Death in Oaxaca #3
As you may have guessed from that fake post-it addition to the title, there’s a bit more hanky panky in this issue than there was in the first one (I missed the second one). Steve did put a recap at the start of this book but it’s a little light on specific details for the characters, but it’s still clear that this issue is mostly about these people trying to live their lives, with the occasional outside forces trying to complicate things. There’s Eduardo (the vampire with a heart of gold who has given up blood), Gertie (with her secret identity as the Lucha Bruja), and Caroline (trying to get in on some of that hanky panky with Eduardo), all going about their lives, and all on the verge of doing some serious damage to those around them. Still, that’s what’s going on behind the scenes, mostly. There are a lot of quiet moments that make up the bulk of this issue, like Rex getting some fresh tuna, the family gathering together for a meal, a jam night with some local musicians and a mysterious cave that seems to be able to let people fly. OK, maybe that last one was more fantastical than the others. It’s another solid comic and another step in the mystery completed. Steve has been a pro in this business for decades, so you can be sure that he knows what he’s doing when it comes to pulling all these loose threads together. Check it out why don’t you! $5
Quick, think of the most embarrassing thing that’s ever happened to you. Now imagine yourself writing and drawing a comic story about it. That right there should make you cringe, which means you’re in luck, as that’s what this anthology is all about! This book has right around 30 small press artists, some new and some who have been around for awhile, who are willing to share some shameful incident from their past. I don’t think anything in here will get anybody put in jail, but it’s hard not to cringe while reading some of these. I’m not going to review every story because there are so damned many of them (and for a measly $8!), but the highlights include Shaenon K. Garrity wetting herself while out with a group of other cartoonists (including a big name guy, but I won’t spoil the surprise; I particularly loved the way she ended her strip), Sam Spina’s unfortunate method for drinking a rum shot when he met the Bacardi girls, Adam Pasion’s particularly gruesome retelling of an incident involving a finger in the eye, Geoff Vasile dodging a bullet (not literally), Chad Essley and his series of embarrassing moments (hard to top the one where he volunteered to breakdance at school on stage), Fred Noland’s theories on some crayons he used to own, Chad Woody and his racist former roommate, Box Brown and his former habit of eating light bulbs (it’s not quite as life-threatening as it sounds), Stephen Notley and his experience of being “that guy” at a comic convention (you know the one, the guy who gets up to ask a rambling and pointless question and has no idea how to get out of it once he gets started), and Sam Henderson’s experiences with having seizures while surrounded by strangers. It’s a damned fine mix of stories, and at a ridiculously cheap price. Save yourself the embarrassment of not owing this anthology of embarrassment! Ugh, I feel dirty for saying that. I’ll let myself out… $8
Death in Oaxaca
Since it’s right there in the title, I’d better get something out of the way up front: nobody dies in this issue. Spoiler alert! Ah, it’s always funny to put that alert in after I spoil something. Yep, that’s my resolution this year: instead of not spoiling anything, I’m going to spoil everything! Or not, I haven’t decided yet. Either way that’s not a giant spoiler for this issue, as that “#1” next to the title sure implies that there’s more of this story to come. This series is all about a family who moves to Oaxaca to immerse themselves in the local culture and landmarks. It doesn’t hurt that it also seems to be cheap as hell to live there, and the man in the family is an artist who does freelance work to make some cash. Anyway, the bulk of this issue sets up the family as distinct people: the dad (Rex) is afraid of his own mortality and has an interesting visitor pop up regularly in his dreams, and the mom (Gertie) has a secret life on the side to keep things interesting on her end. The logistics of her secret life intrigue me, and I assume that some sort of “origin story” is going to be coming along shortly. Of course, there’s always the possibility that this will another in the endless series of first issues that never have second issues, but I’m choosing to live in hope. Oh, and there’s also something seriously wrong with their new landlord, but I’m not going to spoil that. Huh, so much for that New Year’s resolution. It’s an intriguing comic and it’s good to see Steve Lafler making comics after his Bughouse days. Granted, it’s likely that he’s been making comics this whole time and I just haven’t seen them, but either way it’s new to me. $4.99
This one is a follow-up to Bughouse and, like the first book, I wasn't all that impressed on the first time through. It's a lot smaller, for one thing, and the basis for the conflict, the criminal who comes back to get his revenge, just seemed like an afterthought after it was initially set up. I'm getting ahead of myself. The story here is that Mr. Muggles gets sent to jail and swears revenge on Bughouse. He comes back and gets them in trouble for some drugs and money that he's planted on them, but the band gets to finish the show and there's not much said about their miraculous escape. Kind of an important thing to gloss over, or maybe I just missed it. It seemed to me that there was a lot less going on in this one than there was in Bughouse. It was mostly about Bones on the run (although forming a band while on the run doesn't seem like the smartest thing in the world to me), falling in love with a sorceress in Mexico. Who knows, I loved Bughouse after I read it again, maybe the same thing will happen here. All I can say right away is that I was disappointed. Check out his other book and if you love that I'm sure you'll come back for more. Otherwise, you won't be missing all that much here.
If I’ve learned anything from doing this page, it’s that I can’t assume anything about books that I didn’t think I liked. I read this one when it first came out, probably about a year ago, and didn’t like it at all. I put off putting it on the page mostly because I didn’t want to have to read the damned thing again, otherwise it would have been up here months ago. Well, I liked it this time around. Not sure what my problem was with it the first time around, but I didn’t have much of a problem this time. It’s the story of a jazz band and what they go through to become famous. It starts off with the main character (the sax player, Jimmy Watts) as a child, and goes up all the way to when he’s an old man. It’s too bad I didn’t read this again before I saw that there was another collection coming out, because now I’m going to have to wait and see if the local comic store gets it before I can buy it. Funny, insightful, and it has a lot of shady characters in it. Good readin’, folks. I guess you could even say that it examines addiction and the self, if you wanted to go that far. Worth a look, then worth another look if you decide that you don’t like it the first time around… Hey, a website!
Windy Corner Magazine #1 edited by Austin English Now Available! $10
For the curious: in this series I reviewed #2, then #3, and now finally #1.Â I plan on reviewing future issues out of order as well (if I get more than one of them at a time) just for the hell of it.Â Sure it’s a stupid way to go about it, especially as this issue details exactly what Austin hopes to get out of the artist interviews (he wants artists to interview artists about, um, artsy thing, which makes it especially impressive that all three of them have all been equally accessible to somebody like me, who is decidedly not an artist), and also has the beginning of the story of Francis.Â Austin was also against using punctuation in most of these strips, which has the disquieting effect of making everything seem like a deeply relevant run-on sentence.Â Anyway, stories in here include Francis parts 1-4 (involving losing the money for dinner, Francis finding a suspicious letter in his dad’s coat pocket (and showing it to his mother), buying toys and eking out a living, and Francis selling some of his art), Austin showing us a few of his earliest memories, some painting by Paula Salemme, Austin interviewing Andrice Arp (if the name doesn’t sound familiar, trust me, if you read small press comics you’ll recognize the art), a story of actually learning something in art school by Steve Lafler, and a wordless piece by Richard Hahn, who should really finish the next issue of Lumakick already.Â Unless he’s just working on other stuff that I’ve missed, which is entirely possible.Â I still think #2 is the best of the bunch, but that’s probably just because I’m so biased towards that Onsmith/John Hankiewicz interview.Â Still, there’s not a bad issue here, I just hope the price tag doesn’t scare people off.Â $10