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Zervakis, Jenny – Strange Growths #16

Website where you can buy her comics

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Strange Growths #16

Is there a good list of small press comics people out there who never got the acclaim/attention they deserved that anybody knows of? Granted, you could say “all of them” and be correct (as I went a lot of years wearing my King Cat shirt before anybody outside of a comics convention knew what it was), but I’m talking about inside of this little insular community. If there is a list and if Jenny Zervakis isn’t on it, then it’s a terrible list. I started reading these types of comics in 1993, and Jenny was making them back then. I think she got caught up in that “real life” stuff that seems to happen to damned near everybody, had a couple of kids and maybe found other priorities (as it’s certainly not like making comics is a way to make a living for far too many people), and I didn’t hear much about her for years. But she’s making comics again, and you whippersnappers who may have never heard of her should think about catching up. This is a collection of short pieces, as are most of her comics that I’ve seen. Stories in here include Jenny and her daughter going through the presidents while her daughter tries to find a female one, what happened to the moon people when the moon was dislodged from the earth, playing in the snow and the differences in how everybody reacts to it, a dream where Jenny saves a few castaways from drowning, images from a visit to the aquarium, a family at the end of its rope, some excellent questions about cats and dogs and how they perceive us, and a heartbreaker about their family losing their dog after she got spooked by a storm. It’s bad enough to lose any pet when they run off, but their dog was on seizure medication and there was very much a race against the clock to get to her before anything really bad happened to her. It’s a solid collection of stories and you should really think about picking it up. Where are we at on retrospectives of this stuff anyway? If I’ve been reading these things for 20 years now then there have to be some anniversaries coming up. Top Shelf or Fantagraphics, get on that…

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Zervakis, Jenny – Strange Growths #14 1/2

Website where you can buy her new (as of 2010) comic

Where you can buy #14 1/2

Online comic

Strange Growths #14 1/2

I’m always amazed when I read a comic from somebody like Jenny (who I’ve been reading for years) and see that they don’t have a page on my website. It’s completely because I haven’t seen anything new from her for years, and I don’t even know if this is new, but you can still get it at USSCatastrophe, so I guess that makes it still viable. She’s one of those people that I just ate up back in the day, completely taken by the sheer beauty of the prose. In other words, if you find yourself in a place where you can get a bunch of her old minis, for the love of all that’s holy do it. This one is a shortie with dreams she had while pregnant. Fascinating stuff, and it’s too short for me to ruin it by telling you what it’s about. Which is sort of a cop-out, I guess, but if you already know who this is and didn’t know this issue was out you won’t need much convincing. $1.50

Zervakis, Jenny – Super Growths Sampler #1-6

Website where you can buy her new (as of 2010) comic

Where you can buy #14 1/2

Online comic

Super Growths: Strange Growths Sampler #1-6

Every once in a while I hit one of these nostalgic old mini comic reviews at the right time: John Porcellino (yes, THAT John Porcellino) is distributing Jenny’s first new issue of Strange Growths in 6 years (#15).  That’s great, as this is another mini from 1993 and it had me wondering if it was a complete waste of time to list it.  The good news is that I also found a place to buy another issue from her online (links to both are above) so, while it’s not necessarily convenient and it wouldn’t hurt to have more comics available, at least you can buy a few of her books easily.  This is a sampler of her older comics, so the art is a little rough on occasion, but the genuine heart in these stories more than makes up for it.  Pieces in here include getting a growth removed from the face of her brother (twice, and it just occurred to me that that may be where the name for the mini came from), inflamed balls on the bus, changing seasons, dealing with self-help, learning (and dealing out) cruelty at an early age, getting hit on by morons, the story of their old dog, somebody selling double yolk eggs door to door, trying to remember the name of a very odd food item, the artificial water flower, the upkeep of gardens, a restaurant conversation, a comet and how it ruined the world for a young boy, a true monster, and one longer piece that is too beautiful for me to even say anything about it.  Take that as a cop-out if you’d like.  Like I said, this sure seems out of print to me.  Maybe you could have a little more luck in your digging, but all I could find were the two issues…