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Leunig, Matt (editor) – The Bridge Project



The Bridge Project

Just so it’s clear, as of 10/07/09 that website is still “under construction”.  Well, it does lead to a fair amount of samples from Matt and other places to learn about this book, so it’s better than most “under construction” websites, and this book is new enough that it might really be under construction.  I’ve just become jaded from seeing that warning on countless websites only to have the construction never start.  Anyway, how about the book?  This is an anthology with a unique goal: team up on cartoonist living in Portland with one living in San Francisco, let them do their thing and see what comes out of it.  Some of these stories just have one person drawing, some of them mix both artists in, but the mildly surprising thing is how well all of this works.  Collaborations can be a tricky business, but Matt seems to have found the magic formula.  This did take a couple of years to put together, so I guess technically he did have time to work some bugs out.  Stories in here include The Forlorn Hope (by Shannon O’Leary & Ryan Alexander-Tanner, dealing with the infamous Donner party), The “The Bridge Project” Project (by Peter Conrad, the only solo piece in the book due to Peter’s partner crapping out on him), Nerd Prom (by Carolyn Main & Jesse Baggs about cartoonists in relationships getting along a little too well at a convention), Shanghooked (by Graham Annable & Scott Campbell), Lost Intersection (by Matt Leunig & Seamus Heffernan, the heart of the book), Jumpers (by Sina Grace & Susan Tardif, about a long distance relationship disintegrating), Future Jerks (by Jonathan Hill & Calvin Wong about, um, vegan jerks in the future), Dark Matter (by Tom Lechner & John Isaacson, dealing with an especially creepy invasion), The MVPs (by Josh Frankel & Greg Means, it’s about star basketball players yearning to make comics), and The Doppelganger (by Tessa Brunton & Vanessa Grunton, it’s all about the various evil twins we have all over the place.  All that and there’s still room for a couple of short pieces by Rina Ayuyang & Erika Moen (an untitled piece about trying to fit in in Portland), Mari Naomi & Rachel Mendez (Inga and the Whales, a heartbreaking tale (almost certainly an urban legend) about a whale thanking its rescuers), and David Chelsea & Two Fine Chaps (that’s really what they’re called, it deals with David’s uncle having a stroke).  It’s packed, is what I’m trying to say, and there’s really not a weak piece in the bunch.  Graham Annable is always worth the price of admission to me and his piece on the sea serpent was brilliant, there were some damned useful tips in The Doppelganger (if you ever run into yours, that is), Peter Conrad was far too nice in not naming the slacker that promised him a script for months, and the center of the book by Matt & Seamus, dealing with a few people and their relationships over the years, was a perfect place to do some artist swapping.  So now that I’ve mentioned how great the content was, I at least have to mention the layout.  No table of contents, but that was made up for by the inclusion on the bottom of every page of the artists.   It seems to be the norm not to mention that on the page in anthologies, and it bugs me every time it’s not included, so kudos to Matt for that.  It’s an impressive achievement, here’s hoping this didn’t scare him off editing anthologies altogether and he can keep this concept going with other cities.  And did I mention this is a measly $9.95?


Hill, Jonathan – One of the Johns Preview


One of the Johns Preview

You know when preview editions are great? When they have at least a few new things that, even once the actual issue comes out that you’re previewing, will still be unique. Or maybe they’re just crap that’s left over from unfinished comics, but if I’ve never seen them they’re new to me! In here you have a story about another Pixies song (Gigantic), the aforementioned preview of One of the Johns and a story about the two title characters beating the crap out of everybody at an emo show. In the title story a couple of punk rock kids pick their nose, beat up an old lady and talk to the town drunk. If that sounds boring I’m just telling it wrong. It was pretty great stuff all the way through, as it’s hard for me to choose between a story about a Pixies song and a crowd of motionless emo kids getting the crap kicked out of them. Not that I have anything against emo in theory, I guess. Anyway, it’s $3, contact info is up there and you should be reading whatever you can find from this guy on a regular basis. Oh, and here’s a website.

Hill, Jonathan – Headache



What a great comic. It seems like the “collection of short stories” style of comic is getting harder to find these days, or maybe I’m just getting a bunch of single theme comics these days. Whatever the case, this is a bunch of short, mostly autobiographical pieces from a guy who’s currently in school studying sequential art, so any hint of the amateurism (misspellings, bad grammar, sloppy art) that creeps into so many minis is missing here. The comic starts with an incredibly disturbing story about a walk in the woods, and my only piece of advice about that is maybe it should have been at the back of the book, but apparently that’s the mood Jonathon wanted to start the comic off with. Then you have a story about making a mix tape, which might seem like the kind of thing that’s been in almost every mini, and it’s sure been in a lot of them, but the ending makes it all worthwhile. Then there’s a story about a one night stand and all of the fallout, which is interesting if a bit self-indulgent, but hey, it autobio, right? Kind of silly to dock points for being a bit self-indulgent. Next up are a couple of shorts about a ring and a headache, respectively, with one telling the story mostlty in text and the other being a silent piece about an exploding head. Sort of. Last is a story about a man in jail and his lover on the outside, inspired by a Pixies song, and the fact that I can’t think of which song it’s been inspired by (even though I remember some of the lines) is driving me nuts. Good stuff all around, I don’t know what Jonathon is going to do with that degree in sequential art, when he gets it, but the classes are doing tons to solidify his grasp of the basics (unless he was a genius when he started or something), so here’s hoping he stays in school! Here’s an e-mail address and a website, this is $3.

Hill, Jonathan – Coyote Buckley’s Wild West


Coyote Buckley’s Wild West

Clint Eastwood’s Unforgiven forever changed my opinion of all things Western, but I still get a bit leery when I see a comic with a Western theme. I’m always afraid that it’ll be a silly, cowboys and Indians kind of thing. It’s great to see something like this that proves me wrong. The story here is simple. A cowboy nicknamed Coyote Buckley, angry at what he sees as the relentless forcing of “progress” down his throat, decides that he’s going to convince the country that the values of the Wild West are what’s important. He holds a contest to see who is the most skilled at various cowboy-related things for the sake of touring the country, and that’s the bulk of the issue. The art’s simple and clean, the writing is suited for all ages without being noticeably dumbed-down for adult readers, and it’s a fast-paced, interesting story. Good work all around. My only minor complaint is that some of it seems a bit too simple at times, but it’s only minor bits of dialogue here and there. The whole picture is interesting though, and I’m curious to see where it goes from here, which is all you can ask of from something like this. Contact the writer or the artist, or check out the website for ordering information (it’s $3).