Mean Goat Adventures #1.5
Oh mean goat, I’ve missed you so. For anybody who has been reading this site for any length of time, you may remember Mean Goat as one of the earlier series I reviewed. Note: it’s entirely possible that I’m misremembering. But I must have read those comics in at least the first few years of the existence of this website, and the formula is pretty simple for you newcomers: Mean Goat really, really likes kicking people off of cliffs. Any creature that gets near it, really, but it does seem to enjoy kicking people most of all. Anyway, with that formula in mind, there are few surprises this time around, but it’s still funny, and he kicks a wide range of people and creatures, deserving or not. Things start off with a man who is looking over a cliff and wondering what he could have done differently to fix his failed relationship, which is a nice bit of misdirection by Kris, as he never gets to put his plan of action in play because the Mean Goat got to him first. From there we also get to see the tiniest bit of introspection by our hero, some time spent with clouds, getting a rare bonus from a kick, and the results of an investigation into all the disappearances from said cliff. Oh, and the whole thing is in full color and it looks great, so you have full color carnage. And it’s only a $1 for full color? Well, who am I to argue with what’s listed on the cover. Check it out if you like people getting kicked off of cliffs!
I just now realized that this was different from the PANEL set of anthologies put out by Ferret Press, the ones that I love pretty much every time (which is saying a lot for an anthology). Is there a feud of some kind going on, or are there just too many stories for them all to be contained in one anthology? Or hey, maybe it’s because the PANEL anthologies tend to stick to one theme, while the only theme of this one seems to be “people who were at SPACE in 2012.” Whatever the case, this is a damned solid anthology, and if you find yourself wondering if you really want to pay $20 for an anthology, remember that a good chunk of the proceeds go towards keeping the same price for the yearly convention and generally funding all aspects of the thing. Think of it as a donation to a worthy cause where you come out of it with a fairly hefty anthology that also happens to be mostly in color. I always thought that seeing The Accidentals (by Mike Carroll) in color would be a revelation, and it looks like I was right. If only he could afford to put them all out like that! Ah well. Stories in this one include a John Steventon piece about the eventful birth of his daughter, a battle for the fate of the universe that came a little too late by Jon Michael Lennon and Thor Fjalarsson, an utterly unique vision of the afterlife by Leslie Anderson, a Christmas alone for a bear by Shawn Smith, an uneventful conquering of the world by Bob Corby, Kathleen Coyle and Jason Young’s piece on Kathleen’s first time seeing Return of the Jedi as a young child, Brian John Mitchell exploring the meaning of it all (he also edited this whole thing), Mari Naomi’s attempt to square the image in her head of her grandfather with the horrible stories that she was told about him after he died, Mike Kitchen’s hilarious take on the attention span of iPad users, Steve Myers and his tale of reality blending with fantasy, Matt and Jeanie Bryan’s unique take on a ruined date, Kel Crum’s computer virus, Kris and Mary Lachowski’s piece on a bizarre half dream half reality conversation, Blair Kitchen’s superhero who’s having a really tough time saving the damsel in distress, a sneak preview of Dave Kelly and Lara Antal’s tale of the Night Watchman (probably not what you’re thinking, but maybe you nailed it!), another great Homegrown Alien tale by Joe Davidson, a one page shortie by Ray Tomczak, and a brief bubbly piece by Maryanna Rose Papke. The color was done really well, and it was great to see some of these characters done how they were “meant” to be done (for all I know the creators were perfectly content for these stories to always be in black and white but couldn’t resist the chance to change it here). It’s a nice pile of stories and seemed to be really representative of the work of these people, which is why this thing exists in the first place, right? $20
Euni the Unicorn #2
If you are a scholar of comic art and wonder why that cover looks a little off, it’s because it was done by Eric Adams (of “Lackluster World” fame) and not Kris. There’s even a little mini crossover inside too, but I’m getting ahead of myself. Kris sent me this because I missed him at SPACE this year (come to think of it, I somehow missed Eric too). Next year, seriously, I’m going on Saturday instead of Sunday. No that that’s your problem. So how about this comic? This is the first thing I’ve seen from Kris in a few years, and it does meander a bit, but that’s bound to happen when there’s a crossover involved. Things start off with a young man flipping channels until he gets to a show about the upcoming apocalypse. Panic sets in, the young man runs out into the street, and runs right into Euni the unicorn. Which would be a little shocking on your best day, but this dude is already freaking out. What follows is a ridiculously hilarious screaming fit by that man, in which the unicorn calmly tries to talk the guy down. That doesn’t work, and suddenly there’s a four page Lackluster World crossover. Well, it’s almost certainly not considered part of that story’s official timeline (if it has such a thing), but it did make me want to dig out those issues and read them again, so the crossover worked. Finally there’s some advice given by the unicorn to that guy about the apocalypse, but I don’t want to risk ruining that brilliant final page. It’s another pretty solid book from Kris, although I’d like a very slight uptick in mayhem for the next issue. No, there’s no way to quantify such things, but I’m always up for more mayhem. And he’s still managing to keep these books at $1, even with the full color crossover in the middle…
