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Neal, Andrew – Meeting Comics #10

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Meeting Comics #10

That cover has a pretty big spoiler. Can you spot it? No, it’s not the slight white marks from where I accidentally gave the comic an elbow drop. Funny story! Anyway, the series has made it to double digits, and the fun thing about reading comics from the past is you can see dreams being broken in real time. Andrew has an announcement here that the collected edition was going to be coming out in February of 2020, and I’m sure he had cons and all sorts of other promotional activities planned. Sorry, but covid had other plans. This issue also had some sort of printing problem, as several strips were lighter than others, but everything is still legible, so don’t worry, you’ll still get all the jokes. What’s the story this time around? Val pays off a bet in which she has to shake out her hair like a sexy librarian, we meet Dolores (who’s been a temp for 14 years), Kevin does some just on the borderline of racist rapping, they learn that the new Fantastic Four will be a rap battle (and boy was I ever tempted to put that as the sample image, but it was just too good to ruin), the Ribbon Cutter goes on hiatus, and Kevin’s baby briefly goes missing. Much, much more, as always, and it’s not like Andrew lost his funny since the ninth issue, so you’ll get some solid laughs this time around too. Go on, buy a copy, help the poor guy make up for the accidentally terrible timing of his book release date. Actually, that book is probably the way to go, as it collects the first six issues. But if you’re not willing to risk it, exactly zero of these first 10 issues were terrible, so I like your chances. $5

Neal, Andrew – Meeting Comics #9

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Meeting Comics #9

Anybody else enough of a former Marvel comics geek that they tried to get a No-Prize, that joke prize for finding mistakes in comics that I sadly didn’t understand until I was an adult? Well, the inside cover for this one says it’s #8, but it’s actually #9! …do I win anything? I’ll just wait for my award in the mail. Speaking of Marvel, Andrew really messed up by not putting some version of “in this issue, someone dies!” on the front cover. Silhouettes of some of the characters, gravestone in shadow, that sort of thing. Because this one does start off with a death, even if it doesn’t mean all that much to the story. One of the horde of people at Kevin’s house, his father, starts the issue off by croaking. Spoiler, I guess, but it’s literally the first strip. Anyway, Kevin didn’t much like the guy, and and even when he passed away it didn’t exactly bring up a wellspring of emotions. At the funeral it quickly becomes clear that the feeling is widely shared, which is a nice and honest change of pace from the way deaths are usually handled in four panel gag strips. Unless deaths aren’t usually handled at all in such strips and I’m just making things up, which is entirely possible. Also the image of their baby going all emo after witnessing the death got a real laugh out loud from me, and I just realized that I just used “emo” in both reviews this week, despite probably never saying that word out loud. Huh. Other subjects in this here funny book include Gil hitting on the boss’s granddaughter, finding out what’s under the beard, finding out what’s under the hat, a real “oof” of a strip about adopting a cat while passing an ICE center, flex out a tiddy, how quickly an angry mob forms if a cartoon is rebooted with the lead character having a different race than the original, and the new girl. And lots more, of course; as usual I’m only mentioning roughly half of the strips. As always, check out a few samples on his website if you’re still on the fence, otherwise this is another solid issue. $5

Neal, Andrew – Meeting Comics #8

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Meeting Comics #8

I tell you what, I had some doubts about the wisdom of reviewing every single issue of this series (that Andrew was nice enough to send me) instead of just doing the collected edition and a few random issues. Seeing it all unfold this way is just ridiculously impressive, as this is not a collection of characters that I would have guessed would turn into a coherent story. And yet! So far he’s balancing the demands of the gag strip (and keeping them funny, which is incredibly easy to fail at over time) with developing these characters. Not since the days of Garfield has anybody… ah, just checking to see if anybody was still reading my usual rambling before the proper review thing. If you’re the type to start reading a series with #8, like maybe it’s your favorite number or you lost a bet, you’ll still be OK here, but you will be missing a whole lot of context. Subjects in this issue include trying to corner Val about her thoughts for the future, the best way to avoid going home, the Ribbon Cutter losing his battle with temptation (particularly with Lassoline), getting a head count of the people in Kevin’s house, a ska joke that killed with me (but your reaction may depend on your historical ska levels), ethically debating going to see another shoot ’em up movie, a date with god, having HR describe all the personal pronouns, and the ecstatic dance of the childless. Once again that’s about half of the strips, so once again you’ll have plenty to be surprised by here, and it’s not like the other descriptions were all that descriptive anyway. Vague blathering while pointing the readers in the direction of worthwhile comics, that’s the Optical Sloth promise! $5

