Do you ever feel like you’ve wished something into existence? Well, that’s this graphic novel. I’ve been hoping for a collection of all of Tom’s early mini comics basically since a few of them went out of print in the 90’s, and here they are. All the titles are in the tags and sure, I have copies of about 2/3 of them, but that’s still 1/3 that I previously had no access to. And since I have some of the original comics, that means that I have 20 year old belly lint by Tom Hart, because he taped that to two of his minis. Um, yay? Does that mean I can clone him once the technology is perfected? I have to think through the ethical implications of that responsibility. Oh, am I not talking about the comics yet? How about this: these comics were a solid chunk of the reason why I fell in love with small press comics, and the fact that these had mostly disappeared down the memory hole in the early 00’s was a solid chunk of the reason why I started a small press comics review site where books like these could all be lumped together. So yeah, you could say that the guy influenced my life just a bit. Oh, here’s one valid question I could answer with this review: do these comics hold up as more than nostalgia? Yes. Yes, they do. Want specifics? Wodaabe Comics is the earliest (and rawest) and it still made me laugh several times. Love Looks Left, if there is any justice in this world, is being taught in all these various cartoonists schools as the perfect mini comic. Maria mixes some casual background horror with a quiet day with the ducks with an obsessed stalker seemlessly. New Hat and Ramadan are both basically prequel comics for Hutch Owens, even though I’m pretty sure Hutch Owens was done at roughly the same time. Vital supplementary comics, the both of them. This comic does make me miss the days when I could occasionally come across a new Tom Hart mini comic in Quimby’s or Chicago Comics, and it looks like those days are gone for good. But it does fill me with hope to know that a guy with this brain is helping to teach the next generation of cartoonists. Just in case you are the only person on earth who has every single comic here, this volume does contain a new introduction, afterward, and a list of his favorite things/influences/people, then and now. $14.95
So did this come before or after Hutch Owens?Â Ah, comics memory, you have failed me.Â This came out in 1997 (which is recent compared to some of the other old minis I’ve been rambling about lately), so to those of you with Google and two seconds, that question is easily answered.Â I wonder because the main character is very Hutch-like, in his quiet quest for meaning and disdain for commercialism.Â Of course, that might easily just be Tom’s point of view on the whole thing, so why wouldn’t all his characters have the same viewpoint?Â This issue details the month of Ramadan in the life of the main character.Â Ramadan, for those of you who don’t know (or who have heard the word but never got the definition) is the Muslim month of fasting, where they can’t do pretty much anything during daylight hours and break their fast at night with a bowl of soup.Â Every day for 30 days.Â Our hero wanders the town, haggles with shopkeepers, stays in touch with a friend (who is an alien with his own problems), and discusses the merits of cursing someone out in a foreign language.Â As always with his books this all scratches the surface or his point, but it’s better found out for yourself and this one is recent enough that there’s actually a chance of you finding it if you looked hard enough.Â That’s my theory and I’m sticking to it, as I have no interest in dissecting this comic until all the joy and meaning is taken out of it.