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Clotfelter, Max – Snake Meat #1

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Snake Meat #1

So how exactly are you supposed to review a sketchbook again? Never have figured that out… Well, I like Max’s art a lot, if that tells you anything. And, as this is a book of him drawing, I’d have to call that a recommendation. There are a few bits of actual story here, but mostly it’s just a series of unconnected pictures. The pictures are mostly solid though, not much in the way of half-finished sketches, so the book looks great. If you only read comics with a coherent story in them, the last two pages are fantastic. The rest of it’s all over the place or, as Max puts it in the disclaimer, “Yet another half-assed zine consisting of nothing more than sketches I’ve scribbled on typing paper over the past four months”. That’s a whole lot harsher than I would have put it, but I guess it’s technically accurate. $1, contact info is up there, check it out!

Clotfelter, Max – Abandon Ship

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Abandon Ship

I very much want to point out the brilliant ending to this comic, but doing so would ruin it, so I’m not sure what to go on about here. The story? OK, sure. It’s the tale of a young man who finally has enough at his crappy fast food job and quits, which causes his girlfriend to throw him out of his house. This leads to his decision to become a bum and enjoy a carefree, living-out-of-dumpsters lifestyle, which of course ends up being more complicated than he might have thought. The art’s good too, there are wonderfully detailed panels all over the place. I don’t think crosshatching has ever made a book look bad, and that’s true here. Don’t know how long he’s been doing comics but this has a really professional feel to it, so kudos if he’s just started or something (or even if he’s been going awhile, obviously, but especially if he’s just starting and is already this talented). E-mail the man to make sure but I’m guessing that this is a couple of bucks. Anything else would reveal too much, but I will say this in a last-ditch attempt to get you to check it out: he draws a mean retard.

Clotfelter, Max – Stewbrew #3 (with Kelly Froh)

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Stewbrew #3 (half Max, half Kelly Froh)

Ah, television. Good luck finding an American from the ages of five to forty five who can’t relate to memories of television. Max and Kelly team up here to do one page stories (Kelly on the left side and Max on the right) detailing their previous, constant television watching, how patterns change over the years and what television taught them, often due to the fact that in a lot of crucial areas they didn’t learn a whole lot from their parents. There are embarrassing stories a’plenty here, with Max talking about his first time masturbating (without really knowing what he was doing but I’ll leave out the gory details until you see the comic), being forced to play sports instead of watching tv, wanting to learn the theme song from MASH, being too attached to children’s programming, finally getting his own personal space to watch tv, going into tv withdrawal at camp, a hilarious (in hindsight) couple of injuries resulting in a Vietnam flashback dream, finally relating to his Dad because of Beavis and Butthead, watching porn with his Mom taking a bath in the next room, and a detailed listing of his high school tv watching routine. Kelly has her fair share of embarrassing stories as well, involving her first “boyfriend”, running away from home when the tv is taken away, a living warning against doing drugs, being really creeped out by the “sent to hell” episode of Fantasy Island, four tv people who made her feel funny “down there”, Showtime porn, and her late night viewing habits. Another solid effort from these two, and unless you grew up Amish, I’m sure you can relate to damn near everything in here. $3

Clotfelter, Max – Stewbrew #2: Coot’s Day

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Stewbrew #2: Coot’s Day

Just to make sure this is perfectly clear: this mini, along with “Meet Erin” by Kelly Froh, come bundled together as Stewbrew #2 for a measly $3. So now that the technicalities have been established, how’s the comic? Well, it’s based on a day in the life of a man named Cooter, so how on earth could it be bad? And yes, there is a real man named Cooter, unless Max is lying shamelessly in his intro. We get to see Cooter wake up, watch high school girls, get high, get drunk, watch Star Wars, smoke, and everything in between that makes up his day. It’s a very quick read, as it’s mostly wordless except for the caption at the top of each panel, but it’s funny and gorgeous, which are two things that are pretty much necessary for a good comic. The second half of this should be up tomorrow (4/3/07), so you can decide if it’s worth your $3, but this is certainly a good start.