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.
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
Big Deal #5
Uh oh, looks like the cover’s crooked! Oh well, you get the idea. Also, I think Patrick has a new e-mail address, which you can try by clicking on this, although the one up there might work just fine. So what’s the story with this one? I completely loved the first issue, still liked #3 a hell of a lot and this one? Well, OK, I mostly loved this one too. Strips in here tackle such subjects as the wisdom of wearing a wizard hat, what you can do with x-ray eyes really, being an outdoorsman, making it in Hollywood, floods, french doors, insomnia, how to tell if your lover is a washing machine, being a shrunken band, and the fact that werewolves are cool. Much more too, of course, and he even does a serious strip or two, but you’re going to have to buy this to find out what I’m talking about. Hey, when have I ever steered you wrong before? It’s only $2 you cheapskate you.
Big Deal #6
Who out there has been dying to see a continuing story from Patrick? Granted, I was mostly OK with his random weekly strips, as they were consistently hilarious, but I have to admit that I was slightly curious as to how he would handle an “epic” story. Well, this is 7 years old and I think he could probably do a better job of it now, but there’s still plenty of funny in here. As you can see from the cover, this is all “Haul Ass to New York”, about an artist cowboy from Athens who heads to New York to make it big. Also included at various points on the trip are his horse, a giant robot, a giant monster (and shame on you if you can’t see those two getting together), Joseph Beuys, Zorro, Captain Zap, and a musical finale that THE MAN wouldn’t let you see. I’m a bigger fan of his weekly strips, frankly, but there’s something to be said for a story that goes almost completely off the rails and is out of control. It might seem a little aimless, but it sure is a fun ride. Also Patrick has little comments on certain strips, as he knows full well that this probably isn’t his best work, and those do plenty to liven things up. It’s $2, contact info is up there and then further up there…
Big Deal #3
Almost two years after I first saw his work, I was finally able to get ahold of more strips from Patrick. They didn’t make me laugh as the first batch though. Maybe he stopped taking drugs, or maybe he started taking them, I don’t know. If you think that is some sort of negative review, maybe you should scroll up and read my review of his other book. I still laughed out loud several times while I was reading this, but I didn’t crap my pants or anything like the last time. Was I supposed to mention that? Anyway, if you like laughing, well, you’re probably too happy to be reading small press comics, but buy this if you do. Monsters, bake sales, irony, the farmer’s daughter, J.D. Salinger, the liberal media, and tiny porn. That’s what some of the strips are about this time, although monsters are in a bunch of them. Also, if he was ranking the Jack Kirby monsters in order of coolness, then Fin Fang Foom has to come first. The other ones are just sound effects applied to monsters. To understand what I’m talking about, order the book!
Big Deal Comics and Stories
Ah, I can only hope that all the comics I got from FLUKE are this good. This looks like it was done for a local newspaper or something, as all the strips are the same basic format. If you’ve ever seen a weekly strip in a paper you know that they’re kind of hit or miss. Some weeks are funny, some are OK, and some just stink. Well, none of these are that bad and, granted, there are some that are kind of “eh”, but the funny ones are incredible. Strips that I didn’t put up here (because I didn’t want to put up the whole book) include a hillbilly yeti, Pants Man, an angry butterfly, a werewolf hand projector, Tom Selleck, and more monsters than you can shake a stick at, whatever that means. Looks, here’s one sample, and if you don’t laugh at this, don’t send this guy any money. Fair enough?
Still here? OK, I’ll make a deal with you. I normally don’t put up this many samples, but I had a hard time narrowing it down to three, let alone less than that. Obviously, I can’t see you here, but if you look at the rest of the samples you should really send the guy money so he doesn’t get pissed off at me or anything. I don’t have an address yet, but I’m working on it, OK? I did manage to find his e-mail address though, so you can ask him what you can buy. He had two books there with the same title, so you should ask him for the one that was all sideways. A little bit better than the other one, mostly because it didn’t have as many songs. Unless songs are your thing, in which case you should get the other one. Or get them both, as they’re only $2 each. On with the funny!