Author Archives: Kevin

Update for 5/27/24

I’m giving the “review a day” thing a shot this week, and I’m saying it right off the bat so I can’t weasel out of it later. Otherwise the website police would come after me. Right? New review today for Plastic People #10-12 by Brian Canini!

Canini, Brian – Plastic People #10-12

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Plastic People #10-12

I’ve been promising/threatening to do this for awhile now, and the day is here: it’s a combo review! Honestly, it’s mostly the reviewer equivalent of self defense, as Brian is too prolific for me to keep up with otherwise, and even after this chunk I’m still a good 8 issues behind. These actually are all grouped around a single event, the first murders in 20 years, that happened last time around. Or was it #8? Recently, anyway. #10 starts off with a press conference assuring the public that everything is fine, followed quickly by a peek into the actual investigation and the obvious conclusion that everything is not at all fine. There’s a missing ear, and a trail of teeth, and oh hey, love is in the air! Brush up on your latin before reading the last panel, as I think I got the gist of it, but Google translate may become involved if this keeps up. In #11 the investigators of the murder try to interrogate a former detective, who has some hard feelings about being pushed out of his job decades ago after all murders stopped. The attempt to keep the worst of this from the public also goes up in smoke, as the killer sends a letter (and an ear) to a local news station directly. #12 is all about the aftermath of that event, as we hear reactions from some citizens before checking back in with Gabriel, who’s having all kinds of thoughts and regrets. Yes, I’ll stay that vague, thank you very much. It already feels weird talking about most of the previous issues all in a clump like this. The story is moving along nicely, and I’m going to try to get to the next set sooner rather than later to see how things progress. If you’re new to this whole thing, grab a few issues, see what you think! Or heck, just grab these three to start. Sure, it’s bizarre to start a series by reading issues #10-12, but don’t let the man tell you what to do! $4.99

Update for 5/24/24

New review today for Ol’ Man Maggot Sucks! by Tim Fuller and Basil Wolverton, although Basil has no idea. To find out how that’s possible, read the review!

Fuller, Tim & Wolverton, Basil – Ol’ Man Maggot Sucks!

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Ol’ Man Maggot Sucks!

If there’s a theme with the comics from SPACE 2024 that I’ve reviewed so far, it’s that they’re not available on the respective websites of their creators. This has baffled me for as long as I’ve been doing reviews, and it still does today. If somebody picked up one of these comics at SPACE like I did, but was curious to see a few more (he had a number with a similar theme, which was “Tim rewrites the dialogue over a classic story and artist”), well, good luck with that. Once or twice would just be the person selling their newest work without a chance to update their website (even though they could literally update their website during quiet moments of the con), but to not find the comics on the website so many times? I’ll never understand it. Too many of these reviews have ended with “it’s not listed as available for sale, so just contact them.” Make it easy or lots of people won’t bother! OK, rant over, but maybe I reached an artist or two. And to think, all I wanted to talk about originally was how happy I was to have a chance to review a Basil Wolverton comic, even if it is only sort of his comic at this point. Kids (or middle-aged people, I guess): Basil was an artist on the old timey EC comics like Tales From the Crypt and Weird Tales back in the 50’s, among many, many other projects. I’d be curious to see which comic this originally came from, but we get 16 panels of the comic with Tim rewriting them, sometimes seemingly barely at all and sometimes quite a bit. The story is about a drifter who comes into a town, hears a story about some riches held by a very old man, and decides to go after those riches, despite all the warnings from the townspeople. Tim does a solid job with the rewrite as there’s some really funny stuff in here, and boy howdy was Basil ever one heck of an artist. Check it out, if you’re lucky enough to find one! It’s listed as only $.50, but I vaguely recall paying more.

Update for 5/22/24

New review today for The Amazing Cynicalman #14 by Matt Feazell, yet another returning champion after an absence of many years. Because I missed the last several SPACE shows, not because he stopped making comics. Just to be clear.

