Chandler, Richy; Dare, Francesca; Inko; Kutsuwada, Chie; Liew, Zarina; Sarson, Jade – Rosie and Jacinda: Demon Cloud
Rosie and Jacinda: Demon Cloud
Can I be cranky curmudgeon reviewer guy for a minute? Why am I asking, I can’t hear anything that you’re saying. I just wanted to establish the fact that I have a complaint that isn’t entirely fair or relevant, but it bugs me nonetheless: if you’re going to have a continuing series, please either number all of them or give them all a distinct title. Preferably the numbering, as it feels like I missed an issue before this one, but either way works. Granted, at least part of this is because of the labeling system that I use here, which is not a problem that many other humans have. Now that I have that ridiculous digression out of the way, how about that comic? This time around Rosie decides to tell Jacinda her true nature, the true identity of a teacher at school is revealed, and there’s a nice swerve involving _____ at the end that I did not see coming. Oh, and there’s a demon on the loose, and he’s hunting for someone. All this and the usual high school drama, where the leader of the cool girls clique finds somebody “worthy” to be with her, and where Rosie’s story is overheard, which leads to all sorts of issues for her at school. This time around the art chores have been divided among a few new people, and it’s a testament of the skills of the whole bunch of them that nothing jarred me out of the story. Richy is building a world bit by bit and I’m intrigued to see where he goes from here. He certainly set it up so that it can go in a number of ways, and this issue went a long way to fleshing out the characters of just about everybody. Well, except for maybe the potential love interest of Jacinda, who got short shrift this time around, but he wasn’t a relevant part of the story for this issue. The next issue might be an entirely different story. It’s a really solid issue and well worth checking out, unless you hate all stories involving high schools. Even if that’s the case there’s something to love in here for damned near everyone. Once again I’m going to guess on the price and, inflation being what it is, this time I’m guessing $8 (it is quite a large comic).
Lucy the Octopus #3: Any Less The Freak
OK, any lingering doubts I may have had about this series are now officially over. Is it OK to call this a series if these books are collections of webcomics? Eh, we’ll leave it to the historians. Who will probably be entirely online, and will have no idea that these books even existed. Assuming that civilization survives long enough to have historians, that is. Wow, have I gone off on a tangent. This is the third volume of this series, and Richy has smoothed out whatever bumps may have existed in the early days and put together a compelling collection of characters. He’s even managed to put together some fairly compelling pets of these characters, which is no small feat. Putting the cast of the characters on the first page was an essential step, as they are all basically blobby sea creatures. Stories in here include Lucy (in disguise) and her ongoing attempts to stay in a popular band (and not get her identity discovered), the life of the new girl who lost all her cool after hanging out with Lucy in past strips, the ongoing attempts of large chunks of Lucy’s family and friends to mess with her in various ways, and a few brief glimpses by the popular kids into what it must be like to be Lucy. The bulk of the issue is taken up by a field trip, that giant monster on the front cover and Lucy and a popular kid getting separated from the group and meeting up with a new bunch of underwater creatures. Who see Lucy as the cool one, much to the chagrin of the “actual” popular kid who’s stuck with Lucy. There’s some nice character development all around this time, and all while Richy still keeps this safely in the “kid friendly” zone. This is what “all ages” entertainment should always be: full of lessons and laughs for the kids, with more than enough of the same for adults. And all without seeming cloying or overbearing. It can be a tough line to walk, but Richy seems to have it nailed.
