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Stein, Leslie – I Know You Rider


I Know You Rider

Who was it that said that memory was an unreliable narrator? Well, he or she was really onto something, because I was going to start this review with an expression of disbelief that I’d somehow never mentioned Leslie on this website, only to do a search and find that I have reviewed two of her comics previously. Two! Granted, they were from 2007 and 2011 respectively, but still. Apparently my memory doesn’t go back that far. Anyway! It’s still surprising that I haven’t mentioned her comics in almost a decade, because she’s been doing amazing work for a very long time. The lack of definition on faces combined with the very real and present story makes for an odd but captivating combination, but maybe I should get into the story before I mention that? 19 years in and I’m still trying to figure out how to structure a review. This is the story of Leslie’s getting pregnant and subsequent decision to get an abortion. It’s told without frills and without any agonizing; it’s simply seen as the best thing for her at the time. The narrative of her time at the doctor’s office is interwoven with the events leading up to that moment, occasionally mixed in with conversations with friends (rarely about abortion, just the life she was living at the time). None of this is meant as a “happily ever after” or some moral dilemna, it’s just real life and, as such, messy and unstoppable. This is one of those stories that’s best experienced bit by bit as you’re reading it, so I’m going to skip my usual thing where I briefly mention various sections of the book. Look, she’s been doing this for roughly 15 years at this point and this is (so far, that I’ve read anyway) her best work, so if you give it a shot you’ll see for yourself. And you should! $24.95

Stein, Leslie – Eye of the Majestic Creature #5: Sister Carrie


Eye of the Majestic Creature: Sister Carrie

See, sometimes the world in general works the way that it should. I just finished reading this issue, so it was off to the internets to check on her website and make sure the address was still valid. I was thinking after finishing it that it was damned near criminal that Leslie wasn’t published by any of the “big” independent companies, and there it was: a collection from Fantagraphics containing her first four issues. Such immediate representations of there being some justice in this world are always welcome. I missed a few issues of this series so I’m not fully clear on what came before (looks like I need to get my hands on that collection), but this issue is combined with text from “Sister Carrie” by Theodore Dreiser, which was a novel from 1900 detailing the adventures of a young woman making her way to the big city on her own. The small text blurbs blend seamlessly into the story of Larry (the Leslie-ish (?) main character) as she goes about her daily life of working at a clothes shop with no customers and a boss that she only talks to on the phone. There are also her anthropomorphic household objects, all of which are bored crazy while she’s away at work. Some small press people take a year to make a comic for a variety of reasons (sometimes good and sometimes just due to sheer laziness), but Leslie takes that year to make the damned comic. This is 44 or so pages with nine panels per page, with damned near each panel ridiculously detailed. Along the way Larry picks up the habit of the long-lost art of counting sand from a museum exhibit, goes to bars alone, finds a giant cockroach in her shoe and tries to make “life” a little easier for her depressed household objects/friends. And for a good chunk of the comic there are brief blurbs of text from that Dreiser novel that work perfectly with the story. I’m consistently behind the times on these things, but if there are any people out there who also always miss out on the good stuff, buy that collection from Fantagraphics from her, then come back and buy this comic. Or just buy them all in a clump, whatever works. $4

Stein, Leslie – Eye of the Majestic Creature #2



Eye of the Majestic Creature #2

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: god bless Poopsheet. Granted, I’m probably not supposed to talk up the “competition” (even though we have different inventory (mostly)) but man do they have a ton of odd, wonderful comics that I would never have found without them. Besides, what, one of us is going to steal a living away from the other one? More power to Rick Bradford if he manages to make a living doing this. Anyway, how about this comic? It’s the first thing I’ve seen from Leslie, who already has a bit of a reputation apparently (and a book funded by Xeric), and it’s fantastic. It’s mostly the story of the female lead on the cover (Leslie?) and her only friend out in the wilderness, a talking guitar. She left civilization to get away from it all but finds herself increasingly lonely and decides to start a door to door coffee business in an effort to meet people. This works about as well as one could expect in a land where everybody already has their own coffee makers, but the joy of this comic is in the people she does meet, including a harassed young mother and a creepy store owner. The other major chunks of this issue deal with a, um, man with a bird beak (or birdman of some kind) who’s obsessed with barbecue. On one of his trips out he leaves Leslie in charge of things, with mildly disastrous results. This book is funny, insightful, gorgeous and slightly sad all rolled up into one. She’s somebody you should keep an eye on, unless, of course, you’re more connected to the whole “scene” than I am and already know all about her. $3