Update for 2/23/24

New review today for In The City Part Two by Karl Christian Krumpholz. See? Not that hard to stick to reviews for numbered series for a week. A month of this, however, and I’d be struggling…

Krumpholz, Karl Christian – In The City Part Two

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In The City Part Two

As always, it feels like cheating to tell the reader to refer to the previous review in this series, but yeah, do that. Everything I said there remains true, about how Karl is using the comic to show a city, warts and all, as only regulars in that city can see it. Honestly, his books these days make me want to instantly go down to the bar for a few drinks, which is awkward because I’m usually reading his comics in the morning hours. This comic is another glimpse inside of an average day, made all the more complete because he has an excellent ear for dialogue (I’m just assuming that he’s using overheard conversations and not just making all the dialogue up, but most of it sure sounds/looks real) and detail. Things again start off silently for several pages, as we see the routine of Karl and his wife as they get ready to head out on the town. There’s also a brief glimpse of Oola, but she’s not the star of this series, so take what you can get, Oola fans! From there we see some colorful locals, a band advertisement, the route that they walk, and finally a leisurely look at their bus route. An overheard conversation on the bus is the first dialogue we see, followed by the entire experience of eating in a diner. Observations, stories, even a doomed attempt to hit on a sad waitress, it’s all there. After they leave, Chekhov’s Middle Finger (or maybe I’m thinking about the rule about his gun), which was seen earlier, is now used as a weapon, and a depressing argument occurs. The rest of the book is a delightful continuation of an average day spent out in the world, or this city in particular. You know, I’m pretty sure Karl doesn’t say a word in this one, but I could be wrong. You know what kind of mood this comic would be perfect for? If you’re in the mood to go out but either can’t (let’s say it’s snowing) or can’t decide. If it’s the former, you get to live vicariously. If it’s the latter, chances are that it’ll help you decide to get off your ass and head out. For the rest of us, I’ll guarantee you that something in here will remind you of something YOU’VE seen while out and you’ll get a chuckle out of it. $12

Update for 2/21/24

New review today for Eyeland #7, and hey look, it’s another accidental theme week, as they’re all ongoing series! Really reaching this time, granted. Let’s see if I can find something else to fit the theme for Friday…

Forker, Nick – Eyeland #7

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Eyeland #7

My “let’s review Eyeland one random issue at a time” plan is still going swimmingly, and if you think I’m not sticking to this credo, I’d suggest looking up the issues that I’ve reviewed so far. Normally I wouldn’t do this, but since each issue has been self-contained so far, well, what’s the harm? And yes, of course I’ll feel like a real dummy if that doesn’t end up being the case. This time around we’re treated to the… origin of the main character? Maybe? It’s entirely wordless until the last page, so it’s very much open to interpretation. Things start off with a giant head that’s attached a mountain slowly, painstakingly ripping its own eye out. So if you’ve ever wanted to see that process play out over the course of a few pages of a comic, you’re in luck! From there we see the slow evolution of the eye growing limbs, beginning to walk, taking an inventory of its surroundings, and then being mercilessly flicked off a table by a giant hand. Most of these issues so far have delved deep into philosophy, so the one thing I was not expecting out of this series was a wordless issue. If I’ve already reviewed a wordless issue of this series and have forgotten about it, well I guess that shows how much you should trust my memory, huh? It’s another good issue, but if you’re just going to check a single issue out, if probably shouldn’t be this one. Unless you’re big into eye removal, that is. $5

Update for 2/19/24

New review today for Plastic People #9 by Brian Canini, and now I can finally start making a dent in this Plastic People backlog I have going on.

Canini, Brian – Plastic People #9

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Plastic People #9

If you’re wondering why it’s taken me this long to get back to reviewing the series, I’d somehow managed to lose a few review issues that Brian sent me, so the plan was to take stock and then buy those issues the next time I saw him at a con. But lo, what was lost is now found! In a drawer. In the kitchen. <cough> Not much of a dramatic reveal, I guess, but I can at least get the reviews back on track now, and after this one I’ll be switching to a “multiple issues reviewed at once” format, because that’s probably the best way to read this series. Boy howdy, that was a whole lot of gibberish. Anyway, if you need a refresher, go back to the old reviews (or issues, obviously), but this one starts with our first long look into a… plastic surgery church? I’m not sure that it was ever named, unless it’s in one of the older issues and I’ve forgotten it. We get a deeply creepy sermon (and call and response) from the pulpit, then the detectives take the “priest” aside to ask him some questions about the murdered girl. We get a lot of information in this issue, although it’s tough to say if we’re any closer to solving the mystery, and things end up with a major update on the celebrity who was attacked at the end of the last issue. It’s still compelling as a story, and he’s up to #20 as of this writing with no signs of slowing down. Grab yourself a few of the compendiums to catch up, why don’t you? Or the single issues are $2 if you just want to dip a toe in.