Lucy the Octopus: I’ll Take What I Can Get
See? It couldn’t stay all bad for Lucy forever! Oh sorry, spoiler alert. Sort of. It’s complicated! This second collection of Lucy strips does a great job of expanding the cast of characters and giving a few of them more screen time, which is going to go a long way towards building a big universe for this crew. Assuming that Richy is going to keep going with this, which is never a sure thing, but judging from the response from readers that he got offering Lucy life advice it looks like he already has quite a fan base built up. Anyway, the main story in this collection deals with Lucy going to a concert for her favorite band, said band breaking up right after the show and Lucy auditioning for the vacant job of guitarist with the band. Her uncoolness shines through to the band even though they enjoyed her playing, so she doesn’t get the job initially, but things change a bit when she goes back to audition again wearing a disguise. Other subjects in here include her siblings trying to make her more presentable for the audition, another sibling getting the mistaken impression that Lucy is the favorite (with a hilarious strip featuring her father trying to correct the record in that regard, which is only seen as more proof of favoritism), checking in with Sandra from the last issue to find that she’s currently stuck holding the bags for the cool kids (or, as she puts it, climbing the social ladder), and the social pecking order of the school all in one strip. There are two odd artistic choices in here, although I’d hesitate to call either of them “bad” (mostly because I’m not the creator of the strips and cannot judge such things). He runs out of time on one strip, and instead of delaying it for a week he puts out the one finished panel, two black and white pencil drawings and one final panel apologizing for just not having the time to get the strip done. It ended up serving as a nice cliffhanger for the next strip, so no harm done, it’s just that I don’t recall ever seeing a late strip handled quite that way. The other oddity was the final three strips, as they each show a conversation from three different points of view. There’s Lucy recommending a theme for a class project that the other two students liked a lot, but they couldn’t say they liked it without publicly agreeing with Lucy, which is social death. It’s interesting to see how they each processed this contradiction, but this also means that Richy got to use the same strip three weeks in a row and just change the words, so I guess your level of cynicism will determine how you view this. There are a few bonus bits in the back, including Richy briefly drawing another strip, another artist drawing his and Lucy as a human. It’s a solid pile of strips and the concept as a whole is steadily improving, so check it out. And, as it’s a web series, there are plenty of free samples up at his website…
Lucy the Octopus: Better in Small Doses
That right there is a damned clever title, and it must have flummoxed at least one reviewer. This is a collection of his weekly webcomic, which is based on Lucy the Octopus from his Tempo Lush set of ten tiny comics, which you maybe own if you’re awesome. Anyway, Lucy is a teenage girl octopus who is ridiculously unpopular with everybody around her. This collection of 40 strips shows her trying to exist (not really even fit in, as she seems to have already given up on that concept), bonding with her new poisonous pet, trying to stay friends with the new kid who doesn’t yet know how uncool Lucy is, taking beauty advice from her sister (who tells her friends that she isn’t even related to Lucy), and becoming a science experiment from her brother. These stories can get a little grim at times, but Richy manages to keep a light tone through most of them. And the coloring is gorgeous, so even though he mentions that it would be easier to go black and white with the strips I’m really hoping he doesn’t do it. This seems to be an all-ages strip, although I think kids in their early teens would probably get the most out of it. Come to think of it, all-ages is kind of a stupid qualifier, as I’m pretty sure that reading this to a baby would have no effect. I’m wandering a bit, but this is very much worth a look. He also sent along the next issue, so I’ll have more to say about this after I read it. You know, for a complete picture and all that. Or you could just go to his website and see his newer stuff for yourself, it’s a free country. Well, this one is. I don’t know where you are…
Rosie & Jacinda
There are times when I feel exceptionally lazy with the whole reviewing thing, and in those times I like to see if the blurb from the creators explaining their comic is accurate. In this case it’s “a teenage romantic comedy with a hint of fairytale,” and yeah, that sums is up pretty well. Still, I’m going to go out on a limb and assume that people don’t come here to read blurbs that they could get from any website, so I’ll go on about it a bit. This is the story of Jacinda (a sullen teen who hates everyone, mostly because she’s convinced that she’s smarter than everybody else) and Rosie. Rosie takes a bit more explanation, because we’re led to believe that she may or may not be entirely human. The story of Sleeping Beauty is featured heavily in this book, and Rosie also gets knocked out for a bit after being pricked by a pin. She woke up naturally, leaving the whole thing still delightfully vague. I’m getting ahead of myself a bit, as Rosie is a French exchange student who asks to sit with Jacinda. She then rejects an invitation to sit with the cool kids, endearing herself to Jacinda a bit, and confides to Jacinda that she’s never even kissed a boy (despite a chunk of the male population of the school trying), which cements their friendship. From there they both try out for a play (mostly because it’s a class requirement; Rosie gets a big part and Jacinda gets costume duty) and the rest of the issue deals with them becoming better friends and the various troubles involved with doing a play. It’s very much aimed towards the teenage crowd, and here’s hoping that there’s a female teenage crowd that loves comics, as there probably aren’t nearly enough explosions for most teenage boys. Richy has already proved to me that he’s a gifted writer and Zarina is perfect for this story. The art is whimsical with a slight touch of anime style, but not enough to turn you off if you hate that sort of thing. The coloring also goes a long way to really filling out the art and, again, it’s excellently done. No price listed, but I’m guessing it’s roughly $6. I did mention that I was guessing, right?
