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Derry Green, Delaine (editor) – The Portable Not My Small Diary

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The Portable Not My Small Diary

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.

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Trubble Club – Trubble Club #1

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Trubble Club #1

You know, there really are times when it’s pointless to review a comic.  It sounds like a cop out, I know, but Trubble Club is a jam comic involving about a dozen cartoonists in Chicago.  They meet every Sunday, put together some jam strips, and (I’m guessing here, as the actual information about this process on the website was sparse) put out a new book whenever they put enough material together.  Who are these people?  Really, this should be all it takes to convince you to check this out: Al Burian, Lille Carre, Ezra Clayton Daniels, Lucy Knisley, Rachel Niffennegger, Bernie McGovern, Onsmith, Laura Park, Grant Reynolds, Becca Taylor, Jeremy Tinder and Marco Torres.  If you’re new to this site and these names aren’t familiar to you, plug just about any of them into that search option up there (the full list of artists will be restored one of these days, I swear) and spend some time checking out some quality work.  Future volumes, judging from the website, will have other people, and visiting cartoonists will probably get in on the act as well.  Honestly, I’m confused as hell about the process here.  Every single page is its own story, and it seems most of the time like the next page starts with an idea from the previous page before veering off in its own direction… except for the times when it seems completely new.  And I thought for a while that it was one artist per page, but upon closer inspection maybe others are jumping in on different panels.  All I know for sure is that this much talent thrown together in a room can’t go wrong, and I hope they keep it up for… let’s see, they’re probably all in their late 20’s or early 30’s… how about another 50 years or so?  OK, fine I’ll mention a few of the topics, just to prove how pointless it is to analyze such a thing.  An unhygienic stump, Sackley, a doomed giant hot dog, “footsie”, mancakes, and we gotta cook this hog.  This is $3 and worth every penny.

Stiehl, Mike (editor) – Bomb Time For Bonzo #5

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Bomb Time for Bonzo #5

The folks at Comixwerks sent me this last week, probably because they saw that I ran across the second issue of their series several months ago. I missed the ones in between so I’m not sure how much they improved in the other issues, but this one is significantly better than the second one. Layout, content, overall look… great stuff. Here’s a list of who’s in it and you can decide for yourself: Onsmith, Dylan Graham, Paul Hornschemeier, John Hankiewicz, Benjamin Chandler, Henry Ng, W. Lantz, and Matt Kapolczynski. As John Hankiewicz is my reigning favorite for the last few months, it follows that I’d have to love this book, right? Well, for once, yeah. There’s one page in the book that didn’t do much for me, but even that one was more of an “eh” reaction than anything actively negative. No, I’m not going to tell you which page. They still have at least a few more issues to go before they can challenge Toenail Clippings for best current anthology, but I can see how they could get there eventually. What are the stories about? Well, besides the samples, there’s not listening to your brain, dinosaurs sinning, a preacher, 9/11, and a living gingerbread man. It’s $2.50 and well worth a shot. Check out the website for ordering info. They’ve updated the site quite a bit lately, all kinds of samples and an interview with John Porcellino. What are you waiting for?

Stiehl, Mike (editor) – Bomb Time For Bonzo #3

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Bomb Time For Bonzo #3

It’s pretty easy to make fun of the daily comics the newspaper, granted, but that doesn’t make it any less funny when it’s done right. Benjamin Chandler, Henry Ng, Onsmith and Rachel Drew lampoon Mort Walker, Garfield, Dilbert and Cathy, respectively. Jeff Stein also does some “Love Is” stuff that isn’t familiar to me, but I stopped reading that crap years ago. It’s a buck and it’s funny. Do you need any other reason to check it out?

Stiehl, Mike (editor) – Bomb Time For Bonzo #2

Website (where you can buy a few of these at least)

Bomb Time for Bonzo #2

Sometimes these little books are over with before you can form more than a vague impression about them. That’s the case with this book. I enjoyed it, but it was absolutely tiny. A story by Onsmith called What Porter Wanted, one by Henry Ng called Permanent Lesson (about a woman who thinks nobody likes her, my favorite in the book) and Is It Irony? by Benjamin Chandler. It’s only a buck, and that’s just right for something this small. Pick it up if you see it somewhere, otherwise you can order it on their website along with a number of other things, I’m sure. I just checked out the website and it has a fair amount of stuff on it, including samples of all of their work, if you’re curious. Kind of slow and not completed yet, but worth a look.

English, Austin – Windy Corner Magazine #2

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Windy Corner Magazine #2 edited by Austin English Now Available! $10

Why on earth would you put out a magazine like this (as it contains brilliant and vibrant colors throughout) and give it a black and white cover?  Sorry, I just felt the urge to get my one tiny complaint about this issue out of the way early.  This is more of an anthology than a traditional magazine, if that makes any difference to any of you.  There are two pieces here that are full of text, one of which is Austin discussing the art of Lois Lenski at length and the other is an interview between Onsmith (interviewer) and John Hankiewicz (interviewee).  This interview is absolutely priceless, as who in the comics world would you want to see interviewed more than John?  OK, it’s possible that there are people you’d rather read about, but John’s work contains so much in every panel and every issue that it was greatly informative to see him break down what he’s doing (or trying to do, in some cases), how he manages to put that level of detail and crosshatching into every panel and how his creative process has evolved through the years.  Then, of course, there’s the comics.  This begins on the inside front cover with two short pieces by Mollie Goldstrom (contemplative pieces on the outdoors) and quickly moved to three stories by Austin.  There’s a trip to the Planetarium as a child and his innocent and wide-eyed reactions, the second part of a series called Francis (and I really should have read the first issue before this), and the memory of a trip to the movies with his parents as a child.  For anybody who complains about the price of these magazines, and they are a bit steep in these times, the fact that Austin’s work is able to be produced in color because of it is worth the price of admission.  That still leaves two comics: a piece by Fiona Logusch about the entanglements of relationships and how hard it is to get free and an autobiographical piece by Dylan Williams about his mail relationship with Alex Toth, what he learned from him and Dylan’s own progression as an artist through the years.  As a whole it’s damned near flawless, assuming you’re a fan of the people mentioned above, and why on earth wouldn’t you be?  Even if you’re not, picking this up and reading this will make you a fan.  Don’t take my word for it; a glance around this website will show you work from everybody in this issue, then you can make up your own mind.  $10

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