God bless Lowjinx. I don’t know if anybody has ever come up with the concept for this book before, but it’s about time. In case you can’t read the cover, it’s an anthology of childhood drawing from some of the best small press cartoonists around. Included here are James Kochalka, Sam Henderson, Ivan Brunetti, Nick Bertozzi, Greg Cook, Tony Consiglio, Jordan Crane, Pete Sickman-Garner, Jesse Fuchs, Megan Kelso, Alex Robinson, Kevin Scalzo, Tom Spurgeon, Eric Reynolds, Steve Weissman, and, of course, Kurt Wolfgang. Once again, with this book, it’s probably not going to appeal to many people who don’t already know the work of those cartoonists. But for those people, this is absolutely priceless. It’s $6, if you like the work of these people go to the Top Shelf website and beg them to sell you a copy. OK, I should tell you a little bit about it first, even though if that list of names didn’t sell you, I don’t know what I could possibly say to convince you. Eric Reynolds (is he even on my page yet?) had a mostly text story about the Fantastic Four that’s hilarious, Sam Henderson hasn’t changed much over the years except now he swears more, Nick Bertozzi has a great story about a dog who’s learning to roller disco, and Tony Consiglio… aw, just buy it. I don’t want to ruin anything else for you, and everything in here is fascinating when compared to their later work. Don’t believe me? Fine, look at this:
Wolfgang, Kurt (editor) – Lowjinx #2: Understanding the Horrible Truth About Reinventing Mini Comics
Lowjinx #2: Understanding the Horrible Truth About Reinventing Mini Comics
If this was a perfect world, anybody who bought any mini comic ever would get a free copy if this book with their purchase. Yes, it’s that good. There’s one page that doesn’t do much for the book, but it doesn’t do much to take away from it either. Everything else is golden. I didn’t know much about Kurt Wolfgang before I saw this book (he’s the editor and contributed two pieces, “What the Fuck is a Mini Comic” and “My ‘Career’ in Comics”) and I still don’t really, but reading his pieces did inspire me to go to his website and order some of his other stuff. The new issue of Lowjinx is out and it has everybody who is anybody in it. If you’re wondering about the wisdom of making a comic about comics, well, he addresses that in the intro, so worry no more. The comic basically makes fun of Scott McCloud and James Kochalka and talks about trying to be taken seriously around your family and friends while drawing comics for a living. Jef Czekaj apes the Kochalka drawing style in his piece and pretty much nails the guy. Throw in Sam Henderson, Tony Consiglio , Dave Kiersh and Johnny Ryan and you have yourself a hell of a book. I can’t wait for #3 to get here…
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.
Double Cross #15
It’s like I’m out of Tony’s comics all over again, as this is the last one I have to ramble about on this website.Â For those of you reading this site in the future and wondering what the order of the reviews is on this page… forget about it.Â Chronologically speaking they’re all over the place, so focus on the art instead, OK?Â This is the second part of his More Or Less story, which is reprinted in a collection above, but since I haven’t looked at that in years I’m going to go ahead and assume that it didn’t reprint this entire issue, and thus it’s OK for me to bring it up again.Â Hey, even if it did reprint the whole thing the world (the tiny part of it that reads this website, anyway) needs to be periodically reminded of Tony’s work.Â This is the story of a night in the life of Tony, as he has to attend a family dinner for his grandma’s birthday.Â He relates trying to work out to get her with his mother, when he should show up for dinner (and when he actually shows up), dealing with his brother when he tries to pass Oasis off as “just like the Beatles”, and shows a very frank and human family dinner.Â To top it all off he gets home earlier than his roommate expected, and I won’t even try to describe what he finds there.Â Tony is probably the only comic creator around who can misspell words like crazy (OK, he only misses a few) and not have it bug me, and that is probably due entirely to his reaction toÂ a Dave Sim speech at SPACE in Ohio 5 or 6 years ago.Â It’s a funny story but I don’t want to post it here (unless I already did somewhere, and in that case “oops”), so ask me about it sometime.Â Lucky for you Tony has a fair chunk of his work in print in collections, or close enough to being in print that you could find it with a little persistence and help from the Google.Â Trust me, it’s worth the effort. $2
This says in the inside front cover that it’s an “attempt” at a 24 hour comic. Wonder how close it was? For one thing, it’s significantly less sloppy than your average 24 hour comic, which leads me to believe that he came up with idea and then redrew it later to make a decent mini out of it. Why aren’t I talking more about the comic? Oh, come on, you know I like Tony’s stuff. Is there some mystery to what I’m going to say about it? OK, fine. It’s about a man who has a twin brother who’s a superhero, but the other twin is stuck with an unbearably ordinary life. So the ordinary twin decides to kidnap his superhero brother, steal his costume and reap the rewards of fame and fortune himself. Along the way he finds out that he might have some superpowers after all… but the only way to get them is to do good deeds. Great stuff and, like I said, this sure doesn’t look like your average 24 hour comic. $2 maybe? I don’t know, that’s a pretty sweet cover, it might be $3. Ah, just check his website, it’s all over this page and I’m sure there’s info there.
