Tortilla Comix #6
Jaime opens this comic up with some introspection, trying to figure out why he still makes comics. It’s not like there’s a lot of money in it, and he doesn’t think he’s well-known (I’d argue that the people in comics who know quality work know him, but I’ll grant him his point; you could probably put all of those people into a college hockey rink with room to spare). He doesn’t exactly answer his question, outside of not knowing what else to do. Good work can be its own reward? Hoo boy, does that ever sound trite. Eh, I’m not the right person to ask. I’m coming up on 20 years of running this website, and my best answer to why I keep it up is “habit.” At least he’s making some amazing art, on this end all I do is point at comics and say “hey look, there’s some amazing art!” Wow did I ever get off track with this ramble. You’re probably curious about the comic part of his comic book. There are a few stories in here, mostly about his days as a kid or a punk rocker. First up is an engaging story about the evolution of punk during his time with all kinds of bands which evolved into a tale of how music was chosen while on the road with his last band (and how open-minded that band was to some new types of music). Then there’s the thoughtful tale of how he’d play around outside after dark with his friend and what he would do when he was by himself in an empty, sleeping town. Finally there’s the saga of how he tried to get the triple album by The Clash. Oh youngsters, this was in a time without the internet, and he didn’t own a car, and it was getting dangerously close to closing time and pouring down rain. Did he succeed? No spoilers here. I mean, sure, even if he failed I doubt that he never tried again, but… just read it for yourself. Finally there’s a short piece about his mother, with a real gut punch of an ending. It’s another thoroughly entertaining comic from a guy that I hope keeps making comics until his fingers fall off, but I’m selfish like that. Buy his comics! If everybody reading this bought a copy he would be… well, not rich, exactly. But he could get a nice dinner probably! $5
Jaime has a new website! I just wanted to make that clear for everybody who only reads a sentence or two of my rambling reviews. And this is his first series to get to five issues, so congrats to him! He mentions in his intro that he attempted to make this an all humor comic, as he knows that some of his stuff gets heavy. Despite the fact that I usually love his stuff, every time an artist says something like that my immediate reaction is “I’ll be the judge of that” and, well, what can I say. I laughed out loud at the end of three of the stories and grinned at the end of the fourth, so I’d call that a successful humor comic. Stories in here include aliens demanding to see our leader (and while I usually hate giving away the gag on a sample page, this was just too good for me to resist), a tale from his childhood about him and a friend trying to avoid a bully that ends with the bully throwing a spear at them as they were fleeing (and probably my biggest laugh of the book), how he came to accept the spider in his house (OK, maybe the final panel of this one was the biggest laugh in the book), and a story about the teenage years of Jesus that he held off on publishing until his very Catholic mother passed away. So if you usually like his stuff but find him a bit heavy, this comic is for you! If you have good taste and already liked his stuff, you already know that you need this in your life. Oh, and if you managed to get a copy of Tortilla #1, he apparently lost the original artwork and the comic is out of print, so you might be sitting on a goldmine. Billionaires buy comics too, right? $4.50
See, here’s where my lack of a working scanner really hurts the review: Jaime doesn’t have a working website. So no free samples to be had there to help you make up your mind. Then again, how much convincing do you really need? Jaime has been making quality comics for 25ish years and he has a new issue out! What more do you need to know? And yes, it would be cheating if I bailed on the review right there. Jaime has had a rough few years (which accounts for the delay between issues), but he hasn’t lost a step with his comics skills. This one has four stories, and the subjects include observational evidence that the worst drivers all own gold cars (which is not something I’ve ever noticed, but it’s certainly going to be on my mind while driving from now on), an especially obnoxious local drunk who eventually motivates the town to pool their resources to get a one-way ticket to get him out of town (and what happens next), Jaime’s efforts (as a child) to help a friend sell some candy bars so they’d be free to play and their chance encounter of a celebrity, and Jaime’s history of skateboarding and surfing. Oh, and in regards to that celebrity, I’m not going to spoil it, but there story is set in the 70’s, so let your imagination run wild in your guesses. Jaime is also still working on a big old graphic novel that I can’t wait to see, and he’ll even be in Columbus for Sol-Con from October 13-16th (2016, in case you’re reading this in the future). That lineup of guests is ridiculously stacked, so come to Columbus for the show! In the meantime, buy this comic. You know that lack of a sample image is driving you nuts, and there’s only one way to learn what celebrity he ran into in the 70’s… $4
