Update for 7/18/24

July 18, 2024

New review today for Scumburbia: Mega-Sized Mall Issue by Sam Grinberg. How’s that new website design grabbing you? Good? Bad? Indifferent? If it’s provoking a strong reaction, let me know! Or if you want to design/upgrade my website in return for comics because of the fact that I’m still somehow unable to do anything past the most basic website design, also let me know.


Grinberg, Sam – Scumburbia: Mega-Sized Mall Issue

July 18, 2024

Website

Scumburbia: Mega-Sized Mall Issue

This right here is one behemoth of a comic book. If you’ve seen past issues of this series, Sam has a helpful intro to start things off detailing that he now has a full plan for the series, meaning the first issue is basically not “canon” (and it clearly hurt him to use that word in all seriousness, which I have to respect). Also the issues are self-contained, so if this is your introduction, don’t worry too much about it, OK? One thing I’d suggest for Sam in future issues: if you keep this up, you’re going to need more than those few headshots on the cover to keep people updated on this gigantic cast of characters. This one is set mostly in a mall (with some time in high school and traveling thrown in), so if you break into a cold sweat whenever you see a mall setting, look out! He does mention that this is the most personal comic that he’s ever made, so clearly chunks of this are taken from (or at least inspired by) his past. Malls are just about extinct as far as I can tell, but in this comic, they are exactly as they always were back in the day on a Friday night: overrun with teenagers who are just a step away from being completely out of control at all times. So hey, what’s actually happening in this book? Things start off Claire and Zoey being reluctant participants in a gym class game of volleyball, and we spend a bit of time getting to know them. I thought the comic might be all about them (as they’re also prominently displayed on the cover), but then we take a detour into private conversation with a couple of other characters, and during both of these sections we learn more about a few more people. If you don’t have a good head for names and/or faces, stick with it; I feel like I got to know most of them pretty well by the time it was all said and done. Next up we get an extended story about Spike and Spunk trying to get tickets to an Acquiring Satellites show (which is also the main motivation for Claire and Zoey throughout the book, and you’d better believe that this all comes together with everybody involved), and the lengths they go to to even have a chance to get tickets. We then finally get to the mall, and I just have to point out that every single image in that mall is absolutely alive with detail. You can see about a dozen unique happenings going on with various people that we don’t even meet. Sam says that this book took him three years to complete, and clearly he spent a large chunk of that time on backgrounds. Neither of the two pairs in the lead stories are able to get tickets easily, and they both have to come up with some creative methods to get their tickets. Along the way there’s all kinds of drama, bullying, more character introductions, a break-up, observed and implied cheating, whether or not to tell the other affected party about the cheating, running from the law (or at least the mall law), and those spectacularly creepy twins. You can see the care and attention to detail throughout this thing, so if you’re looking for a new book to try out, why not try one where the creator has just settled on a master plan for the whole series? It’s always fun to get in on the ground floor! $15


Update for 7/16/24

July 16, 2024

Hey look everybody, a new website design! Eh, I’m still undecided about it, but my skills in that area are limited (to put it extremely mildly), so I don’t want to do too much and risk blowing the whole thing up. At least now everybody can see the years that the reviews were published, for those of you think I just came into existence a few months ago or something. I’ve been talking nonsense here since August 2001, baby! Even if the dates on some of those early reviews are messed up from past website updates. Oh yeah, also there’s a new review today for Ha! Magazine Summer 2024 by Robb Mirsky.