Double Cross #17 (reviewed by Jason Dupuis)
this particular issue of double cross is quite a bit shorter than the other two (#13 & #16) that i picked up at space. i don’t know if that affects the price because i don’t remember how much i paid for them. anyway, this is kind of a weird issue. it contains two stories about abusing elderly women, one of which is written by alex robinson (box office poison). they are both a bit depressing and a bit funny. actually, a lot of his stories are like that. kind of paradoxical, i guess. there are also a couple of other stories, which are quite entertaining, and a blasphemous “pin-up” by kieron dwyer (lcd). i really like consiglio’s drawing style and his stories are well written and engaging. his panel layouts and composition are really well done. i should know, i have a phd in comicbookology. take it from an expert, you need to buy some stuff from this guy.
Double Cross #16
This one’s a bit different from most of the other issues of Double Cross that I’ve read, as it’s mostly not about Tony. This is basically stuff that was published in other, probably long-gone anthologies. The first story, Numb, is about a man who finds his wife after he had been told that she had been killed years before. It’s a nice little suspense story, different from his usual stuff. Also in here is a short Dracula story, a tiny one about Tony and his girlfriend and a great back page by Alex Robinson on how things would change if he was the king of the world. Is there anyone left out there who doesn’t have all of Tony’s minis? I feel like I’m wasting my time writing this because everybody already knows how great his stuff is. Well, if any random person ever stumbles across this page who has never heard of the guy, even if they don’t like comics, they should send the man $5 for some great stuff.
Double Cross! #13
One of the difficult things about reviewing an ongoing series, mini or regular, is that it’s tough to unreservedly recommend something. Sure, one issue can be great, but the next can be just mediocre or something far worse. Some of these guys put pressure on themselves to put out issues consistently over making everything as good as it can be. Or maybe they think it’s great and I’m just being too damned picky sometimes, I don’t know. Regardless, I don’t have that problem with Double Cross. No, every issue isn’t brilliant. But every issue that I’ve seen has been consistently engaging, funny, and just plain fun to read. For the life of me, I can’t figure out why this guy isn’t working for one of the “major” companies. If Pete Sickman-Garner can get his book out with Top Shelf, Tony should be in there too. Not that I don’t love Pete’s work, but they are both two of the few people doing character comics consistently and well.
That being said, #13 isn’t a good starting point. It’s entertaining, like all of them are, and it could be argued that it’s worth the price of admission just for the rant at the end against comic stores and copy machines, but you’d be better off buying some of the later issues and coming back to this when you just need more Double Cross in your life. The main problem is that he doesn’t keep very many issues in print and #13 is one of them. I don’t know, e-mail him and bug him about it. Maybe he’s sitting on a big contract and he’s going to put everything into one book. Ah, if only the world worked that way… I’ll have reviews of some of the other issues up at a later date. Go to his homepage and find out what he does have available.
Double Cross #12
Wasn’t this story collected in one his graphic novels?Â It seems like I saw this after this comic came out back in 1997.Â Well, if it wasn’t it should have been, as this is the essential “Tony working at the deli” comic.Â Granted, such a thing would probably not be considered essential by a lot of people, but those are stupid people who have no appreciation for Double Cross and his assorted other comics.Â Yes, it’s quite possible that I just called you stupid, and if you took the time to read a few of his comics you might just grudgingly agree with me, before becoming a convert.Â The story here is fairly simple: Tony has his day start off with some jerk on the train spilling coffee on him (so he’s going to smell like coffee all day), and is already in a lousy mood when he gets to work.Â When he arrives Chris (who he has a serious and obvious crush on) berates him for being late, he is told that he has to wear a hat with a salami on top of it and then the real fun begins: the store opens.Â If you’ve ever ordered meat from a deli counter you probably already have had a glimpse of the rampant stupidity of some people, but Tony lays it out in gory detail.Â There is also the small matter of somebody stealing money from a register running throughout the story, and the small matter of Tony trying to talk Chris into going out with him.Â While it’s not my place to say it, if you were out there hoping for the Double Cross experience, this is the perfect issue to get it.Â It’s the size of two minis, so Tony really gets a chance to tell a great story and it’s a damned near perfect “day in the life” comic.Â I don’t know if these are available anywhere, but they damned well should be.
