Ha! I just started writing the review for this issue, checked back to my website to make sure I had already reviewed the first issue (yes, I do sometimes use my own website as a resource), and realized that I had started writing the review exactly the same way that I started writing that review. I wonder how often that happens? Never mind, I don’t want to know. Anyway, this is a new comic by Ted May, which is always a good thing. All of these stories refer back to Men’s Feelings in some way or another, sometimes obliquely, sometimes straight up. Subjects include a man going on a walk with the son of the woman he’s dating and trying to win him over, what goes through your head on a flight in regards to the person sitting next to you, the efficacy of wake-up calls in hotels, a bad pick-up line, the option of going towards the light, technically following mom’s order with eggs, football, and praying. The story of the man trying to connect with the son of his girlfriend was my favorite, mostly because that’s as hilarious of an ending to that scenario as there is in the world. I also laughed several times, which is always welcome in the realm of comic books. It’s a great book, that’s what I’m saying, which you should already know if you’ve read Ted’s other comics. If you haven’t, there’s still time to rectify your terrible error in judgment! $5
Just to take away the suspense up front: when I see a new comic by Ted May, I’m instantly happy. It’s like getting a new King Cat in the mail (but in an entirely different sense, if you can work your head around that). This is a series of short and longish pieces about a variety of topics, which would have been the definition of a mini comic back in the day, but at least a few of Ted’s rejected titles (helpfully provided at the back of the book) refer to this as a graphic novels, so what do I know? Stories in here include an awkward conversation in a bathroom, a crowd gathering because of a house without its blinds drawn, the best day of a young man’s life turning ugly in a hurry, the hilarity and terror of openly cheating, two older married men telling the truth at a wedding, a young man who is perhaps overexcited by football ordering a pizza, a man with the unfortunate habit of choking on his food testing his luck, and a conversation at a cancelled meeting (the people in the meeting were not told that it was cancelled) thinking back to a quiet moment where he opened a window and smelled the fresh air. Less madcap hilarity that I may have been expecting, but that’s on me, not Ted, and there’s still plenty of funny stuff in here. The sheer banality of the last story of the office meeting was damned funny if you have any experience at all in that sort of setting, and the herd-like American quality of gathering in front of a window just because other people were gathering there was pretty damned funny too. Above all nobody does facial expressions like Ted, as you can probably tell at least a little by that cover if you’ve never read his other comics. And why would you have not read any of his other comics? Do you just hate comics? Baffling. Anyway, as always, this is well worth checking out, whether it’s a comic or a graphic novel or some entirely new thing that we’re now calling comics. $5
Before I say a thing about this comic, I need to make a very important thing clear: this comic marks the return of Alternative Comics, as they’ve been absent for the last 4 years, and that is a damned good thing for small press comics. Not that this was 100% published by them, as Kickstarter and Ted were involved in the publication too, but an established company like them will make it easier to get these books out to a wider market. I have to admit right off the bat that I haven’t seen the first three issues of this series, but it doesn’t seem like they contain any crucial information for enjoying this one. The bulk of this comic deals with a group of boys getting stoned and having detention, and it has to be the most pitch perfect representation of such a thing that I’ve ever seen. Jeff (writer) and Ted (writer/artist) really let this piece breathe, as we get several pages of the kids silently passing a joint back and forth, reminiscing about an Iron Maiden concert, before they go inside to take their punishment. Once they all sit down for their enforced quiet time one of them realizes that he’s way too high and paranoid hijinx ensue. The other big story was “Blade of Grass,” and this one felt distinctly like a continuation of an older story (and it’s “to be continued” this time too). Still, it’s a fairly self-contained story about a party clean-up and a few conversations that were mostly lost on me. I’ve yet to see Ted make a bad comic and this one is no exception, but it may take a collected edition for this story to make sense to me. Still, it’s worth it for that main story alone. Buy this comic and support the rebirth of Alternative Comics! And the people who are making this comic, obviously, but you know what I mean. $6
Gag-Hag Now Available! $4
This reviewing thing is, at times, the easiest thing in the world. Dan Zettwoch, Ivan Brunetti, John Hankiewicz, Jeremi Onsmith, Chris Cilla, Ted May, David King, Bryce Somerville and Johnny Ryan contributed to this collection of one-panel gag strips. So what you have here is some of the funniest people around and probably the best title for a collection of this type imaginable. What, you’re still reading this? OK, I’ll also mention that I had a really hard time just picking one sample, but I’m trying not to give too much away for free here. It’s $4, as you can see, and it’s available here, as you can see. What’s stopping you? Don’t you like to laugh?
Like the review yesterday, if something is a reprint that you’ve never seen before, it’s as good as new, right? This reprints the Neruda story from Non #1, so if you were one of the lucky few who got a copy of that one, this might seem a bit familiar. Still, Ted says that the art has been punched up a bit and there’s a new pinup on the inside covers by Jeff Wilson and Dan Zettwoch respectively. And that cover! Between what you can see there and the image on the back, that’s worth the price of admission alone. The story here is a bit convoluted, but who cares? It’s not like Ted has a ton of comics available (although I do see a brand new one on his website), so it’s to savor these when they do make it to print. It’s the story of Neruda, a statue who comes alive in a hippie commune. These hippies are trying to kick various drugs but at their own pace, so no pressure man. Various other people are quickly added to the mix in the fight over Neruda, including punks, hillbillies and government agents, and things get delightfully chaotic in a hurry. Much like It Lives #1 (and I still think it was cruel to put a “#1” on that, giving comic readers hope that another issue was coming), this is an essential piece to one of those scattered, disorganized piles of comics you have in your home/apartment/mom’s basement. $3
It Lives #1 Now Available! $3
It amazes me to see that Ted isn’t already on this page. I own every single anthology he’s been in (according to the ones he lists in the back of this issue, anyway), so it just made sense that he would already be here. That being said, I only thought he was OK before I saw a clump of his stories all in one place. Now I think he might just be the new Jesus. Too much hype, I guess, but damn is this guy funny. There’s a story called Toilet Battle that is the single funniest fight scene I’ve seen in years. I offer no details! Help Me Understand Your World (while being one of the best names for a story ever) was incredible, as was the one involving pants. Monster Mask wasn’t absolutely perfect, but I still liked it. Go to his website, give him piles of money so maybe he’ll do another one…