Good Minnesotan #4
I’m inÂ a bit of a pickle here.Â You see, the Good Minnesotans responsible for putting this anthology together sent a collection of minis that make up GM #4, all bundled up in a lovely slipcase.Â However, they recently had a successful fundraiser that will let them print this whole pile of comics in (what I believe to be) one volume.Â So my righteous rant about how silly it is to put a table of contents with page listings when there are no page numbers in the comics can’t go anywhere because they will probably have that problem fixed in the final edition.Â That’s fine, there’s no reason to focus on the negative with a pile ofÂ stories like this anyway.Â It will also make my selection of a sample image from each of the 5 minis seems a little excessive (and guys, if this is too many for you let me know and I’ll take most of them down), but I’m trying to give a flavor for the whole thing here.Â I was also going to break this down into five sections, one for each mini, but as they aren’t numbered in any way I’m just going to go with my usual clumpy review.Â Tales in here include some creepy microscopic organisms by Justin Skarhus, The Poo Lagoon by Lupi (sadly, it seems to be a true story), is it a caraway seed or a rat turd by Sarah Julius (I think), Nic Breutzman as a child watching his neighborhood being built and marveling at the quiet at the end of the day, Kevin Cannon’s recap of the men who tried to be the first to reach the North (and South) Pole, a pile of creepy and moody photographs by Buck Sutter, planting mama with the onions by Anna Bongiovanni, Renny Kissling’s silent tale of an alien being tortured,Meghan Hogan’s adventures of crocheted animals, Martha Iserman with the adventures of her stuffed parrot-beaked puffer fish, and some food thievery by Raighne Hogan.Â There is one mini that stands alone as a complete story, by both Justin Skarlus and Raighne Hogan (each taking half the book) about a terminator-ish creature that doesn’t seem to have much of an ability to stick with one target, but that’s probably because I’m imposing that idea onto that character.Â It’s a bizarre pile of transporting vaginas, submachine guns, brain-eating and quiet contemplation.Â You’d love it!Â So, at the end of the day, I don’t know what the final version of this comic is going to look like.Â I hope they can keep the front and back cover of the slipcase, and I hope they manage to number the pages to go along with their table of contents, and I hope it’s clear that I’m not even commenting on about 1/3 of the stories in this to leave some surprises for you people.Â If you’ve seen the past issues of this series you know that “Good Minnesotan” is a mark of quality, and they didn’t disappoint this time around.
Big Funny #1
Oh sure, I could shrink that image down and make this page nice and pretty. I choose not to because this comic is so vast that you need some visual representation, and it also serves as a handy explanation for why there are no samples from individual strips: this thing is too damned big for it. This is a collection of newspaper-style comics, done in a newspaper-style format, with one notable exception: these are actually funny. Kudos to these people (who are, it should be mentioned, mostly from Minnesota, or at least the planners seem to be) for being the first to send me a comic in a poster tube, or whatever those things are really called. There’s a huge variety of strips in here, from parodies of early newspaper strips to “where are they now” versions of those strips to what appears to be honest homages to those strips. Then there are a very few autobio strips, some gag strips (again, which are almost all funny), and one particularly memorable example of breaking the fourth wall.Â Contributors include (but are not limited to, as this is 48 pages) Ryan Dow, Henry Chamberlain, Paul Fricke, Kevin McCarthy, D.C. McNamara, David Sandberg, Steve Mason, Stephanie Mannheim and Jenny Schmid, to pick a few names randomly. Leaving aside the comics for just a second, I also enjoyed the actual newspaper articles, such as the one where they discussed who exactly killed the print medium, and they also did a great job with the classified ads in the back. Highlights include (but are in no way limited to) Jesse Gillespie’s Little Emo in Slumbaland, Daniel Olson’s circular strip Hey Rube, Kevin Cannon’s Army Men (the second comic I’ve read today to mention an ankylosaurus), Kirk Anderson’s Banana Republic (about keeping torture light), Andy Singer’s strip about wealth redistribution called Middle Management, Madeline Queripel’s brilliant strip about how the old serials would just use the last panel of the previous strip as the first panel of the new strip to keep readers caught up, Kevin McCarthy’s creepy funnies (apparently breaking the rules of good taste for the strip, but it was worth it), and a good old fashioned donnybrook by Lonny Unitus. I put a “#1” next to the title more because I’d like to see more of these than anything else. It’s a remarkable achievement, and if anybody is going to be in Minneapolis on August 7th you should click that website for details on picking up a copy. If you get one there, it’s a measly $5 for this beast. If not you’ll have to pay for shipping, which just about doubles the price, but this thing is utterly unique in the comics world and worth the expense. I’m old enough to remember pulling the funnies out of the Sunday paper, spreading them out on the ground, laying down to read them and have them actually be funny. Of course, it’s possible I only thought they were funny because I was a kid, but thanks to them for giving me a good reason to relive that experience. I didn’t even know I was missing it. $5
Ghost Comics (edited by Ed Choy Moorman)
Sometimes I make these reviews overly complicated, and I probably will with this one too, so I wanted to sum it up simply: this is a collection of different takes on ghost stories from some of the best small press cartoonists around.Â Ta-da!Â What more do you need to know?Â There are all kinds of highlights to choose from, and somehow there’s not a stinker in the bunch.Â That’s a rare thing with anthologies, but Ed has put together quite a cast here.Â Things start off strong with Hob’s tale of a dinosaur ghost witnessing everything that follows its death and the eventual destruction of the earth.Â From there Jeffrey Brown talks about making a fool of himself to a member of a band he likes, Corinne Mucha implies that the “ghosts” in her dorm were really just an excuse to get people to sleep together for protection, Maris Wicks goes into detail about the creepy and non-creepy aspects of living with a ghost as a kid, Madleine Queripel relates the reality of trying to scatter ashes, Toby Jones (professional boyfriend) goes into how useless he is when confronted with death, Lucy Knisley visits an old school she attended briefly and is shocked by the sheer number of ghosts still around, Allison Cole finds a practical way to rid herself of ghosts, Evan Palmer tells the tale of a knight misguidedly trying to win love, and Jessica McLeod warns of the dangers of ghost tomatoes.Â Then there’s my favorite (among many “favorite”) story: Kevin Cannon’s tale of all the major landmarks of the world joining together into a Voltron-like creation to fight evil, how one member of that band is destroyedÂ and, as a ghost, sees a plot to destroy the world.Â Any more detail than that would ruin it, but trust me, it’s a purely awesome thing.Â If that still hasn’t convinced you, here’s everybody else involved: Ed Choy Moorman (duh), Aidan Koch, Mike Lowery, Sean Lynch, Sarah Morean, Jillian Schroeder, Zak Sally, Abby Mullen, Eileen Shaughnessy, Tuesday Bassen, Sarah Louise Wahrhaftig, Jenny Tondera, John Hankiewicz, Will Dinski, Mark Scott, Monica Anderson, Warren Craghead III and John Porcellino.Â Topping off that pile of talent is the fact that this is a benefit anthology, with proceeds going to the RS Eden, which started off as a chemical dependency center and evolved into helping community members at need in all sorts of areas.Â So it’s for a good cause, it’s packed with talent and it’s only $10.Â Sounds like a no-brainer to me.Â $10