Izzy Challenge #5
This has turned into a weekend of anthology comics here at ye olde Optical Sloth, and these are a couple of good ones to contrast.Â The other comic reviewed was the first issue of the Trubble Club anthology, in case anybody reads this years down the line and wants to compare.Â In this issue, JB recruited people to do a panel each, based on a state, and have the story be about Izzy traveling through all 50 states.Â It had to be all ages stuff, JB sent an image of Izzy along and the artist had to fill in the backgrounds.Â With Trubble Club, well, I’m not entirely sure how they did their stories, but they certainly weren’t all ages (a plus in my book), and they had a whole page to set up a story, not just one panel.Â It’s probably silly to compare the two books, as they’re aiming to do completely different things, and… you know, that’s a good argument, so I will.Â This comic is less about a story than it is about the challenge to have 50 artists represent something from each state, whether or not that something has anything to do with reality.Â Looking at JB’s website I can see that he/she has experimented with the individual panel idea before in different ways, and I’m all for people pushing the boundaries of this “graphic art” idea as far as it can go, so kudos to him/her.Â There’s also a deal up at the moment (through the end of December) where you can get #1-5 of this series for $3.50, which is a good a chance as any to see what other experiments have been going on with the Izzy Challenges.Â So, to sum up, the Izzy Challenge books are a fascinating look into single panels from all over the country (because that’s what they were trying to do) and Trubble Club is a fascinating look into utterly random jam comics that somehow stick to a basic theme (because that’s what THEY were trying to do).Â Can you believe I’m not rich from such utterly random commentary yet?Â Yeah, me too.Â Oh, and as for the list of contributors to this book, check out that website listed above, as I’m not typing 50 names in here.Â Some of the people I know are listed on this page are Jack Turnbull, Isaac Cates, Barry Rodges, Sarah Morean, Joshua Cotter and Matt Feazell, but that’s a very incomplete list.Â $1
Pinstriped Bloodbath (edited by Jeff)
What a great idea for an anthology.Â Take various artists, let them use gangsters from Chicago in the 20’s-30’s (or some modern day take on it) and put the whole thing together.Â That suit on the cover folds out as you open the comic, and that little flower in the lapel is apparently different for the different stores stocking it.Â So fine, the packaging is gorgeous, what about the comic?Â There’s a fine collection of talent assembled, and they all have their unique takes on the stories.Â Bernie McGovern has a heartbreaking and gory take on the last moments of Baby Face Nelson, Neil Brideau has a quiet conversation between gangsters as one of them tries to crack a safe, Nate Beaty has a silent take on the constant violence and the practice of soaking of blood from the murder scenes as a macabre souvenir, Rickey Gonzalez shows the last moments of Dillinger (or is it?), Neil Fitzpatrick proves that he can’t draw regular human eyeballs and tells the tale of the gangster killed by a horse (and the gangster’s revenge on said horse), Sam Sharpe retells a conversation he had with his at least mildly demented mother about keeping his “gangster” name, Jeff Zwirek has what appears to be a soundly researched piece about the Thompson submachine gun, and Jeremy Tinder closes with instructions on how to make bathtub gin.Â Throw in a couple of illustrations by Ivan Brunetti and Joshua Cotter and voila!Â You have one ridiculously entertaining anthology.Â You could practically make a series out of all the gangster stories from that time period, but Jeff probably already rounded up most of the high points.Â If you’re at all a fan of this sort of thing it’s essential that you pick this up.Â If you’re at all squeamish, however, things do get a little bloody, because how else could you tell these stories?Â No price, let’s spin the mystery price wheel… $6!
Skyscrapers of the Midwest #4
It’s saying something in a series as fantastical as this when my favorite parts end up being the quiet moments. This issue deals with two young boys and the rich fantasy lives they dream up to cope with living in a profoundly dull town. One boy dreams or his lost toy dinosaur and his team of friends fighting big fights while the other dreams himself to be a fake comic book hero, Nova Stealth. Joshua pulls out all the stops for that particular parody with a wonderfully accurate old Marvel style cover, even putting in an ad for a Nova Stealth video game that is really a polemic against video game cheats. There’s significantly more quiet moments that you’d think in such a book, and it’s rare that you get equal parts goodness of the chaotic bits and the more introspective moments. Not sure if this is a continuing story (as I missed #3 somehow) but if every issue is as good as this what difference does it make? Great stuff, well worth hunting down. $5
Skyscrapers of the Midwest #1
Where did this guy come from? Did I miss more hype? This book is fantastic. I love the endings, mostly because they’re so totally random in almost every case, but that’s a hard thing to talk about without giving stuff away. In here you have a boy pretending to be a robot, the end of the world, Granma dropping some pies, and a robot family with an angry father. Throw in a “cowboy” answering some fake letters and you have a solid book all around. I love it when you throw in little things like that to go with the art. Why have blank pages? The book looks great (that includes the art and the packaging), it’s $2, and Joshua looks to me like somebody people should support. Here’s an e-mail address, I have no idea what else he has available but I’d be interested to see it…
Skyscrapers of the Midwest #2 (Adhouse edition)
Just to make this perfectly clear, this is all new material, put together in a lovely comic (have you seen a bad looking Adhouse book? I didn’t think so). It’s just a bit confusing on this page because Joshua already went the mini comic route, and now he’s “big time”. As for this comic, granted, it’s been years since I’ve seen the minis, but this is a wonderful thing. Everything ties together, even the characters in the Sunday funnies. It’s all about a boy who’s getting baptized even though he doesn’t much believe in religion, a woman with migraines sent from God (who looks a lot like a Cylon, if you’re dorky enough to watch Battlestar Gallactica like me), white trash love, and a cat and a mouse (and wait’ll you see which part of that turns out to be tragic). Sad and beautiful at the same time, it’s the best self-contained comic I’ve read so far in 2007. Granted, it’s early, and this was put out in 2005, but you get the idea. Well worth the $5, and a great introduction to his work if you’re never heard of Joshua Cotter somehow…
Skyscrapers of the Midwest #2
I think this one was a bit more normal than the last one. Not that I mean that in a bad way, and I think it mostly has to do with the fact that there weren’t any robots… oh wait, there was a robot in the last story. Just talking out of my ass again then, don’t mind me. You have in here highjinx with the Optimistic Youth Summer Camp, a young boy playing around in his head to avoid going to church, a brief but very effective comic about why life isn’t fair, and the story I forgot about with the robot. Also in here are letters answered by a drunk, angry cowboy, a pamphlet about the summer camp, and a listing of all the merit badges that the kids could get, which was easily the funniest part of the book. What, you’re still wasting time reading me when you could be reading this comic? What’s wrong with you? The guy has done two incredible comics, what else is it going to take to get you to spend $2? Christ!