There are some reviews that just write themselves. Look, I’ll give you the part of the lineup (that way part of it is still a mystery!) for the anthology, OK? Neil Fitzpatrick, Souther Salazar, Josh Simmons, Paul Hornschemeier, Marc Bell, Dylan Williams, and Scott Mills. The idea here is that everybody picks up after everybody else, in whatever manner they see fit. For example, Dylan Williams has a short story about a man in a bar, complaining about music, until he sees “Me and My Demon Speeder are Gonna Win This Race” written on the bathroom wall. Marc Bell picks up right there, with a character that only Marc Bell could draw, in a race, on something that looks like a demon speeder. Some of the transitions are smooth, some of them aren’t, but this book is a tremendous experiment regardless. Yes, I know it’s been done before, but this book is $10 and hefty, so it’s nice to see it being done on a larger scale. My only beef is that the pages aren’t marked, so it’s hard at times to tell what artist is drawing certain pages. Still, a minor thing, and something that could probably be remedied with a trip around my website, looking at samples from everybody in it, if only I wasn’t so damned lazy. Here’s hoping the contact info above is correct, it’s the only address I have…
In Case of Emergency Only
You know why I love Souther’s books? It’s because there’s usually a little bit of everything in there. You have poetry, gag strips, short stories and sketches, all bound together with obvious love. In this case I mean that almost literally, as it’s obvious that it took some serious time and dedication to put this book together. In here are some robots, bugs, aliens and an exploding statue. I know it sounds like a cop-out, but I really don’t like reviewing his books, as I’d much rather just sit back and let whichever issue I’ve just read wash over me. Is that laziness in a reviewer? Probably. But do I really still have to convince anybody that they need to check this guy out whenever and wherever they can? If you’re looking for a start-to-finish story, well, Souther probably isn’t your man. If you don’t mind wandering a bit and appreciating whatever you get without placing preconceived notions on a book, then you couldn’t do any better than this guy.
Here’s another mini that’s well worth the tiny price ($.50!). It has about 45 sketches of creatures at the aquarium and other assorted animals at the zoo. His sketches vary between quick and loose (sometimes you’re barely able to tell the animal he’s drawing until you take a minute to dig it out) and intricate, but never to the point where it loses the feel of being a sketchbook he brought to the zoo. No story here to speak of, obviously. Still, if you like his work and have an interest in seeing his interpretation of a myriad of animals (and a few people with their comments thrown in), then check this out. Order it with a bunch of other books from him, as this by itself wouldn’t really show you what he’s capable of. Contact info is all over the place on his page, I’m sure you can find it.
Come One Come All
Buy this book right now! Seriously, if you wait to read the whole review you might miss out, as there were only 60 copies of this done. Souther gave me a copy of this at SPX this year on the condition that I really read it, so this review is going to be a bit longer than usual. If you come to the site just to find out about new things and try to avoid my longer rambles, well, you were warned. The first thing that struck me here were the myriad styles on the pages, which were mostly illustrations, with a comic story (sketchbook style) or two thrown in. Intricate, simple, watercolors, line art, screenprinting… As I said, it’s a collection of mostly one page illustrations, so any attempt at getting a “start to finish” type of story out of this is worthless, and a bit misguided. In here are cats, poetry, a magic lamp, an angel stealing a jellyfish, ice cream, laughter, a monkey balloon, confusion, dude, underwear, an alien, inventions, a shoe, stabbing, a fire-breathing dog robot, a tall man, and a poignant tribute to Snoopy. Those are the surface things. For a whole bunch of those surface things, there’s a lot more going on there than the first picture. I’d recommend flipping back and forth from the contents page to the corresponding picture so you can see the title for each thing, as it adds layers to everything in here. If this is anything near what an average sketchbook of his looks like, he should put these out as often as possible. There’s a truly incredible mind at work here, and if there’s any justice in the world he’ll be rich in ten years from drawings that he put on cocktail napkins. I’d guess this is $5, if you could even put a price on something this gorgeous, but just send him a bundle of cash. I’m sure you’ll get back more than you gave. Did I even mention the pages yet? All kinds of different shapes and sizes, and I can’t even imagine the effort that had to go into making each copy of this. Buy it already! Here’s the website.
Peanut Butter & Jelly #2 (with Saelee Oh)
There’s another one of these things out there and I don’t have it? Granted, I might not even know about this one if Souther wasn’t kind enough to send it to me, but it still hurts to think that there’s unread stuff out there from this guy. I’m not sure who did what here, but Saelee either kept up with this guy or inspired him to greater heights, so either way she’s a force to be reckoned with. I should admit right now that I’m hopelessly biased to these observational, see-the-beauty-already-in-the-world kind of comics, but I’m starting to think that nobody does it better. In this issue we hear back from Qwerty, who is apparently a recurring character (and I just got the the joke for his name as I was typing that. Try it for yourself if you don’t believe me), who drives over all kinds of things while drunk. Funnier than it sounds, trust me. There’s also a story that, wonderfully, goes nowhere, and all kinds of random stuff. You get no more from me, because why should I take the joy of reading this away from you? If you’re starting to think that this guy might be able to throw paint at a wall and still have me call it incredible, I’m starting to think that you might be right…
The Monster That Ate Stars
If I needed more proof that this guy is a genius, here it is. This is the story of a little boy who turns into a monster and terrorizes people. I laughed out loud most of the way through this, and that never happens. It’s too short to say much about though. It’s funny and it looks like it was drawn in a frenzy, but in a good way. I’m not sure how much this was (probably $1 or 2) because I got it at the USS Catastrophe store, but it’s worth it. While you’re over there you might want to buy everything else they have too, or at least everything they have in stock.
