When is it OK to lie to your kids? Is the Santa and Easter Bunny stuff OK, but not real life events? Is it always OK if you’re “doing it for their own good”? Or is it never OK? It’s all abstract to childless little old me, but that’s the subject Steve explores in this issue, using a tale from his childhood and one from when he was raising his daughter. The first story had a helpful page where he nailed down exactly how old he was when the story took place, then his mom made a fantastical promise/threat to him, and the lesson stuck with him. Or did it? Later, when he was trying to convince his daughter to brush her teeth every morning, he told her that going outside with unbrushed teeth would kill the trees. As she was three, she believed this completely, and his problem was solved. Except, well, now he’d demonstrably lied to his kid, so how does that effect them long term? It was a good idea to use the dichotomy of his own childhood to compare to raising his own child (that Maya Angelou quote was brilliant too), and it’s a thought-provoking little mini comic. Parents, maybe you could learn something here. Other people, this might remind you of the times your parents lied to you as a kid, and that’s always fun! $2
A piece of advice for anybody out there who might still do this: never read the back of a book before you read the book itself. I flipped this comic over when I finished it and it mentioned something that happened on the final couple of pages, something that I hadn’t seen coming. So if you get nothing else from this review: break yourself of that habit! This is the story of a young couple whose car breaks down out in the middle of nowhere, while they’re taking a shortcut. They’re reasonably outdoorsy people, so they set out to find their way back to civilization and come across an old diary. A very old diary (turns out it’s from 1839), and it tells the tale of a group of settlers and the difficulties they encountered along the way. Eventually their troubles start to mirror the troubles of our heroes, and this is about the point where I have to stop talking about the specifics to avoid spoilers. It was a tense story, but I could have used a bit more time with the modern component of the story. One half of the couple really got played up as the one who complained about every little thing, to the point where I couldn’t tell if she had survival skills of her own or if she was just being dragged along for the ride. Maybe it was intentionally left ambiguous because of what came later? Sure, let’s go with that. It’s a solid comic with a creepy ending, what more could you ask for? $7
I read a whole bunch of these little stapled pamplets full or pretty words and pictures for this “job” with the website, so it’s always refreshing to find something that genuinely stands out as unique. That’s not always a good thing though, just consistently (if momentarily) refreshing. I’m still not sure if this series is something that I’m going to enjoy in the long term, but I do know that I haven’t run across anything quite like this before. This is basically a flashback from the main character after he had first turned into a vampire and he searched high and low for meaning, with more than a little social commentary thrown in. In here he researches the specifics of his affliction, makes sure he’s covered by his insurance company, consults a phrenologist, wonders about God… and that’s in the first half of the book. if I give away more than that it’ll totally ruin it for anybody who wants to read it, but for a nine page book this has plenty going on. Contact info is up there, this one is $2 (or $1.50 if you buy more than one copy)…
Um…. ew. That’s the initial reaction, anyway. This is a story about a pretty random vampire in some pretty random settings. There was a man on a walking tour through Europe, when suddenly it begins raining and he has to seek shelter. Mosquitoes attack, and after an explosion he turns into a vampire. Yes, in case you were wondering, that is the oddest way I’ve ever heard for somebody to turn into a vampire. Also in here is an old lady, a goiter, the quadratic formula, and dead monks. Not a bad first effort at all, if that’s what this is. The art was great, tremendously expressive. The story was meandering at best, but it’s only one issue, and it kept my interest all the way through. It’s $2, here’s a website.
Vampspew Volume 1
A suggestion to Steve and everybody else putting together graphic novels of their work: don’t make the cover to your graphic novel the same as the cover of one of your comics.Â Seriously, I don’t care how great of a cover it is, resist the urge and make something brand new, or people are likely to pass right over it in stores, in online images or (in my stupid case) when I received it in the mail to review.Â I saw the cover, thought that I had already reviewed the book, and by the time I uncovered it in my move and saw my error Steve had already sent me another copy.Â So… oops.Â This collects the first four issues of this series (the only four according to his website), in which a young man is turned into a vampire through an odd set of circumstances and begins a journey of self discovery.Â You can see what I thought of the first two issues below, and in case you were wondering, I’m a fan of “random” and “meandering” comics, as that’s where some people are able to make their best points.Â The third and fourth issues in this series continue in this vein, and really, Steve could have just chucked the whole vampire idea after the first issue, as it’s not something that comes up again.Â Aesthetically speaking I’m all for his total abandonment of word and thought bubbles, choosing instead to stick to small blocks of text over the images, especially with such an introspective story as this.Â It helps while reading this if you have at least a rudimentary knowledge of philosophy and some of that science stuff, as he veers in all sorts of interesting directions in trying to learn the secrets of the universe.Â These sorts of stories always seem to circle back and start eating their own tail, so to speak, as chances are Steve isn’t going to solve all the mysteries of the universe here.Â Still, it’s not a story of conclusions but one of a journey, and Steve manages to make it engaging and extremely thought-provoking throughout.Â Check it out if you’re into trying to figure out what makes people and the universe tick, if all you’re looking for is a big vampire fight you’ve come to the wrong place…