It’s another one of Steve’s newspaper style comics, and this time there’s no unfolding required, as you just flip the very large pages as you go. Yep, this is a full service review website. There’s also only 50 copies of this printing, which seems low to me, but maybe that reflects my optimistic nature more than the reality of the business. This is told in the style of a documentary comic, and it’s all about what you see in the title, which are five creatures, always traveling in a group, who provide relief and entertainment to people who get caught in sandstorms in the American southwest. Each of the creatures has a function: The Shield provides shelter from the elements, The Filter gets the harmful particles out of the air, The Table does whatever a table can, The Host greets people and keeps the party moving (despite not saying any words in any known language), and The Entertainer puts on a show. Through the comic we see the legends of the creatures over the years, the help they’ve given travelers, and finally an opposing view that maybe their intentions were not benevolent after all. It’s an engaging and intriguing read throughout, to the point that I certainly wouldn’t mind reading more about these little guys, even if it was most likely a one-off idea to Steve. If this sounds intriguing to you too I’d get on ordering a copy, as there clearly aren’t many out in the world. If not, few comic artists are as prolific as Steve, so why don’t you just try one of the many other comics he has available at his website? $5
Confession time: I’ve often been hesitant in the past when it comes to reviewing comics that come in newspaper formats. Not for any aesthetic reason, it’s just that I’m a simple country reviewer, with a regular old scanner that can’t handle the size of such things. Well, I think I’ve cracked the case. The sample image cut off a little bit of the words, but I think I nailed the combo cover image. And that concludes the segment of the reviews that nobody asks for: behind the scenes at Optical Sloth! I’ve been reviewing Steve’s book for lots of years, but it’s been a few since I’ve seen any of his stuff. He sent along a few of his newspaper comics, and this one in particular is a hoot, and a bit of a departure from some of his other stuff that I’ve seen. It’s a collection of short pieces, but thanks to the format he doesn’t have to worry about space constrictions and he uses that to his full advantage. Subjects include a hilarious piece on how teachers have learned to detect the early warning signs of a potential anti-christ in their classroom, the terror of seeing unknown warning lights in your car while driving, an awkward message sent by an even more awkward gift, the different types of parasites in the midwest, the research and conclusion of a recently discovered terrarium in the human stomach of a comatose patient, a simple test for determining what types of hair you’ve found in various apartments, and a brand new personal defense system that’s designed to stop bigger dudes (and impress horrible women who are only attracted to violence). You know, I was going to wrap this up by mentioning how his (already impressive) artwork has somehow managed to get even better, but after going through that wrap-up on the stories in here, I should really point just how damned funny this comic was. Just about every one got a laugh out of me, with the possible exception of the stomach terrarium story (which was really more of a horror piece anyway). Give it a chance, why don’t you? Don’t you like funny things too? $10
Satan Cat #2
Cat people, gather round! Dog people and weirdos who don’t like any pets at all, this one probably isn’t for you. Or maybe it is, if you’re intrigued by the concept of a cat literally thinking that it’s Satan. But is it actually Satan, or is the cat crazy? That’s the premise of this unexpectedly complex issue. Don’t get me wrong, it’s all still easy enough to grasp, but the bulk of this comic is a conversation between the cat and a mouse toy, with the mouse toy playing the role of the sane one of the two. This toy also points out the absurdity of it being the rational one and that the cat should think about that, at which point the comic almost collapses in on itself. It’s another funny issue but, as is often the case with a mini this small, there’s not a whole lot for a reviewer to talk about outside of the basic “yea or nay” issue. So… yea! It’s always fun to watch one of the most smug creatures on the planet question its own sanity.
Credit where credit it due: I did not see that final page coming. Granted, with a title like that I wasn’t entirely sure what to expect, but way to find a solid cliffhanger for what could have been a fairly standard giant monster comic. This one starts off with an unhappy monster couple, living together under the sea and bickering like an old married couple. Because, apparently, they are an old married couple, although I’m not sure who or what could have officiated over such a ceremony. That’s clearly digging too deep into things, but the monsters get into a bit of an argument (the monster on the cover would prefer to eat more humans, his wife would prefer to keep to his fish diet because it’s healthier), the angry monster storms off into Manhattan in a huff and runs into Kongo (based on King Kong, obviously) and they reminisce about the good old days while destroying large chunks of the town. They also run into one more monster who is strangely reluctant to get into a conversation with them, so naturally that comes back around eventually. Steve is able to put these comics at a ridiculous pace, and they’re always at least amusing, while I’d go so far as to call this one a blast. Is there a pun in there? No, I think I’m in the clear. Anyway, another solid addition to his growing library of comics, so check it out if you’ve ever wondered what giant monsters get up to once their glory days are behind them.