Finally! I’ve been complaining for years that Tony seems unwilling or unable to keep his Double Cross minis in print. Well, here’s about 80 pages of that stuff, all in one handy volume. I’d only seen about 1/4 of this before, meaning that a lot of it is from his older books and stuff that probably hasn’t seen the light of day in years. Don’t take that as a knock on the quality of the work, as this is probably his strongest collection yet. Lots of stories about his job in the deli, a text story about his trip to a peepshow, dealing with his family, a few fiction stories… This is what all collections of older material should be. Does that make any sense at all? I just mean that if older stuff isn’t going to be kept in print, well, it’s not my call, but it’s good to at least keep the really great stuff readily available. It’s $5 and unless you’ve been reading this since he started doing the comic you’re going to find at least a few new things worth reading in here. Go to his website and buy away!
Could it be? Has the independent comics scene finally woken up to the fact that Tony Consiglio is a lot better than most of the people that they publish? OK, maybe not “most”, but a lot of them. Top Shelf finally fixed that problem with the publication of this book. I think that this is a reprint of stuff from his mini, but it’s all stuff that I haven’t seen and it’s a great story. Tony admitted in an anthology or somewhere that he exaggerates his family a little, but that doesn’t make them any less entertaining. This is mostly about his crappy job and dealing with his girlfriend, her brother and his family, while all he really wants to be doing is drawing comics. These are the simple tales of a dreamer who’s stuck in the same crappy work-a-day world as the rest of us. For those of you who have been wondering about this guy, now’s your chance. This is $4.95 and worth every penny.
Titanius Now Available! $2.50
What the hell? So is this part of a series, or did I just miss the joke with the ending? Whatever the case, this is another comic about a super hero, sort of. There’s this guy, see, and he tried to rescue his kid from a burning building a while back. He handed his kid through an open window into a pair of outstretched arms, not knowing that he would never see his kid again. This whole comic is about the man, Titanius, in a diner, mostly trying to order his dinner. There’s nothing really resembling an ending, so I don’t know where it’s going from here, but it’s obvious that Tony has a lot of fun with super heroes. And that’s quite possibly the best costume I’ve ever seen. Another funny book, and if I ran the world I’d let him take over, say, Silver Surfer for a couple of years. Think of the possibilities! Oh, and that “T” is supposed to be silver, but my new scanner has failed me for the first time…
What, doesn’t anybody order books online? This is a story that was published originally in the SPX anthology for 2002, one that I thought was just about the weakest of the bunch because of the guidelines. Still, there were some great stories in there, and this was one of them. This is the tale of Bobby Darin. You know, that singer. I’m not sure how accurate all the information in here is but hey. I’ll take him at his word. It’s basically a short version of his entire life, as Tony doesn’t choose to focus on any one time period, and that helps give the story a complete, well-rounded feel. Everybody who’s read the rest of this page already knows that I love Tony’s work and, if you haven’t seen this already, it’s definitely worth a look. Not as good as his more personal stuff, in my opinion, but still good…
I’ve mentioned on this page before that Tony is a hero of mine in the
comics world, right? Just thought that might be relevant in case
anybody thought they were getting an unbiased review. This is the story
of three older female fans of the boy band 110 Perc (I can’t make the
“cent” symbol, sorry). There’s Gerty, the 30ish housewife who’s
neglecting her husband and kids in her mad obsession to collect
everything associated with the band. There’s Cathy, a lonely largish
woman who seems to fill up her life with trivia and keepsakes about the
band. And finally there’s Sasha, probably the only relatively normal
one of the bunch, a 50ish woman who has an annoyed but supportive
husband. These three form the center of a story of celebrity obsession
at the cost of everything else, and the costs for them as human beings.
Gerty ignores her kids and husband until it’s convenient for her, Cathy
lets people at work make fun of her just because it gives her at least a
little bit of attention, and Sasha seems to have been married for ages,
making her husband an unlikely but constant source of hostile support.
The trouble really begins when Gerty manages to get two tickets to the
concert, meaning one of them won’t be able to go, and Cathy snags a copy
of the unreleased new album from the band, 2 Good 2 B 4 You, but
discovers that it’s, well, crap. It’s a great story all around, full of
his usual funnies while still ending up with a deeper message, all while
not coming anywhere near preachy. Which is nice, as it’s hard to take
any story about 3 older women who like a boy band all that seriously.
Kudos to Top Shelf for putting this out, as his work is not nearly
widely accessible enough for my tastes. It’s great stuff as always by
Tony, perfect for any current fans of his stuff and just as accessible
to people who have never heard of the guy. $12.95