Update for 2/15/24

New review today for Poison Pill, a big old anthology with a half dozen ridiculously talented artists in it.

Various Artists – Poison Pill

Website (to buy the book)

Poison Pill

I get moderately lazy when linking to individual websites for anthology reviews, but check out those tags. That’s a hell of a list of talent, and if you haven’t heard of a name on it, look them up and check out their stuff! Obviously. This is a collection of six new (I think?) stories, and to take all the suspense out of my conclusion, it might be the best anthology I’ve seen in years. There’s not a weak story in the bunch, and just about any of them would be considered the best story in an average anthology. Things start off strong with Caroline Cash’s First Date, a story about her just starting to come out of the pandemic restrictions in the summer of 2020 and trying to date, with all of the usual awkwardness that comes with that on top of not being sure if you’re allowed to touch the other person. Sam Szabo is up next with the story of when they did their own makeup for the first time, how it changed everything in terms of how they saw themselves, and how it all magically came together with them going solo to an Insane Clown Posse show (trust me, the whole thing comes together beautifully). Victoria Douglas is up next with a grim but hilarious take on being constantly expected to churn out content for the always voraciously hungry internet, including unwelcome feedback from family members, and if you’re not nodding along to several of the points, you’re not even online enough to see this review. M.S. Harkness juxtaposes her experience with fireworks during an awkward backyard fight when she was a kid with an entirely different experience as an adult out on the water with some dude she sort of knew, then Heather Loase is up with a piece about her first time looking up a porn search term and everything that came from it, followed by her years of denial of the feelings that it brought up. Finally there’s Audra Stang’s piece about her family’s “holiday tree” (i.e. the Christmas tree that doesn’t come down, so it’s just decorated for each successive holiday until it crumbles) fro when she was a kid, her jealousy of her classmates and their trees and how her whole schedule would change over winter break. Oh, and all of these synopses for the stories? They barely scratch the surface of each piece. Sometimes in anthologies you’ll at least get a rush job or two, or at least shorter, fluffier pieces. Everything in here would be complete if it was released as its own mini comic, and that’s just about as high of a complement as I can give for an anthology. There aren’t many places left that still have copies listed as being available, so if you’re interested, I wouldn’t dither too long. Click on that link while it still has copies! $20

Update for 2/13/24

New review today for The Re-Up #3 by Chad Bilyeu and Juliette de Wit, and why yes, I am still reviewing comics from CXC roughly four months later. Like I keep telling all of the stingy billionaires reading this, if you just threw a pile of money at me, I’d make this a full time job. Like you’d even miss a few million!

Bilyeu, Chad & de Wit, Juliette – The Re-Up #3

Website (Chad)

Website (Juliette)

The Re-Up #3

This series is moving right along, and this time around we start to see Chad’s plan for becoming/staying a successful pot dealer in the aughts. If you missed the first two comics in this series and have just started reading the reviews now, check back with those, that’ll tell you the story so far. Obviously, YOU know all that, I’m just talking to that one guy who doesn’t get it. Anyway, we see how Chad approaches people, how he knows who to ask, and how people know to ask him (generally because he assumes that he usually smells like pot). We see an eclectic range of customers, proving once again an ongoing theory of mine: the people who are smoking pot are often not the stereotypical ones that you might suspect. We also see what sure looks the beginning of a foolproof plan of where he should set up shop for his pot handoffs, after Chad learns that police have to get permission from the university to show up. Chad also peppers the story with overheard conversations from his time on campus and, as he makes clear in his afterward, these are all actual conversations, as he regularly carries around a notepad to remember conversations verbatim. The rich kids at Georgetown are often just as obnoxious and clueless as you might think, which all leads inevitably and delightfully to the conclusion: he’s going to take these kids for all they’re worth. Spoiler, sort of, but it’s not like that’s the end of the whole story, so only a baby spoiler, really. Speaking of that afterward, it’s another welcome piece of insight into the process, what he hopes comes from it, and it’ll ideally be a spot for letters in the future. So yeah, this series is thoroughly on track now, if anybody had any doubts. I thought it hit the ground running and has stayed solid throughout. He does offer a package deal for the first few comics (I know I linked to it in one of this reviews), or you can buy them singly through Birdcage Bottom Books. $9

Update for 2/7/24

New review today for Are You Lost, Little Bunny? by Noemi Vola. That’s right, back to the mini kus books!