Timmothy’s Halloween Special
Why would my scanner insist that this comic is yellow when it’s very clearly orange?Â It makes no sense.Â Ah well, that’s a minor quibble compared to my major quibble for this issue: it’s a free sampler of sorts for the new graphic novel by Kris and Justin Lynch called Timmothy’s Head.Â No, I’m not complaining because this was a free sampler with a perfectly self-contained story involved.Â I’m raging impotently at the universe because I’ve been reading minis by Kris for years and the man finally has a graphic novel out (he calls it an experiment, I say 84 color pages in this day and age equals a graphic novel), but I got to SPACE very late this year and only ran into Kris because he saw me wandering around and gave me a couple of minis.Â If I had actually seen his table I would have picked up a copy of the new giant color comic of his, but now I’m left with the vague feeling of being cheated over something that was entirely my fault.Â Dammit.Â Anyway, this comic is funny all by itself, and if I knew who this Timmothy character was I’d probably have more interest in learning why he has a giant deformed head.Â Turns out that it’s a cautionary tale about taking candy from strangers, which is only partially connected to Halloween, but an excellent excuse to put out an orange comic (that my scanner insists is yellow).Â Funny stuff, it’s free if you can find the guy at a con (or maybe if you ask nicely and buy a few of his minis he’ll throw it into your order, I don’t know) and it has me very curious to see what this new “experiment” of his is all about.
Election 2020 #1
Wow, two political comics in one week! I thought nobody in the small press biz even bothered. This is an older mini, meaning that it came out before the 2004 election, with a twist that is odd for these “time capsule” type books: Kris doesn’t advocate voting for Kerry. Oh sure, he readily admits what a mess Bush has been (and little did his 2004 self know how much more crap there still was to come), but this is mostly a call to vote for third party candidates, people who share your actual political views instead of just being slightly less awful than the other guy. There is nothing new to an old election hand like me (3 years at the local Board of Elections in Ohio and counting). Still, it’s great to see this argument laid out for people who often seem apolitical, and it’s pretty enough to look at, even if the word bubbles do take over the panels at times. Hey, he has a lot to say in a small mini, nothing wrong with that. Oh, and he’s also announcing his candidacy for the 2020 election and so far, based on this mini alone, he has my vote. $1
The Mean Goat #1
How far can you take a one note premise? It helps a bit if the premise is that of an angry goat kicking everybody it meets off of a cliff, but even that has to wear thin pretty quickly. Luckily Kris is smart enough to realize that and about halfway through this book it switches from mostly one page kickings to something more resembling actual stories. Granted, the premise never changes all that much, but it’s a funny premise. The goat kicks a bunch of people and some animals before eventually meeting his match. Things get ugly from there, but karma has a funny way of protecting creatures that don’t necessarily deserve it. Or something like that. It’s good clean fun, cheap for a buck and even has a few pages with full color. Granted, if it ends up being nothing but a goat kicking things off a cliff it’ll get old in a hurry, but if he can mix it up it could be a ton of fun. $1
Ah, my first crappy memory test from SPACE.Â I think this is a photocopied version of a fancier mini (color, that is, with a fancier cover) and this was a copy Kris gave me for review purposes.Â Or that’s a completely different comic and I shouldn’t even be bringing that up on this page.Â I don’t see this on his website, but this is new to 2009, so it might even be one of those books that gets made specifically for a convention.Â Um, anyway, what difference does it make?Â This is, as the title indicates, a mini about despair, depression, wondering why you should bother going on.Â The first chunk is the internal dialogue between a man as he runs into an ex (and in this case I should point out that the “ex” seems to be “ex-wife”).Â It’s damned near pitch perfect in its honesty, as his thoughts range from hatred to only wishing to live because HE is still alive (clearly the new boyfriend) to still being sadly in love with the woman.Â The verbal response, however, is how these things usually play out in real life.Â The second part of the book deals with a sad lonely man as he lives his days being constantly harassed by his inner demons.Â He imagines the disgust that the rest of the world must feel for him, how the highlight of his day is the hope that he might get the cute bank teller in line, and how he dreads going home alone to his apartment at the end of each day.Â If you’re looking for a pick-me-up this probably wouldn’t be a good idea, but it’s a smartly written book that’s downright brutal in its honesty.Â $1
