It’s the last of the weekly Zoonbats updates for now, this time for Zoonbats Chapter 4 by Giles O’Dell. What will be the next weekly comic to be reviewed? Eh, I’m guessing nothing, at least for now. Back to random comic reviews!
So here we are, in the final chapter of these Zoonbats comics I’ve been reading for the last month (one review a week, people of the future), so I feel like now’s a good time to look at the big picture. And it’s… hazy? 200+ pages into this story, I kind of feel like I should have a better sense of where things are headed. But hey, I’m getting ahead of myself, as I haven’t even talked about the comic yet. This time around we’re back with Toast and Bloom, and we get all kinds of details about her upbringing and story. When we last saw the two of them they’d melted their car battery because they were using it to put the robot giraffe into sleep mode, so their current plan is to walk to the nearest train depot and ride the rails to their robot that’s run amok. Which is a thing I never get a chance to type in all sincerity. Anyway! We also learn what the robot’s name means, and it got a legit chuckle out of me, so good work there. Roughly the first half of the book is the two of them walking and talking, along with the introduction of gigantic structures that were abandoned decades ago. Long story, but essentially there was a miracle chemical that allowed structures to greatly increase their size very quickly, this same chemical was used in terrorist attacks, and this led to all kinds of construction projects in various stages of completion getting abandoned. Finally they’re able to hitch a ride to the train station, and naturally they make friends with their driver, which lets us learn all about another aspect of this vast world and the people in it. The notes in the afterward really are invaluable here, going into far more detail than the comic allows, so I hope he keeps them in whatever collected edition eventually comes out of this book. We also get to see a jacket that seems to be at least mildly magical (or it’s highly advanced tech), which I’m guessing plays a part in things later. So yet another solid issue, with me still totally on board to see what happens next, with ridiculously detailed artwork that seems to get better each time and a rich universe that’s literally been thought about and constructed over decades. So why is it that I’m still not sure if the whole thing is coming together? No seriously, I’m asking, because I don’t get it. Possibly that’s because the story literally hasn’t come together yet; these two groups searching for the robot giraffe are clearly going to meet up eventually. Eh, who knows. It’ll become clearer to me as the story goes on, with the next issue projected for late 2023. Until then, each chapter is up for free on his website, or roughly $10 per issue if you’re like me and are determined to be buried alive under an unfortunate comics collapse in their apartment.
New review today for Santos Sisters #5 by Greg and Fake Petre. So did anybody else know that Beetlejuice was also a musical?
These two have come up with a pretty solid metric for how well you should know the characters by the fifth issue of a comic, although that might not have been their intention. When I saw that sticker with free LSD on it after Ambar noticed it, sure, the better story idea would be to have her lick it and see what happens. But since they’ve spent the time to establish these characters, well OF COURSE Ambar would lick that dot, and that same personality carried through the rest of the stories in this comic. Job well done, you two! So she has a wonderful adventure in that story, with a perfect final panel to wrap things up. No details, because what kind of dummy tries to describe an acid trip depicted in a comic? From there we go the conclusion of the “Dude! Where Is My Car?!” story from last issue, in which the thugs corner Todd in his car as Ambar and Dirk spend their time not worrying about Todd at all, to put it mildly. Do we get a car chase after that? You’d better believe it, including an explosion on the highway. From there we get the classifieds, which I don’t usually mention because they’re not part of the comic, but it’s a really solid collection of people making comics and/or podcasts that you should check out, along with another reminder that I should really listen to at least a few comics podcasts. Anybody have any recommendations? There are just so damned many of them. The other story in here involving the Santos Sisters also includes a spell gone wrong in a mall Cinnabun, er, Cinnaloaf. When a revenge spell is cast the energy has to go somewhere, so why not into a delicious cinnamon roll? Todd even gets to do something heroic to help make up for his rough time in the previous story. Finally there’s a brief story about Boozy Beez being a creep at a baseball game. I’d swear that these comics are getting funnier, and they were funny to begin with. They also have a 48 page Halloween special coming out right around the corner, and the cover alone tells one heck of a story. So yeah, obviously I’m still recommending these comics, and at the pace they’re putting these books out you’re going to get left behind in a hurry if you don’t hop on this ride soon. $5
New review today for Zoonbats Chapter 3 by Giles O’Dell. One more of these left for the weekly reviews, unless he has a surprise chapter coming out soon…
I’m starting to wonder if we’re ever going to catch up to that robot giraffe. And if you’re coming into this review blind, reading the previous comics and/or reviews for this series would help with that one. This time around we’re back with Wayne traveling along in Murray’s semi. We get a flashback again, this time a flashback within a flashback for some extra oomph. Wayne thinks back to a strange musician mystic type who he was never sure actually existed. He tried avoiding her after the weirdness got to be too much for him, but she finally cornered him and gave him a vision of a traumatic piece of business in his childhood. It involved cops, flamethrowers and the disappearance or death of his mentor (I’ve read too many comics to assume a death without a body, so forgive my skepticism of his death), and it’s something Wayne had managed to put out of his mind for a lot of years. From there we learn about how that led directly to Wayne leaving town and his quest to try to find meaning, which lead in a roundabout way to being asked to help track down the robot giraffe and his “chance” meeting of Murray. Yep, we finally get some clarity on that aspect of things too, as Murray fesses up about a few things. Oh, and we briefly even see Wayne and Toast in the same panel, even if it’s not exactly a pleasant interaction and it only happens in a flashback. There are the usual notes about specifics in the afterward section, which was especially helpful this time around in identifying exactly what the cops were doing. He also includes a few older comics from various zines at the time (1995ish), so we can see some very early iterations of some of these characters. I’m still hooked on the story, even if I am starting to doubt that we’ll ever catch up to that robot. But hey, now that a few mysteries have been solved, I might be completely wrong about that guess. Check in next week to find out, I suppose. Once again I’m not sure how much it costs to buy the physical copies, but the whole issue is available online at the link.
