It’s been a couple of years since I’ve seen a comic from Nick (or is that one year? Ah, who can tell with linear time), and this one is full of all sorts of short pieces. But there’s a larger theme at work, so there’s that. I should point out early on that Nick included two recent rejection letters from publishers for his comic in this issue, and the man has been around for ages, so if you haven’t liked his past work there’s a good chance that you won’t care for this one. Granted, he’s done a wide range of stuff over the last 5 years, but this one is back to the basics: gore, violence, poop, fighting babies, those sorts of things. The story that runs through the smaller pieces is about a man who’s trying to sell “make the giggles,” which I can’t really explain adequately so I’m not even going to try. The salesman becomes increasingly desperate and sad as people fail to buy his product, until he is suddenly replaced by another informercial, which is the way of things these days. Other stories include a notably grim tale about a dog that’s trapped in the ice and an attempted rescue, a creepy albino after a football game, fighting babies (what, you thought I was kidding?), dog violence, how Kirk Cameron gets his kids to listen to him, being drunk and racist on a bus, being a racist duck (with a twist ending), a number of three panel strips all crammed into one page, and space boobs. I’ll admit that a few pieces seemed to just drift off without accomplishing all that much (the story about the space boobs and albino football player), but overall it was still a pile of mostly funny comics. Which were also incredibly offensive to most sentient humans, just in case you were offended by… oh, lots of different things. $3.50
Disco Slaughterhouse #1
Poor Nick Jeffrey.Â He had a perfectly decent website, couldn’t keep up the costs (because you cheap bastards apparently didn’t buy enough of his comics, or perhaps you did buy enough of his comics and he spent it all on booze) and had somebody else take over the site and fill it with poetry.Â I’m sure there are worse fates for a website, but if I eventually run out of money to keep this site going, I’d like somebody in the porn industry to buy it and at least have the decency to fill it with naked people.Â There, somebody make a note of that for their “in case I get hit by a bus” file.Â As for this comic, there are times when a cover tells the whole story, and this one succeeds admirably on that front.Â There’s an old fat man (Mr. Anderson) who gets hired for a job with an advertising agency.Â This agency, sadly, didn’t know that Mr. Anderson was old and fat, they thought they were hiring someone young and fresh.Â Fired from his new job and with the case thrown out of court (as the judge didn’t sympathize with him either), he finds a way to get in shape and get the respect he deserves: steroids.Â He is hired back on, but this time as the coach of a youth soccer team and, well, you can guess what happens next from that cover.Â His team ends up playing a team of fat kids and makes fun of all the fatties, causing a flashback to his traumatic fat past, which leads to one of the bloodier scenes of a group of small children getting torn apart that I’ve ever seen.Â Not that I’ve seen a whole lot of scenes of children getting torn apart.Â It funnier than you might think, or at least it is if you’re like me and children mostly annoy you and you have enough of a functioning brain to see that this is a work of fiction.Â That description of mine maybe makes this seem a bit dry, but there are funny bits throughout.Â From the beginning strip with the squirrels (if I’m not mistaken they haven’t been seen since the days of Hillbilly Sex) to the products that the advertising agency comes up with to World’s Sexiest Baby 2007, I was chuckling throughout this book.Â That’s all I ever ask from a comic that isn’t trying to teach me something, and sometimes even out of those comics.Â Unless you’re a real delicate flower this comic is a pile of funny and something you should check out as soon as possible.Â $3.50
It’s always great to see a good random anthology. Seems like these are a dime a dozen, but real quality books are always hard to come by. Here are some familiar names from this website, at least: Nick Jeffrey, Larned Justin, Jen Sorenson, and Jenny Gonzalez. All kinds of good strips in here from people that I’d never heard of too, and a former sex worker who had an essay about how great boobs are, Candye Kane. What’s the book about? Well, you can read the cover for a few themes (it’s magazine sized, I just shrunk it down), but it also has Pickle Dude by Ben Liesch, a story about the ironies of eating meat from Jeremy Kirk, tattoo revenge by Bill Krupinski, some old strips from Denis Kitchen (you know, the guy who ran Kitchen Sink Press), a couple of incredibly funny strips from Dug Belan, and a disturbing story about a young girl who wants to be a robot from Heather Shinn… and that’s only the the first half of the book. Great stuff all around, probably the best anthology I’ve seen so far this year… but it’s early yet. Here’s an e-mail address, #3 is available too, and this is a great way to spend $4 if you like comics.