Mirsky, Robb – Ha! Magazine Summer 2024

July 16, 2024

Website

Ha! Magazine Summer 2024

Public service announcement: Robb has released a collected edition of his Sludgy comics, which is required reading for anybody who likes laughter and/or pathos. Or just great comics. But hey, howsa about this comic here? It’s another collection of gags and funnies, with maybe a lesson or two to be learned if you’re not careful! Or not; any morality learned from these strips is strictly up to you. Stories in this one include a very practical deal with the devil, Dripsy Mutt and his sad efforts to make people laugh, good ol’ Chucky and his unlucky (then lucky, then unlucky again) attempt at dating, a few ads against smoking that would be more effective than whatever else is currently running, those lovable scamps DIngus and Dum-Dum and their lengthy journey to try and make chicken soup, the struggles and horror of Toddler Body, and John Kinkade and his journey to bring the residents of a small village… freedom maybe? There’s also a full color bit in the middle with our friends from the Lemonade Brigade trying to shake down a lemonade stand and their attempt to start a band. Please understand, as always, these are my fairly dry descriptions of strips that are filled with laughs, and it is forever a hopeless task for a reviewer to try to convey humor through description and/or light critical suggestions. As for that end of things, about all I have on that front is a few spelling errors, but I’m guessing they’re the kind of things that only stand out to real pedants, like me. If you’re also like that, see if you can spot them! If not, take in the funny and enjoy why don’t you? Oh, he also says that supplies are limited for that Sludgy book, and since this particular issue is already sold out on his website (don’t worry, I linked to a source that still has copies), I’d be inclined to believe him on the limited copies. $10


Update for 7/12/24

July 12, 2024

New review today for Total Eclipse of Brick by David Craig, happy weekend y’all!


Craig, David – Total Eclipse of Brick

July 12, 2024

Website

Total Eclipse of Brick

Is this the first time we see actual humans in the world of Brick, or is my memory just that bad? Betting on my memory being crap is usually the safe way to go, but I think this might be the first appearance of humans. Anyway! Several stories in this one, most involving pages much more complex than the sample image I used, but if you think I’m going to pass up a chance to post an image of Silver Surfer Brick, you are off your rocker. Stories deal with Brick and family making and eating breakfast (if you were curious which of those three holes was used for food, the mystery has been solved!), Brick cleaning house and coming up with a solid use for the funk in a vacuum bag, Brick trying to ride a bike through rush hour traffic and ending up crashing through a window (which leads to a big disagreement when the driver makes a natural assumption about how it happens; I should also point out that everybody besides Brick in this one is human), Brick winning a baseball game and the necessity of using a creative interpretation of the rule book to have it happen, Brick as Brick Tracy (although we only get one of the villains from that ridiculous rogue’s gallery, but it’s a good one), and Brick and family getting jostled on a walk home. Finally there’s the big story of the book, dealing with Brick trying to observe an eclipse, getting too close of a look at it, and ending up a cosmic surfer who just so happens to be silver. Heavily inspired by Jack Kirby (which David mentions), and it’s really a gorgeous homage to the man. I approve of Brick getting more out into the real world, as that really opens up the story possibilities. Give it a shot, everybody! I’m still hoping for Brick becoming a household hero/part of some vast cinematic universe. $15


Update for 7/10/24

July 10, 2024

Hey, those Santos Sisters are back! New review for Santos Sisters #6 by Greg and Fake Petre.


Petre, Greg and Fake – Santos Sisters #6

July 10, 2024

Website

Santos Sisters #6

You know, I don’t think Greg or Fake put their names anywhere in this sucker. Every comic is somebody’s first issue of your series, always put your name in their somewhere. Don’t make me turn this website around! OK, scolding over. This is another really solid issue of the series, and one thing that stands out immediately is their wild success in finding all kinds of comics people willing to put little ads in their book. Good lord, I really could make it a full time job just following/reading/reviewing all of those people. If, you know, it paid anything at all. Stupid rent and food requirements. Anyway, there are several stories again this time around. First up is a dastardly plot to shut the power down for the entire town, but unfortunately for Captain Drake and Dr. Steel, they try this plan out on a Friday night when the Santos Sisters are just trying to settle in and watch a movie at home. This also leads directly into an ad about a retro website dedicated to keeping old characters like those two alive, which I assumed was part of the joke, but I just looked it up and it’s a legit website so??? Now I wonder where those two villains originally came from. Next up is a story with a title that’s so descriptive that I can’t even include it here, but let’s just say that a cleaning lady for a couple (who’s appreciated but more than a little taken for granted) gets bitten by a scorpion. Their actions next are the perfect villain origin story, although it turns out to be a bit more civil than that. Well, outside of what happens to our poor heroines, that is. Next we see whether or not it’s a good idea to chase after somebody who’s stealing copper from your construction site, followed by gaggles of those ads I was talking about. I recognized maybe a third of them, and there’s some solid stuff in there, so you could do a whole lot worse than actually checking up on some of those ads. Finally there’s the start to a longer story, in which we get a long and convoluted explanation of the wisdom of keeping secrets from a man with a metal jar and copious face tattoos. Where’s it going? Who knows! That’s what future issues are for. So yeah, you should keep reading this, and if you haven’t tried it yet, this seems like a solid place to start, what with the beginning of a new story and nothing connecting directly to past issues. And $5 is pretty damned cheap for comics these days.