Vola, Noemi – Are You Lost, Little Bunny?

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Are You Lost, Little Bunny?

Oh, I’ll bet that title got at least a few people to buy this who didn’t get what they were expecting at all. This is the story of a sad little bunny, mostly, who gets several pieces of advice from an unseen narrator that aren’t at all designed to cheer the little creature up. Still, the narrator is not wrong, and it’s clear that the little bunny needs to hear this stuff. The bunny is sad, you see, but the narrator is a little sick of having to cheer the creature up, and makes the decision to tell the bunny about how others can’t save you (they’re mostly too busy to even notice you have a problem to save you), the narrator is frankly a little sick of having to make a show of trying, it’s maybe your own fault that these things keep happening, and the only thing that won’t abandon you is your tears. I mean, they’re not wrong, but the juxtaposition of all of this advice with the dazzling array of colors and cuteness can make your head spin at times. It really is a gorgeous book, and I’d honestly be curious what a kid who hasn’t learned to read yet would get out of it. Granted, that last one is mostly because I’m a weirdo. Some solid advice in here, and possibly a useful reality check for at least a few people. Does that mean that this is another mini kus winner? Why yes, it certainly does. $7.95 (or cheaper for a bundle of four different comics, always a good deal)

Update for 2/5/24

New review today for Far Tune: Spring by Terry Eisele and Brent Bowman, which wraps up the series (in case you were waiting for me to review the last volume before checking it out, you weirdos).

Eisele, Terry & Bowman, Brent – Far Tune: Spring

Website (Terry)
Website (Brent)

Far Tune: Spring

I’ve read a whole lot of series ending graphic novels over the years, and one thing that really impressed me about this one was how assured it was in wrapping things up. Granted, there’s no magic ring to be tossed into a volcano at the end, just a young woman trying to adjust to life in Ohio schools after living in a refugee camp and then London. Still, you need a conclusion for something like this, and Terry and Brent really landed this sucker. Things start off with a completely silent recap of Fartun’s leaving the refugee camp, and the decision to make it silent was brilliant. All we needed was to focus on her wide-eyed awe at just about everything she was experiencing (often while her father and brother were sleeping), from the little things like power locks in cars to getting on an airplane and actually flying away. From there the bulk of the school portion of the book deals with Fartun (and her friend Bea) getting back from spring break and discovering that they have to do a big project that covers three different classes. They come to the same conclusion separately; Fartun can write and Bea can draw, so why not combine their project to make a comic about Fartun’s time in the camp? They get approval, go to Laughing Ogre to get some resource material (always nice to see a great comic shop get recognized), and we get to read what sure looks like the actual comic that they made reproduced in this volume. There’s also a lot going on here with Fartun’s family, as the conflict between her more traditional father and his children (her and her brother) comes to a head. No sense getting too far into spoilers for the last volume of a series, but let’s just say that arranged marriages and forced relocation for “wayward children” are both things that are perfectly fine in the more antiquated parts of that culture, and neither of those things would go over well with children mostly raised in America. This whole series is another thoroughly impressive achievement, taking a lot of time to tell a story that’s too often glossed over or ignored entirely. It’s absolutely worth checking out, although if you wait a few years and happen to have kids (or grandkids, or nephews/nieces, etc.) I’d have to imagine this series being taught in schools. Anyway, I’m looking to see what he comes up with next, unless he wants to take a few years off to recover… $10

Update for 2/1/24

New review today for Cosmic Gossip by Mark Peters and Will Cardini. You know what just occurred to me?Maybe it would be helpful if I kept track of the number of times I reviewed somebody. You know, then I could say this was review #24 of Will’s books over the years. A constant work in progress, that’s this website…