Feazell, Matt – The Amazing Cynicalman #14

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The Amazing Cynicalman #14

I wish that Matt had an “about” section on his website, because I was curious when he started drawing his Cynicalman comics. He’s been around since I started up the website in 2001, but I got the impression at the time that he had already been doing it for years. Maybe the 80’s? Definitely the 90’s. Anyway, the man has been making comics for a LONG time, so show some respect! This time around Cynicalman starts off learning about his problematic behavior in the workplace, and from there learns that he is going to be pilot for the first spaceship in the new “Space Force” program. Why yes, this did come out in 2020, why do you ask? He mostly decides to check it out because the whole thing seems absolutely ridiculous, but the next thing he knows he’s locked into the pilot’s seat and heading away from Earth. Little does he know that he has a stowaway who has his own thoughts on who’s going to be first on the moon! Never mind the fact that we’ve already been there. I’m being cagey, but his stowaway is on the cover, if you can decipher his identity. That combover that’s helplessly floating over his head without the benefit of gravity should be a big clue, I reckon. Funny stuff from Matt, as always. Kinda sorta political, if you consider making fun of that spectacular buffoon political, but that’s more of a “you” problem at this point in human history. He has a vast back catalog of comics, most of which he keeps in print, and if you’re not sure where to start (previous characters are referenced here, but it’s OK if you’re unfamiliar with them) he has an offer for “one of everything” for $12. What a deal! Or the single comics like this one are usually $.50 (with postage)

Update for 5/20/24

New review today for Dutchy Digest #10 by Steven Hager and Bruce Rosenberger. This week is not going to be my hoped for “review a comic from SPACE a day” week, mostly because there’s an arts festival going on literally right outside my front door all weekend. I’m distracted!

Hager, Steven & Rosenberger, Bruce – Dutchy Digest #10

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Dutchy Digest #10

I was all set to go with a review, but when I got to the Dutchy Digest website (which might be dead, because it’s looking rough, but it was the most current thing I could fine online for them) I was greeted with a banner ad that said “what is a vampire breast lift and how much does it cost? Take a look!” and suddenly I’m filled with questions that I would have never thought to ask. No I didn’t click it to check, as it might as well have said “click here for malware!”, but boy howdy am I curious. OK, back to reviewing! I’ll stay on topic. This is the story of a small town that makes a colossal doughnut, the theft of said doughnut, and the efforts from there to both figure out who stole it and why. There was a nice little fake-out a couple of pages before the end of the comic where I thought they were just going to leave the mystery hanging, but worry not! We do eventually figure out what happens. It’s a fun little story, in which I learned two new facts about hobos (that a group of five of them are called a “tramp” of hobos and that they leave a bent nail as tribute after being fed) and had to puzzle over whether or not the eventual thief would have had his plan work out how he wanted in real life. There are plenty of these issues out there and I’d say it’s worth hunting a few of them down, but I’m not sure how confident I am about suggesting that you use the linked website. Maybe it’s fine and it’s just the banner ads that are a giant red flag. Or maybe you should look them up on Facebook or something. Or hey, just go to SPACE in Columbus next year! No malware there. $3 (roughly)

Update for 5/16/24

New review today for Here and Now by Nick Stellanova, another new face from the SPACE pile.

Stellanova, Nick – Here and Now

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Here and Now

I had a couple of people ask me at SPACE this year about the general state of physical comics. I’m really not one to ask, because I’m well aware of the fact that I’m outside of the usual trend lines when it comes to physical media (I only review physical comics, my pandemic obsession was buying movies from the Criterion Collection, my current nine bookshelves are soon going to need a tenth, etc.). My thinking is that there will always be an audience for physical media, and that that audience will ebb and flow over the years. But even if physical comics do end up dying out, comics themselves are going to be fine, and I’m 100% sure about that. Why? Comics like this, which was Nick’s freaking senior thesis for CCAD in Columbus. Meaning that Nick is technically very much still learning, and this comic still managed to be (so far, anyway) one of my favorite comics from SPACE 2024. This is the story of a woman who loses her wife to cancer. That whole process is covered quickly, but there’s more than enough to hurt: the hospital bed with the severely physically diminished wife, the open coffin with the deceased wife all dressed up but seeming artificial, and finally the closed casket that’s about to be lowered into the ground. The rest of the comic is all about grief and how you try to get through it, in a more physically fantastical setting than most. Flora goes through her days in a fog, trying to see the point in going on, and soon discovers that she’s transported to a colorful, ever-shifting second world when she expresses aloud that she “doesn’t want to be here anymore.” She gets lost in this world a few times before she finally gets a glimpse of a familiar face: her deceased wife Iris. It goes in a direction I wasn’t expecting, so that’s all you’re getting out of me in terms of the story. But as for the overall future of comics? Not that I’m putting this all on Nick (save comics or else!), but based on this and other recent comics I’ve seen, yeah, comics are going to be just fine.

