Website (for Tom Cherry, can’t find one for Keith)
Samurai Slate in Punch Drunk or Bowl Me Over
So what exactly is your tolerance level for word puns? If it’s your favorite thing in the world, boy howdy do I ever have a comic for you! If you can barely stand them, you might want to save yourself some time and move on to the next review. Keith wrote these stories, all either one or two pages, and they all feature a comedic theme based on a specific type of wordplay. The strip I sampled (where the story works in using every day of the week) is the clearest example of it, but other stories in here use puns based on books, punctuation, cows, India, chess and minerals. If your eyes naturally roll to the back of your head every time you/read hear a pun, this book might just kill you. If not, there are some genuinely funny bits here and there, and just seeing how they manage to work all these words into each story can be interesting. So… get this with your eyes wide open. I doubt there will be much middle ground for an opinion here, but you might just love it. No price listed, but I’m guessing it’s a buck or two…
I finally figured out what these comics remind me of. Stop me if I’m already used this in a past review from Tom (although how you’d stop me when you haven’t read this yet and I’m just now writing it is beyond me), but these comics are basically Sunday funnies. Oh sure, they’re puffed up ever so slightly to make up an actual comic, but the tone is the same, if often a little smarter. I’m also thinking back to the Sunday comics of my youth, which probably seemed better at the time than they actually were (if the current selection of Sunday comics is any indication, anyway) but they, like this, were just good-natured fun. So how about this particular issue? As you can see from the cover, there’s some roughhousing going on in this one. Two kids are using empty wrapping paper rolls to bash each other around until their older brother admonishes them for acting like kids. As violence is always the answer in these books (albeit harmless cartoon violence), things work themselves out rather quickly. Like all of Tom’s stuff, this one is definitely worth a look, and he’s somebody you probably want to follow if you’re desperately looking for examples of fun comics that you can show your kids. $.25
A bit of an explanation will be required for this one. I’ve been sick as the proverbial dog since getting back from the holidays, with my head feeling like it’s been wrapped in gauze and thrown down a mountain. What this means in a practical sense is that I’ve been looking at a few comics that have been coming in and, while some of them look quite good, they’re also far too complex for me to talk about with any kind of coherence while I’m in this kind of state (even if this review ends up seeming coherent, it’s taking forever to write, mostly because my body just isn’t in working order at the moment). Anyway, along comes a few Tom Cherry comics, which are always short and to the point, so I picked one of them for the last review of 2011. Too much information? Quite possibly, but what are you going to do? This comic is about the boasting of a small rock. Seriously, you can see it starting on that cover image, then the sample image is of the next page so you can see that it keeps up. And that is the illustration for a good chunk of this book, so without a couple of pages there at the end this could have been done in a few minutes. As for the story, this boasting does not go unnoticed (either by someone actually hearing it or just the cruel universe in general), things change and there’s a genuinely funny final line. The end. Like I said, this is as much complexity as my brain is capable of handling at the moment, so your opinion may vary if you’re not hopped up on cold medicine, but I thought it was funny. $.25
Double Dip #1
Hooray for the double comic! I don’t know why more small press people don’t do these, as you would think that it would expose both creators to the audience of the other guy, which would have to be a good thing. Then again, it’s generally a pain in the ass to collaborate with most creative types, your work might get lost in the ether if something goes wrong with the printing that’s not your call, with the incestuous nature of small press comics it’s probably going to be mostly the same audience anyway, etc. Eh, whatever, I still appreciate them. So anyway, the comic itself. The stories are in the reverse order that you would think from looking at that cover, just in case you wanted to find something to complain about right away. Tom Cherry and his “Those Funky Idiots” are up first with a tale about getting three wishes and the inevitability of screwing them up, but he throws in a bit of a time travel angle that makes it pretty funny. All of his characters also seem to exist in a void, as there’s nothing resembling a background anywhere, but it works for this story. Dale Martin is up next with Watusi The Talking Dog, as Watusi meets an alien creature that can turn into any type of dog. It was intriguing, but it probably would have made more sense if his story was self-contained like the Tom Cherry story. I’m curious to see what happens next, but there’s no indication where that might occur or what number of the series I could read to see it. That was probably a mistake, but the story itself has a few funny moments in its six pages. Overall I’d say it’s worth a look if you’re wondering about these two guys. They also offer a color cover for $.50 more, but there’s something decidedly odd about it. Look at them both and see if I’m crazy at Tom’s website. $1
Who else out there hates Christmas?Â There, now that everybody else has left the review I can talk to the few remaining cranks out there.Â The holiday bugs the hell out of me.Â So, so many reasons not to like it, but even I’m not totally without a heart, and I am capable of getting something fairly cute and amusing in the mail and still getting a chuckle out it.Â It’s the story of… oh come on, you can read that cover. The man can’t afford a tree, so he makes use of his natural asset.Â All is going swimmingly until he decides to plug in the Christmas lights.Â If you’ve enjoyed Tom’s previous comics then I’d recommend this one, or even if you just like the holiday.Â If you are even one step above me in your hatred of the holiday, I’d avoid it like the plague, but you know that already, as you’re probably in hibernation until the stupid thing is over with.Â Either way, it’s a measly $.25.
