Well, it’s a benefit book for the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund, which is about as worthy a cause as you’re likely to find in the comics world, so I don’t want to say too much bad about it. The problem is that it pretty much sucked. All of the names that I bought this for just put in some old strips. I don’t know if that’s what everybody but I’d have to guess that that was the case. Greg Vondruska, Neil Fitzpatrick, Stan Yan, Dave Law, Barrett Lombardo, Kistof Spacey & Sal Cipriano, Chris Staggs & Marc Deering and Jose Mochove had stories of varying degrees of interest in the book (actually, I thought the Jose Mochove stuff was the highlight of the book, so check out his site). As for everything else, I either thought it was stupid or mediocre. One man’s opinion, granted, but there it is. If you want to give the CBLDF money, just go their website and make a donation. It might look like I put a lot of names up in the “OK” pile, but I was being generous and some of the other stuff was really bad. It’s cheap at $4.95, but that’s the best thing I can say about it. Stay away, Joe.
OK, I officially really like this series. It’s all about the adventures of Eugene Wang, professional doormat, in case you didn’t read the review up there and/or can’t be bothered to look at it now. He get’s taken advantage of by his mother, his ex-girlfriend, and a random woman he runs into in the grocery store. As you may be able to tell from that title, a good chunk of this is about Eugene’s quest to find his dad, which isn’t a quest so much as it an attempt to get his mother to give him any information about the guy. All that being said, this is one great comic. It’s funny pretty much all the way through, the art is terrific and Stan manages to make even the most ridiculous situations (like Eugene’s ex breaking up with his mother and being expected to be the go-between for both of them) seem plausible, and did I mention that I laughed out loud a few times reading this? That’s far too rare in the world, seeing as how I read comics on a daily basis. Check out the links for more about the guy, but that’s two great graphic novels in a row, which I consider to be a great sign of things to come. $9.95
1 Block Down (with Kieran Carew) Now Available! $2.95
How can something be in my store for almost three years without my reading it? However it happened, there’s some fun to had here in this giant sized “mini” comic. First up is a movie review duo, dubbed 40/40, as the reviewers drink 40’s and review movies. Kids, ask your parents what that means, if your parents only drink the cheap stuff. The reviewers are a regular old black man and another man who dresses and speaks like Yoda, apparently all the time. They go into it about The Phantom Menace, with the guy dressed as Yoda (Frank) defending the movie and the other reviewer (Lavar) crapping all over it. “Too many puppets” indeed. Next up is the story of a watching people, women and men, from their balcony, giving them all nicknames based after snacks. It’s funnier than it sounds, but it does drag on a bit. Then there’s the highlight of the comic, the “true life” story of Gojeera, a monster who had his moments in the limelight before eventually falling into drugs and porn. There’s some seriously funny stuff in that one, worth the price of admission alone. All told it’s a pretty solid comic by Stan and Kieran. Maybe not as consistently funny as The Wang, but still worth a look.
Interview with the Superhero
I was hoping this would decide me one way or the other on what I thought about Stan’s work, but unfortunately it’s tiny and I need much more info than this to overcome my wishy-washy ways. It’s basically an interview with the main superhero that seems to be in most of his work, and apparently he’s had work as a number of different superheroes over the years, which I like as a concept. The idea of the other applicants wearing knee pads was kind of a silly joke, but to each his own. There’s a short conversation here about his time as Lactic Acid Man and that’s about it. I’m sure it all makes sense in the greater scheme of things in his superhero universe. Contact info is still up there, I’d recommend something a little meatier for your first try with his stuff, but this one isn’t bad.
Other comics have come before this one with this character, but all I can comment on are the things I see here. That’s obvious, I know, it’s just there as a disclaimer. Anyway, this is the story of Eugene Wang, who’s apparently recently out from under the thumb of both his girlfriend and his mother. He picks up a zombie mostly because he knows that his mother and girlfriend wouldn’t want him to, and hijinx ensue. There’s more to it than that, sure, and there’s a really cliched ending, but why ruin it? What this book is really about is fighting with zombies, and that’s done really well. Stan has a really frantic, cartoonish drawing style that’s just perfect for this, and you can tell that he’s been dying to have some excuse to draw zombies. Not much in the way of plot, but the dialogue is funny and the action scenes are entertaining, so what more do you want from a comic? Check out the website, why don’t you?