Update for 5/24/24

New review today for Cosmic Taco Zero by Joseph Morris, and it’s becoming very clear to me that I’m not going to be able to get through the SPACE pile in one month. Do I have an old timey Optical Sloth week in me, where I go back to my habits for the first decade or so of the website and do five reviews in a week? Ugh, maybe.

Morris, Joseph – Cosmic Taco Zero

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Cosmic Taco Zero

Oh, SPACE. I can always count on going to the convention, getting a book from somebody who seems completely new to me, then going home and seeing that I already have a few reviews up of their older comics. In this case I reviewed three of Joseph’s comics in 2005, 2006 and 2009 respectively, so maybe I can be forgiven for thinking he was brand new in 2024. So hey, what’s this one all about? I’m guessing the “zero” is meant to indicate an origin story or issue number, but since he doesn’t have any numbered issues of the series on his website I’m only guessing. This one starts off with a right wing nutjob politician further terrifying the masses after something huge has fallen from the sky, killing millions of people. From there we pull back to see what exactly this giant item was, what was on it and how it came to crash. We get the origin story of the star of the show (who I’m leaving a mystery just in case it’s relevant for future issues), then several pages of pin-ups and unconnected images. What about the Cosmic Taco? Unclear. He definitely shows up a few times (assuming that’s him on the cover), but he doesn’t do a whole lot. It’s an intriguing issue, which is pretty much what a #0 is designed to be, so kudos on that. Here’s hoping it’s not another 15 years before I review another one of his comics, because I’m curious to see what happens next. Not to mention the fact that he has all kinds of comics available on his website, so clearly he’s been putting in the work. No price, and it’s not currently listed on his website, but I’m going to guess $5. Ask the man, if I’m wrong he’ll set you straight!

Update for 5/10/24

New review today for Noumenon by Maryanne Rose Papke, happy weekend y’all!

Papke, Maryanne Rose – Noumenon

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Noumenon

Maryanne describes this on her website as “an allegorical tale of the sun and the moon,” and wow is it ever tempting to leave it at that. Not for negative reasons, but because this comic takes you on a real journey with a thoroughly satisfying conclusion, and picking apart at the details is the kind of thing that lessens the joy of discovering them all for yourself. Huh, sounds like I just talked myself out of a reviewing gig. Well, before I vanish is a puff of smoke at my own irrelevance, this one starts off with an image of a whale in a boat. Yes, I said “in,” so right away the reader is off guard and a little confused. From there we’re told that a bird is inside the whale, and that bird is the moon. So three pages in, it should be clear to everybody both that this is an allegory and that you should be ready for anything. Next she takes us back to an older story, about a time when a spirit and an inkling were sailing together on a sea of stones. If you have a problem with this tale, take it up with the monkey with the silver tail. I can be as cranky and cynical as anybody, but it’s always a joy to just be carried away by a story like this. Good to see that Maryanne is still making comics (It’s at least 10 years since I first saw her stuff, maybe 15) and she’s at the top of her game with this one. $3

Update for 5/8/24

New review today for Confessions of a Craft Show Vendor by Andrew Mosher, and yes of course he was at SPACE. Not much reason to wonder about that for the rest of the month, unless otherwise mentioned…

Mosher, Andrew – Confessions of a Craft Show Vendor

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Confessions of a Craft Show Vendor

