older Magic Whistle strips (mostly the ones where the bear and the human exchange body parts with each other with joy and hilarity), but he injects some unsettling realism into that hypothetical situation. Finally there’s Ansis Purins, another familiar name to regulars around here, with an oddly sweet tale of brothers with little in common who go out to plant a tree. And because it’s Ansis, some version of zombres are of course involved. Here’s hoping that increasing the pool of funny means more Magic Whistles in the world, because we’re all going to need something to laugh about over the next few months, he said, injecting a slight political note into an otherwise non-partisan review. Don’t vote Trump, you dummies. But do buy this comic, because it’s funny. $5.99
Website (at Secret Acres)
Now his name can be told (again)!Â John had asked me to shorten his name down to initials because of the Google, but if Secret Acres is publishing a collection of his work under his given name then the cat is most definitely out of the bag.Â As for the comic, what needs to be said?Â I’ve reviewed all four issues of this series and, as you can tell if you scroll through them, loved them all.Â The great news here is that somebody finally put all these into one volume.Â Frankly, I liked them a little bit better when they were all in magazine-sized issues, but can understand why they would want the collected edition to be in a more “traditional” size.Â What’s this all about, for those of you who don’t want to read the old reviews and want all the pertinent information in this review?Â There are several quiet, contemplative moments by Jason Voorhees (the Friday the 13th guy in his downtime, in a series of stories called “Cus Mommy Said So”).Â Most stories in here are silent, actually, and nobody does it better than John.Â Other stories in here include a lengthy squirrel obsession, the life and death of a miner, how to prove that you’re a rock and roll maniac, the early years of a Gumby-ish creature, a kidnapping giant bat creature (who clearly enjoys rubbing it in, judging from that last panel), and Jason finally achieving peace.Â This edition also has more than a few full page images, all gorgeous in their level of detail, and if I’m not mistaken at least a few of them are new.Â Or I am mistaken, but who cares?Â They’re gorgeous.Â It’s impossible to miss the level of detail that John puts into every little thing, and this book actually changed the way I looked at Jason (when I watched the fairly stupid and recent remake).Â Now that all of this goodness is packed into one volume, there is no longer an excuse not to read it.Â Granted, they’re mostly silent pieces, so if you’re against that sort of thing you have a reason to stay away.Â Still, that’s something I’m occasionally against myself (depends on my mood), and John is such a master of manipulating emotions through these silent pieces that he’s guaranteed to win anybody over.Â Check around that Secret Acres website if you need a little more convincing, but this gets my unreserved recommendation.Â I’d throw in a money back guarantee if I was selling it, that’s how much I loved it.Â Buy it already, make John rich and famous and reward your own personal awesomeness with this book! $15
Curio Cabinet #4
If you had told me years ago that one of my favorite things in comics would be the quiet, contemplative moments of Jason Voorhees from the Friday the 13th movies, especially when I never liked them to begin with (even as a teenager when I liked just about every other horror movie), well, I would have thought you were mildly daft.Â Then when you add the fact that they’re just a tiny piece of a whole comic of bizarre goodness, it’s a bit much.Â The bulk of the issue the melancholy life story of a miner, from a small child all the way up until death.Â It’s heartbreaking, even though we know how it’s going to end… except it turns out we have no idea how it’s going to end.Â Or should I stick with “I” statements?Â It’s not like you’re reading along with me, whoever you are.Â Next is Illustrations of the Passions and Episodes in the Life of the Wandering Jew, mammoth two page images that really get ruined a bit by the crease in the center of the page, but what else was the man supposed to do?Â They’d make nice prints though, if JB was interested in making such things.Â Finally there’s the slow motion showdown between a hunter and just about all the creatures in the forest, or at least that’s what it looked like to me until the surprise ending, but it was silent (like the rest of the book), so open to interpretation.Â That means, to those of you who are new around here, that I’m almost certainly interpreting it incorrectly.Â It’s another solid issue by JB, and it’s a shame his secret identity keeps him from making more of these, as they’re those rare comics that have a way of sticking with you long after the fact.Â That image of Jason floating alone on the lake, for one, is going to be in my brain for a long time…