OK, let me lay it out for you: Nick Jeffrey is one of the funniest motherfuckers doing comics. Yeah, occasionally a joke falls flat, but when it’s funny, it’s better than most. This one, as the title suggests, is all about old people. As a future old person (assuming the world and my heart last that long), humor about this sort of thing always has to be tackled with that knowledge, and it looks like he has it. The page with the current young stars in 50 years is hilarious, the two strips with Wee Uncle Pettica had me laughing out loud, and the story with the old, fat businessman looking for work was great too, at least until he crapped out on the ending. Loved the bit with the old lady quoting the bible too, proving once again how absolutely insane it is to take everything in that mess literally. Hell, I even liked the (very few) 4 panel strips he had in here. It wasn’t all perfect, and he insisted that I criticize what I didn’t like, so here you go: FIX THE LETTERING!!! Seriously, even I did comics years ago, you just write it in pencil, ink over it, and ERASE the pencil. Simple. That’s a minor thing though, but it’s a constant over the issues of his that I’ve seen. Actually, it’s usually only bad here and there, to be fair to the guy, but… ahem. Also, I didn’t like the story about the old rapper. It’s just like old people dancing in commercials or beating young whippersnappers at races or picking up chicks. It’s been done. I’ve seen it done at least, but I traffic in odd circles. Contact info is up there, why don’t you buy a few of his books to see how funny he is?
I have to say, I’m impressed. I thought Nick was an incredibly funny guy, granted, but I wasn’t so sure that he had much in the way of serious stories in him. And, as he says in his intro, he may never have another story as worthy of telling in him, but it’s great that he nailed the one he did have. This is a story from his grade school days when he played right field on a baseball team. He hated sports, it’s just that he went to a school with a tiny class and you were pretty much required to be on everything. Speaking as somebody with a graduating grade school class of 13 people, I can relate. Woven into this are glimpses of his father and some of the other people in his school, including a kid named Peter Gorey, who pretty much single-handedly transformed their baseball team into a powerhouse, and Nick was along for the ride. This is mostly a story of his life at the time (and I don’t want to give more away than that, sorry) and this is probably the best thing I’ve read all year. I always feel like a schmuck trying to explain emotionally compelling aspects of stories, so I’ll leave all that alone. This nailed just about everything that was possible to nail, and it managed to do it without coming close to being overbearing or obnoxious, and I can’t think of a higher recommendation than that. Oh, and it was put out by Alternative Comics, so chances are good that you can find it at your local comic store, assuming that your local comic store doesn’t suck. Contact info is up there, it’s really your loss if you skip out on this one…
Hillbilly Sex: Final Issue (probably #7)
Well, that’s it for Nick, he’s done with comics. And IT’S ALL YOUR FAULT! OK, maybe not really, but it looks like one of the more genuinely funny people working in comics has thrown in the towel due to what appears to be shitty happenings in his personal life and a realization that he’s never going to make a dime from this business. Which, speaking as somebody who barely makes enough money from an online store to even cover the costs of keeping this website running, makes more and more sense all the time. Quitting, that is. Why bother? People seem to appreciate/enjoy the convenience of this website, and they come from all over the world (if my stats are correct) to discover new and interesting artists, but some bottom line does have to come up eventually. I’m rambling, as you probably noticed, but this did strike a bit of a nerve with me. How about the comic, you ask? Darwin Dong comes to a bloody end, Dolph Lundgren has some delightful poetry, Pederabbit stars in Pornographic Children’s Stories, Nick tries not to puss out on suicide, homeless people end up with all the change Nick needed for the bus, Ivan Brunetti has a revealing interview in which we discover that he still kind of hates his life, Deet-Phan and Joe continue to gayly fight crime, The Angry Few are smashed by the awesomeness that is America, and we end with a horrific threesome. There are more than a few of his hilarious newspaper strip comics in here too, and a nice splash page to end things. What can I say, this is depressing. Few enough people out there make me laugh every time, and losing them because of general reader apathy is enough to make me wonder about the whole deal. Good luck Nick, here’s hoping you come back after you somehow become independently wealthy… $2
Hillbilly Sex #6
Remember, way back in the review to #5, when I told you people to buy his books now before he got all rich and famous? Well, #1-5 are now sold out, so you missed your chance! This is new though, so I imagine you can still get a copy. What’s new? Well, any hint of “longer stories” is out the window. One story is five pages long (Twisted Soul of a Sadboy), one is three pages (Christianity is Retarded), the rest are all either a page long or done by somebody else, and by “somebody else” I mean Jenny Gonzales. If you don’t find AIDS, aborted fetuses and misplaced homophobia at least slightly funny, you should probably take your business elsewhere. If you do have a sense of humor, stories in here include an introspective frat boy, Classy McSnoots, Teenage Mutant Ninja Lesbians, Booblocker 2000, Monster Needs Sex, United States of Abortion, and the hilarity that is Santorum. There are also more newspaper style strips than you can shake your angry self-righteous fist at, but he has completely won me over on this front. Oh right, he’s one of those people who’s always looking for criticism. Let’s see… um, the strip about the Merchandise Man was kind of dumb. Other than that, it looks to me like he’s worked the bugs out. I just flipped through this and couldn’t find much of anything to bitch about. He’s even fixed the lettering! It’s still only $2 and it looks like he’s getting his big break in publishing a book called Centerfield. It better be published by one of the “big” independent publishers, because he’s ready to get some actual cash for this…
Hillbilly Sex #5
Gotta love that scanner. Let’s see, how negative can I be about this. Fart jokes are boring! And, um, Robospy was only mildly funny. And where was Mick Foley at on the list of 10 best wrestlers of all time! As for everything else, well, dammit, there goes the negativity. His “interview” with Johnny Ryan was hilarious, Darwin’s Theory of Evolution was one of the stupidest things I’ve seen (it was also one of the funniest), everybody loves strips with midgets, and it’s about time Jeffrey Tambor got some recognition. If you don’t know who that is, well, yes you do, and isn’t it just going to kill you not being able to put a face to the name? Better buy this comic then. What else… Darwin Dong, in the longer stories, is starting to wear a bit thin for me. However, Darwin Dong in the shorter strips is really starting to grow on me. Paradox? Maybe. There’s also a few guest artists in this one: Mike Diana, Josh Simmons, Vincent Stall and J. Johnston-Kiesling. $2 is still pretty cheap for this much funny and his stuff keeps getting better. Buy all of these and put them in plastic bags and boards (but for the sake of all the holy babies don’t read them and ruin the value) because I think he’ll be rich and famous one day. Oh, and when I say “rich” I only mean as rich as people get in the comics world, so not very rich. And when I say “famous” I only mean as famous as people get in the comics world, which is to say not at all.