Colonel MacTaggart in Colonel Cube
OK, granted, that cover image makes the lead character look an awful lot like another vaguely cubish character from a ridiculously popular cartoon. Assuming it’s still popular and, as I have no kids, I don’t know that for sure, so I’m talking about Spongebob Squarepants if it’s no longer popular or if you’re somehow reading this in the distant future. But what’s wrong with turning your lead character into a cube? It’s obvious even from the cover that this doesn’t really happen to him, that it’s just a dream, so where’s the harm? Who am I arguing with right now? Anyway, this is the story of a dream of the Colonel. We don’t see the reason for the odd dream until the end, but right away we see the Colonel coming to terms with his new form and learning that this form also allows him to transform other creatures (albeit with unpredictable effects). So our hero transforms a small lizard, turning it into a giant monster, and the monster is then killed by a tribe of “cone savages.” We get some solidly funny dialogue from the Colonel to this tribe, showing the delightful contempt that such explorers often showed for native people back in the day, which leads to their interaction taking a bit of a turn. I’m in danger of giving the whole thing away here, so I’ll just say that the eventual reason for his odd dream was brilliant. It’s a fun and funny book all around, and I’ll always agree with the idea that creatures who look like living candy corn should always be the villain. Oh, and it’s all in full and glorious color, assuming that such things matter to you, and why shouldn’t they?
Colonel MacTaggart #2
Oh Colonel, don’t you know better than to go up against an angry monkey? Colonel
MacTaggart, in case you don’t know (and why would you, as I’m pretty sure this is a
new series), is an an explorer who wanders around with his manservant February.
February is a silent mountain of a man, and the Colonel is a proper English
gentleman, with all the obvious comedic potential that entails. I seem to have
picked up the second issue before the first one, but this one is so completely
self-contained that I doubt there will be any confusion. Unless I skipped the origin
story, and even then I’ll get to it soon enough. Anyway! The story for this one
could not be simpler. The Colonel is out wandering the jungle when a piece of fruit
hits him in the head. After a brief period of confusion as to the source of the
fruit, he finds out that it’s an angry monkey. And the chase is on! The rest of the
comic is all about the hijinx and the joys of purple fruits getting splattered. This
is where the full color really comes into play, because who doesn’t love purple
splatters? It’s a fun little story, unless you have something against monkeys and/or
English people. And even then there’s some mayhem involved that might make up for
it. Check it out! $3
Satan Cat #1
Aw, look at the cute little cat mini comic! This is a shortie with a very simple premise: a cat thinks that it is Satan. Or maybe the cat is Satan? There’s at least a second issue of this series, so maybe we’ll find out later! Although it’s most likely just a regular cat. Anyway, this issue deals with the cat (named, according to the food bowl, Muffin) trying to order a bug around as his minion. The bug is skeptical but follows along, mostly because the cat is very much larger than the bug. This goes on for a bit, the cat convinces its owner to give it fish bits, which then annoys it because its mouth is too small to eat as many fish bits as quickly as it would like. Things are resolved (no, I won’t spoil even this), and that’s that. Like I said, this is a very short story, but it’s cute and there’s always at least a little bit of ambiguity about whether or not any one cat is actually Satan. Check it out if you like cats or Satan!
Nobody Can Eat 50 Eggs #1
It’s the return of Nobody Can Eat 50 Eggs! Long time readers will be well aware of this comic, but for the rest of you Steve put out about 30 issues of this series (along with a few other unrelated series) but I hadn’t heard from him in a few years. I think he should have kept a running total and called this #31 (or whatever number he’s up to now) but this is very different from his older series, so maybe he had the right idea starting over. The humor is still similar to his older stuff, but the quality of the art has gone up considerably. Every bit of it is in full color, and a number of these strips feature claymation figures (obviously not in motion due to the fact that they’re in a comic book). I have no idea if he’s actually working clay or using a computer program, but it looks impressive either way. Stories in here include insurance problems with saving the damsel in distress, a lonely Yeti, common mistakes of dumb pirates, the inability of a caterpillar to cope with his future as a butterfly, a bald troll, dead superheroes, how to survive being ruled by robots, an art critic robot, innovations of cavemen, and endangered species that have vanished from memory. And that’s only the first half of the book! I can’t find a website for Steve (outside of a “Hire Steve Steiner” website with only a few strips on it), which is baffling, but you can always reach him through email. I have no idea of the price on this. Full color books are usually more expensive, and this is in full color and fairly hefty, so my random guess is $7. There are a few clunkers here, as is usually the case with this many strips, but there’s far more to love here than not. Check it out, that’s my advice to you…
Symphony in Ink #4
Dan has finally put his comics fancy pants on, as that there is a full color cover.Â Kudos!Â As is the case with a good chunk of Dan’s books, this one is an anthology, all loaded up with talent and goodness.Â Dan has a funny if mildly disturbing strip about a guy in a pool; Andy Nukes has a series of images that I’ll let speak for themselves (because they’re better experienced than described, and I realize that thatÂ accounts for a lot of what I do here, but if I think too hard about it I’ll vanish in a puff of smoke and logic); Kelsey Donald has a piece about a determined fish, a artistic baby genius and an assholish ice cream shop customer; Steve Steiner (if it’s based on a true story) has a girlfriend with some questionable sanitation habits; Josh Blair shows the true meaning of a hybrid car and Jarod Rosello has an epic about trying to find adventure but not being entirely sure how to spot it.Â Whew!Â Having a little bit of space has done wonders for this comic, as people were able to tell a lengthier story when they needed to while other could still stick to the shorties.Â Here’s hoping Dan has this full-size mini comics (just typing that almost caused my brain to short out) thing in his blood now, because I’m very much liking the new format.Â Oh sure, it’s a little pricier at $3, but you guys are still going to buy it, right?
