Hey kids, or anybody who has started reading comics in the last few years? Are you interested in the history of mini comics, why they’re such a source of passion for so many people? Well, maybe not in numbers, but in level of interest and dedication in following certain artists? Your answer is this volume. If you have no interest in the history, away with you! This one can be for the old timers. This is a collection of the best of the “Not My Small Diary” anthology, and if you read small press comics in the 90’s and 00’s, you will recognize plenty of these names. In fact, good luck not getting lost in a Google hole or trying to figure out what so many of these people are up to these days. Notable names include (but are not limited to) Jeff Zenick, Dan Zettwoch, Patrick Dean, Raina Telgemeier, Jesse Reklaw, Carrie McNinch, Sam Spina, Roberta Gregory, Kurt Wolfgang… you know what, there are just too damned many names, and they’re all in the tags, so check that part out. If any of those names made you say “hey, I wonder what they’re up to these days” then this book is for you. These are mostly snippets of stories, but they’re all complete by themselves. Sometimes the stories follow a theme, like notable dates or moments in their lives, but really they’re all over the place. If it seems like I’m avoiding getting into specifics, that is entirely the case. If you were around for all these artists when they first started, you’re going to get lost in this instantly. If not, this is an excellent way for you to figure out what the big deal was about these people all along. I guess it’s possible that it’s the nostalgia talking and that people might not connect to these stories now, but screw that. These are tales of human weakness (and occasionally triumph), and those stories are universal and timeless. Most of the original issues of this series are out of print, so this is your best option all around. The book itself is $7.50 if you see Delaine at a convention, but if not $10 should be enough to cover the shipping, and I really can’t recommend this enough. It’s rare for any anthology not to have a weak story or two, but these are all golden.
In case you missed the pun, this is a collection of work from mostly female cartoonists and, like most anthologies, has good things and bad things. It’s a great concept though, as it has bios for everybody in here along with links to their sites and even interviews with a few people. At least two of them work for Marvel in some capacity, but who am I to judge? Granted, a few of the stories are more than a bit cute (as admitted by the creators, so it’s not like I’m being sexist or anything), but the strength of this collection is the sheer variety of stuff involved. You have a nine year old girl reading and dealing with a comic about the atomic bomb in Japan on one page and a mostly wordless story about lazy cats working in a glue factory on the next. All kinds of great female cartoonists in here too. Check out the website if you don’t believe me. $9.95 is pretty cheap for something this packed too, so check into it, see what you think.Â Contributors: Sara Varon, Becky Cloonan, Raina Telgemeier, Ariel Bordeaux, Ellen Forney, Diana Sprinkle, Miss Lasko-Gross, Missy Kulik, Jen Benka, Kris Dresen, Hellen Jo, Kristen Petersen, Jen Sorenson, Michele Roman, Abby Denson, Jenny Gonzalez, Rachel Hartman, Mary Minch, Megan Kelso, Doreen A. Mulryan, Lark Pien, Sarah Anderson Lock, Elena Steier, Jennifer Moore, Lela Lee, Vanessa Satone, Shaenon K. Garrity, Catherine Tutrone, Ellen Lindner, Elayne Riggs, Robin Riggs, Janet Hetherington, Donna Barr.
And to think that I was regretting saving this one for last. After that Bogus Dead book in the middle of the week I was pretty sure nothing else was going to touch it, then along comes this book. In my opinion. there are two ways to make a great anthology. You can either have a lot of pieces, fast and furious, and you’ll come away with a good impression of the book as long as the majority of them are solid, or you can have a book with only a select few, long pieces. Orchid is comprised of seven long tales adaptations of gothic stories. The only one that didn’t do anything for me was Poe’s “The Raven”, and that’s mostly just because I’ve seen so many adaptations of it at this point in my life that I just don’t want to see it again. A personal problem of mine, granted, but that doesn’t change the fact that everything else in here is creepy and good. Kevin Huizenga (the back says that he “used to do a comic book named Supermonster”. Please don’t tell me that he’s done, that’s one of the best series out there and I only just found out about it!) has the longest piece, a disturbing tale about the power of visions. Here’s a list of the other names, and let me know if you need and more convincing: Lark Pien & Jesse Reklaw, Ben Catmull, T. Edward Bak, David Lasky, and Dylan Williams. It’s only $8 and I couldn’t recommend it more highly. Get this and Bogus dead and your anthology needs for the year should be pretty much met. If the website still isn’t working, you can send money to: Spark Plug Comics P. O. Box 10952 Portland, OR 97296-0952.
Long Tail Kitty: Outer Space
Now that is one adorable comic. Or disgustingly cute, probably depending on your mood, but I liked it. Kind of reminded me of some of this obnoxiously cute anime cartoons where everyone has the giant eyes and they’re always yelling at each other, but in a good way. The yelling, I mean. Anyway, this is the tale of Kitty getting a “be-boo” out of a tree for some aliens. Yes, that’s already pretty cute. Then Kitty mentions that hr/she has never been to space, so you know what’s coming next. Like I said, more than a little cute, but still well worth a look. It also serves as a pretty stark contrast to her Stories From the Ward. All the contact info you need is above, go check it all out.
Stories from the Ward #4
In case you’re wondering, yes, the cover is supposed to look like that. It has a murky, hazy kind of underwater feel to it. I don’t know much about the background of this book, so I’m going to assume that these are all made up stories and not based on anything else. If I’m wrong, I’ll change this page. Anyway, Lark is a fine poet, and I have to say that I’m tremendously impressed with her art. There are straight lines, solid blacks, and possibly charcoal on the different stories, and she seems to have mastered them all. This is a huge mini (54 pages) with lots of little stories sandwiched between two larger ones. One is about a girl in a mental ward, the other is about the quest for love when there is something irremovable that stands in the way. These were the strongest pieces, mostly because they had time to grow, but there’s a lot to be said for the creepy “Love Conquers All”. Overall, a thoroughly enjoyable if disquieting book. E-mail Lark or just go to the USS Catastrophe page to get it and everything else they have available.