Christ, where did my afternoon go? This looked like it had mostly fat panels, that it would take me about an hour at the most to finish. Instead I just spent at least the last 2 and a half hours poring over every panel in this magnificent book. I’d seen a few of the stories before, as I’ve been reading Artbabe since the days when it was a mini comic (actually an over-sized comic, but she xeroxed and distributed it herself, so in my book that qualifies as a “mini comic”), but the vast majority of everything in here was new to me. It’s amazing to me that she tried so many different artistic styles… I’m no expert, but most of the people of the time were sticking with a style and kind of trying to make it their “trademark”, but she went all over the place and the book is a lot better for it.
Anyway, it’s broken up into 6 parts. The first part is the short fiction, and all of it works on some level. Even some of the weaker pieces (like Permanent Damage and $64 Question) have at least a line or two that makes the whole page worthwhile. Part 2 is her journalism stuff and I really wish that somebody would have kept on paying her to do this. Who would have thought that so much went on at Godzilla conventions, or that there were such strict guidelines for what constituted a good Godzilla flick? Part 3 is probably the weakest of the bunch, and I say that mostly because there’s not one story that sticks out in my mind as I’m writing this where I can think of a few stories from each other section as exceptional. Not bad though and, as before, there are a few lines in parts of this section that make it impossible to skip over. Part 4 is the funny pages and, while I wasn’t a big fan of the minimalist Kek and Poot, I thought everything else in here worked. Funny and informative, and what more can you ask for? Part 5 is the covers and, well, it shows some of her covers. Part 6 is called The Four Seasons and she saved the best for last. Every story in this part was incredible, with Viva probably being my favorite. It’s the story of a couple of girls at a bar talking about guys and life, with various friends and other people wandering through. Pure goodness.
Granted, it probably helped that I grew up an hour south of Chicago, and that’s where most of this is based. I went to the Fireside Bowl several times when I was younger, I can certainly relate to all the stories of Steve Albini being a prick and I know all about the attitude that people who wander out in below freezing weather get. If you’ve somehow managed to avoid her work up until this point in your life, buy this book. I would have thought before reading it that her regular series (and the collection of it) was better, but I have to say that I enjoy the short pieces in here more.