And this behemoth of a page just keeps getting bigger and bigger. One of these days I’ll pare it down, etc. etc. excuses excuses. So, once again, you can see that cover, right? You already read the first two issues of this series and chances are that you’ve been waiting for more for quite a while, and here it is! A few of the artists involved: Stan Yan, Josh Frankel, Lonnie Allen, Peter S. Conrad, Fredo, Jenny Gonzalez, Kate Allen, Adam Suerte, and Dave McKenna, among many others. What sorts of tragedies at sea are they talking about exactly? You have snapping sea turtles, a giant eel, various shark attacks, a whale trying to jump over a boat, horrible storms, and at least one swordfish living up to its name. Great fun to be had here as always, although I was less than impressed with the stories that were told in poetry form. I’m here for the mayhem dammit, not iambic pentameter! $4.50, please keep buying these so they keep making them, next up is “Mauled by Machines”… Website
The Bizmar Experiment
“Bizmar” stands for Bunny Insect Zombie Monkey Alien Robot, and the idea here seems to be to cram in all six things into a two page comic, making this the best idea for an anthology in the history of anthologies. Some names you might recognize from this site: Ben Snakepit, Tod Parkhill, Tom Manning, Stan Yan, George Tautkus, and Brian Morante. There are more people here (check out the website for ordering info and the complete list), but I want to talk about the comics! There’s a wide and completely absurd collection of stories, including all six things working in a pizza shop, a zombie becoming president, Ben going to see Gwar (yes, he does manage to fit everything in), A giant robot that is made up of 5 smaller pieces ala Voltron, renting movies for Halloween, bizarre sex confessions, a surprise party for a zombie, and even more stuff that I’m not going to ruin for you. Look, this is a brilliant idea that’s pulled off to perfection. What more do you want? $3!
Slam Bang #1 Volume 3 Now Available! $9.95
Somehow this massive book has been available in the store here for almost a year and I’ve somehow missed talking about it. I blame the elections and the loss of my appendix last year; that’s my story and I’m sticking to it. Want some details? As the cover says, there are over 50 contributors, this massive thing is over 200 pages, the cover art is gorgeous (even though the girl on the cover doesn’t actually appear in any of the stories) and keeping something this packed to under $10 is an impressive achievement. As for contributors, there are way too many to list them all, so I’ll just stick with the ones who have pages up here at the old Sloth for reference: Dan Taylor, Brad Foster, Tim Corrigan, John Lustig, Stan Yan, Dean LeCrone, Matt Levin, and Jim Siergey. That leaves all sorts of new cartoonists for you to discover in here, doesn’t it? As a whole, well, it’s an anthology, so some parts are stronger than others, but there’s more than enough in here to make it worth your while. Highlights include Ethan Wenberg and Stan Yan’s tale of the poo-flinging reporter (which makes this the most political book I’ve seen all year, sadly enough), the brief Kevin Hanna puppet theater story explaining to kids how the fast food is made, Ron LeBrasseur’s vampire love story, Dean LeCrone’s tale of an old lady trapped in a hot car by her dog, Tyler Sticka’s fly fight over some poo, Dan Taylor’s story about a successful weight loss clinic, Dan Lauer’s Iron Chef Funnies, Anton Bogaty’s tale of a space crew trying to defeat an unstoppable alien, and John Lustig’s always amusing Last Kiss comics, which are scattered throughout. The heart of the book though (figuratively and literally) is the Tim Corrigan Mighty Guy piece about the slave driver that is Allen Freeman and the methods he uses to keep all his cartoonists happy. Mighty Guy has been around for decades (although if I remember correctly it was always self-published) and I’ve always thought it was vastly underrated. What fan of cartoons ever wouldn’t appreciate Mighty Guy being shoved into a tin can (when trying to take over “Marvelous” comics) by the “Bulk”? All told, this is a pretty solid bunch of comics. A few stinkers, naturally, but more than enough good stuff in here to make up for it. $9.95
Well, I’ve been looking for something meatier from Stan, and this certainly qualifies. It’s broken up into four different chapters, all about the same size (individual issues of a comic maybe?). The first one deals with Eugene trying to juggle college, his mother and his girlfriend, and has one of the more disturbing endings that I’ve seen, although done in a humorous way. The second chapter is about Eugene entering the workforce and trying to get by as a telemarketer. The third and fourth are both about Eugene dealing with his mother and ex-girlfriend, trying to start a little romance with a crazy person and having an open mind about some self-help charlatans. It’s a funny book, no doubt about that. One thing that really sticks out for me is the lettering. I know, how often do you hear that, but it’s true. His letters bounce all over the place, while still being perfectly legible, so it adds tons to the impression of constant chaos that his bouncy artwork also conveys. Not sure if it’s intentional or if he’s just a spaz, but kudos. I think every single male in the book has a name that’s a pun about a penis, which gets old after a little bit, but the rest of the book is funny enough to make up for it. It’s a world that’s easy to get sucked into, and I could see this guy going far if he can get any publicity for this book, as this is something that could be enjoyed by just about anyone who reads comics. It’s only $9.95, click on the title to go to Stan’s page on Squidworks (scroll down a bit to get to this comic).