Symphony in Ink #3
Geez, looks like I was cranky for the review for #2. I try to judge everything on merit and not let me mood effect anything, but really, who knows? However I’m feeling on any given day is bound to have an effect on what I write, which isn’t entirely fair, as my daily mood translates to a review that stays up forever (at least how time is determined online, anyway). Ah well. This one was a blast, and the construction of it had a lot to do with it. The contributors were Jenny Gonzalez, Steve Steiner, Andy Nukes, David DeGrand, Bill Shut and Dan Taylor, and I thoroughly enjoyed how Dan spaced out the stories, even putting little panels of his own under the Jenny Gonzalez strips when there was extra room. Everybody else but Steve Steiner had multiple pieces and Dan scattered them beautifully, with Steve getting the “centerfold”. As for the content, Bill Shut had a few full page pieces of art (didn’t do a lot for me), Andy Nukes had the same thing (oddly, I enjoyed his pieces), David DeGrand had a couple of thoroughly bizarre pieces about shaving a nose and giant fake heads (that I loved), Steve Steiner had a piece about why he hates squirrels (LOVED and am glad to see that Steve can see the truth about those vermin) and Jenny Gonzalez had 5 hilarious strips (she can do no wrong as far as I’ve seen). Oh, and Dan, in his job of “filling in the blanks” under the Too Negative strips, had a few decent funnies of his own. Definitely the best issue of the series so far. $2.50
Everyone Laughs at the Crocodile Man Book 1
At last! A book with nothing but the Crocodile Man. Where does he come from, where does he live, how does he get to work in the morning? And why doesn’t he go on a rampage and kill everybody in his officeï¿½ OK, some of those questions remain things in my brain and unanswered in the comics world, but others are answered here. We get to see Crocodile Man’s roommate, the general confusion he strikes into the hearts of people at the bus stop, and what exactly he’s drinking when he’s sitting at the bar. Yes, it is as disgusting as you think it is. Seriously, kudos to Steve for putting this thing together. I like most of his stories in 30 Eggs just fine, but I think the world was ready for a concentrated dose of Croc. And did I mention that it’s all in color? No price on this, but let’s say $3, and everyone who likes funny should have a good time with this.
