Full disclosure time: I think astrology is nonsense. Relatively harmless nonsense, but nonsense nonetheless. It’s fortune telling but made for everybody who was born within the listed month, as if every human in every 12 month period shares the same characteristics, but told in such a way that it could apply to just about anybody regardless. I have occasionally given a sign other than my own to somebody who asked me (at a party or bar, usually) and have delighted in their going on and on about my various characteristics that fit me perfectly while belonging to a completely different astrological sign. I just wanted to make that perfectly clear before I started discussing this book, which is edited by a person who does get a lot of enjoyment out of astrology. 12 cartoonists also offer their takes on their signs, with only a few of them being even slightly skeptical. I could have used more of that, but it’s already pretty clear that I’m biased, so I’ll move on. Rob starts in the introduction with his own history with astrology and what it’s meant to him over the years, but he’s also clear that he doesn’t expect everybody to buy into it and encourages opposing viewpoints. He also provides a detailed description of the various signs and some of the other qualities associated with them, in case you were curious and/or needed context. So now that that’s out of the way, how about the stories? The highlights for me included Whit Taylor’s tale of the struggles of being a Gemini, Tyler Cohen eventually coming around on being a Cancer, Cara Bean (with my favorite piece) of Aslan coming down from the heavens to explain being a Leo to her, Rob Kirby going into specifics about being a Virgo and his experiences both with it and discussing astrology with other people, Rick Worley as one of the few skeptics in regards to being a Libra, Aron Nels Steinke on leaving a movie early (and also how his being an Aquarrius mixed with his wife being an Aires) and Marnie Galloway on being a Pisces (and the most righteously skeptical of the bunch). If you are interested in astrology, even a little bit, there’s a lot to love about this book. If you’re not even a little interested in it, like me, there’s still some great artwork, a few skeptics and an insightful peek into the minds of people who take all this seriously. And if you’re short on money, at least you get an awful lot of comic for $10.95.
Damn you Xeric Foundation! I heard from Marnie at SPACE this year (2013, o comics readers of the future!) that the grant was no longer being given out to comics artists which, and this is putting it mildly, sucks. Really and truly. Sure, they gave it out for 20 years, launching dozens if not hundreds of careers that probably wouldn’t have happened without their help, and they have made the comics world a better place in countless ways… but couldn’t they have just kept going forever? Or better yet: hey you multi-millionaires out there! I know at least a few of you read comics, don’t try to hide it. Why not start up another grant for such things? It wouldn’t take much convincing to get me to quit my job to oversee such a thing, and I’d be willing to do it for the slightly above poverty level wages that I get now! Do it, make the world a better place for art and artists! Oh right, there’s a comic that I should be talking about. The whole Xeric rant did have another point, because Marnie won it for this book and she still has two planned volumes of this series left, so here’s hoping that somebody with some money realizes good work when they see it. Astonishing work really; no sense in selling this short. This is the story of the world and its creation. Sort of. Eh, I can already see that my trying to describe this is not going to go well. The first sections show three people in a circle before and during the act of creation. This is a silent book and a quick read so I’ll keep this all as vague as possible to avoid spoilers. The second part shows people living in this creation and two people in particular. One searches through a series of doorways for three things that he needs while the other oversees and examines what’s in his workshop. I expect the whole thing to come together once the entire book is finished, and it’s always a bit maddening to comment on what is essentially 1/3 of a book, as I’m bound to only have the slightest idea of what I’m talking about. One thing I can tell you is that the art in this book is ridiculously good; her attention to detail puts the word “painstaking” to shame. If she does have a full time job other than comics I have no idea how she does it, unless she’s been working on this for the last ten years. Individual leaves, pieces of tree bark, the various animals she shows in clusters, it’s all impressive as hell. Don’t forget that name, because if it has to come down to a Kickstarter style fundraising effort in a year or so to get the second volume out I will be pestering you all mightily until the goal is met. $12.95