Update for 7/8/24

July 8, 2024

New review today for Cosmic Static by Bart Wolf, as I’m starting the week off on a cheery note. Sarcasm!


Wolf, Bart – Cosmic Static

July 8, 2024

Website

Cosmic Static

What do you think about if your consciousness never leaves your dead body? Terrifying to even think about, isn’t it? The concept of this one is fairly simple: an astronaut has been sent out to try to find another habitable planet in the universe. It didn’t work out, and he ended up dying and then drifting through space for who knows how long. But the company he worked for didn’t want those valuable memories to disappear if the astronaut died, so they implanted a chip to keep his memories intact. This chip also kept his consciousness intact, which, you know, yikes. The human brain can go to all kinds of dark places in this sort of helpless constant awareness, and it’s grimly fascinating to see and read through it. Let’s just say that you’re unlikely to end up with a good opinion of a species that would leave you in this state, especially since the whole point behind it was because they had already ruined their original planet. Still, there’s not much of a story here without some forward momentum, so we get to witness the orbit decay for this poor sucker and we get to see what happens next. And hey, if you’re curious about that, this is the part of the review where I tell you to read it for yourself. As a concept, it’s entirely too plausible that a future corporation would force their workers into this situation, and it’s more than a little plausible that several corporations are already working on it. Forewarned is forearmed, as they say, so give this one a shot why don’t you. $8 (and it comes with a sticker, in case you want an image of a corpse drifting through space on your backpack/book/whatever)


Update for 7/3/24

July 3, 2024

Hey look everybody, it’s a new issue of Meeting Comics! New review for The Divorce Party by Andrew Neal.


Neal, Andrew – The Divorce Party

July 3, 2024

Website

The Divorce Party

Boy howdy, Andrew has been building up to this one for awhile now, and it looks like he nailed it. Backstory for anybody who is just hearing about Andrew and his comics now… yeah, not possible, sorry. The very short version is that he started off with a series called Meeting Comics, which was basically him drawing funny strips during his boring work meetings and generally mocking office culture, and although this one is technically “Meeting Comics #29,” there are no meetings and no offices. If there’s a series that has evolved this much over a couple of dozen issues (and spinoffs), I can’t think of it offhand. He also put together a zine that’s literally called “Previously in Meeting Comics” and I hope he has lots of copies of those for conventions. But hey, it does mean that you could buy that along with this (he’s even doing a bundle sale of the two) and be basically caught up. Hey, what about this specific comic? It helpfully starts off with a very brief synopsis of how all of the characters got to this point, along with little faces to help you keep track of them, and follows THAT with another page of various ancillary characters. Did I find myself flipping back to these pages a few times, even though I’ve read every issue? Reader, you’d better believe it. The concept of this one is simple, despite how complicated the sequence of events was to get them here: Kevin and Ellie are divorcing, as are Thomas and Tina. The complications are mostly due to the fact that they’re divorcing because Ellie and Tina are now seeing each other. Kevin and Thomas have both moved on, with some lingering bad feelings, but everybody wanted to put a final stamp on the whole thing in a fun, festive way. So we see everybody (and I do mean everybody) get together, have all kinds of people interacting who rarely if ever have before, and unexpectedly have another long term relationship take a big step forward. It’s a joyous book, with just straight up dancing going on at times, and if I ever get divorced (after the first step of getting married, I suppose) I hope it’s as wonderful as this seems. This also seems a bit like clearing the decks for future stories, and as always I’m fascinated to see what he comes up with next. So yeah, long time readers, check it out! New folks, take advantage of that synopsis zine too, you’ll need it! $8 (or $10 for the combo)


Update for 7/1/24

July 1, 2024

New review today for Odd Clods #7 by Steve Steiner, as the SPACE pile keeps shrinking but never seems to completely disappear.


