Nazis! You can never go wrong if you start off with Nazis as your bad guys. OK, they’re never technically called Nazis, but the main character’s story of a harrowing escape from a prison with some guards that sound suspiciously German combined with the fact that he’s an elderly dude only leads to one conclusion. But I’m getting ahead of myself! The title itself is almost unreadable, but it’s printed on the inside front cover, so don’t fret. Things start off in an obvious Wal-Mart substitute store, which again leads me to point out that the chances of Wal-mart ever finding out about them getting mocked in a mini comic is pretty slim, so maybe artists shouldn’t worry about using the actual name (but what do I know, maybe they have that many lawyers with that much free time. They certainly have the money for it). Anyway, Baldemar (our hero) and two kids take a break out back, where the smoking of tobacco and pot (although not by our hero) occur. Baldemar says it’s because he doesn’t want to become more paranoid, which leads the kids to ask why he’s so paranoid without it, which leads to Baldemar telling a story about his youth. His mother took him around the countryside, trying to keep them safe from the patrols, until eventually their luck ran out and they were captured. Obviously he got away or he wouldn’t have a job as a greeter 60 odd years later, but there were some loose ends from his adventure that never did get tied up, and it’s looking like at least one of those loose ends may be coming back to bite him. That’s right, this is a “#1” that seems to have a clear vision of the second issue, which is always nice to see. Rusty’s art has never looked better, and this story has all kinds of potential. Their method of disabling the guards was genuinely original, even though it’s easy to assume that every variation of the “escape from Nazi guards” thing has already been played out. Check it out, because it’s going to be annoying as hell if nobody reads this and Rusty doesn’t bother to finish the story. $4
History in Ruins #2
Ah, so that’s where the mayhem is going to come in. This issue sets things up nicely for a showdown still to come. Things start off a good look around the basement of our hero, and we also get to meet his “friend” the mouse, who helpfully jumps around and points at things to attract his attention. Then we see his mom getting accosted and then fired by two mysterious men, and of course this will not stand for Duane. He goes out and cheers her up (staring at her boobs all the while, which, again, is a little on the creepy side), threatens action if the men ever come back again, and eventually heads to bed. The mouse wakes him up in the middle of the night, after things upstairs have taken a turn, and there’s a great final image promising beatdowns to come. I’m pretty much sold at this point, although I suppose there are still plenty of ways for it to get screwed up. How’s that for optimism? Eh, these two have a pretty good track record at this point and have earned the benefit of the doubt.
History in Ruins #1
This comic is more a teaser than a regular first issue (unless you think that all first issues are teasers for series, which is a perfectly legitimate position to take). Things start off with a heavily acned kid working at a convenience store, coming to the end of his four hour day (he’s forced to leave early because otherwise he’ll go over 20 hours for the week). On the way out, grumbling about his work restrictions, he takes three things that he says will help him with his “home project.” He arrives home, seems a little too interested in the ass of his mother as she works in the garden, and heads downstairs. So yes, you will have to wait another issue to see what the story is behind those ingredients. Or the ass. The comic is certainly a lot more, well, accessible (for lack of a better word) than some past comics I’ve seen by either of these guys. We’ll see whether or not that ends up being a good thing, but it’s off to a damned intriguing start. They were also nice enough to send along the second issue, so I’ll get a better idea of what’s going on here when I review it in a week or so.
Moulgar Baggg Digfest #3
Oh Rusty Jordan/Brent Harada, it has been far too long since I’ve made a fool of myself trying to write a coherent review for one of your comics. As for that title, well, that’s how he wrote it on the back (at least it was included somewhere on the comic) this time, so that’s how I’m going to type it. You can’t stop me! So anyway, the story in here starts off with a man throwing some bait into what appears to be an ice fishing hole although, come to think of it, there’s no fishing line. The bait sinks, and everything else is all guesswork from me. There’s an image of excessive choking violence, what appears to be Scott McCloud in a straw hat, the man peering into his fishing hole, a monstrous creature getting grabbed where its gonads should be, a death, a toilet paper turban, some drugs, and an ending that I think involved the answer to all the questions in the universe. Oh, and there was also the part in the middle that was shockingly banal to bring it all together. A more disturbing and eclectic bunch of images you’re not likely to see anywhere, and a smarter man that me could probably easily make some sense out of them. Me, I go for the pretty pictures and try not to take too much meaning out of anything.Â No price, but let’s say $3 and hope for the best.
