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A Carl Short: So Long My Sole Soul So Long
Boy howdy, have I ever reviewed a lot of Marcos’s comics. Go ahead, click on his tag, you’ll see. 6 issues of Tear Stained Makeup (still available in my store if you can get it to work!), several variations of Carl is the Awesome stories, a few other mini comics… it’s safe to say that I’m a fan. I missed him at CXC this year (2017), because of course I did, but I did meet Neil Brideau, who was nice enough to give me the free mini Marcos was giving away at the convention. If you’re not familiar with the lore of Carl, I’m not sure if I could do it justice here. Maybe check out the sample images and come back to this. The short version is that Carl IS the awesome, in just about every way. He’s also some kind of a dinosaur, but that’s irrelevant. In this story Carl decides that he wants to become the president of New Jersey, and he has no interest in facts like “there’s no such thing as the president of New Jersey” getting in his way. He manages to detach his soul by flailing his arms about wildly, which makes him the perfect politician. The rest of the comic involves Carl’s friends trying to find a way to restore his soul while this thoughtless version of Carl wreaks havoc everywhere he goes. The solution to the problem is just so perfectly Carl that I’m a little in awe of it, but I’ll leave that mystery for you. Carl stories are always welcome around here, and this one is no exception. Check in with Marcos, maybe he’ll have a few of these left over after the various conventions are done. And if you don’t have the other Carl stories, you’re not living your best life, so fix that problem ASAP…
Sovereign State #1
No doubt about it, this is how you do the first issue of a series. My only complaint was his handwriting, as it veered right up against being unreadable at times, but I interpret handwriting for a living working at the Board of Elections (be honest, how many of you have been extremely careful to make your voter registration forms legible?). This one starts off in an obviously post-apocalyptic world, where a man in the woods notices something crashing down from the sky. He sets off to either find out what it was or loot it (it’s not entirely clear even by the end of the book), and along the way we get a series of flashbacks that start to show how this man and this world have gotten to this position. He was one of those paranoid survivalist types who was pleasantly surprised when the world looked like it wasn’t going as badly as he had feared. He had a family and was trying to settle into his normal life. A female president had gone about solving world hunger, and there was even a plausible plan in place to turn back the effects of global warming. That’s where things took a turn for the worse, although the exact details of that are still to come, along with what exactly was in that thing that crashed down from the sky. I love the anime action lines that pop up here and there, and I’ve always been fine with the idea of having the plot doled out bits at a time. The only, constant problem with series like this is follow-through, and Carlos has been fine on that in the past, so I’ll choose to be optimistic on this one. It’s an intriguing start to the series. And hey, it could still turn out to be terrible, sure, but go back and read “Carl is the Awesome” again and tell me that you think that’ll happen. $1.50
Remember back in the day how you would go to all kinds of random concerts, meet girls there who you thought were the best thing ever to happen to this earth that you would then never see again? Oh, you still do this? Well hooray for you. You damn kids! This is a wordless comic about going out to see a show and meeting a girl who’s friends with one of your friends. Sparks fly, smiles are exchanged, she grabs your arm in a crowded club with the band too loud to hear anybody actually talking… and if I go on I’ll ruin the whole comic, as it is just a mini, after all. A pretty good comic that obviously has me a bit nostalgic, although I still think that Marcos should be forced to do Carl Is The Awesome and Tear-Stained Makeup stories until I get tired of them… $2
Tear-Stained Makeup #6 Now Available! $2
My saying nice things about everything on this page might be getting old for people, and I apologize if that’s the case. But what’s the alternative? I can lie and say that this one sucked, even though Marcos managed to include everybody in the larger plot (which is saying a lot) and flesh out all of them in this mini, even if only a little bit. I could point to the lack of a recap at the start of the book, but he’s fixed that, putting a concise and informative recap right up front. Or I could bitch about the crappy artwork, which in fact started off fine and has been getting stronger with each passing issue (even if the occasional background do vanish). Sorry folks, this is just a really great comic series, and Marcos (so far at least) can do no wrong. In this issue Stella finally gets her act together to go and see Laura, Tildy gets a makeover, Robert gets a guitar, and just about every little character you’ve seen in previous issues pops in for a panel or two. Oh, and Marcos goes into detail in the end about various panels and pages where he had issues, so it’s even useful as an instruction manual on how to make mini comics, for those of you who think this all looks so easy. $2