Steiner, Steve – Odd Clods #7

July 1, 2024

Website

Odd Clods #7

Note: the images were, um, “borrowed” from Steve’s online store. I think these books are getting bigger, as they don’t even kind of fit in my scanner anymore. Well, somehow Steve has managed to put out 4 issues of this series in the last year, which is ridiculous, and since I’m a dummy I only grabbed the most recent one at SPACE this year. I remember the earlier issues being mostly single page gag strips with a few longer pieces, but he seems to have evolved into mostly longer pieces with a few shorties. And it works! Mostly because he’s fully leaning into some genuinely bizarre stories, which is my happy place. There are seven stories in this one, and I feel kind of guilty giving you one of them as the sample image, but I figured it was a solid example of his humor. Don’t get it or don’t think it’s funny? Chances are that you won’t like the rest of it. Also chances are good that we wouldn’t have much in common if we ever met, but you’ll just have to live with that. For the rest of us, other stories deal with a rogue hamburger decontamination squad, a leech art show that gets completely out of hand, a cool new toy that let you skate around on a trail of snail mucus, and the terrifying brutality of tree jail. Still, the heart of this sucker is Tourists in the Nightmare Realm, which is almost a parody of a family vacation where the parents (the Dad specifically) are determined to show the kids something new and to insist that everything is going great no matter what’s actually happening. As you might have guessed by the title, a family goes to a nightmare realm (Steve does some excellent work with the monsters; they were mostly hybrids of existing creatures, but they were creepily unsettling). They can barely find a boat to get them to the island, it’s unknown if the captain is even willing to come back and get them, and there’s no internet reception (much to the chagrin of the “influencer” daughter). Oh hey, thanks WordPress for telling me that “influencer” isn’t a word! I agree, but sadly the culture has outvoted us. Anyway, without giving anything away, most of the story is the part of the horror movie where you’re constantly yelling at the hero not to go in there or not to do that, but genuinely funny and somehow almost lighthearted at times. It’s an odd mix, but Steve nails it. So basically this book is gorgeous and it got several actual laughs out of me. If those sound like a good combination to you, give this a shot. $15


Update for 6/27/24

June 27, 2024

New review today for Cartoon Flophouse by Michael Aushenker, as the reorganization of my comic review piles of really paying off!


Aushenker, Michael – Cartoon Flophouse

June 27, 2024

Website

Cartoon Flophouse

I’m a little worried about whether or not Michael is still active, as the last update on his website is a link to my review of his work for War on Dental almost three years ago, but hey, maybe he just doesn’t update it all that often! Wouldn’t be the first time I’ve seen that. There’s also the question of the title of this comic, as the website is Cartoon Flophouse too, but boy can I ever go on so I’ll shut up about stuff other than the comic now. This is a collection of strips, varying from one page to several, starring a chicken (Clucky) and a turtle (Brett) having adventures of some sort. The sampled image is the first strip, to give you some idea of the mayhem involved. Other strips deal with showing up at the very wrong party, taking a turn on the idea of buying wedding gifts, going through an informative and hilarious set of definitions for a “Saturday Night Special,” borrowing a dollar from the U.S. Mint, doing everything it takes to maintain access to the free food at a wedding, and dealing with Clucky getting a bonk on the head and thinking he’s Shakespeare. The rest of the stories are longer, dealing with a search party out looking for a house party that gets out of hand (with a really solid gag at the end of the strip), the boys getting access to the model party of their dreams and how they manage to screw it up, and the disastrous results of their impromptu competition to see who can do better on an online dating app using only their charms with no photos. There are also several pages with various images and outtakes, as the man knows how to get the most out of his pages. Pretty funny collection overall, which is all you’re really looking for out of a comic like this. The man takes orders through email or snail mail, so if you’re interested in giving this one a look, try chipmunksandsquirrels@yahoo.com. Here’s hoping the guy is still around! $4


