There’s very little reason for me to write a review after you get a good look at that cover. You either think the idea is morbidly hilarious or you don’t. Well, in case you need any convincing at all, I’ll tell you what’s in here. There’s a woman who has a scalpel in her chest cavity, a man who loses a leg through prolonged incompetence, a small boy who loses his penis at an early age, and more stories about people screwed out of their rightful piles of malpractice money because of all those “anti frivolous lawsuits” bills that the Republicans have been passing for years than you can shake a stick at. That’s a long sentence, take a breath and read over it to make sure it made sense. Good? Good. If I could make a suggestion, I think the next one should be about people who put a variety of things in electrical outlets. Come on, we know the stories are out there! Here’s the talent that I knew: Neil Kleid, Mike Dawson, K. Thor Jensen, and Dave McKenna. Good stuff all around, it’s $3.75, send an e-mail!
In case you can’t read the cover, it says “True Stories of People Attacked at the Zoo”. With that being said, how much convincing could you possibly need to check this out? Here’s a partial list of the people involved: Danny Hellman, Jenny Gonzalez, Dave McKenna, K. Thor Jensen, and Brian Musikoff. Those are just the people who are already on this site, but there are all kinds of stories in here of very stupid people being mauled by animals who have every right to take a chunk out of them, as far as I’m concerned. Let’s see, what animals are involved: monkeys, a polar bear, an elephant, tigers, and a panther, among other things. I love stuff like this, so if you don’t feel the same way, you probably shouldn’t bother to check it out. If you do like this stuff, you can get copies through Brian for $3.95.
The Gag Reflex!
Is this issue even available anymore? How the hell should I know? It doesn’t look like it from his website, but what difference does it make? I say this because his website is phenomenal. You could spend a day reading all of the comics that he has backlogged on there with no problem at all, and I should mention that this guy is incredibly talented. I’ve been reading his work in anthologies for years, this is just the first time I’ve seen a bunch of it collected in one place. If you can find this, you’re in for a treat. It’s a collection of one page gag strips about things like President Intestine, Twitchy Tom The Alcoholic Surgeon, and Tommy Tapeworm. Funny shit pretty much throughout, it’s $1.50, or you could go to his website and read all kinds of comics for free, or you could subscribe to read a serialized work of his, along with pretty much every other cartoonist in the world who’s worth reading. That’s not to say that if you’re not on the list you’re not worth reading, it’s just a damned fine list of people is all.
There’s a great, simple setup for this book: Thor, in a very short time span, loses his job, girlfriend, apartment and grandma. Oh, and then there was 9/11. Faced with all of this and at a loss as to what to do next, Thor decides to buy the longest continuous bus pass possible (the Ameripass, something that lets him go wherever he wants in the country for two months) and wander the country. Anybody coming to this book looking for an epiphany or a set of easy answers is in for a disappointment though. Assuming this is all chronological, Thor travels to Boston, Concord, Cleveland, Columbus, Champaign, Kansas City, Minneapolis, Seattle, Eugene, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Las Vegas, El Paso, Austin, Birmingham, Atlanta, Gainesville, and finally back to New York (not to spoil the ending or anything). Along the way he encourages people he meets to tell the best story they have and he does end up with some doozies, no doubt about it. There’s also the constant worry about money, as he has a $1000 check from his old landlord that keeps bouncing and he’s rapidly running out of cash. It’s hard not to relate to the guy throughout this book. His wandering, his searching for meaning (but settling for a good amount of booze and decent company instead), and the question that runs underneath it all: why go back? What’s waiting for him in New York anyway besides his stuff? All told, this is one of the better graphic novels I’ve seen in the last few years. There’s angst, sure, but it’s not overpowering. It’s mostly just an earnest quest to wring some meaning from it all, and he’s confronted more than once with the fact that when it comes to telling the story of “the craziest thing that’s happened to you on your trip”, he draws a blank. It’s the journey more than the destination, and when even the journey is getting you down, well… This is one of those things that should be on the shelf of everybody who reads comics, one of those things that you’ll be able to show to friends who are entirely too cool for comics and still impress them. $19.95 but, as always, cheaper if you go through that Amazon link.