What, like I’m not going to do an update on Leap Day? New review today for The History of a Toss by Weng Pixin, another from the rapidly dwindling mini kus pile.
The idea behind this one is specific, and while it seems like it probably hasn’t affected that many people, this one will hit hard for certain folks. Have you ever been enjoying some quiet time, either alone or with others, when suddenly a large heavy object comes flying through the air and strikes you, seemingly for no reason? Like I said, that just lost a good chunk of you, but for those of you who are nodding your heads right now, you’re in luck! This one starts off with our hero the bunny trying to enjoy a cup of tea when they’re suddenly struck by a phone book. It turns out that the roommate (the frog) was just trying to throw the phone book away, but they’d misjudged both how hard they threw the book and the distance to the garbage. After a sudden clobbering like that, it’s hard not to feel a little targeted, and this might bring up memories of previous conversations with your roommate about their family members throwing things in anger. This might also bring up a defensive reaction on their part, as they see it as an unfortunate if innocent mistake. From here there are two main possibilities: either the offending party sees that what they did was at best thoughtless and apologizes, or they dig in and use the opportunity to bring up all kinds of irrelevant grudges, both real and perceived. And if the aggressor takes that second tack, well, things are probably going to get ugly. This book is an exploration of that conversation, and how “heroes” and “villains” in this situation don’t necessarily mean a thing in regards to who “wins” the argument. It’s a fascinating and more than slightly uncomfortable book, so yes, we can add another mini kus book to the “yeah buy that why don’t you?” pile. $7.95 (for this comic, it’s $22 for this and the next three in the series. I know which one sounds like a better deal to me!)
New review today for Brick Breaks Free by David Craig. Hm, the theme for this week seems to be “heavy items flying through the air.” Not a theme that’s likely to be repeated, I reckon…
I can’t believe that I almost missed reviewing a Brick book. In case you were wondering, yes, it is indeed possible for a reviewer to clean their kitchen, put comics into a drawer to “sort through later,” and then completely forget to do that last step. For several years, since this is listed as 2019. Oh well, you get what you pay for! This is listed on his website as completing the “first season” of strips, and while I don’t know what that means, this is a solid collection of stories. Maybe the most practical uses for Brick that I’ve seen yet? If you’re new to Brick, the basic format is a sentient brick (or bricks) either getting into mischief or helping out in some way, usually in wordless fashion. I’m still waiting for the format to get old and I’m happy to report that it hasn’t happened yet. Stories in this one deal with Brick taking full advantage of the wind whistling through his holes, figuring out an ingenious way to entertain a child, being extremely useful as a golf caddy, fishing (his technique is unstoppable), enjoying a day on the beach both above and below the sea, what happens to a brick on a trampoline, going bowling (with a second page that’s terrifying in its implications for the other seemingly inanimate objects in this world), kinda sorta cheating at a carnival game, and meeting hundreds of tiny white bricks. There’s also a few pages of single panel strips of bricks helping people out, but there’s no way I could leave out the opus of the book, the story where the title comes from. Brick is helping out on a construction site, but that can be dangerous for a creature/item (?) who looks like construction material, and the worst happens to our hero: he’s cemented into a house. How does our hero escape? Well, that’s for you to figure out, but I think that cover might give you some idea. You know, if Brick had thought bubbles, that would have been a horrifying story. Just something to consider in this collection of otherwise lighthearted fun. I didn’t see any comics on David’s website that have come out over the last few years, but here’s hoping he’s still working on them. Either way, he still has copies of this sucker, so why don’t you get one for yourself? $10
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…
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
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…
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
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.
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.
New review today for Poison Pill, a big old anthology with a half dozen ridiculously talented artists in it.
Website (to buy the book)
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
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!
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
New review today for Are You Lost, Little Bunny? by Noemi Vola. That’s right, back to the mini kus books!
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)
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).
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
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…
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