Neal, Andrew – Meeting Comics #7

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Meeting Comics #7

You’ve beaten me, Meeting Comics. I almost always stick to my usual formula of only using one sample image, but this time I just could not do it. I got a solid, literal “laugh out loud” moment from both the first and last strips of this issue, so after a few minutes trying to choose, I gave up. Go ahead, read ’em for yourself! If neither one gets a chuckle out of you, your humor glands may have atrophied completely. I’m thinking about printing up copies of that second strip just to hand out the next time somebody says the “I’m not racist but” magic words. Other than that, there were plenty of other strips in here, but what about those, huh? Maybe I only laughed the two times. Nope! Other subjects include the Ribbon Cutter getting renamed against his will, turning into a real super hero (and you’d be amazed at the variety of villains who can be defeated by a pair of scissors), and trying to come to grips with his undeniable costumed sex appeal. And that’s just for the Ribbon Cutter! There’s also another vague clue into the origins of Val, therapy, some solid rocking, a remake of Back to the Future, picking the interim manager, and talking about the war. Yes, it’s still funny, which is a good thing, as I’d look pretty damned silly doing weekly reviews of a mediocre comic. And there’s enough of a backstory going on for several characters that I’d even recommend a solid chunk of time binging the whole thing (or at least the whole thing through the seventh issue). Do we still say binging for comics? Eh, reading a bunch of them in a row, then. It’s hilarious, and if you haven’t read any of it yet, buy an issue or two! And if you’re too poor even for that, there are plenty of free samples on his website. As if the two I put below this review haven’t already convinced everybody… $5

Neal, Andrew – Meeting Comics #6

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Meeting Comics #6

See? I knew it was going to end up making sense reviewing these comics weekly, as this time we’re treated to an ongoing hero or villain (depending on whether or not you’re the Mayor): the Ribbon Cutter! We’re also treated to an origin story, so I won’t spoil anything here, except to say: is this the end of the Ribbon Cutter? No, I didn’t HAVE to say that, but if you think about it, I kind of did. Before I get into it, can I just suggest that anybody who’s sick of right wingers always using the exact same MLK quote without a hint of context maybe save the sample image below and give each and every one of them you meet a copy? Granted, there are better and/or more appropriate quotes for situations, but I am spectacularly tired of people thinking that the man only said one thing in his life. Moving on! So, what’s this one all about? The Ribbon Cutter plays a big role in things, obviously. Val and Rob have something increasingly freaky going on and Buddy (which may or may not be his name but that’s the only thing anybody calls him in this issue and I honestly couldn’t remember if it was correct) has several new family members and their polyamorous group move in with him in two ongoing threads. Other than that we see the dangers of knowing exactly what your employees are looking up online at all times, finding out what sparks joy, job interviews, casual Friday, and the one thing that terrifies Val. It’s another solid issue and several ongoing stories have been firmly established, so yes, it’s sure looking like it’s a better idea to read the single issues instead of just going for the collection, if you were curious. $5