I’ve been wondering lately if I’m not being too easy on these minis. Seems like I’ve liked everything I’ve seen for the past week or so. Is that because I’m a spineless “reviewer”, or is it because the comics I’ve been getting lately have been pretty damned good? I’m leaning towards the latter, but I know I go into these books expecting to like them and the creator has to lose me from there. So, in the interests of mixing things up a little bit, I’ve decided to start this off with a negative comment, so here goes: this isn’t the best thing I’ve ever read. It is, however, an amazing find and it’s obvious from reading this little tome that this guy is immensely talented and going places in a big way. This was the only thing of his over at Kevin Huizenga’s page though, so it’s all I have to go on for right now. Reminds me of John Porcellino, James Kochalka and a little bit of Anders Nilsen (probably just because of the bird), and those are three of my favorites, so he’s off to a good start. It helps too that he takes these influences and goes off in his own unique way. The story here is that the author wakes up early for school and decides to go draw before class. Oh, he also tells us a dream he had and shows us the life of some birds. If that sounds dull, it’s because I’m not telling it right. There’s a genuine love for the world that you can feel in every panel and a childish whimsy about everything. Absolutely beautiful, cover to cover. Looks like I’m going to have to wait a while for that negative review. You can also check some samples of his stuff on that page linked above, but you should probably just send him a few dollars and ask him for his latest at: 106 N. Chester Ave. Pasadena, CA 91106.
Last Cry For Help #4
At least I think it’s #4 (unless I missed one somewhere, there’s no number in here). More goodness from Dave, Souther, Craig Bostick, Beppu, Ron Rege, Dan Moynihan, Cole Johnson, and one person that I should know but can’t figure out and it’s bugging the hell out of me so let’s just leave it, OK? This is a tall issue with glossy pages, so I have to assume that Dave has made a lot of money recently, so more power to him! What’s there for a reviewer to say about this book anyway? If you like tales of love and loss, then there’s not much better than Dave Kiersh, and this is a collection of stories of that theme from a bunch of the greats, so where could you go wrong? My favorite issue of the series so far, I’m going to guess that it’s $4 because of the fancitude, contact info is all around you!
Last Cry For Help #3
I should almost put this on the Various page because so many people contributed to this one, but eh. It’s mostly Dave and Souther Salazar, as always, but there are also a bunch of other people with contributions of varying size: Saelee Oh, Dan Moynihan, David Heatley, Ron Rege Jr., Todd Webb, Rachel Sumpter and Daria Tessler. It’s 38 pages and Dave and/or Souther still have something to do with 75% of it or so, but the sheer number of artists makes this book much more diverse than the other issues. It’s almost jarring when you get to the 11 page strip by Dave towards the end of the book; looking at the same art for that long doesn’t seem right. The only consistent underlying theme I could find here was the visual poetry that went into every story. The words were universally beautiful, sometimes the art wasn’t, but it was never less then pretty good and it really didn’t matter once you got the messages of the individual stories. I can’t imagine that I have to “sell” the work of these two to anybody, but if I do, this is only $2 and is a great showcase for a lot of cartoonists, with long enough stories so that you can still feel like you got your “fix” of Souther and Dave. I’m sure it’s up on the Catastrophe page, buy it already…
A Last Cry For Help #2
Souther Salazar helped out on this one, but I’m not sure how much so I’m only going to post it on Dave’s page. That OK with you? Anyway, I was pretty indifferent to the first issue of this. I’ve been meaning to read it again because I’ve liked everything else I’ve seen from these two, but the first one seemed like a mess to me. This one was a lot more together and, consequently, a lot better. I love how Dave ignores word balloons more often than not. I don’t know why the cast majority of comics people feel that they have to use the bubbles. They don’t have to do anything, it’s mini comics! Anyway, this is more goodness from Dave about loneliness, girls and trying to fit in. You won’t find a comic more packed with info than this one if you try. Busy, busy pages, you really have to read this slowly to get everything out of it, and even after doing that I still feel like I missed stuff. It’s $2.50 and you can get a copy at the ever-expanding usscatastrophe page. Support that page because you’re not going to find a better selection of minis anywhere.
I was going to just write the names of the contributors here to try and convince you to get this, but that scan came out nicely, don’t you think? You’ll notice that I really like most of the people on there, so it shouldn’t come as a surprise that I think this is amazing. I can’t even say that I didn’t like whole stories, just certain panels. People talking to cats in comics is either cute to me or way too cute, and Dave Lasky’s entry fell into the latter category. The rest of his story was good though. The bit by Austin English didn’t do much for me one way or another. Everything else is more than just worth reading, it’s required reading. That’s right, I’m forcing you to buy this. The only thing I’m not sure of is the price… $5 maybe? It’s a pretty big book. Eh, go to the website (down as of 7/22/07) for this (it’s the first in a series of anthologies about food) and e-mail the guy to see how much it costs. You can’t go wrong with this assemblage of talent.