New review today for Perry Shitlife by S.R. Arnold. If you’re upset that you were promised Perry Nolife, just be patient, why don’t you?
So you’ve had some time to digest the madcap insanity of S.R. Arnold’s Perry Midlife comic a year ago. Are you prepared to dig into some of the darkest and/or best days of his life, aka the early years? Well, really about a few days out of one of those early years, but it’s the kind of thing that most people who are worth a damn can relate to: booze, drugs, bad decisions, good times, dank basement punk shows, working up the courage to talk to the person at the bar you’re interested in (only to have the amount of booze needed to work up said courage end up causing a blackout so you’re not entirely sure what really happened), etc. Even if you were straight edge in your formative years you can still check a few of those things off your list, but if you’re like me and manage to hit them all, boy howdy is this comic for you! I say “comic” as if this 80 page behemoth isn’t basically a graphic novel, but in a field where there’s also a solid argument for calling this a “mini comic,” it’s best not to get bogged down in semantics. What’s this comic all about, anyway? In his intro S.R. mentions that he intended to make Perry Nolife next, but since that book would have dealt with his own mortality and it wasn’t a subject he felt ready to tackle yet, why not go back in time? Things start off with a hallucination of Perry’s conscience trying to talk to him, only to get smacked across the room and smashed. Rightfully so, I say. Then we really see the kind of mess Perry is in the morning, as he ends up monopolizing the bathroom, much to the annoyance of his roommates (although it does lead to a lovely full page spread of one of them peeing out of their third story window and the general state of their neighborhood). From there we roll through a day or so in the life, starting with band practice (which ends with a broken guitar string), moving on to dive bar pizza for lunch, and finally landing on a karaoke show. This last one is critical, as it’s where Perry saw a lady last week that he’s trying to work up the courage to approach, which leads to his spectacularly terrible choice for a song. There’s also a double page spread during this sequence that has all kinds of familiar comics folks in it. See which ones you can spot! I got about half a dozen them before I resorted to cheating in the back. His terrible song does end up succeeding in getting the interest of the lady he tried awkwardly to chat with, and they end up having a long conversation on the roof. But in the light of day afterwards, can he be sure of what really happened? There’s more, as I’m barely halfway through this beast of a book, but the rest of it is for you to discover. Absolutely positively check this one out, and if you’ve got the cash I’d also recommend getting this with a copy of Perry Midlife. This one kicked the dust off of some memorable times in my brain for sure… $15
New review today for Zoonbats Chapter 2 by Giles O’Dell. Oh, did I not mention that I’ll be doing weekly reviews of this book? Yep. There are only four of them available right now, so I’m already halfway done. Which will just about take me up to Cartoon Crossroads in Columbus at the end of September, where I should be able to get all kinds of new stuff.
Last time around we spent most of our time with Wayne (and his traveling companion), but this time around we get to learn all about Toast and Bloom. Well, mostly Toast, but with the way things are going I’d guess we’ll learn more about Bloom before it’s all said and done. And if you’re lost by that opening, it might have something to do with your not having read the first review and/or issue, which is odd, as it’s up for free on his website, so it’s not like you have much of an excuse. Toast and Bloom are on the road, trying desperately to catch up to their runaway robot giraffe. They’re making progress, as the robot can only go 30 miles per hour while they have a car that can obviously go faster than that, but the process is wearing on both of them. But then Bloom has an idea (that Toast should have considered ages ago, honestly) that buys them both a bit of time. We also get to meet that giraffe, sort of, although we’re no closer to figuring why it ran away or its destination. A good chunk of the previous issue was a flashback and this issue sticks with that same idea, as we spend a lot of time with Toast when he was working in a restaurant. This section had some serious detail in it, enough to make me wonder if Giles ever worked in a restaurant, and his notes in the back made clear that a few things in it are taken directly from his life, including the spectacularly stupid way that they had to remove grease when the buckets filled up. Seems like a method that’s just asking for spillage or injury, and a trail of highly flammable grease leading to a restaurant sounds like an explosion waiting to happen. Anyway, we also see the guy who inspired Toast to make his robot, learn more about that guy, and see his amazingly complicated plan to get back at their horrible boss all the way through. And honestly, it felt too spoiler-y to use it as the sample image, but Toast bursting out of the kitchen while doing his part of the plan and screaming “terrible mishap!” was one of the funniest things in this book, especially considering the severity of what was happening. That was a long way to go to avoid spoiling the scheme, but totally worth it. And as I said, we get plenty of notes in the back of the book, with even more evidence that Giles has been thinking about this world for a long time and has a lot of very specific details worked out in his head. Oh, and we also see how that flower pot got on Toast’s head. It might be exactly how you suspected! Overall I really love a story that’s not afraid to take some time to establish the characters and the world, so I’m happy with the pace. Maybe next issue we’ll see just what that robot giraffe is up to.
