Before I get into any of the content, I just want to point out that this is one of the most beautifully colored books that I’ve ever seen. Granted, a lot of small press anthologies are in black and white, but every story in this collection is colored beautifully, up to and including the collages by Josh Burggraf. So hey, what about the content? This is a collection of science fiction stories on a variety of different themes. Some (but by no means all) of my favorites included Vincent Giard’s tale on perspective in movement and meaning, Jason Murphy’s conceptual struggle, Lala Albert’s piece on mutations caused by a certain type of water and what people do with said mutations, a lengthy wordless piece by Alex Degen about virtual reality and the consequences of dreaming, William Cardini’s depiction of the death of a planet and the aftermath, Pat Aulisio playing around in a post-apocalyptic wasteland with mad dogs and killer lizards, Aleks Sennwald and Pete Toms showing the lingering effect of ads on the environment (even long after humanity is gone), and Anuj Shreshta’s story on the increasing ease of blocking out all bad thoughts and opinions and the consequences of those actions. Aside from being just damned pretty, this is also one of the more thoughtful science fiction comics I’ve read in ages. The last two stories I mentioned alone had several comments and images in each of them that made me stop and think or examine an assumption I’d had from a different angle, which is always welcome. No anthology is ever going to be perfect for everybody, but if you can’t find several stories in here to love then maybe the fault is on your end. $18
Nude beach! Have you ever wanted to watch a talking dog, a golem (or maybe a Cyclops; the back of the book calls him Robot) and Kid Space Heater (who is able to cook hot dogs or play music) frolic about the beach, all seemingly indifferent to the seas of nudity surrounding them? If so, you’re in luck! Everybody has some fun, which seems to be the entire point of this comic. If that’s not enough of a comic for you, or if you’re looking for more substance, I guess the meaning of life was not uncovered in this comic. But there was hijinx, and dancing, and a very short fight. I’m fine with calling that a successful comic and had a blast reading it. Talking about it, on the other hand, is impossible much past this point, so… enjoy! Or don’t, I’m not the boss of you. But I have a hard time imagining somebody reading this without enjoying it.
Kid Space Heater
Is it possible to smack a scanner into compliance? I imagine it actually involves learning how to work the thing and fixing it that way, but all these images being too large to put on my website (when they’re nothing of the sort) is getting on my nerves. Luckily I found another cover image online, not that you needed to know any of that, but I ramble even more than usual on Fridays. Kid Space Heater! A look at that cover would give you one impression for this book, and that impression would almost certainly be wrong. Things start off with the prospective lead character leaping from a plane. Why he was dropping was never fully explained, but his parachute didn’t open and he ended up as a splat on the pavement, so it’s a moot point. I also have to mention the fact that the pilots were an alligator wearing sunglasses and what looked like a mountain goat, purely because that image was wonderful to behold. So five pages in we have a dead hero and pedestrians are looting his body. Among these looters is a kid who touches a cube. This cube tries explaining what it is to the child, who couldn’t care less about long explanations and whines about it until he is let out of the training course. Unfortunately a couple of thugs are coming to steal the cube and the cube talks the kid into shooting the thugs. Or maybe they were nice people? Again, never explained, and I loved the ambiguity. The kid had no interest in becoming a killer, but the gun tricked him into it, which leads to the rest of the issue and a few more of his adventures (told in short, highlight reel-like fashion) before ending the same way that it started: with a leap from a plane. Fantastic shit all around, with Josh’s skills really shining through with some of those intricate and ridiculous backgrounds. Only real haters of anything to do with science fiction should avoid picking this one up, and even those people should probably at least give it a shot. No price, but it’s hefty so…$6!