Nobody Can Eat 50 Eggs #32
I call foul! If you’re going to have one of the better zombie covers that I’ve seen in all my years of reading zombie comics, you at least to have more than a panel covering said zombies. Oh well, the fact that the zombies wrap around to the back cover makes up for it. Here’s another solid issue from Steve, even if it seemed oddly lacking compared to some past issues. Let’s go through this and try to figure out why that is, shall we? It starts and ends, as it has for a little while now, with a strip about Crocodile Man, and he seems to actually be keeping a story going with the guy. Crocodile Man overhears a coworker bragging about his alligator shoes. This leads to a fairly brutal death for the guy, and that carries over to the strip at the end. Also in here you have the origin of the famous art-eest (who legally changed his name), a survival guide to monkey world domination, an angry mouse, cheating rhinos, warning signs your neighbor is a terrorist, man boobs, Colonel MacTagart, a guide to lame monsters (which is where the vegetarian zombies come into the picture), rise of the machine, and wacky whackers. The Colonel MacTagart stories just don’t do a thing for me, but everything else in there was either moderately amusing or hilarious, so maybe he just set the bar too high by being funny on all his other books. Mostly great stuff, and that wraparound cover is worth the price by itself. $3
Nobody Can Eat 50 Eggs #31
The haphazard reviewing of these issues continues, but in the grand scheme of things all these numerical holes will be filled anyway, so why be all neurotic about it now? This is another issue that’s almost all comics (except for a delightful text piece about how to catch a Bigfoot), which is great news to me, as his art is pretty damned good when it’s not trapped in a rushed, journal comic format. The story running through this issue in small chunks is Lizard Love, dealing with two roommates learning to love their new pet lizard. It helps that the reluctant roommate runs into a pretty girl outside walking her lizard, but this story is as close as I’ve seen this series get yet to sweet. Also here in here are comics about the thoughts of goons, the obvious fact that your boss is a creepy alien who secretly eats people, an angry rhino in couple’s therapy, cavemen inventions, a snooty artist trying to pay for coffee with a sketch, Crocodile Man drinking and signing a birthday card at work, and a mostly useless piece with a couple of explorers that is saved by the wonderfulness of their moustaches. Good stuff again, and the sheer consistency with which these issues are released continues to impress me. $3
Nobody Can Eat 50 Eggs #30
How can you not love that cover? I’m getting to like Steve’s art more and more, which is odd considering that he started sending me these zines when they were mostly text. This is the issue where Crocodile Man began his career as a recurring character, with a piece at the beginning and end of the comic: fantasizing about killing a coworker and engaging in some bathroom humor. Sandwiched between those are all kinds of goodies including a pretentious artist sitting in on a grade school art class, warning signs that your cat is possessed by Satan, an attention deficit monkey, how a tiny umbrella saves the day, how to deal with dangers at the park, a terrible football coach, and some genuinely awful (but hilarious) advice on how to get out of trouble with your girlfriend. There’s also a text piece about Oprah becoming president and another one of those pieces involving the explorers from #30, which I’m just going to ignore as it once again didn’t do a good thing for me, but why let that bring down an otherwise solid issue? I think Steve would be perfectly suited to a Mad magazine type of venue, if there was a funny Mad magazine type of thing currently being published. In the meantime he’s doing just fine here. $3
Nobody Can Eat 50 Eggs #28
Gee, I go to all that “trouble” of opening the site up to zines, and now Steve decides to do an all-comic issue. Oh, and #27 is noticably missing at the moment (6/13/07) due to the general chaos of my apartment, but it’ll turn up sooner or later and I’ll add it to the page. Anyway, this is a journal comic from 9/16 to 10/11 of last year, in case you can’t read the scan. Steve deals with a long distance “sort of” girlfriend, sort of falls for an internet friend he finally meets in person, sells t-shirts at an outdoor art festival, gets drunk, bitches about the other shift not being productive at his job, and deals with getting new glasses, among other things. It’s an entertaining enough journal comic, if unbelievably sloppy at times. Well, almost all the time. Steve fesses up in the intro to doing these all in pen, in a sketchbook and mostly meaning them to be seen only by himself. He’s done, by his count, 1800-1900 of these comics by now and he’s just now decided that he wants some of them to be in his zine. He also says he’s chopped out the more boring and bitchy strips, so kudos to him for that. Not everything done in a journal comic is really worth seeing, and it’s great that he gets that. He was also going to go back and patch up the general sloppiness but wanted it to be unedited, as it was written. I think it would have been fine to at least make the lettering legible in some cases, but what do I know. Overall an entertaining issue, unless you’re a neat freak and/or really can’t stand journal comics. $3
Nobody Can Eat 50 Eggs #26
Look out, it’s a zine! Well, half zine and half comics, but screw it, the site is now open to zines. Whyï¿½ Mostly because this one won me over, and the only reason I hadn’t bothered with them in the past is that I already had my hands full with the comics, which seem to be coming out more and more sporadically these days. So I’ll take my independent, free-thinking acts of artistic expression any way I can get them, thank you very much. Like I said, about half of this is comics, mostly fairly sloppy drawings about dreams, unrequited love, and some madcap fun involving a gun and an agile monkey. The meat of the book, though, is in the text pieces, specifically the one entitled Get Rich The Easy Way, a nice step by step tutorial on how to marry a rich old man and sneak your way into his will. Steve details the whole thing in detail, including the fact that you may have to get a sex change to marry an old guy, but old women tend to live longer and, at the end of the day, the sex change will have been worth it. He also deals with a much better death scenario for the Crocodile Hunter (is it still too soon to make fun of that? Oh well), stereotypes at weddings, evolution gone wild, alternate hunting weapons and the seedy underbelly (and knees) of the Amish. Something made me chuckle on almost every page here, and it’s hard to come up with a better recommendation than that. Also, the fact that he’s at #26 is impressive as hell in this day and age. $3