Hey kids, or anybody who has started reading comics in the last few years? Are you interested in the history of mini comics, why they’re such a source of passion for so many people? Well, maybe not in numbers, but in level of interest and dedication in following certain artists? Your answer is this volume. If you have no interest in the history, away with you! This one can be for the old timers. This is a collection of the best of the “Not My Small Diary” anthology, and if you read small press comics in the 90’s and 00’s, you will recognize plenty of these names. In fact, good luck not getting lost in a Google hole or trying to figure out what so many of these people are up to these days. Notable names include (but are not limited to) Jeff Zenick, Dan Zettwoch, Patrick Dean, Raina Telgemeier, Jesse Reklaw, Carrie McNinch, Sam Spina, Roberta Gregory, Kurt Wolfgang… you know what, there are just too damned many names, and they’re all in the tags, so check that part out. If any of those names made you say “hey, I wonder what they’re up to these days” then this book is for you. These are mostly snippets of stories, but they’re all complete by themselves. Sometimes the stories follow a theme, like notable dates or moments in their lives, but really they’re all over the place. If it seems like I’m avoiding getting into specifics, that is entirely the case. If you were around for all these artists when they first started, you’re going to get lost in this instantly. If not, this is an excellent way for you to figure out what the big deal was about these people all along. I guess it’s possible that it’s the nostalgia talking and that people might not connect to these stories now, but screw that. These are tales of human weakness (and occasionally triumph), and those stories are universal and timeless. Most of the original issues of this series are out of print, so this is your best option all around. The book itself is $7.50 if you see Delaine at a convention, but if not $10 should be enough to cover the shipping, and I really can’t recommend this enough. It’s rare for any anthology not to have a weak story or two, but these are all golden.
Empty Life #15
You guys were probably starting to wonder if I liked everything Mike sent me. Well, no, not exactly. This is a wordless story about camping and alien abduction. I was liking this a lot right up until the point where the alien ship took him away, then it just kind of fell apart for me. It’s part one of a story, so it’s possible that the next part could change my mind about this one, but it doesn’t look like he’s going to be doing another one any time soon. That’s what the website tells me, anyway. Like I said, it might change if it’s all one story, but right now… ah, you know what? I think Mike has earned the benefit of the doubt. I loved his story in Castration, I’ve never seen anything like #14 that wasn’t terrible (and that was far from terrible), so I’m going to let him finish this story before I talk shit about it. Does that mean I’m fired from my job as reviewer? Look upon my wishy-washiness, oh people, and despair! $2
Empty Life #14
Mike has created a new form of comics called Hypotheticomics (which is a fucking fantastic name, by the way). He basically wrote the captions in what he calls a “free associative blitz”, then drew the pictures the same way, and he had his comic. It’s completely impossible to review something like this in any kind of conventional sense, so I’ll just tell you that I liked it. If I get the scanner I’m bidding on now I’ll have some panels up soon so you guys can see what I’m talking about. Right now all I can say is that this is unlike anything you’ve seen. Well, anything I’ve seen, anyway. There are a couple of tiny stories at the end too, but by then you’ll already either by won over or you’ll have thrown the book across the room. $2
Well, it looks like I can officially retire. Mike Tolento sent me some free comics to review. What’s better than getting free comics in the mail? And to have them be comics worth reading too, well, that was almost too much for me. I was having the hardest time writing this too because I went to his site (www.emptylife.com) to get cover pictures and spent about a half hour there and could have spent a lot longer. I got caught on this page that was all e-mails sent to his friend Paul from crazy ex-girlfriends and it was one of the better things I’ve ever seen. Anybody who has ever had a crazy girlfriend can relate to that shit.
I’m supposed to be talking about the comic here, aren’t I? Sorry. Castration is about women and , as the cover says, “why we love them and hate them”. One story by Mike Tolento and one by Sam Stern. Mike’s is called Artie’s Last Weekend and it’s all about a middle-aged man and his weekend. What he plans to do with it, what he ends up doing with it and how he deals with. Maybe my favorite of the books that he sent to me, although they’re all so different that it’s really hard to tell. The Sam Stern story (untitled, apparently) is about a man and his total bitch of a girlfriend. One of the better punchlines that I’ve seen lately at the end of it and a good short tale all around. It’s $1, just buy it and enjoy.