All that nonsense about never judging a book by its cover aside, it does help to be impressed before opening a comic.Â In this case it’s not because of anything particularly impressive about the image (not that there’s anything wrong with it), but because of the fact that this is a 24 hour comic about a cheetah.Â Â Maybe it’s only impressive to somebody like me who can’t draw their way out of that proverbial paper bag, but the thought of doing a rushed comic with all the different motions of a cheetah just sounds daunting.Â Kris does mention that he loved cheetahs as a kid, so maybe it was easy to him, but I was still impressed.Â This is, obviously, the story of a cheetah as he goes through a couple of days.Â He hunts, rests, and remembers a traumatic encounter with a lion.Â It’s nicely paced and looks much better than it has any right to, which is all that you can ask out of these 24 hour books.Â Kris also put an informative timeline in the back of the book (so some of these people DO take naps while making 24 hour books!) and writes a nice epilogue while clearly hanging on by a thread.Â What can I say, people pushing through pain always gets approval from me.Â Way back in the day when Martin Wagner had marathon session of answering the phone for people ordering his book Hepcats.Â I waited until the 72 hours was almost up just to see what he would be like.Â Charming and alert, as it happened.Â So yeah, this comic is worth checking out, don’t mind my unrelated rambles…Â $1
Euni the Unicorn #1
Quick, set the initial impression you have of this comic from the cover into your brain.Â You may have a different impression if you’ve already read some comics by Kris, but if you haven’t I’m guessing that you have a totally different picture in your head.Â Got it?Â It’s wrong.Â Well, OK, you may be the luckiest person in the world and you managed to guess it on the first try.Â What do I know anyway?Â This is the story of a magical unicorn that crashes into the bedroom of a sick woman (this is dedicated, as you can tell from the cover, to Mary, who I’m guessing is Mrs. Lachowski).Â Â It takes some convincing (and some genuinely hilarious dialogue), but eventually Mary sees that Euni really did come to help her get over her cold.Â Euni, sadly, has already used up his magic by repairing the damage he did crashing into the house.Â He does have one more way to get her well, and although I generally hate spoilers in this case I just can’t help it: unicorn urine.Â If I have to bitch about something I will say that the art was a bit sparse at times, but with material like this all you really need is the two characters and the dialogue.Â It’s well worth checking out, and the man is building a damn fine back selection of minis that all seem to be right around the price of this one: $1.
The Constant Dilemma
Everybody has been there at one time or another.Â You’re sitting around, having just eaten your cupcake, or cookie, or muffin, and you’re vaguely satisfied but you wouldn’t mind another one.Â You notice that the person next to you hasn’t eaten their cupcake/cookie/muffin but (especially if you don’t know the person) it’s a bit tacky to just ask for their dessert.Â That’s as far as it’s ever gone for me, and yes, I have, on occasion, just asked for their dessert.Â Kris, on the other hand, takes this in another direction.Â He notices that the person he’s sitting next to hasn’t eaten his cupcake, but his instinct is to smash it.Â Why?Â He has no idea, but he has a hard time fighting back the urge.Â What would the person do, what would the other people around him do?Â It’s an impossible thought, but then again, why not?Â This is a tiny mini, so there’s not much more to it than that, but I also appreciated the alternate ending on the back cover for anybody who wasn’t satisfied with the actual ending.Â Um, assuming that this was in any way a true story.Â Â Good stuff once again from Kris, and I’m sure he’s not the only person out there who can relate to wanting to smash a cupcake… $1
Now this is more like what I usually expect from a 24 hour comic: a jumbled mess.Â There have been entirely too many thoroughly planned out 24 hour comics around here lately.Â Kris starts off with an asshole teacher being mean to his students for about 15 pages, with most of it being funny and some of it falling flat, before deciding to chuck the whole story in disgust.Â At this point he turns the teacher into a zombie (before quickly tiring of that as well), then shifts the comic into the adventures of Vampire Boy (one of the students), then tosses that aside to roll the credits.Â It’s an object lesson in planning these things more than anything else, although it did still have more than enough funny in it to justify checking it out.Â Really, that cover alone was enough to get me to grab this one from my review pile, even if the zombie action was rather limited.Â You’ll certainly find better comics from Kris ifÂ you wander around this page a bit, but I think he may have a new winner in terms of both cover image and title.Â $1.50