Neal, Andrew – Meeting Comics #5

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Meeting Comics #5

Good news everyone! The brief lull in quality from the last issue (that was almost certainly more about what was going on in my own life and not the actual quality of the comic) has ended! Yeah, I was probably just in a lousy mood. Which is bound to happen when you review as many comics as I do, and it’s not like I’m able to go back and re-review everything I read when a good mood hits me. Life is finite and all that. Anyway, this is another comic that had me literally laughing out loud several times, so all is right with the world of Meeting Comics. What happens in this one? More importantly, can I tell you about in a vague enough way to get you intrigued without going overboard and having you lost interest because I’ve spoiled it all? Join me out on this tight rope and let’s find out! Subjects in here include Val on Black Friday, trying to find the answer to “what the fuck did he do this time” on NPR, an unfortunate gender reveal party, fun visits at the nursing home, getting permission to celebrate Thanksgiving, Don in Nam, finding the key to Val’s heart, Jay settling for the corporate life, and being visited by three ghosts. Vague but enticing? Here’s hoping! It says a lot for a series when you can pretty much pop in, buy whichever issue you’d like and still be safe in hoping for some solid laughs. So try that, why don’t you? $5

Neal, Andrew – Meeting Comics #4

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Meeting Comics #4

I spent most of the last two weeks stuck in an office (including 18 hours on election day, which is sadly about the historical norm for me), and still the first comic I’m reviewing after all that is a series of funny strips mostly about office life. I even held a meeting myself! Granted, it was short, there was a point, and I didn’t bother with visual aids, but still. I’m becoming one of the baddies! Sorry, where was I? Yeah, it’s a new issue of Meeting Comics! Well, an old issue, as I’m still more than a dozen issues behind. New to me, and I don’t see anybody else writing this review. Honestly, this issue is where the funny started wearing off a bit for me. Don’t ask me to explain it; I flipped back through the book in an effort to nail down this vague feeling and found myself laughing again at several strips. Is it because more of it deals with things other than office life this time around? Or is it my own general exhaustion from working so much lately where, all things considered, I’d rather be vegging out in front of the television? One of those little unknowable mysteries, I guess. Subjects this time around (after a great introduction from Barrett Stanley, and if Andrew is able to get intros for each of his comics he’s clearly doing something right) include hurricane coverage, visiting the family, happy birthday, what people are willing to put up with to get anything resembling a babysitter, seeing the protests you used to participate in on your way to work at the place being protested, threesome rules, the inevitability of straight white men to break bad, sharing a bed at a conference, the “can’t get with it” room, and dripping your whole life. Once again that’s only about half of the strips, and once again I gave you very little useful information. After looking through the book yet again I’m even more convinced that it’s my general malaise and not the quality of the book that has me feeling “meh” about it overall, but hey, we’ll find out next week after I review #5. What’s more likely: a book that’s at #18 and counting as we speak got significantly worse after the third issue, or it’s more something on my end? I’m voting for the second option. $5

Neal, Andrew – Meeting Comics #3

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Meeting Comics #3

More Meeting Comics, more of me still laughing out loud! So the answer to “are you starting to get sick of these comics yet?” is still a resounding “no.” Can he keep this up for another dozen issues or so? I have no idea, but we’ll find out together. This time around I’ll just get right into it, OK? It starts off again with letters from readers, and once again they’re comedy gold. Then we see “Kevin throughout the years,” which seems like a waste of time since the comic had only been produced in 2018 at this point, but one look at those images shows you that it was indeed a worthy feature. How about those strips? Subjects include motherly love, getting your steps in (and every office in the world really does have at least one of those), Valerie’s type (which makes absolutely perfect sense), inviting your work buddies to your punk rock show, a meeting in roast format, hiring for a sociopath, the existential angst of joining management, the sin of even trying to bring up Dilbert, group beards, and trying to understand the youth. That’s only the first half of the book, and it’s more than I usually describe, what with my ongoing hatred of spoilers and all. That’s where these reviews for this one comic are going to get repetitive, right? When I talk about how I don’t really want to review them in depth because it’ll spoil the funny bits? Hm. Now I just have to find some way not to mention that again. Eh, the point is that these comics are funny as hell and that you should try them out if you enjoy funny things. It’s as true for #3 as it was for #1. More so, maybe. So check it out! $5