Watusi the Talking Dog #23
Wow, there’s been a slight gap in coverage of this book over the years, wouldn’t you say?Â I’m instantly impressed when a book gets as high as #23, even if, in this case, Dale is more of a ringleader than the sole force responsible for putting the book out.Â OK, he is the one who does that, but his main job is to get people to finish their panels and get everything back to him.Â All of these are four panel strips, Dale always has one panel (usually the first one to get the ball rolling), and in this issue Tom Cherry gets the last panel.Â In between you get Mark Morehouse, Larned Justin, Chris Garrett, Jennifer Hachigan, Michael A. Carroll, Matthew Corrigan, Dan Lauer, Keith O’Brien, David McGhee, Drew Boynton, Steve Willhite, Greg Gildersleeve, Owen Egan, Ryan Curran and Joyce Curran.Â Topics in here include inventions, China, late night, time travel, a barking contest, the lottery, Watusi’s sister, aliens, a flood, and health food.Â Tom only goes to the “it was all just a dream” well once, which is good, but overall this thing is more than a little uneven.Â Hey, it’s a jam comic, I think it’s supposed to be uneven.Â There are a few funny moments, even more unfunny moments, and a whole lot of confusion in between.Â Still, what Dale is doing here is admirable, and some of you artist types reading this should try putting together your own Watusi strips with a couple of your friends and see what happens.Â I doubt that it’s as easy as it looks… $1
Watusi’s Doghouse Funhouse (edited by Dale Martin)
I’m not allowed to review this one.Â Why?Â Because it’s not a comic!Â It’s something completely different, and something that is meant purely for children: an activity book.Â Remember those from being kids, where you’d fill in the mazes, do the word puzzles, check which images were exactly the same, those sorts of things?Â That’s what this is.Â Oh sure, there are comic stories in here by a variety of folks, but this one is really meant for the kids, and I’m far too much of a childless curmudgeon to do it justice.Â Stories in here include a family coming up with their own endings to a movie when their DVD player craps out (by Dale Martin & Tom Cherry, and remember when VHS tapes would skip until they stopped?Â They didn’t?Â Oh yeah.Â Huzzah for modern technology!), Mark Morehouse showing different snowmen, Dale & Ivan Martin with the highlight of the comic (a short piece about the cyclical nature of time travel), Drew Boynton’s tale of some kids trying to find information on Bigfoot, Bill Hook & Mike Sullivan’s Thunderdawg, and assorted short pieces.Â If you have a kid who likes this sort of thing, you should pick this up.Â It’ll train them at an early age to appreciate comics (and the soon-to-be-extinct concept of paper), and there really is a ton of activities for them in here.Â For us crusty old adults who just prefer a good story, it’s probably best to move on to something else.Â Or I suppose lightening up is an option… humbug!Â $3.50
Crap, it looks like I’m reviewing a comic about Valentine’s Day after all.Â What can I say, Tom sent me a fresh pile of comics and this one was on top.Â There’s a simple premise here.Â A young man (apparently named “Baby”) made his mom a giant valentine.Â On his walk home, he’s startled by a cat, sending said valentine up into a tree.Â After attempting to get the valentine and failing, Baby is left wondering what he’s going to do… until he gets an offer he can’t refuse.Â For me this might just cross that line of being too damned cute for words, but different people have different lines for that sort of thing.Â Either way it’s still only $.25 and goes nicely in my pile of other Nibbles.