Tear-Stained Makeup #5 Now Available! $2.00
Hey, more flashbacks! A necessary step, as far as I’m concerned, into figuring out what these people are all about. This one deals with the “origin story”, more or less, of Tildy, as well as a bit more of the history of Dee. Marcos has also decided to go with this smaller format (16 pages) in the hopes of getting these out on a more regular basis, which sounds great to me. The cover is also a shimmery silverish sort of thing, impossible for the scanner to pick up but pretty neat when it’s in your hands, if you go for that sort of thing. One minor complaint: for those of us with lousy memories (i.e. me),a handy “previously on” is never a bad idea to sum things up. I love this series and some of the minor details were still lost on me. All in all, it’s another solid contribution to the ongoing storyline, with the promise for more to come on a regular basis, so what’s bad about that? $2
Tear-Stained Makeup #3 Now Available! $2
What ever happened to that woman who tried to kill herself in the first issue anyway? Or how about the doctor who is trying so hard to save her, what’s his story? Don’t worry your pretty little heads about these things a moment longer, as they’re answereed here! Well, mostly. Sort of. OK, he at least starts to talk about them. Also, you get to see what a scumbag that singer from the last issue is, but now I fear I may have said too much. Another great issue, all around, with more questions than answers, but still more than a few answers, which is why you keep coming back in a regular series, right? Something about the art wasn’t as crisp in this one either. I don’t know if it was rushed, bad equipment or what, but it looked like it. Which isn’t to say it was awful, as the man has a serious talent with the whole drawing end of things, just that I’ve seen his stuff look better. A blip on the radar once the big collected book comes out with the first ten issues or so, whenever that happens, and it better happen, becauise I find myself already invested in these characters.
Tear-Stained Makeup #2 Now Available! $2
OK, now I’m completely won over. Objectivity has left the building until he does a really crappy comic and loses me. Just a little warning in case you heart negative reviews or something. This one is all about Tildy, the librarian from the short story in the last issue, and the person who’s easily the most intriguing story so far, even if the other character did throw herself in front of a taxi. This is mostly a “day in the life” story, following her trip on the subway to what was meant to be a quiet night at home (after she hears the news about Laura Dee and the taxi). Of course, if that’s all there was it wouldn’t be much of a comic, but why ruin more than that? So far these are great, and most of the fun of reading great comics is that you get to discover things for yourself. So there!
Tear-Stained Makeup #1 Now Available! $2
You know, if you’re that capable of being (to use a cliche) laugh out loud funny when making the comics, there should be some sort of law saying that you’re not allowed to be able to create an insightful series that isn’t meant to be funny. Just too much pressure on the rest of the folks who are perfectly capable of doing one or the other but not both. OK, maybe it’s too early to say that, as this is just one issue, but it’s one great issue. It looks like this is going to be a continuing group of characters and, as Marcos says that it still has a long way to go, these could be considered background info for the rest of the series. This one deals with a young woman who tries to kill herself when her bandmate (couldn’t tell if he was a current boyfriend) leaves town, another young woman who reads to local kids and has a tough time dealing with an ex-roomate, and a doctor who goes to help the girl who attempts suicide. Great dialogue, really solid and expressive art, once again I have to say that there’s not much for me to complain about here. Well worth a look…
Carl’s Large Story!!! #1 Now Available! $2
What’s left to be said to convince people that Carl is the awesome? This issue is the start of “Carl’s biggest story to date”, which could mean just about anything, as this issue alone is already Carl’s biggest story to date. I’m hoping that it means an eventual Carl graphic novel, but I’m hopelessly optimistic about things like that. If you’re a big fan of the one panel delights of the first volume of Carls, you may be briefly sad, at least until you read the first page of the book (the one I sampled down there). It tells the origin of Carl, and the rest of the book deals with his formative years starting his own band and helping out his best friend with his hip-hop project. Eventually they use some of their new money to open Carl + Bill’$ Awesome! Cool! Kidz Home!!, definitely the best name for an orphanage I’ve ever heard. This causes some other problems, which leads Carl to run for mayor… and how much longer should I go on before there are no surprises left? Look, by now you know the drill with Carl. Either you’re one of the people who laugh out loud several times by reading these, or you’re filled with bitterness and can’t smile at anything. I sympathize, but that just leaves more funny for the rest of us.