I was all set to unload on this comic, because I bought it at a convention and there’s no contact information of any kind in it nor even the author’s name. Luckily the title was unique enough that Google was able to find it and him, but seriously people. Putting your name in your book is the bare minimum, unless you’re on the run or something. That’s a cranky way to start the review of a comic that I thoroughly enjoyed, but little things like that still bug me. This is a collection of some of Andrew’s experiences at craft shows, and aw, I just noticed that he’s wearing a King Cat shirt on the cover. Subjects include the importance of checking the weather, a new vendor learning the hard way where you get a tent, an impressive assortment of the sights and sounds of the con (which is kind of selling these stories short, as there are a whole lot of them), an honest but inevitable reaction from a couple of friends who wanted a portrait drawn of them, and the brief joy of being compared to some of your comics heroes. It’s a solid enough collection of stories that I once again wish that I had bought more of Andrew’s stuff, but that’s always a crapshoot at conventions. $5

Update for 5/6/24

New review for Kekionga Digest 2024 by Pam Bliss, a returning champion. Could be you’ll be seeing a few of those long lost comics names in these reviews for the upcoming and ongoing SPACE month…

Bliss, Pam – Kekionga Digest 2024

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Kekionga Digest 2024

What can I say, sometimes I have to guess a bit on the title, but I’ve decided to go with the unfounded assumption that Pam may make other “digest” minis in the future, so I’ll differentiate it by adding the year. Another unwanted peek behind the curtain on my few minutes of research after being baffled by the title! This is #61 in Pam’s series of mini comics; to be clear this is one branch of her comics, as she’s been making them since 1989. That’s right kids, over a decade before I started this website, and further proof that quality minis have been around for ages. This one is a collection of short pieces, mostly centered around roughly half a dozen characters. There’s Zinj (the narrator, and a creature that’s apparently also in the fossil record), Mr. Frisky (an adorable name for a terrifying shark), Mr. Rock (pretty clear Mr. Spock stand-in), and a few others I’ll leave for you to discover. Stories in here deal with encouraging the reader to try their hand at drawing, an unlikely place for a small Victorian child, the fatal flaw of a ghost, an adorable Anubis (on the same day I read a Harlan Ellison short story with regular sized Anubis in it. Synchronicity!) the woman (kind of) with the riddles, and a truly unique new set of options for the Fantastic Four. It’s another solid collection of stories from Pam, which should come as no surprise, seeing as she’s been doing this for 35 years now. If you’re just hearing about her now, check out some of her comics why don’t you? I’m not seeing an easy place to buy them online, but you can read a bunch of them at the link provided, and I’ll bet she’d be willing to sell you some comics if you contact her. $5

Update for 5/2/24

New review today for Do You Think of Me? by Felix Hustead. Two SPACE reviews so far, two comics that aren’t readily available to buy of their respective websites. On this I am a curmudgeon, but it’s always a good idea to have your comics as easy to purchase as possible. Just think of the 0 to 7 (I’m just guessing here) people I’m sending your way with a review!

Hustead, Felix – Do You Think of Me?

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Do You Think of Me?

This is a thoughtful and at least slightly heartbreaking story about losing touch with a friend after moving away for college, but if you’ve ever gradually lost touch with anybody, you’re going to feel a bit of a sting reading this one. I’ve tried a few times to go through some of my older memorabilia (I barely ever throw anything away, it’s a problem!), and the bulk of it involves people I lost touch with 20 years ago, maybe even longer. At the time each of them took up a big chunk of my world, but would they even care to see some of this stuff now? Not that this comic has anything to do with me, but it got me thinking about my own issues, which is as solid of an endorsement of a story as I can think of. This one starts off with June getting home after graduating from college, and we’re introduced to her as she’s writing Daisy a letter. We quickly see that Daisy never responded to these letters and June crosses them out after she writes them, using them more for therapy than anything else. Throughout the book we flip back and forth between June’s present and her memories of better times with Daisy. As she goes through these memories it becomes clear to her that Daisy had been drifting away for awhile, but figuring that out doesn’t do much to lessen the pain of it. In the end it’s about acceptance and moving on with your life, or at least giving it your best shot. And it even has me debating joining Facebook or something else horrible to see what those old friends are up to, and if you knew how much I hated “the socials,” you’d know what a huge statement that is. I think this one was $15. Not seeing it on their website currently, but I did buy it last week, so I’m thinking there are still copies available…