Tempo Lush #5: My Half Term Holiday
Richy has managed to keep his perfect record intact (in terms of this set of ten minis) with this mini, and that officially makes half the set.Â I also feel compelled to point out that full color minis are rare enough, putting together a set of them (with the exception of #4 so far) should kill any lingering doubts about the cost of this set.Â This mini is told from the perspective of a small child turning in a school project about what she did on her holiday.Â “Jodie” says that it’s boring to start, so she decides to make a spaceship and go to the moon.Â The whole comic is told with asides from the teacher, grading this as she goes and making little suggestions to the child, and it’s at this point that the teacher worries that this is going to be “another of your silly stories”.Â Indeed, it does seem to be heading that way, especially after Jodie’s father comes to see his daughter with a spaceship of his own and they go off on an adventure.Â The teacher is in for a bit of a shock when Jodie throws in a panel about seeing her teacher “giving a special hug” to the headmaster, and I have to stop with that or give the whole thing away.Â Let’s just say it’s wonderfully awkward and Richy manages to nail both the naivety of the small child doing a mostly innocent report along and a teacher becoming increasing alarmed with the tone of said report.Â He also does a nice job of making the art childlike but not awful, as it’s a fine line to walk.Â I’m clearly biased as can be in favor of this set of minis (which is $16.50 and comes in an adorable teddy bear case), but hey, I am usually biased towards funny and imaginative comics, as I’m just old-fashioned that way.
Tempo Lush #7: I Hate David Samson
It’s rare that I’m a fan of an artist going from gorgeous, colorful detail to stick figures and sloppiness, but Richy manages to make it all right.Â Again, all by itself it might be annoying, but as part of this ten issue whole it’s just perfect.Â This is, as you can probably tell from the title, an angry diatribe against David Samson, who I can only assume is a fictional character.Â He delivers mail in the office, but Richy (I’m just going to call the unnamed lead character Richy to avoid confusion) is convinced that David is after his job.Â There’s his evil extension number, the coded messages in his greetings, how he delivers mail with errors and yet it’s somehow not his fault (like a misspelled or folded letter), and all the horrors in the world for which David is clearly responsible.Â And that’s all the stuff on the front page, the back deals with all the ways that Richy has innocently tried to get back at David and how David ruins good music just by listening to it.Â This comic is a great example of how pettiness takes over in a hurry in the workplace, and really, what’s so bad about pushing a guy down the stairs in good fun?Â Funny stuff, and I should point that it’s not like the whole comic is in stick figures, Richy just uses a looser style than usual to depict the mildly crazy rantings of the narrator.Â If you’re eagle-eyed enough to see unrelated writing in the sample, that what it’s all about.Â It’s $16.50 for the set, and I’m still waiting to find the weak link in this box o’ comics.
Tempo Lush #3: Govinda the Meditating Rabbit
Well, this one certainly wins the truth in advertising award, if there were such an award for small press comic titles.Â While events change around the rabbit, he is a constant in his position, which goes to show you how great he is at this meditation thing.Â There’s not much of a linear story here (and I already told you about the title, so how much of a story did you think you’d be seeing?), but events in here include other students playing a practical joke with a tree, Govinda practicing several different methods of meditation, and his utter nonchalance at being interrupted by a featureless green blob.Â It’s cute, it’s funny, and it’s tiny.Â And it even has the benefit of ending the same way all of my serious attempts at meditation have ended, and if that’s a mystery to you then you have clearly not seriously attempted meditation.Â As mentioned before, this is one of many minis, and the set goes for $16.50.
Delicate Axiom #1 Now Available! $7
There’s a fine line I try to walk in these reviews, where I theoretically tell the audience enough about a comic to pique their interest without giving too much away. Some people don’t mind at all and some people would even prefer to learn as much as possible about something before buying it, but I can’t stand spoilers so you’ll get no such information from me. That being said, it’s really tough not to spoil anything in this one. It starts as a conversation between two female friends in a bar. Ramani is upset because her boyfriend hasn’t been the same since he witnessed the death of his friend Jericho. His other friend Abdul was with him at the time, but they’ve since stopped speaking and the details of the death are left vague. After some searching (without her boyfriend Ken being involved) they manage to locate Abdul, but he’s off in the mountains and unreachable. Anything past that point would be giving too much away, at least in my view, as a good deal of the joy I got out of reading this issue was the constant, completely unexpected surprises and I’m not coming close to ruining that for anybody. I will say that it’s gorgeous, funny and smart, three very good things in a comic, and I’m more than a little curious to see what else Richy has done. Richy lives in London, so the exchange rate puts this up to about $7, but it’s a fat comic and well worth it.