Curio Cabinet #3
Well, going by my completely arbitrary measure of how to tell that a comic’s creator has “made it” from my last review, it’s safe to say that John has now officially done so. Three incredible issues = admittance into the rare company of other people approaching comic genius, doomed as they are to a life of mostly unpaid artistic expression to a dwindling audience of diehard fans who are also increasingly unable to pay for such things. Hooray, my cheery thought for the day! Anyway, this comic is damned near a work of genius, and this is with me coming in with heightened expectations after the first two issues. First up is Human Again, the story of a suicidal hatchet (after his failed relationship with a teapot) and the unfortunate side effect of a hatchet leaping from the top of a tall building. Next is Silent Watcher, which would be a candidate for “story of the year” if this was 2008 already, and if I even remotely kept track of such things. Two friends are driving along the highway, rocking out, when the hand of god (or the hand of dog) reaches down and smacks one of the men out of the car. This, naturally, causes some confusion to the remaining man, and the effects on the smitten man are profound indeed. This ends in a final panel of such brilliance that it actually hurt me not to sample, but it just isn’t right to ruin a perfectly wonderful story because I feel the need to use that image as the sole example of the excellence of the work on display here. Next up are a couple of pieces about the quiet time of Jason Voorhies (yep, the guy from the Friday the 13th movies), involving him meeting a squirrel and “driving” a car. Then there’s Hatchet (no relation to the story about a hatchet), dealing with a boy who makes a little fort that he can see from his classroom. Finally there’s Hot Rockin, in which something resembling the Loch Ness monster comes onto land and deals with a land war in the only way he can. Seriously, in a series I can’t recommend highly enough, this one still manages to be the best of the bunch. No price tag, so…$3?
Curio Cabinet #2 (with Christine Todorovich) Now Available! $2
So does it take two comics to establish a pattern with a comics creator or is it three? I can never remember. I guess you could say that if somebody has two really great comics that they just lucked out twice (although that’s incredibly pessimistic), but once it gets to three great ones they’re “in” and you can expect nothing but great things from them in the future. Well, John is 2/3 of the way there then. I’m mostly just defining it as such so I can avoid my usual gushing once somebody puts out two unique comics, this isn’t meant as an indictment of his work by any means. There are two stories in this one. The first is the story of an older man who gradually loses touch with reality. This is an incredible piece of work, down to the little touches of him sharing a quiet moment with his daughter before losing his grip completely and the constant smudgy shadowing. Next up is a few two-pagers about Jason (from the Friday the 13th movies) having some quiet moments at the lake. How he pulled off this much of a range of expression in a character wearing a hockey mask is beyond me, but there’s a genuine sadness in watching this brutal fictional killer dropping rocks in a lake and being unable to sleep at night. John is definitely somebody to keep an eye on, at least until he reaches his third great issue, then you just know that the rest of them are going to be great.
Curio Cabinet #1 Now Available! $2
Before I get started, this is John’s first comic and he’s looking to get in touch with other comics folks, so if some of the “elder statesmen”would click on the link above that picture and get in touch with the guy, I’m sure he’d appreciate it. While I doubt that “elder statesmen” (whoever they are) even read the site, anybody that could offer advice would be appreciated. Not that I think he needs the help, as this is an incredible first effort. The first story in here (all wordless, or at least it doesn’t use real words) is about an old man hanging onto life, his blank, featureless child (?), and the horrors that are the rest of the family. Next up is a whole bunch of two page spreads, or “pin-ups”, as they were formerly called, at least for the type of person who would rip up their comics to put a two page spread on their wall.Anyway, the last story here is about a picnic and a creature that crashes the party. If these descriptions sound a bit droll to you, that’s my fault. There are some horrific images in here, the early work of what looks like a demented creative mind which, of course, I mean in the best possible sense. I’m guessing this is a couple of bucks, well worth a look if you like your comics a little bit odd…