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Robertson, David – Wow! Retracted


Wow! Retracted

To every comics artist out there who worries endlessly about putting out comics on a regular basis, you could do a lot more than emulating David. The bulk of his stories are short, usually only a few pages long. This lets him submit comics for all kinds of anthologies, and every year or so he has more than enough material to put out a book of his own. See how easy it is? Granted, lots of artists only deal with larger stories, but at least having the ability to work on shorter stories would be a nice change of pace for whenever you get stuck on whatever epic you’re working on. So hey, enough of the life advice, how about this comic? The bulk of these 40 (!) stories are written and drawn by David, with about a dozen of them coming from other artists. There’s no central underlying theme, just a big old pile of stories about all sorts of things. OK fine, his “I Live With a Killer” stories (about how his cat brings him pieces of various animals it’s killed) have a connecting theme, but they’re the exception here. Other highlights include the final thoughts of thelast two survivors from a plane crash, our first encounter with aliens, petty space station revenge, the man who’s always falling in love, the story and fate of Dolly the cloned sheep, a story of a missile attack (written by his son I think?), the concept of putting people in concerts who just want to talk for the whole show in their own section, exactly how much of your life you waste on vacuuming, skipping an internet video only to see it on the actual news later, a comic about making a comic that sort of eats itself (drawn by Zu Dominiak), the story a mouse brings back home after nearly being eaten, the robot and the monster, and the inner lives of a couple of flies. That’s what, not even half of the stories here? It’s another pretty fantastic bunch of stories from David, and if you’ve somehow gotten this far in life without seeing his work this is a solid chunk of comics to start with. No price listed, so I’m going to guess the arbitrary number of $10. Contact David and I’m sure he can set you straight…

Robertson, David – Zero Sum Bubblegum



Zero Sum Bubblegum

My bias is showing again, but I’m always delighted to get another comic from David. Mostly because I know that it’s most likely going to be a collection of short stories, and that it’s damned near a certainty that at least a few of those stories are going to amaze/amuse/befuddle me, and in the best possible way. The other way, in case you were curious, is the “what the hell did I just read and why did I read it?” reaction. Not a problem here! Anyway, this time around subjects include picking your best possible funeral song (which I would have used for the sample image if my scanner was still working), the history of “A Book With Death in the Title” and what happens to the people who read it, an attempted school assembly and the shenanigans going on, tiddlywinks, Bruce the Rat, the fact that nobody is going to keep track of whether or not you give up your seat on the bus for an old lady, trying to finish a comics page vs. trying to comprehend the new mandatory Windows upgrade, sexy Frankensteins, sexy cavemen, scanning for wedding rings on the ride home, that Iron dude in that one suit, having the conviction to play the scrabble words that you’re given, kitten brains vs. lady brains, getting it all out on the deathbed, Princess Leia’s troubles with men, intimidation in the testing room (with Pam Dye), the victory lap (with Paddy Johnston), a lack of comprehension on stamps (with Tim Kelly), the art of engaging in television (with Neil Paterson), looking for that lost thing (with Eileen Budd), taking the lack of a Facebook reply too personally (with Ludi Price), random cruelty on a carnival ride, a dedicated punker, and falling silently through space to your death. Well, not your death specifically, but you know what I mean. Once again this is a really solid collection of stories; that Princess Leia piece should lead off the next movie as far as I’m concerned. How she trusts any men at this point is beyond me. David also has an extensive afterward as usual, so any questions you might have about these stories have most likely been answered (I know they were for me). So yeah, once again you should buy his book. Sure, you could get a few samples for free, but rarely the whole story, and wouldn’t you rather have the whole story? Not to mention the very idea of supporting an artist whose work you enjoy with your money. You still do that, right? Because it’s easy to forget to do it. And it’s roughly $5, assuming I have the exchange rate right in my head, which I almost certainly do not.

You've Been (Cyber) Punked p1

Taylor, Dan (editor) – Symphony in Ink #1


Symphony in Ink #1

Ok, technically speaking this is an anthology, but as you can get copies from Dan, he gets to have these (there’s at least one more) on his page. Besides, that Various page is a behemoth at the moment. First up is an amusing tale about the hilarity that ensues when a new employee mixes up his job title between “business anarchist” and “business analyst” by D. C. McNamara. Next up is a wonderful example of a rampaging problem I have with some anthologies, as a little story called Weird Light (about, oddly enough, a weird light with a few historical figures) doesn’t have any indication of an author, so let’s just say that one’s by “Steve”. Thomas Ferranti has a rambling piece up next about a general lack of inspiration and his characters that are easy to draw. World of Voodoo is a gorgeous piece about various types of voodoo, although not much there in way of a story, if that’s your thing. Tony Consiglio, always a welcome addition anywhere, has a piece about a dead guy in a fast food bathroom and the inevitability of taking a shit. Tim Kelly has the longest piece in the book (and probably the oldest, as it’s dated 1991) about a couple taking a bath and the dangers of shrinkage. Finally there’s a one pager, also by “some guy”, with a wonderful, wonderful punch line. One of those mystery guys is Tom Brinkman and the other is probably Dan Taylor, but I’m not sure which is which, and seriously people, that can’t be that hard to nail down before publication. Not that I’m trying to single Dan out here, as all kinds of people do it, I just wish they would stop. All in all a pretty good anthology for $2.50.