Moulgar Bag Digest #1 (with Brent Harada)
Ah, the wonders of the random submissions. This didn’t come with any sort of note or contact information (except the address on the envelope) and yes, the cover really is as fuzzy as it looks. My best guess is that this is called Before the Fall, but if Rusty or anybody wants to correct me I’ll be happy to fix this. This is essentially a sketchbook, although it’s probably vaguely insulting to call images this richly realized “sketches”. The images are sort of a cross between Pat Aulisio and Matt Kish, but these dozen pages or so make it clear that Rusty is very much doing his own thing. It’s intriguing and more than a little bit haunting regardless, well worth seeking out for those of you who stick around comics for the purely visual, slightly bizarre side of things. Which is certainly a category I fall into, as well as many, many other places. As for price, well… $2? Or $3? Somewhere in there.
Note from 6/5/08: Title fixed and other artist added, so everything should be accurate…
Shitbeams on the Loose #2 (edited by Rusty Jordan)
Hey look, an anthology!Â I’ve never understood why so few of these clearly label who did which pages (some even have page listings for the artist without having the actual pages numbered).Â This one at least has a chronological listing of the artists, but the nature of this book makes it difficult to tell where one story ends and another begins.Â Why?Â They’re mostly highly interpretive blasts of art, that’s why.Â Still, I’ll give you a list of who’s in this and you’ll most likely be properly amazed and impressed.Â There’s Ron Rege Jr.(looking less deliberative than I’ve seen him, and I’m a bigger fan of that than I of the mildly sloppy story in this issue (said mostly because the bits of text are hard to follow)), Jason Overby (brilliantly smacking the preconceived notion of what makes a comic strip around), Dave Nuss (with a welcome quiet moment of the Roman soldier who theoretically jabbed Jesus in the ribs), Andrew Smith (puking a tuna melt is the worst), Hector Serna Jr. (I could spend the whole review trying to unpack those images), Brent Harada (with a mildly out of place regular old story about searching for boots in thrift stores), Robyn Jordan (a quiet piece about camping), John Hankiewicz (a breath of fresh, distinctive air in a sea of chaos), Grant Reynolds (with one of his more disturbing pieces, and that’s saying something), Ayo Kuramoto & Amane Yamamoto (please place your review here, this went right over my head), Rusty Jordan (this is where it starts getting really difficult to tell where one artist ends and another begins, I believe his piece is the one with the escaping brain), Luke Ramsey (ditto, I believe his stuff is the series of full page heads), and Andy Rementer (an oddly adorable piece after all this about a man, his bike and their mutual love).Â Or maybe Andy Rementer is the one who did that utterly horrific back cover?Â Hard to tell, and that website doesn’t clear it up a bit.Â Oh well, with that list of stars it’s a hard thing to pass up, and the quality of most of the stories makes it even more difficult.Â And if you don’t love that cover, well, I’m afraid there’s no hope for you.Â It is a fairly hefty $9, but it’s put together nicely.Â You decide!
Molgar Bag Digest #2 (with Brent Harada)
I’m speechless.Â That’s never stopped me before, and I’m sure I’ll manage to ramble for an acceptable amount of time before giving up, but I genuinely have no idea what to say about this.Â That sample should tell you all you need to know.Â This is another mini with as fantastic a selection of images as you’re likely to see anywhere, all unencumbered with anything as old fashioned as a story.Â There were a couple of pages there where the same character seemed to reappear, and a few times when actual words and sentences crept into the pile of images, but this was rare.Â This doesn’t mean that I hated this; far from it.Â The trouble with this site is that I try to do at least a little more than say “wow, that was cool.Â And bizarre” and leave it at that.Â Why?Â Good question.Â The point is to try to inform you folks, I suppose, although this is one of those rare cases where I can’t say a damned thing that will make you understand this any better than if you just went to the website or took a few minutes staring at the sample.Â I will say that I was constantly impressed with the level of detail in every panel.Â Seriously, there was very, very little space wasted in this comic, and these two (assuming that they’re both working on everything) are impressive artists.Â They also have a profound understanding of the creepy, and there are at least a few pages in this that have burned their way into my brain.Â It was really tough to pick the sample page, which is always a good sign.Â Send the man about $3, check it out for yourself.