Remember when 9/11 was supposed to change everything? If you’re too young to remember the day, this review probably isn’t for you. The comic still is; it’s never a bad idea to learn about your history. But yeah, the 18 years since have not exactly shown America at its best. Anyway! Not trying to get political, but it’s hard to avoid. This comic is a great idea, as Rachel compiles the stories of her immediate family (father, mother, brother and herself) and what they did on that day. Her dad worked near the Pentagon and saw the huge clouds of smoke, her mother worked in a classroom and didn’t see any images of the attack until she got home, her brother was in a PE class, and it took Rachel a while to understand exactly how big of a deal the whole thing was. These stories all come together naturally, as her family obviously ended up together later that day. Also interesting were what they remembered from the other reactions at the time, that’s the kind of thing that gets lost in the rest of the madness. As for me, since this seems like as good a time as any to reminisce, there are two big things I remember about 9/11: how a lady at my temp job, after watching coverage with the rest of us for about half an hour, got fed up and said “OK, we get it, back to work everybody!” (nobody went back to work). The other is my scheduled flight to New York on 9/13 for SPX, neither of which ended up happening. But I still have the ticket around here somewhere! $4
This idea behind this comic right here? It’s fantastic. Rachel draws all the stories while comparing times in her life to times in the life of her mother. In this volume we see both of them get their first apartments, travel while in college and discuss one thing that they’ll never do again. Karen maybe had a few more adventures associated with her first apartment (honestly, based on the jobs she lists here, I’d be curious to read a lot more about her early life), seems to get closer to murdered during her college travels than Rachel (but I’d be interested in living the tour that Rachel depicts here, for whatever that’s worth) and it looks like Karen even came closer to getting murdered during her “one thing they’ll never do again” story. I don’t think this was the intention, but yes, it turns out that people of college age in the 70’s were more likely to get hurt in their adventures, or in any case it sure seems like they had more chances for something to go wrong. Does this mean that Rachel should have done more stupid shit in her youth? Nah, it shows that she knew better that when even her worst stories don’t put her in much danger. Which is also a sign that she was raised right, I reckon. Anyway, like I said, this is a great conceit for a comic series. I’d have to imagine that there are plenty of artists out there who could have a chat with their parents and end up with equally interesting tales… $4
Cats of the White House
Before I get started, one more warning sign about the current President (it’s 2018 right now, future readers)? Dude never had any pets. Like, ever. To reach 70 years old without ever having a pet is a gigantic red flag. Anyway, this is a nice comic that contains no politics at all, and here I had to go messing that up. They even managed to make the various events that elevated Ford to the White House into “a scandal” and “another scandal.” This is the story of 10 presidential cats, what they were known for, how they made it to the White House, and how they ended up. These are some surprisingly deep veins for stories, with some of the highlights being the very first Siamese cat given to Rutherford B. Hayes, Lincoln’s long conversations with his cats, Theodore Roosevelt allowing his cats to have such free reign that the servants were instructed to allow the cats to sleep wherever they liked, Kennedy’s cat allergy, Clinton’s famous cat Socks and how it was eclipsed once he got a dog, and the forgotten cat of George W. Bush. It’s a fascinating list and they’ve clearly done some serious research. There’s also a section in the back where they mention the various other types of White House pets; if they’re not working on a sequel to this involving the hippo and alligator mentioned, they’re crazy. $3
The Hanukkah Fire, 1992
It’s a pretty rare occurrence for a comic to also be shot on film, but that’s what you get with this one. Granted, that wasn’t the plan all along; the original film was from 1992, when the events in the title happened. No spoilers possible in this review! Rachel’s father had a new camera, and when the fire broke up he never bothered to put it down while dealing with the fire. So now, in 2018 (or whenever you’re reading this in the future, or the past I guess if you’re a really boring time traveler), you can check the video on her website after reading this comic. Still, there’s more to the comic than just putting out a fire decades ago. Rachel also talks about growing up Jewish, the early days of camcorders, how her parents ended up meeting each other and then quickly getting married and having kids, the best parts of Passover when she was a kid, the story of how her grandfather survived the concentration camps, learning how to drive, and how the number of Jewish activities she participated in declined as she grew up. So yeah, she’s packing quite a bit into this mini. That’s actually the only complaint I have about the comic, and it’s a minor one: it feels like parts of this might have better served with more room to breath. Still, if the worst thing I can say is “I wish there was more of this comic to read,” I’d call that a solid recommendation, wouldn’t you?