Neal, Andrew – Meeting Comics #2

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Meeting Comics #2

So if you read the review for the previous issue (I am, as always, assuming that anybody who has the time to read a single review here also has the time to read all several thousand of them), you’ll know that I was trying to figure out how I’d manage to review every issue of this series, as Andrew sent along a significant chunk of them at once. Well, I’ve figured it out: it’s time for another in my very occasional series of weekly reviews! So you can expect one of these reviewed every week probably for the rest of 2021. If you hate them, they’ll be easy enough to skip! Still, that’s pretty harsh. I’ve only written one and maybe a third of a review so far; it’s a pretty extreme reaction to hate them. Anyway, another problem with reviewing four panel funny strips is how to avoid spoiling the funny when you do inevitably buy a copy. One excellent method (and one I’ve honed over my two decades of reviewing comics) is to avoid the comic altogether, usually while rambling about some other subject, like the idea of reviewing these comics weekly. See? You’re way into this review and I haven’t said a thing about any specific strip. Useless, you say? I’m failing in my duty as a reviewer? Yeah, probably. Feel free to dock my $0 pay for each review. OK, fine, I’ll mention the comic. For the second time I had all kinds of trouble picking the sample image, as a solid dozen of them at least got a chuckle out of me, and several got a literal “laugh out loud” reaction. Once again, you’ll relate to this stuff a lot more if you’ve had or have an office job, but I think damned near anybody would enjoy them. Subjects in these strips include (see, I’m getting to some specifics) the charm of a people person, the lingering desire for death, pulling up the ladder after you’ve made it to the top, bitcoin, breaking through that glass ceiling, the percentage of pants being worn during teleconference meetings, fuck the police, the always helpful H.R. department, and taking a moral stand. There are also several strips I haven’t mentioned, and I might have been a little misleading on a few of the ones I did. Yep, ever helpful, that’s me! Look, it’s a solidly funny collection of strips that I’m thoroughly enjoying so far. What else do you need to know? $5

Neal, Andrew – Meeting Comics #1

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Meeting Comics #1

One thing they skip over in reviewer training (it’s an intensive course over several months but I, like all reviewers, am sworn to secrecy on the specifics) is what to do when somebody sends you their entire collection of published comics all in one chunk. Andrew is up to 20 issues of this series already, so he sent along quite a stack. Stay tuned while I figure out how to review them all! Anyway, the instantly worrying thing about receiving such a large stack is simple: what if the first issue is terrible? Not unheard of, after all; just think how many of your favorite small press comics had rough first issues before finding their way a few issues in. Well, no worries this time around, as the first issue had me literally laughing out loud several times. This is a collection of four panel strips that were done while Andrew was on his lunch break at work. While he doesn’t specify his specific job, probably for a very good reason, it’s clear that he has spent a lot of time in maddening meetings and/or dealing with office culture. So if that’s something you have to deal with too, chances are you’re going to love this one. The strip about a guy repeatedly asking further questions after the “we’re done here unless there are any questions” message from management and the staring of daggers by the coworker who couldn’t believe that the guy would not shut up has certainly happened to me before. Maybe you’re lucky enough to work in an office where nobody does that, in which case please let me know if they’re hiring. As these were mostly done on a lunch break, some of the art can be a little rough (just look at the panel borders in the sampled strip), but it doesn’t do a thing to take away from the humor. The version I got is the second printing, which is probably what enabled Andrew to include letters from people, and there’s also a pretty damned funny introduction by Jamar Nichols. What about the strips, you say? Well, keeping in mind that describing humor is a good way to murder it, subjects in here include the bare minimum required to sell your soul, who can and can’t quit on a dime, how casual Fridays can get, the physical manifestations of the soul crushing nature of work, and the HR robot and his preferences. And a whole lot more; there’s a lot of comic here. If you’ve ever had an office job you’re going to love this, if not I envy you like you wouldn’t believe, but you’d still find a lot to laugh at in here. $5