Update for 6/25/24

June 25, 2024

New review today for Applewood Canyon #9-11 by Brian Canini, as yes, I’m still doing bulk reviews for his shorter comics. It’s my only chance to get through his pile! Speaking of piles (and stop reading here if you don’t care at all about behind the scenes stuff here), I finally got the time/motivation to put all the various piles of comics that I still need to review into one place. Now it’s four piles! Yes, that actually is an improvement. So if you sent me a review comic years ago and wonder why I never got around to it, well, your odds just vastly improved!


Canini, Brian – Applewood Canyon #9-11

June 25, 2024

Website

Applewood Canyon #9-11

Good lord, am I actually caught up on one of his series? The last issue in his online store is #11, so unless he’s running behind on updating his store, I just might be current with this one. …I feel like I just wished a new issue into existence. Anyway! I’m still doing the clump reviews for his shorter books (he also sent along some graphic novels, and those will obviously be done one by one, probably before the heat death of the universe), at this point mostly in the hopes that I can also get caught up with Plastic People one of these days. So what’s happening this time around? #9 starts with our heroes (???) getting back into Applewood Canyon the hard way. They’re starting to wonder if the place is really so bad (after they commit just a few murders to get in), but the last page gives them something to work with in that department. #10 has the crew eventually working up the nerve to try to get out of town, but them meeting one of the, uh, “colorful” locals gives them second thoughts about the plan. #11 is a break in the action, as we get some details about the neighboring town (Coconut Valley), using the same method that Brian used way back in the first issue of a narrative voiceover. The cracks in the happy facade are a little clearer here than they were in that issue, but we also know a whole lot more about what’s going on, so that’s as it should be. The man always keeps me guessing, and this series is no exception. 11 issues is plenty to dig into, so give it a shot why don’t you? $1.99 (per issue)


Update for 6/21/24

June 21, 2024

New review today for Dog Restaurant by Brandon Lehmann, in one of those rare reviews where I’m actually talking about the book in the month that it was released. I’m on the cutting edge!


Lehmann, Brandon – Dog Restaurant

June 21, 2024

Website

Dog Restaurant

Quick, before you read any further: what do you think that title means? I came up with three possibilities pretty much right after seeing that cover, and I’m happy to report that Brandon has them all covered. This one starts off with a married couple trying to figure out where they should go for dinner, which leads to the husband recommending a new place he’s “heard about” called Dog Restaurant. He’s also inexplicably pretending that he’s never been there, but that’s an adventure for the reader. It’s a formal restaurant, so they both get dressed up and head out, speculating all the way about what exactly they’ll be in for. They arrive, settle in… and start to get the sense that something is off. Where are the dogs? Their wondering is interrupted by the server bringing them their dinner, under the fancypants tradition of a covered silver platter, of two servings of “the usual.” It’s at this point (the halfway point of the comic) that Brandon stops the action for a brief warning to the reader. You’re given two options as to how you can continue at this point. You can either read on for the inevitable conclusion to where this has all been leading, or you can skip ahead to the blue colored page for the happy ending. Am I going to talk about either ending? Unless you’re new around here, you know the answer is always absolutely not. I will say that both have bits that got those rare out loud laughs from me (which Brandon seems to be very good at eliciting). I have no clue how the husband thought this was going to go well for him in the “dark” ending, and the questions raised by shoehorning in a “good” ending did an excellent job of showing the dangers of giving the reader what they thought they wanted. Oh, and a quick glance at the publisher’s website shows a small but choice selection, as I’d recommend everything on there that I’ve read (it’s mostly Nick Mandaag and Brandon’s stuff), and it’s yet another reminder that I really need to stop talking about it and just buy a pile of Brandon’s older comics. The fact that I’ve never read his “The Werewolf Expert” feels like a hole in my general reading experience. $10