Tempo Lush #10: The Heartache of Square McBear
Well, if I’ve learned nothing else from the weekly reviews of this collection, it’s that it is possible to make a set of ten mini comics seem like an epic.Â And all it took was not reviewing them as a clump!Â This issue is, as you can probably guess from the cover, the story of Square McBear and his heartache.Â He is in love with Boxy McFoxy, but it seems that she doesn’t know he’s alive.Â He chats with her flatmate (Circle McTurtle) and learns that he is not really her type.Â From there he gets more advice from characters that rhyme, tokes up and gets nothing out of it, and finally goes to the local comic store to cheer up.Â I try to never spoil the ending of a comic, but because this is the last issue of the set and because the ending is so fantastic, I’m going to tell you how it ends, so stop here if you don’t want to know.Â It turns out that Foxy is also a fan of comics, she sees the pile he’s getting and tells him that they should get together to chat.Â Ah, the dream of the single comic fan everywhere: that the person you’re interested in is secretly interested not only in comics, but in the kind of comics you read.Â Bravo to the whole set, here’s hoping it gets picked up at a few places here in the U.S. so more people get a chance to see it.Â If the $16.50 price scares you, well come on, what else are you going to spend that money on, food?Â It’s not like that food is going to sitting on your shelf for years to come, or here’s hoping it’s not.Â The whole package is worth picking up.
Tempo Lush #9: You Are Such a Pathetic Loser
If you can read that text on the lower half of the scan, you already know what the book is all about.Â If you can’t, it says “22 responses to an insult”, and yep, that’s what you get here.Â It tells you some excellent responses by being dismissive, foul mouthed, self deprecating, psychological, sexist, visual, sensitive, and violent, among other ways, and you can count how many are left for yourself if you’d like.Â It’s a simple concept done well, and he once again manages to make the last panel excellent and completely unexpected.Â There really just isn’t a whole lot more to be said about this, so for once I’m just going to shut up about instead of rambling on and on.Â $16.50 for the set, and still not a stinker in the bunch…
Tempo Lush #8: The Sculptor
Hey look, a silent comic!Â I was wondering if Richy was going to get around to that in this set.Â This is the story of a man who sees a huge chunk of rock and sets to sculpting it.Â Um, this might be clear from the title.Â As he is sculpting he is noticed by a rich man, who offers him a sizable chunk of change once it’s finished.Â Sadly, sculpting takes precision and the artist is briefly distracted, which leads to some serious damage.Â The artist is devastated but still determined, and he eventually gets another offer to finish his sculpture.Â Still, there are so many distractions out there, and it’s so easy to deliver that fatal blow to a sculpture.Â If I say more than this I’ll ruin the ending, and it was a delightful ending that I somehow didn’t see coming (one of those “oh, of course that’s where it was going” reactions, but clever enough for me to miss it).Â Another solid entry to this collection, which is a perfect 8 for 8 so far, and is right around $16.50 for the set.
Tempo Lush #6: The A-Z of Absolute Truth
Well, that is certainly a definitive title.Â This mini is a slight change from a mini comic format I’ve seen more than a few times in my years of reading as many minis as humanly possible: doing an image per letter of the alphabet.Â This time around it’s done in the guise of a comic adaptation of song lyrics, and I get the distinct impression that the band is Richy’s as well.Â Shame on him, he’s not allowed to be good at comics AND music.Â The rest of us might well get a complex of some kind.Â Anyway, some of the choices for letters are amusing (I particularly enjoyed the randomness of mentioning volcanoes (and then saying, for some reason, that they never tear your home apart), how God and homosexuals hate each other and the cliffhanger of never explaining the reference to the octopus), some mildly amusing and some just plain lazy.Â I mean, cat and dog?Â Maybe it rolls of the tongue better in the song.Â If it was all by itself maybe this comic would be considered so-so, but in the rich tapestry of the whole teddy bear box seat it’s a wonderfully complementary mini.Â $16.50 for the set of ten comics.