I’d like to congratulate Tom Cherry on being the very first person this year (at the late date of December 22nd) to give me even the tiniest bit of holiday cheer.Â Not that I’m always that big of a scrooge, but as for this year, “humbug” does about sum it up.Â He’s done it with another of his tiny mini comics, Nibble, dealing with a couple of kids making a snowman.Â Sounds innocent, right?Â Well, said snowman wakes up, becomes self-aware, and… well, what would you do if you woke up to find out that you were made entirely out of snow, had sticks for arms, buttons for a mouth and eyes and a carrot for a nose?Â It’s killing me not to give it away here, but let’s just say that I laughed out loud.Â Tom sent along a few of his comics, and I’m looking forward to getting a chance to see what this guy is all about.Â These shorties have looked adorable, like Tom could easily jump onto the Sunday funnies and nobody would bat an eye, but with just enough darkness to keep me interested.Â Even if the rest of the books all suddenly take a drastic dip in quality, this particular issue is going to be sitting on my desk for a while.Â I can’t think of a better holiday conversation starter than this…Â $.25
Add one more comic to your list of acceptable all-ages fare: Nibble. OK, maybe it’s too soon to say it after one issue, as this wasn’t perfect or anything, but it was adorable and even had a slightly amusing joke at the end for this adult brain. Granted, said brain is far too cynical to do more than crack a slight smile, but if anybody out there has managed to stay a bit less jaded than me (or has kids that aren’t quite there yet) than this is perfectly amusing shortie. I mean the shortie part too, as that $.25 price tag generally doesn’t come with books that are chock full of story. Either way the samples will probably tell you all you need to know, or if they don’t that website certainly will. $.25
It’s going to be very difficult to talk about this book, tiny as it is, without revealing the punch line.Â There’s a little boy, you see, with flowers for hair.Â While eating an ice cream cone (you know, the one on the cover) he begins to attract bees, who must love the fact that he has flowers for hair AND is eating ice cream.Â One bee becomes many bees, said boy manages to get away and decides on shaving his head.Â Anything more than that ruins the joke, and what’s the point of reading these tiny things if you already know the joke?Â Funny, good punchline, there’s not a whole lot more you can ask for at $.25.Â Worth checking out, and you can still get everything on this page for a little more than $1.
Here’s another tiny mini from Tom (or the first mini, if you’re reading this sequentially, which is how you probably are reading this in the future, as that’s how they’re listed and all).Â This one details an alternate theory on the life and death of Abraham Lincoln, as told to a young man asking his grandmother for help with a school essay.Â Grandma seems slightly confused in her memory of Abe, which leads to a rather amusing (and tiny, as you might have guessed from that price tag) comic. It’s long been my opinion that people who only put out pricey comics should at least have cheapies for people like me who wander around conventi0ns and quickly run out of money to buy hefty graphic novels, and Tom certainly has that idea down cold.Â It doesn’t hurt a thing that they’re all funny so far and leave me intrigued as to what else he’s done.Â Check it out, if you can still afford a quarter in this economy.
Eric Whetsel is Johnny Tobaccoseed
You can never really go wrong with jokes about hippies, although I think the jury is still out on jokes about calling somebody with a literal pot on his head a pothead.Â This is another shortie by Tom (and were you aware that you could get all 4 books listed on this page for $1?Â That’s tiny), this time about Johnny Tobaccoseed and his journey to tell all the children about the wonders of tobacco, after first creeping them out a little bit.Â Unfortunately for him Johnny Appleseed is tired of his schtick being stolen, and we’re treated to a good old fashioned cartoon brawl, with flying fists and stars in a swirling circular cloud.Â I think I judged these too quickly as simple all ages fun, and have been drifting away from that conclusion with every passing mini.Â Granted, kids could probably pick these up and miss most of the humor (although with the internet and all kids are probably more worldly than I give them credit for), but Tom manages to sneak some subtleties in for adults and careful readers, which is impressive given how tiny these things are.Â $.25, good luck finding a better comic bargain than that.
It’s hard to lower expectations more than that cover does, isn’t it?Â Setting the bar that low, naturally, makes it pretty easy to clear, which Tom manages easily.Â This is a 24 hour comic, meaning that you give up any serious expectations of quality at the door and may or may not come away pleasantly surprised.Â The story here, such as it is, is that a young boy and a big old talking fish decide to have a picnic.Â Well, the fish decides, the boy crankily agrees.Â The boy’s bad attitude extends all the way to him insulting the sun, and the sun responds by leaving.Â Meaning, for a few pages at least, solid black panels with some dialogue.Â Then there’s the overweight Jesus freak stripper who appears out of nowhere, although it turns out that there is a plan for her later.Â Or least there kind of is.Â Hey, maybe some people would be turned off by this level of randomness, but not me.Â Tom is nothing is not up front about the fact that this probably isn’t going to be his best work, and that famous fourth wall is smashed through over and over.Â I had a blast reading it, which is all you can ask for out of the 24 hour comics especially.Â $.50