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Various Artists – Future Shock #0

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Future Shock #0

Before I get into any of the content, I just want to point out that this is one of the most beautifully colored books that I’ve ever seen. Granted, a lot of small press anthologies are in black and white, but every story in this collection is colored beautifully, up to and including the collages by Josh Burggraf. So hey, what about the content? This is a collection of science fiction stories on a variety of different themes. Some (but by no means all) of my favorites included Vincent Giard’s tale on perspective in movement and meaning, Jason Murphy’s conceptual struggle, Lala Albert’s piece on mutations caused by a certain type of water and what people do with said mutations, a lengthy wordless piece by Alex Degen about virtual reality and the consequences of dreaming, William Cardini’s depiction of the death of a planet and the aftermath, Pat Aulisio playing around in a post-apocalyptic wasteland with mad dogs and killer lizards, Aleks Sennwald and Pete Toms showing the lingering effect of ads on the environment (even long after humanity is gone), and Anuj Shreshta’s story on the increasing ease of blocking out all bad thoughts and opinions and the consequences of those actions. Aside from being just damned pretty, this is also one of the more thoughtful science fiction comics I’ve read in ages. The last two stories I mentioned alone had several comments and images in each of them that made me stop and think or examine an assumption I’d had from a different angle, which is always welcome. No anthology is ever going to be perfect for everybody, but if you can’t find several stories in here to love then maybe the fault is on your end. $18

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Burggraf, Josh & Kerlow, Victor – Pyramid Scheme #2

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Pyramid Scheme #2

Nude beach! Have you ever wanted to watch a talking dog, a golem (or maybe a Cyclops; the back of the book calls him Robot) and Kid Space Heater (who is able to cook hot dogs or play music) frolic about the beach, all seemingly indifferent to the seas of nudity surrounding them? If so, you’re in luck! Everybody has some fun, which seems to be the entire point of this comic. If that’s not enough of a comic for you, or if you’re looking for more substance, I guess the meaning of life was not uncovered in this comic. But there was hijinx, and dancing, and a very short fight. I’m fine with calling that a successful comic and had a blast reading it. Talking about it, on the other hand, is impossible much past this point, so… enjoy! Or don’t, I’m not the boss of you. But I have a hard time imagining somebody reading this without enjoying it.

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Various Artists – Cringe

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Cringe

Quick, think of the most embarrassing thing that’s ever happened to you. Now imagine yourself writing and drawing a comic story about it. That right there should make you cringe, which means you’re in luck, as that’s what this anthology is all about! This book has right around 30 small press artists, some new and some who have been around for awhile, who are willing to share some shameful incident from their past. I don’t think anything in here will get anybody put in jail, but it’s hard not to cringe while reading some of these. I’m not going to review every story because there are so damned many of them (and for a measly $8!), but the highlights include Shaenon K. Garrity wetting herself while out with a group of other cartoonists (including a big name guy, but I won’t spoil the surprise; I particularly loved the way she ended her strip), Sam Spina’s unfortunate method for drinking a rum shot when he met the Bacardi girls, Adam Pasion’s particularly gruesome retelling of an incident involving a finger in the eye, Geoff Vasile dodging a bullet (not literally), Chad Essley and his series of embarrassing moments (hard to top the one where he volunteered to breakdance at school on stage), Fred Noland’s theories on some crayons he used to own, Chad Woody and his racist former roommate, Box Brown and his former habit of eating light bulbs (it’s not quite as life-threatening as it sounds), Stephen Notley and his experience of being “that guy” at a comic convention (you know the one, the guy who gets up to ask a rambling and pointless question and has no idea how to get out of it once he gets started), and Sam Henderson’s experiences with having seizures while surrounded by strangers. It’s a damned fine mix of stories, and at a ridiculously cheap price. Save yourself the embarrassment of not owing this anthology of embarrassment! Ugh, I feel dirty for saying that. I’ll let myself out… $8

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Various Artists – Supertalk #1

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Now Available! $5

Supertalk #1

I love that cover. Absolutely perfect for the title, and if you ask me to explain that belief I will run away from you at top speed. This is an anthology put together by Eric Watkins, or at least published by Eric Watkins, and it features all sorts of folks that I’ll get into more in a minute. You could maybe say that talking was the unifying theme, but you would most likely be wrong, as these stories are all over the place. J.T. Yost is up first with a funny short piece on the daily lives of pigeons. Next is Sung Yoon Choi with a piece about how she never knew her parents and was raised by her Aunt (or at least the character in her story was, I have no idea if this is autobiographical). That one seemed to end very suddenly, so maybe there’s more out there, or maybe it was just meant to end suddenly and I didn’t get it. This will take forever to review at this rate, and it’ll be a mess anyway because of a lack of a table of contents (although at least the artists were listed in order of their appearance), so how about I mention my highlights? There’s Paul Hoppe with a reverse ventriloquism strip, Adam Kidder with Fundar the Funbarian (it’s just as fantastic as it sounds), James Turek with a piece about crashing into a car that’s already on the way to the hospital, Andres Vera Martinex with his introduction to Chicago life and Chris Butzer with a story on the fog of doom. There are plenty of other interesting bits and pieces in here, and one thing that immediately stood out was the sheer diversity of the artists. If you buy anthologies looking for a pile of new and potentially interesting artists, this is an excellent showcase. Naturally, I didn’t love everything about it (those anthologies are few and far between), but there’s more than enough good stuff in here to make it worth checking out. $5