Kelly, Tim – Free Summer Franks II


Free Summer Franks II

It might just be my imagination, but I think this one is much bigger than the first one. If it’s not, maybe it just seems that way because not a page goes by without some serious destruction and hijinx, which is fine with me. I mostly think you’re better off going into this book blind and having all the random stuff just smack you in the face, but it’s my duty to tell you what this is about, so if you’d rather be surprised, stop now, check out the contact info and go on your merry way. You’ve been warned! In here you’ll find 19 year old Coke bottles, clubbing, cannibal tuna, that one shark from that one old cartoon (you’d know it if you saw it), talking horns, a great neck, and a pokemon battle. Riveting drama it ain’t, but it’s funny, so what more can you ask? $2.50 PPD!

Kelly, Tim – Free Summer Franks


Free Summer Franks

Random collections like this usually suffer from being, well, random, but I think the format suits these comics perfectly. They’re all over the place. There’s a short one about summer coming, one about random violence, a long story about a clueless girl going to Lollapalooza (it’s from 1994), one about a creep in a comic store (gasp!) and one that feels horribly out of place about 9/11. I say that mostly because the rest of the book is full of some of the most madcap stuff you can think of… and then there’s where he was on that day. Oh well, maybe it just seems weird to me, and it does say that it’s “new and rare” comics, so I can’t imagine what else he could put it in. I like the art a bunch too. He draws really cute females and I think his style would look great in a weekly or daily strip, even though I think most daily strips suck. It’s a couple of bucks and worth a look, there’s some funny stuff in here. E-mail the man or check out the website.

Kelly, Tim – Springtime for Autism



Springtime for Autism

It’s says a lot that Tim can take a subject like autism and still make it funny.  Granted, this is a serious comic; the cover isn’t lying about that.  He just does an excellent job with the little moments that make up this book.  Chances are that unless you have a family member with autism (or the family member of a close friend), you don’t know a whole lot more about this than I did.  And this isn’t meant to be the authoritative book on autism by any means.  Still, I learned plenty from this mini.  In here Tim tells stories about his daughter’s eating habits at McDonalds (ice cream with sprinkles and fries), how she needs time to warm up to people before she gets at all comfortable around them, how the sound made by most lights bothers her, how he must give the exact correct answer to a question, his joy in seeing her enjoy little things or being the one to say things without prompting, maintaining the rituals, and trying to keep her from getting to frustrated at the world.  It also documents a damned fine bit of parenting, although I don’t think that Tim had that in mind.  If you have any interest in this subject and/or maybe want something you can show kids to help explain autism, this is an excellent place to start.  I was also happy to see that Tim is still going strong (this is from 2005 but I haven’t reviewed any of his comics in ages) and has plenty of new comics up at his website.  $1


Havert, Nik (editor) – Syndication


Syndication      Now Available!  $4.99

Ah, the anthology.  Practically always a mish-mash of good and bad, but it is one of the few places where you find new voices (or, in this case, new teamings) doing different things.  To me a 75% success rate in these things is all I hope for, and I define “success” as either a genuinely great story or something that looks like the people involved have some serious potential.  This one, I think, cleared that hurdle.  It starts off with a genuinely thoughtful introduction by Ben Avery, in which he honestly lays out all the reasons why anthologies aren’t popular and don’t “work” (but why he loves them anyway) and then follows up with a peek into the basic contradiction at the heart of most artists.  Note to anthology editors: an intro like this works wonders, as I was curious to see how these people worked together after he described some of the issues in getting these pieces in and how some of these people will probably work together in the future… and some of them certainly won’t.  First up is a piece by Jedediah Walls  and Gloria Hollier, dealing with the nature of narrative sequence and comics as art.  Things get much more traditional from there, as mostly everything else is monster or superhero-related, starting with The Ballad of Dr. Ecula by Alan Schell and Jamie Hood.  This is a surprisingly moving piece about two foes and their constant struggle, and how the villain deals with it after he finally gets the upper hand and kills the hero.  Kelly Heying and Ron Schell Jr. are up next with a fairly standard piece about a former crook turning hero after his child is born, which is followed by a piece by Nik Havert and Ryan Sargent (in what is probably the best looking piece of the bunch) dealing with a young girl and her quest for revenge.  This shows her first time out on her own, trying to kill 6 Spaniards in the early 16th century.  Ben Avery and Mike Murphy follow this with a confusing piece (probably because the format shifted to sideways art and the binding of this book makes it tough to see tops of pages that way) about trying to kill what appears to be an alien.  Jon Kulczar then has a thoroughly random two page story where his characters mostly complain about the tiny amount of pages they get and can’t seem to figure out what to do with it.  Christopher Penzenik and Joey Allen are next with a story about a man who sacrifices himself for his tribe and in the process becomes a giant evil monster… who still seems to have pieces of the good guy left.  Finally there’s Tim Kelly’s Bunnyman, which was thoroughly baffling.  I tried flipping through it again, but there’s a hero (Bunnyman), a princess who’s in some sort of distress (who is saved by induced vomiting (?)) and a monster that seems giant in certain panels and the same size as Bunnyman in others.  Seeing all these stories laid out like this it’s possible I was too optimistic in thinking this passed the 75% test, but it’s close if it didn’t quite make it.  Bonus points for that intro too, so I’ll give it to them.