Carl Is The Awesome Volume 1
Where do I even start… well, first off, if you have anything remotely resembling a sense of humor left in you after living in this miserable world, you are going to love this. Carl, you see, is a little… well, dinosaur, maybe. Born of a King and a female dinosaur, Carl is, indeed, the awesome. He has all the confidence in the world, and for good reason, as he can do whatever he wants whenever he wants. This is called “Volume 1” (this automatically implies more volumes, which is sure to elate anyone who actually reads this) because there are four tiny minis in this handy little slipcase. Usually an eight page mini with one panel on each page (at least for the couple of issues) is the kind of thing that bugs me, but it’s the perfect format for Carl. #1 is sort of an intro to Carl and what he’s all about, #2 is more about his awesome band, #3 is a primer on how to get with the ladies, and #4 is Carl entering the world of politics. It was almost impossible to pick just one sample from this, but they’re so tiny that I didn’t want to give too much away for free. If you find it remotely amusing, it’s even funnier in the context of the issue. Seriously, it’s only $2 and I can’t recommend it enough.
Tear-Stained Makeup #4 Now Available! $5
This may be as big as the last three issues put together. So if you’ve been reading these and wondering why certain characters were getting less attention than you may have liked, everybody gets dealt with here. And if you haven’t been wondering because you haven’t been reading this, might I ask what exactly you have against comics? How many really great character driven fictional comics are there out there to choose from at the moment anyway? The story in this one deals with Tildy and her afterglow, Dr. Wilson and his unhealthy obsession, Laura Dee and finding a reason to live, Eddie and his crush on Tildy, Aurora (Tildy’s friend) and her nudity, and more side characters than you can shake that proverbial stick at that you keep around to shake at things. Marcos had a great idea to put out this giant issue, as all sorts of the background people are actual characters now and not just walk-on lines. There was even an incredibly odd bit from 1903, although I have no earthly idea how that fits into the big picture. If you like this series you probably already have this issue, but if you’ve been waiting until there’s more available to dig in, well, you got your wish. Great stuff again.
Carl is the Awesome Volume 2
Oh what a happy day it is when I get another volume of Carl is the Awesome in the mail! Just in case there was some suspense on how I was going to review this for some reason, that should end that. This is another set of 4 minis (#5-8 this time), and these have a bit more substance to them, with more dialogue and occasionally more panels. First you have Carl and his band recording an album with his awesome band.Then a “challenge of the sexuals” between Carl and Carl from the French universe, to determine who was awesome enough to remain. #7 tells the story of Carl’s start in show business as a sex worker, followed by him wanting to be taken seriously as an actor and resorting to avant-garde shows. Finally with #8 there’s the obligatory issue on how to deal with small press conventions, with the notable exception that this one is actually useful and has some really essential tips. The bottom line here is that you’re missing out if you don’t check these out somewhere, either through the website or picking them up at cons. Or through the online store, unless they sell out in four seconds because they’re so awesome. Sure, I may be sick of this shtick by the time Volume 50 rolls around, but for now I can’t wait to see more and to wait for the inevitable live action “Carl is the Awesome” movie…