Cheers to Kris for the scientific facts about Venus.Â Unless, of course, he’s just making them up, in which case jeers to Kris for making up facts about Venus!Â This mini tells the story of how the inhabitants of Venus, many years ago, discovered technology, overreached in a big way, doomed their planet and set off to find another one to ruin.Â Um, populate.Â They all see it coming, but for a variety of reasons none of them want to do anything about it, so the survivors set off in search of a new world.Â Alas, their calculations are incorrect, and they end up heading straight for a world that is already populated.Â This is, granted, a very thin cover-up for a comic about global warming, but I did appreciate the fact that he showed that the utterly lethal conditions on Venus could be repeated here, given enough time and effort by our industries, and given a lack of any organized push back from anyone else.Â If you don’t believe global warming is happening you probably won’t like this book, then again if you don’t believe global warming is happening you probably have a full day already just trying to remember to inhale and exhale in the proper order to sustain your life.Â It’s a good story, maybe a touch preachy, but I think the eventual destruction of the planet is a good excuse to get a little preachy, don’t you?Â $1
Kris’ For The Hell Of It Mini Comic Collection #1
This time around we’re taking a trip down memory lane for Mr. Lachowski as, even though this appears to be a collection of snippets from older comics, it’s all old enough that I haven’t seen it at all.Â Hey, that makes it a new comic to me, which is good enough for review purposes.Â The art is a little rough at times and he’s clearly matured as a writer since these strips, but they’re not without their charm.Â This mini includes what has to be close to the first appearance of the Mean Goat, the obnoxiousness of listening to radio stations bragging about not playing commercials…in their commercials, a photo piece about going to see The Passion of the Christ, a dream of climbing a crumbling mountain, monsters dancing, and a lone ant pondering existence gets an unpleasant (but accurate) answer from the sun.Â Kris clearly put this together as something to give away at conventions (the $0 price tag is a bit of a hint), and I can see it working wonderfully for that purpose.Â He’s done better stuff since this, sure, but it’s worth asking him for a copy if you see him at a convention, or if you order comics from him he probably wouldn’t mind tossing a copy in with the order if you ask politely.Â If you’re not a big fan of early work and just prefer to see the artist at his/her best, scroll around this page, you’re sure to find something you like.
This is exactly what you might expect from a comic with that title: a series of jam comics with some, well, gross subject matter.Â These aren’t meant to be actual stories so much as attempts on grossing out the reader and a good chance for the creator to go a little nuts, so it’s silly to review them as such.Â It is pretty gross, but most of the stories are at least mildly amusing which, I believe, is why comics were invented.Â OK fine, I’ll get into the content a bit.Â Stories in here include the birth of the antichrist as the result of an ill-advised trip to Wendy’s (that ends abruptly, but as I already mentioned that this isn’t about the stories I suppose that’s OK), a man in hell musing that he has it relatively easy (with Justin Lynch), pooing from an airship (with Justin and Mary Lachowski), a romantic walk spoiled by monkeys (with Justin), dildo fun, a jab at the censors, and tree sex.Â I mentioned when it was a jam, or at least when it was mentioned that it was a jam comic, for those of you who are curious.Â I’ll leave aside the question of why it took three people to come up with some of this stuff but hey, that’s the fun of jam comics!Â He has better stuff on this page if you’re just looking for a sampling of his work, but if you’re all about the gross-out this is the one for you.Â $1
24 Hour Comic
Well, that has to be just about the laziest title for a 24 hour comic that I’ve ever seen.Â And, not to get all technical or anything, judging from that timeline this was only a 20 hour comic, so it’s not even an accurate title.Â As for the quality, Chris does say right on the cover (in case you can’t read it) “Wow, this was not the best 24 hour comic I’ve done”.Â Still, the man has too much talent for it to be completely awful, it just suffers from the occasional 24 hour comic disease of falling apart completely by the end.Â This is the story of a preacher who sticks with the craziest of the bible quotes for his sermons, losing more and more parishioners every week, until he’s eventually noticed and given a television show.Â Hey, look around at religious people on the teevee, this is certainly accurate.Â Along the way he gets asks for advice from a fellow priest who doesn’t speak up until almost the end of the book, but the advice he does give is sound.Â The last few pages are just Kris trying to fill up space, but there are several things I liked about this book.Â There was him writing “empty space” over and over again on a panel with too much empty space, the character flipping channels for a few pages and flipping past images from past comics that Kris has done, and the depiction of a sermon as the earth being smited (smoted?Â smitten?), two dudes kissing and Elijah saying “booga booga” to scare people.Â He’s done better, that’s for sure, but if you’re a fan of his work this is still worth a look.Â $129