Peters, Mark & Cardini, Will – Cosmic Gossip

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Cosmic Gossip

Look out, Hyperverse fans: this one isn’t set in that universe. If you don’t know what I’m talking about, the vast majority of the comics that Will has put out over the last several years have been set in that universe. Heck, I’ve reviewed most of them here, try to keep up! I also love that his website has a listed, easily followed order of these comics, often with free online versions, so it’s entirely on you if you don’t want to catch up. Anyway, that’s a moot point, because this comic stands alone. There are three stories in here, starting off with the one I sampled below: the big baby that created the universe. As you might expect with a baby, it’s a bit of a chaotic enterprise, which really explains a whole lot about the universe if you think about it. And penguins. Next up is a cosmic eating contest, in which two representatives have to eat as many planets as they can in the allotted time. But when you can eat that much, what’s the one way to ensure your victory? Finally there’s the tale of the space monk (vaguely Buddhist, but alien) who gets quizzed by his master and ends this off with a solid zinger. This comic also answers the question of whether or not space Buddhist masters have a sense of humor, and you’ll be happy and relieved by the answer. I’ve praised Will’s art before, but the coloring deserves mention this time around. For a guy who’s done so much of his work in black and white, this one is gorgeously colored. You can see solid examples of it in the sample image, but that planet eating contest was spectacular, and I don’t know if I could say that if it was in black and white. Give this one a look, free from concerns about where it falls in Hyperverse continuity. Then you go back and catch up on all his other stuff. $8

Update for 1/30/24

New review today for Grocery Bag Grotesques by Bart Wolf, because even though I still have review piles of comics to get through, this website is always welcome to new faces. Well, new to me anyway, this dude seems to have been making comics for awhile now…

Wolf, Bart – Grocery Bag Grotesques

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Grocery Bag Grotesques

Anybody who’s stuck around this website for a period of years (I’ve been around for 22+ years now, but who’s counting) knows that I do love it when an artist that’s new to me sends me a pile of their books. There can be drawbacks, sure, because I always start by reviewing one random example from the pile, which can lead to snap assumptions about everything else in the pile, and… ugh, I can see it, the rambling is clear to me now. Reigning myself in, the point is that I picked this one because it looked recent and it seemed self-contained. That and a few of the other ones had a picture of a literal unflushed toilet on them, and after this many years of reading small press comics, that sort of thing just leaves me tired. But hey, how about this particular comic? This is a series of drawings, mostly what it implies on the cover (“grotesques”), with various horror images and scenes thrown in. These images are accompanied by blocks of text, musings really, about various aspects of life and the world. A little tricky to review, but the man is a solid artist and a few of his thoughts got me stroking my chin thoughtfully, so I’d say it all worked out. Subjects in here include a horrible prank he used to play on a mailbox as a kid, aging and realizing the truth about the time you wasted, not looking at yourself too closely, putting too many fish in an aquarium, and a whole lot of free floating despair. So yes, I’d say this book is worth checking out. As for me, I enjoyed the first book in a new and random review pile. Does this mean that I’m going to go back and review the poop comics? <Sigh> Yeah, I’m probably going to review at least one of the poop comics. $8

Update for 1/26/24

New review today for The Devil’s Grin #1 by Alex Graham. Happy weekend y’all!

Graham, Alex – The Devil’s Grin #1

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The Devil’s Grin #1

What an absolute fucking journey this comic is. Oh hi, do you have no idea what you’re in for here? This is the first issue (out of four, at least as of early 2024) of this series, and the early issues are getting pretty rare, so if you’d like to get in on this ride, Domino Books still has copies available as of this writing. I went into this totally blind, and I think the only comic I’ve seen from Alex before this was Dog Biscuits (from Fantagraphics, it was incredible). This one starts in 1948 with a woman dining alone at an outdoor cafe. We see bits of her history and interests throughout this meal, along with an overheard conversation on top of her experiences. She heads home, has an embarrassing (to her) encounter with a bum on the street, and arrives home to a letter from her fiance breaking up with her. We also meet a couple of her neighbors and learn about her interest in becoming a great artist, so at this point I was pretty sure I had a sense of where the story was heading with a whole cast of characters coming together. I was completely wrong, because after a frenzied all night painting session, she ends up on the toilet with an early Chester Brown-esque page full of struggling. Readers of Ed the Happy Clown, you know what I’m talking about. Anyway, she ends up giving birth to a tiny… baby? It’s talking right away, but let’s go with baby. She doesn’t want the shame of having to explain it and figures it would ruin her life, so she flushes it away. At this point the real story starts up, probably, unless it shifts back to the lady in the next issue. But the rest of this one is the adventure of that baby and yes, you can go ahead an assume it survives. There are the flying creatures of the sewers, a lactating rat, a cage, a desperate rescue attempt, and an accidental murder, but I’ve said too much. This book is gorgeous (it took a supreme act of will to not also include that amazing back cover as a sample image), the story is compelling and all kinds of weird, and I have absolutely no idea where he’s going with all this. So yes, I’m glad that I got the first two issues at the same time, and I’ll be getting the next two as soon as I can. $12