Hillbilly Sex #4
OK, this is basically a review of #2-4, although I’ll probably go into more of the details of the individual issues when I have more time/when I feel less lazy. Reading three of these in a row is, frankly, an assault on the senses and I don’t have it in me to dissect three issues at once. Tastelessness is fine, going for the gross-out is fine, it’s just… after a while, wouldn’t it be funnier to NOT do the most offensive thing you can think of in a strip? Just make it bright and shiny to freak people out or something? Just a thought, but I’d love to see a children’s book from this guy to see some range, because there’s real talent here. He’s not anywhere near as bad as Jeff Johnston seems to think (the review is reprinted in #2) where he basically says that Nick is all that’s wrong with comics today. Not that I’m saying he’s the second coming or anything, but does it make me a total moron to find some of his stuff hilarious? At times he’s like a much less polished Ivan Brunetti, which isn’t his best stuff. His best stuff is his longer work, like the story where his character, Darwin Dong, confronts God (who actually turns out to be Burt Reynolds) and gets a lesson on love. Or there’s the story of Darwin befriending and eventually falling in love with a dog. Things I don’t like so much: most (but not all) of the four panel comics are stupid, but I mostly don’t like four panel strips, so take that with a grain of salt; same with most of the one panel gag strips. I like how he put the scathing review of his work on the inside cover and his biographies of various people (Lydia Lunch, Mike Diana and Gil-Scott Heron, so far) are short and informative. I’d say that #3 is your best bet if you just want to check one of them out, and #4 is probably the weakest overall. He also has a strange obsession with wrestling, not that there’s anything wrong with that. It’s $2 per issue, contact info is above.
Hillbilly Sex #1
As you can see from the cover, this book is a treatise on the subtleties of the Middle East crisis… nah, just kidding. It’s a comic about squirrels being whores, killing children, hitting on anything with “grass on the field”, a video game about 9/11, Homeless Harry, old white ladies, Darwin Dong and some really silly superhero parodies. They’re in the minority though, so there’s nothing to worry about. Is it in good taste? No, not even close, but since when does something have to be in good taste to be funny? If you don’t mind being really grossed out by some things and even probably genuinely offended (hey, I’m sure it’s possible to make fun of 9/11 but the page strip in here was pretty tacky, unless you have thicker skin than I do, then it was hilarious), then this book is for you. I’m just gratified with the sheer number of funny mini comics I’m seeing these days. Keep them coming, poor cartoonist America! E-mail the guy to see what he has, there’s no address or website in the comic…
The Short Term Now Available! $3.50
Is a comic successful if I have no idea what to make of it? If that’s the case, kudos to Nick. This is the story of the last few days or weeks of the life of Jack Sanders, somebody that was obviously close to Nick, or at least a friend. No idea how much of this is taken from reality and how much of it is sheer artistic license, but it’s a riveting book. Jack has very few priorities in life, and at the time of this comic he’s unemployed but making plenty of money, so he has a lot of free time. It’s also at this time in his life that he finds out his mother needs a liver transplant, or at least a piece of a liver. Jack offers his, but there are complications, and here I am telling the whole story. What makes this whole story so hard to figure is that it’s about nothing and everything at the same time. Jack is obviously having a great time with life, even as he’s dealing with an ugly breakup, getting mugged and a dead roommate. It’s easy enough to read this as just all about him going through his days, getting fucked up and never having anything amount to squat, but there’s also genuine searching here, a longing to live up the hopes of his mother, however faintly and briefly. Don’t take this the wrong way: your typical whiny, self-absorbed mini this is not. But I do believe that Nick has mastered nuance in comic form, and that along with his current mastery of humor and the ability to tell a good story makes him downright dangerous. $3.50