Tempo Lush #4: Mish Mash Mosh
Not only has Richy managed to come up with something fresh and interesting for each of the three minis I’ve read so far, he has also managed to make a great mini involving multiple ideas with this one.Â Yes, this means single panel gag strips, and stories of a few panels, and even a “big” story involving the entire back page.Â When this tiny thing is folded open, that is, as a big story involving only one panel wouldn’t be that impressive.Â Or would it?Â Hey, there’s an idea for somebody with writer’s block: can you cram an entire story in one panel?Â Better yet, should you?Â OK, I’m wandering.Â As I said, this comic has several things going on, including making pies in the shape of famous actors, a llama in disguise, falling in love with your therapist, an old man counting people he’d like to kill, Tori Amos’s previous life as a doodle, freezing time to steal mints, and trying to rein in the powers of Cereal Box Tip Over Girl.Â Then there’s the big story, and it’s all about finding the perfect woman, featuring a few guest artists and models, all combining to turn what should be a good idea into something hideous.Â If I haven’t mentioned it yet, I appreciate how Richy crams these minis full.Â Even on the legal and link pages he’s managing to throw a joke or two in there, making the most out of the tiny amount of space he has to use.Â I’m very clearly smitten with this set, and this is without even being halfway through it.Â I’m sure there’s a stinker in here somewhere, as the law of averages says that at least one of these minis was rushed out or half-baked.Â So far so great though, and I’m gradually starting to believe that that might be true for all the minis.Â The collection is $16.50 US, and I have mentioned the adorable little teddy bear container that holds all these minis, right?
Tempo Lush #2: Dr. Geary’s Notes on Subject 14D
Richy goes with something completely different for the second issue of this series, as this one deals with a mysterious new life form.Â Note to the readers: when you get this comic open it up completely and then read it like a regular page.Â Sometimes these fold-outs get a little tricky, this time it was as simple as could be and thus had me fooled.Â Anyway, an egg is found on an island (it doesn’t really need much more setup than that) and hatches to reveal a lumpish creature with serious intelligence and the ability to depict whatever it wants to on its belly.Â It also carries a bit of a grudge, as it remembers the scientist that it attacked (after said scientist drew blood) and seems to want to do the man some serious damage.Â It is ordered that the creature be destroyed, and any more given away would completely spoil this tiny thing.Â Let’s just say that the creature may know more than it seems, and would this comic really just up and kill that adorable little blob?Â This comes on graph paper (if I remember my schoolin’ correctly), which is a nice touch with the format of being told as a series of scientific notes.Â Another solid entry in this batch of ten which, as mentioned above, goes for about $16.50 in US dollars at the moment.
Tempo Lush #1: Lucy the Octopus
Three cheers for the mini comic box set!Â I don’t see nearly enough of these things.Â Mostly because people don’t create enough mini comics to put one of these things together, I suppose.Â This is the first of 10 comics included in this collection, which comes in a tiny and adorable teddy bear/comic holder.Â Sadly it defies scanning, but a look at his website should give you a clue.Â So how about the comic?Â This is a series of short pieces about octopi (a word you don’t get to use nearly enough) that generally manage to be funny.Â There’s incomprehensible childhood taunting that makes just as much sense for octopi (tee-hee) as it does for anything else, giving the gift of pets to the little children, accessorizing, wishing for popularity, Lucy’s misguided attempt to stand up to bullying, and a slightly longer piece about how baby octopi are born (and what happens to the parents).Â Like I said, it’s generally funny stuff, and I loved how it’s a fold-out comic, meaning that it takes a little bit of puzzling to figure out how it all fits together.Â Not too much, as the stories make the order abundantly clear, but I do love the fold-outs for whatever reason.Â And did I mention the fact that this whole issue is in vibrant, necessary (for underwater stories) color?Â Like I said, this is only the first of 10, so there are plenty more to come.Â No price for individual issue, but this thing is roughly $16.50 if you convert it to US dollars.Â UPDATE: screw you spellcheck, octopi is too the plural for octopus!Â Also, according to Wikipedia, octopuses and octopodes.Â You can have those last two, I’m sticking with octopi.