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.
Khaki Shorts #24
First thing first: I have no idea if Mark Sampson is really the editor of this comic. He wrote the intro for the book and introduced everyone, so I’m just assuming here, and am hoping that the fine folks who sent me this comic will be nice enough to correct me if I’m wrong.Â This is an anthology out of Glasgow, and the fact that it’s up to #26 (I checked the website) is pretty damned impressive.Â And, apart from the strange obsession with “arse” and “bum” being the apparent pinnacle of humor, there was a pretty funny pile of stories included.Â Stories in here include a superhero that patrols the red carpet by Rob Miller, Martin and Adam Smith’s piece about two guys stuck out of time that seems to think a giant fart is the funniest thing in the world, Rob Miller with a mostly incomprehensible piece, Rob again sticking it to the man, a story by some guy (this is what happens when you don’t put a table of contents in your book or at least clearly label the creators) about nostalgia and shallowness, another piece by Rob that insists on making the reader wallow in shit, Larned Justin on traveling to Glasgow after being accepted to do a strip for the book, some other guy with a piece on the lion and the crocodile, Rob (who is, at the very least, nice enough to sign his pieces) with a longer story that’s a bit on the incomprehensible side, A.J. Smith with a sad drunken guy (and at least they made note of the fact that this particular strip used up their allotted scatological humor for the year), some other guy with time traveling priests, and Rob again with a brief Star Trek parody.Â See how much better this might be with a table of contents?Â I could look up each individual artist, compare styles and try to figure it all out, but it’s not like I’m getting paid for this gig.Â It still ends up, on balance, being a pile of funny, and I realize that dry descriptions are not the best way to explain comedic tales.Â The poop humor gets a little old, then tiresome, then annoying, but if you can get past that (or if it’s your thing) then there’s plenty to like about this comic.Â That price is, I believe, right around $2 in Americaland, which is a steal for this much content.
Khaki Shorts #2
Technically this is apparently the second edition of this series, but it’s only notable to people (not me) who have seen the other stuff, so I’m just calling it #2.Â Just on the off-chance that anybody was worried about that.Â This is an anthology of various folks in the UK, there is no table of contents and some of the stories aren’t labelled, so I’m going to go with my best guesses.Â First up is a piece by Shug 90 called The Wildebeests, dealing with conspiracies over the years while substituting animals for the humans.Â Hey, it’s funnier than it sounds.Â Â Next up is an ongoing story by John Miller called Star Trudge, and if you were guessing you had a 50/50 shot of getting it right: it’s a parody of Star Trek.Â Â Once again it’s funny stuff (and I’m sensing a trend), as the Captain starts off waking up to a drunken crew and has a series of adventures throughout the book.Â Float by Martin & Adam Smith is next, which is about some guys who wake up, um, floating.Â It’s a long way to go for a poop joke, but at least it’s a funny poop joke.Â Generic Street by Alrite Miller (no, I don’t know if that is Rob or John either) is next, and this piece breaks the trend by not being funny but instead being extremely odd.Â There’s some genuinely odd imagery in here to go with word balloons coming from arms, and I’m not even going to try to explain it. Following this is the story from the cover, which immediately follows their story from the last issue, which leaves the reader a bit lost.Â The hyper-inflated superhero team and the incompetent archenemy bit looked like it had some potential, but three pages was way too short to get much of an idea.Â John Miller has a piece up next that makes me a bit dizzy to think about, as that panel structure was all over the place, and I’m frankly not entirely sure what was going on there.Â Dollyforce 2020 (by Adam Smith)follows and it’s the longest piece in the book, dealing with a group of kids and an adult trying to free their grandma from a small army of robots, all being controlled by a man with a crush.Â It meandered a bit but really came together in the end.Â There are two more short pieces by Rob Miller and one on the back cover by John Miller, but I’m leaving them a surprise for when you pick up this book for yourselves.Â Have I mentioned that it’s consistently funny?Â And when it’s not funny it’s thoroughly bizarre and inventive.Â I’ve felt all day vaguely like I got hit by a truck, so I apologize if this isn’t up to my usual standards, whatever they are.Â I just wanted to make it perfectly clear: you will not regret getting this comic.Â That is all.
As The Miller Told His Tale
I’d better clear something up right off the bat: Larned Justin put this book out, and the only contact info in here is for him, which is why I linked to his website up there. Anybody interested in getting this book should contact him so, until I get some sort of website or e-mail address for John, that’s the only contact info I have. Who is John Miller? He’s a guy out of Scotland who’s been making comics for at least 25 years, and these are a sampling of that time. His art, as you can see from the sample, is in that old psychedelic underground style which is almost completely missing these days, which I absolutely love. Stories in here range from one page to four, with most of them being of the short variety. What are the stories about? Well, here’s where things get a little less literal. There’s an underlying theme of fighting the establishment throughout this, which is just about the only unifying thread. Other than that, he deals with spies, repressive societies, records on a radioship, an elite group of special people, tongs, Blotto Woman (the best super-heroine ever), Zooty, Consumer Wars, bomb craters, and, of course, cats. Frankly, the stories in here (while I enjoyed them for the most part) are far less important than the art. That’s what really sticks with you, the sheer inventiveness of just about every panel. Rarely do I enjoy in the full page spreads as much as the actual story, but it was nice to see that art get a little room to breathe outside of those cramped panels. This is well worth a look if you’re interested in that ever-elusive “something different”. $2