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Baylis, Jonathan – So Buttons! #11

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So Buttons #11

I guess I shouldn’t be amazed that Jonathan managed to put this together during a global pandemic, but I am honestly a little surprised. Sure, it’s not much different from normal, I imagine: Jonathan writes the stories, asks his various artist buddies if they can draw the stories, and the comics magic happens. Still… kudos! If you’ve never read an issue of this series before, these are autobiographical tales taken from Jonathan’s life, sometimes drawn by entirely new artists, sometimes drawn by a few favorites that he’s used in multiple issues. Also I noticed that every past issue of his series is currently in print (including the collected edition), so if you’re intrigued, get caught up! The man can tell one hell of a tale. Just wanted to get that out there in case I got distracted in the middle of the review. So what’s in this comic that was produced during a global pandemic? Would you believe only one story involves the pandemic, and even then only briefly (and tangentially)? It’s true! For everybody that remembers and appreciates Basil Wolverton’s work, Jim Rugg’s cover art is goddamn amazing. Subjects in this issue include the mythical Laphroaig 15 year scotch and the lengths he went to to try and get it (before it was eventually released as an anniversary edition), his work as a “make a wish” escort and the time he met John Cleese (this one takes you on some twists and turns, as there’s some serious danger that John’s going to end up being an asshole to this kid), his time at school abroad in London and how the comic shop he discovered there led him to small press books, visiting his old Waldenbooks job after it had been turned into a bank, his grandmother’s obsession with Bazooka Joe gum and how that eventually (kind of sort of) led to a job as a Topps intern and finally his tribute to Carol Channing (who shares a birthday with him). There are also a few more wordless pages, but I have to leave something as a surprise. And his bios of the artists tell you a lot about them and why he specifically picked each one for each piece. It’s a steal for $5 and I’m always happy to see a quality series like this make it to double digits while showing no sign of slowing down. Give it a shot if you’ve never tried his stuff before, and if you’re already a fan I guess all I had to say was “hey everybody, a new issue of ‘So Buttons’ is out!” $5

Various Anthologies – Broad Appeal

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Broad Appeal

In case you missed the pun, this is a collection of work from mostly female cartoonists and, like most anthologies, has good things and bad things. It’s a great concept though, as it has bios for everybody in here along with links to their sites and even interviews with a few people. At least two of them work for Marvel in some capacity, but who am I to judge? Granted, a few of the stories are more than a bit cute (as admitted by the creators, so it’s not like I’m being sexist or anything), but the strength of this collection is the sheer variety of stuff involved. You have a nine year old girl reading and dealing with a comic about the atomic bomb in Japan on one page and a mostly wordless story about lazy cats working in a glue factory on the next. All kinds of great female cartoonists in here too. Check out the website if you don’t believe me. $9.95 is pretty cheap for something this packed too, so check into it, see what you think.  Contributors: Sara Varon, Becky Cloonan, Raina Telgemeier, Ariel Bordeaux, Ellen Forney, Diana Sprinkle, Miss Lasko-Gross, Missy Kulik, Jen Benka, Kris Dresen, Hellen Jo, Kristen Petersen, Jen Sorenson, Michele Roman, Abby Denson, Jenny Gonzalez, Rachel Hartman, Mary Minch, Megan Kelso, Doreen A. Mulryan, Lark Pien, Sarah Anderson Lock, Elena Steier, Jennifer Moore, Lela Lee, Vanessa Satone, Shaenon K. Garrity, Catherine Tutrone, Ellen Lindner, Elayne Riggs, Robin Riggs, Janet Hetherington, Donna Barr.

Lasko-Gross, Miss – Aim Volume 2 #1

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Aim Volume 2 #1

Yes, that is the only name that she gives inside her comic. Apparently she’s been doing the book since 1993 but changed the format, so she started with Volume 2. Whatever works for her, I guess. The style of this issue was really bugging me for the first quarter of it or so. She has this way of not using any punctuation (intentionally or not, I don’t know) and smashing her characters and dialogue in little panels that was obnoxious. But about halfway through I realized that I was really liking the pacing, and those things that were bugging me earlier had a lot to do with that. Anything that wins me over mid-comic after pissing me off first can’t be bad. There’s a little continuing story going on, but you really don’t have to read any of the older stuff to get it because she summarizes before the issue. This issue is all about a party for the main character’s (?) ex-boyfriend. Just drunken conversations mostly, but I really like this style. Maybe it’s the solid blacks that won me over, I don’t know. Anyway, this comic is regular sized and goes for $1.95 according to the cover. Send her some money, won’t you?

Aim Comics 199 East 4th Street Box #4 New York, NY 10009

Or send her an e-mail to see what she has around: misskesh@aol.com

Hellman, Danny – Legal Action Comics Volume 2

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Legal Action Comics Volume 2 Now Available! $18.95

It’s always a copout of some degree to just list the contributors involved in an anthology as proof of it’s greatness. Why not go into greater detail about the (in this case) 73 cartoonists and their individual contributions? Well, to me, the joy of a good anthology is discovering things as they come, finding new artists that you like, taking a chance on all sorts of people you’ve never heard of, that sort of thing. So nailing all this down specifically (outside of it being, in that case, by far the longest review I’ve ever written) kills a lot of that sense of discovery. But none of that is really the point of this book anyway. It’s about trying to help Danny Hellman pay some huge legal bills in a lawsuit that is still apparently ongoing (the only update I managed to find about it (as of 8/15/07) is that only one count is left in the lawsuit and that it still hasn’t gone to trial) and, on a selfish level, getting to see a bunch of the best cartoonists working today all gathered into one book. So how about that list? OK, here’s a few names: Sam Henderson, Carol Lay, Doug Allen, Art Spiegelman, Kim Dietch, Kaz, Johnny Ryan, Tony Millionaire, Ted May, Hans Rickheit, Dave McKenna, Michael Kupperman, Miss Lasko-Gross, Pshaw, Lauren Weinstein, Patrick Dean, Mike Diana, Rick Altergott, and Dean LeCrone, to name a fraction of the people that I had already heard of. There seems to be a bit less personal animosity towards Ted Rall this time around (although there’s still plenty here), with the stories being all over the place. It’s a great anthology whether or not you agree with Danny’s legal case (and what’s not to agree with?), and something that everybody who enjoys this genre at all needs on their bookshelf. $18.95

Genco, Elizabeth – Red (art by Kevin Colden, cover by Miss Lasko-Gross)

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Red (drawn by Kevin Colden, cover by Miss Lasko-Gross)

How many of you know the original, genuinely horrific original story of Little Red Riding Hood back even before the Brothers Grimm told the story? This is based in the loosest possible sense on that. I’ve been watching far too much Tales From The Crypt lately, as the twist ending was something I could see coming a mile away (even without knowing about the fable connection until the end), but it’s still a creepy and tense story. A serial killer starts his day lamenting about “the one who got away”, and ends up running into the girl in the street, so he runs her down and starts up a conversation. Right away you get to wondering who is hunting whom, and it’s a bit of a race against time from there. Pretty great stuff all around, and the splashes of red on the inside were a nice touch. Oh, and Miss Lasko-Gross apparently has a memoir coming out from Fantagraphics later this year, so for everybody who’s been wondering where she’s been since Aim, there’s your answer. Oh, and Kevin has done some excellent work here and with some previous pieces in the Mauled! series, which is why he looked so damned familiar. I’m guessing this is around $3…