Have I ever mentioned my inevitable first reaction whenever I get a comic with a text story in it? Invariably, it’s “huh, this probably would have made a good/great (depending on the quality of the story) comic.” Which is odd, as I read plenty of novels and books of short stories. But hey, if it’s in the middle of a book of comics, it makes total sense, right? Anyway, Jaime has been on a bit of a roll lately, and he keeps that going here. Things start off with another chapter from his upcoming “Turk Street Serenade” graphic novel, and he’s wisely going to stop putting those chapters in his comic now, as why give away the whole thing for free? Well, not free, but you know what I mean. This chapter deals with him having a shitty day (in more ways than one) at work and his confrontation with a jerk. I can say no more, but it’s always funny to see assholes get their due. Next is the text story I mentioned before dealing with Jaime’s lifelong troubles with math, going back to his early days in middle school and the methods that his teachers used to get him to learn. Well, teaching him wasn’t really their goal, as he lays out in detail, but they seemed to think that cruelty could maybe do it all by itself. Finally there’s a story told from the perspectives of two very different people up until their eventual meeting. It’s another solid mini, and to be fair I do get why Jaime would do a text story instead of a comic about his math troubles: it would have been a lengthy and complex comic and hey, it’s not like him writing this story prevents him from ever making it into a comic. Check it out, and I’m really looking forward to him completing that graphic novel. $3
I have a general question before I start the praising, and this may or may not be rhetorical: why is it that sometimes when a comics artist hasn’t put a book out in a year or two, the book that does eventually come out is filled with previously released material? I realize that making comics isn’t the highest priority when you’re also trying to make enough money to feed your family, and everything in this issue is new to me anyway, but I was just curious about that in general. Jaime says that this issue ended up being all personal stories about him and that it worked as a complete issue, and he’s completely right about that, so consider the previous questions to be about 90% Sunday afternoon ramblings. There are three big stories in here and a short piece about a “Love Bomb.” First up is Jaime’s old habit as a kid of hopping onto moving trains to spare himself some walking. He always managed to jump off before they started moving too quickly until, of course, he doesn’t. Hey, there would be no story otherwise, right? It was a great, tense story with some serious attention to detail, considering that all this happened many years ago. Next up is Jaime’s piece on stealing all kinds of stuff as a kid and temporarily being “the kid who could get booze.” He was too young to care about drinking it, but it was a nice way to make a few extra bucks. You could kind of see his downfall coming, but I loved how he portrayed the utter casualness he had for stealing after getting away with it so many times. Finally there’s the first chapter of a projected graphic novel called “Turk Street Serenade.” Apparently the bulk of this book was completed and on his hard drive when the damned thing crashed. “That sucks” is a massive understatement, as I’ve been thinking for years that it’ll probably take a big old graphic novel to really get his name out there. Sure, it already is among the smart people, but you know what I mean. Anyway, this chapter deals with Jaime taking over a night shift at a hotel, trying to stave off boredom before eventually getting way more action than he wanted. Ah, I remember the life of working nights at a hotel. The people that you’d see, I swear. Like Jaime said, the whole thing works really well as a complete comic, and if you haven’t read any of his stuff already, I’d suggest starting right here. No price listed here or at his website, I’m going to guess $4.
Ah, the benefit of hindsight.Â Jaime hopes to get this comic out twice a year, which would be a great thing, as there aren’t enough Jaime Crespo comics in the world.Â Sadly, this came out in October 2008 and there hasn’t been a #2 yet (at least judging from his website, but at least he’s working on a graphic novel). There’s still time to get two of these out in two years, and that is about average for the small press world, sadly enough.Â And what’s up with that cover title?Â The man’s a maestro with the pen and it looks like he wrote “Tortilla” while on a roller coaster.Â OK, the complaint department is now closed, as I had no problems with the rest of it.Â Stories in here include an inspirational “brawl”, some silent (and not-so-silent) moments from his area, the perfect modern superhero (“Too Fat To Do Shit Man”), and some brief hilarity with Floyd and Ringworm.Â There’s also a lengthy text story involving a face from Jaime’s past and how he stumbled into her later in life that is a lot more involved than I’m letting on.Â It’s a bit of a horror story, frankly, but I’m damned if I can figure out what Jaime should have done differently.Â Then there’s the big comic piece of the book, “Corner Store”.Â Jaime was always forced to walk to the local store instead of the closer big box store as a kid, and resented the hell out if it, until one day he happened to see a rum bottle.Â What was odd about this rum bottle?Â To a kid of around 7, something crucial: boobs!Â He alerted the neighborhood, everybody snuck a peek, and there’s even a fantastic epilogue to the story that I’m not going to ruin here.Â For once I’m not going to demand that everybody immediately go out and buy this comic, even though it’s fantastic and you really should.Â Instead I’ll say that you should buy his graphic novel the second it comes out and make this guy famous.Â He’s been doing this for decades (seriously) and deserves to make some serious cash at it already.Â Of course, if you have $3 lying around, there are all kinds of worse things you could do with that cash than buy this comic…