Oh jam comics, don’t ever change. In case you’ve only read three comics in your life and none of them were a jam comic, this is a thing that a bunch of cartoonists do together, either in person or through the mail/internet, usually under the influence of booze at the very least. As such, reviewing a jam comic like a traditional comic is a waste of time, as it was never meant to have a coherent story. This particular comic is the “dirty” bits from the regular Sunday jams that a bunch of Columbus artists do when they meet up on a weekly basis, and it is all over the map. But, oddly, usually either offensive or funny. And often both! Each of these strips are one page long, passed over to the next person in line from panel to panel, with none of the panels being signed by the artist, making this a fun/excruciating guessing game. Your best bet to know whether or not you’re going to like this is by looking at that list of tags and seeing if your favorite Columbus artist is included in that list, but I’ll try to summarize at least a few of the strips for you. Stories include the bleeped out clown and monkey love, “The Family Cirque Du Soleil” (with a fantastic last panel), the adventures of a pile of broken glass and a dead dude, William Shatner’s soap, how the Smurfs were wiped out, the end of the world, various types of tongues, cat piss vs. meatloaf, raccoon vice, a devil and a cockroach in love, and creepy Superman. That’s most of the first half, which leaves the whole second half a delightful surprise. Try a jam comic, you’ll be glad you did! Unless you’re easily offended, in which case you should maybe look at any other “Sunday” book. $3
I just now realized that this was different from the PANEL set of anthologies put out by Ferret Press, the ones that I love pretty much every time (which is saying a lot for an anthology). Is there a feud of some kind going on, or are there just too many stories for them all to be contained in one anthology? Or hey, maybe it’s because the PANEL anthologies tend to stick to one theme, while the only theme of this one seems to be “people who were at SPACE in 2012.” Whatever the case, this is a damned solid anthology, and if you find yourself wondering if you really want to pay $20 for an anthology, remember that a good chunk of the proceeds go towards keeping the same price for the yearly convention and generally funding all aspects of the thing. Think of it as a donation to a worthy cause where you come out of it with a fairly hefty anthology that also happens to be mostly in color. I always thought that seeing The Accidentals (by Mike Carroll) in color would be a revelation, and it looks like I was right. If only he could afford to put them all out like that! Ah well. Stories in this one include a John Steventon piece about the eventful birth of his daughter, a battle for the fate of the universe that came a little too late by Jon Michael Lennon and Thor Fjalarsson, an utterly unique vision of the afterlife by Leslie Anderson, a Christmas alone for a bear by Shawn Smith, an uneventful conquering of the world by Bob Corby, Kathleen Coyle and Jason Young’s piece on Kathleen’s first time seeing Return of the Jedi as a young child, Brian John Mitchell exploring the meaning of it all (he also edited this whole thing), Mari Naomi’s attempt to square the image in her head of her grandfather with the horrible stories that she was told about him after he died, Mike Kitchen’s hilarious take on the attention span of iPad users, Steve Myers and his tale of reality blending with fantasy, Matt and Jeanie Bryan’s unique take on a ruined date, Kel Crum’s computer virus, Kris and Mary Lachowski’s piece on a bizarre half dream half reality conversation, Blair Kitchen’s superhero who’s having a really tough time saving the damsel in distress, a sneak preview of Dave Kelly and Lara Antal’s tale of the Night Watchman (probably not what you’re thinking, but maybe you nailed it!), another great Homegrown Alien tale by Joe Davidson, a one page shortie by Ray Tomczak, and a brief bubbly piece by Maryanna Rose Papke. The color was done really well, and it was great to see some of these characters done how they were “meant” to be done (for all I know the creators were perfectly content for these stories to always be in black and white but couldn’t resist the chance to change it here). It’s a nice pile of stories and seemed to be really representative of the work of these people, which is why this thing exists in the first place, right? $20
Wasted Potential: Gold
I think this is just a sampler, as it only has 7 strips in it, but it’s a good sampling of his work. I don’t know if I’m just mellowing out in my old age or if Ray’s getting better (or maybe a combination of both), but I really liked this bunch. Strips in here included Ray doubting himself, trying to explain his strips to his sister, and defending his decision to go into cartooning to everybody else. As I said, it’s a tiny little sampler (maybe even free?), so there’s not too much to be said about it, but it as funny, and what more could you ask for? Contact info is up there, I know he has plenty of other comics available if this was only an SPACE freebie or something…
Is it OK for me to ask for more slapstick in something called “Vaudeville Comics”, or are vaudeville and slapstick mutually exclusive? I always thought they went together, but that front cover has the most physical action in the book. Anyway, this book is OK. There’s a tribute to Julius Schwartz, a great story about why he doesn’t do autobio comics, five four panel strips without a punchline for various reasons, and this odd little bouncing ball that’s on a couple of pages. Not sure what was up with that, as if everything in the world needs a massive reason for existing or something. I liked this one a bit more than the last one of his I reviewed, which I suppose is saying something. It’s only $1, contact info is up there.
How exactly does Ray keep track of his comics? It seems like he has a new sampler out just about every year at SPACE, but as this one just has the name of his weekly comic strip as the title, us obsessive types get easily confused.Â This is a collection of some of his recent stuff (and you can see all kinds of it at his website) and, as is often the case with samplers, it has some decent stuff and some that’s not all that funny.Â Well, at least it’s not to somebody like me with a known aversion to most strip comics.Â Topics in here include freaking out a kid, trying not to think about monkeys, artistic expression, meandering, Thanksgiving dinner, and celebrating the new year.Â OK fine, it’s mostly funny stuff, the only one that didn’t at least make me smile was the one with the kid.Â You guys know the drill by now: check out his stuff for free on his site, if you like it see if you can send him some money and get some minis.Â This, I believe, was free at SPACE, so if you’re a cheapskate like me you can also always just wait to see him at a convention…