I keep trying to get past my confusion on the title, but it’s a sticking point so it’s best to mention it. What the mongoloid goes through in this issue is the exact opposite of revenge, or at least it is from his perspective. Josh starts off with a brief recap of the previous issue (every lazy comics person in the world who doesn’t bother doing this, take note), and it turns out that a walking, talking moose blames the mongoloid for several troubles. It’s never made clear if he has a good reason to blame him for his troubles, but that’s irrelevant to the story. Things start off with the Moose putting himself in serious danger in his efforts to get revenge. Things seem to turn out OK for him, judging by the epilogue, but it’s left at a dicey moment. About halfway through the book we get our first glimpse of the mongoloid, as he wanders around the apartment innocently. The revenge bit kicks up shortly after that, as a crew of monsters seems to be living in his house after having seduced his wife. Things get even uglier from there, and that epilogue really shows him at his lowest. All in all it’s a bit bleak, but it’s a fun ride getting there and Josh has an excellent eye for the bizarre. Worth a look, and it’s most likely required reading for anybody who read a copy of the previous issue, Mongoloid Diner. $2 (?)
Secret Prison #2
Here’s hoping it’s still OK to use images from the internets for the review, as it’s impossible for me to scan the newspaper sized stuff.Â And if you agree with me that Benjamin Marra is tearing shit up with that cover, you should see the back cover by Pat Aulisio.Â I’m also not entirely sure if it’s possible for any old schmuck online to get a copy of this, as I think it’s only available at cons, but that’s a damned shame for a pile of great strips like this.Â Share it with the world!Â If I’m not mistaken (and I probably am) this one is even longer than the last issue, and it’s one of those rare anthologies with no really weak pieces.Â Sure, some things are better than others, whatever that means, but everything in here has something going for it.Â Strips in here (and they are strips, nothing is longer than 2 pages) include Pat’s tale of deliciously sorrowful soul, Luke Pearson’s absolutely brilliant “How to Exist For a Day,” Ian’s silent cubed spy story, Josh Burggraf’s text message-a-rific story of need, Cody Pickrodt with some true confessions, Bob Pistilli going a long way for a great ending, Box Brown and his experience with an exotic “delicacy,” the story behind that ridiculously good cover by Benjamin Marra, Art Baxter loving the summer, Simon Gardenfors getting the most out of his page with a series of mishaps involving a round dude wearing underwear, Kelly Phillips wondering if there’s a line cardiologists should not cross, Cyn Why with a tale for the ages, Steve Teare going to heaven, Doug Slack with a pile of funnies, and Jose Mochove & Rusty Rowley using photos to destroy us with reality.Â I skipped a few to leave some surprises for people who manage to find an actual copy of this, not that I spoiled too much for the other stories, but everybody likes surprises, right?Â Seriously, show this to the world, you guys!Â A working table of contents, a huge pile of talent, this should not be kept away from the world at large.Â Unless it isn’t, and I’m wrong, in which case let me know and I’ll tell people here how to buy it.
Shaman Thunder (with Josh Burggraf)
You know what I’ve always hated about any sort of wizard on wizard battle in the movies?Â Or shamans, or any sort of people who were supposed to have all sorts of bizarre and unknowable mystical powers?Â How stupid it always ends up being.Â More often than not it turns into a typical physical slugfest, either due to a lack of imagination or a lack of budget, and it always drags me out of whatever willing suspension of disbelief I was going through.Â Yes, in case you were wondering, there is a a point to all this: those two floating heads you see on the cover belong to two shaman, and their battle in this issue is exactly like this sort of thing should be.Â Meaning that it only has the barest appearance of a conventional fight to us normal folk, but there’s clearly all sorts of things going on beneath the surface.Â This issue starts off simply enough, as one shaman returns home and discovers that his thunder-root is missing.Â He tracks down the thief (using magic, of course), but this leads him to believe another shaman (a disillusioned shaman who’s standing near the actual thief) is the thief, which leads to an absolutely awesome battle.Â Go ahead, embiggen that sample below.Â If you’re not impressed with that you’ve clearly never spent even a second of your life imagining what an actual shaman fight would look like.Â The rest of the issue deals with the two shamans teaming up to fight the actual thief, but shamans never get along for long.Â As for the art, William/Mark and Josh mostly draw alternating pages, and it’s seamless.Â Sometimes it’s tough to say who would enjoy a particular mini and who wouldn’t, but this one is easy.Â If you’re enough of a dork to want to see a thoroughly ridiculous though oddly realistic fight between two shamans, it’s never been done better to my knowledge.Â If you consider yourself above such things, lucky for you there are many other mini comics in the world for you to choose from.Â No price again, so I’m going with $2.50.