New review today for Jones Crusher Stamps Out Da Freakz by Marino Yinug I think. Read the review for more exciting details on why I’m not sure about the name!
New review today for Smooth Moves by Andrew Neal, otherwise known as Meeting Comics #28.
If you’ve been hanging around the Meeting Comics universe (this is #28, just for the record) just in case Val ever hooked up with Dr. Manhattan from Watchmen, well, I guess this will be your last issue. It went kind of like I pictured it, even though I never pictured it before I saw his face on the cover. When last we visited with these fine folks we saw the end of the marriage/cheating drama (as much as such things ever really end) and Val was about to take a new position and was moving out of her old place. Specifically the strips this time around deal with informing the staff of OnlyGreg of all the new changes, Val and Tori move into Don’s guest house (displacing Ron), Kevin and Thomas (and their new girlfriends) try to move back into Kevin’s old place and finally discover what’s been going on there, and Kevin has one awkward conversation with Tina. But wait, there’s more! That Dr. Manhattan strip was one of several unrelated gag strips (sorry, Val and Dr. Manhattan hooking up is apparently not “canon”) including using an angry dog for cucking, large print erotica, meeting in the middle on renaming problematic buildings with catastrophic results, a job interview, and the terrible truth behind why there are so many women hooking up in the world of Meeting Comics. He also includes 320 Shades of Greg, a mini that I have somehow not reviewed (one of those “I know I have a copy around here somewhere” comics), but that one is too sexy for me to talk about. Let’s just say that it involves ice cream and very few clothes, OK? So yes, another solid issue from Andrew. With the promise of a divorce party in the next issue, which is a heck of a teaser. $6
It’s another comic that hasn’t been around these parts for over a decade, this time the triumphant return of Zoonbats (Chapter 1) by Giles O’Dell!
So this should be a fun experiment, at least for me. Giles is returning to the world of Zoonbats for the first time in ages; I reviewed the first couple of issues of his series around 2010. Odd, I thought I had reviewed more of them, as I had at least half a dozen issues. Anyway! He rereleased the whole thing in new editions, the first covering issues #1-4, with three additional volumes out so far. Since I already reviewed half of this edition back in the day, I figured it would be interesting to review it again, then read my old review just to see if my opinions remained the same/just how often I repeat myself. My guess is that it’s plenty, but I’ll reveal the answer at the end. So! This new edition does look gorgeous. Giles has extensive notes in the back explaining the changes he’s made and what brought him back (mostly the lettering and he never really gave up on the story, respectively), and while he says he hasn’t touched up the art, I’d swear it looks even better this time around. This is the story of Wayne, who’s hitchhiking around the country, and his friends Toast and Bloom. They made a robot giraffe that fled as soon as they completed it, and it seems to have a specific destination in mind. So they make plans to meet up with Wayne in the middle, as he’s closer to where the giraffe is headed. This issue covers Wayne wandering for a bit before finally meeting up with an old friend who can offer him a ride. This old friend then tells Wayne a story of his time as a truck driver detailing when he was attacked by a roving gang of bandits, how all seemed lost and how he got out of it by spoilers. Yeah, it’s a big part of the overall story, so it’s going to be left a mystery here. We also briefly check in with Toast and Bloom on their journey, but they don’t intersect with Wayne yet. This issue is mostly about doing some work building up this world (Giles has a map of the areas and he gets pretty specific in the notes about what each area is like), and as such does a solid job of hooking readers in to try and figure out what’s happening here. So yeah, I’d say it’s an intriguing start and I’m curious what happens next. Now let’s check the old reviews! Looks like the review for #1 is way earlier than I thought, maybe even 2002ish, as I mentioned working on the website for “several months.” Then the review for the second issue was 2010, apparently done when I was revisiting old comics for reviews. The art is exactly the same (I compared an old sample image to the new book in front of me), so I was wrong on that. And he was telling the truth, which I had no reason to doubt. So I look like a dummy in real time. Not exactly a new experience for me. But I liked it overall then too, so that hasn’t changed. One odd thing: I can’t find anywhere that sells these new editions. You can go to his website and read each issue online for free, so there’s that, but if you want physical copies I guess check with Giles. Which makes the price an absolute mystery, so I’ll spin the random price wheel… $15.
New review today for the return of Noah Snograss, with Untamed Highway #1. Not the Untamed Highway #1 that I reviewed almost two decades ago, but a new one.
Is this the longest gap between reviews in Optical Sloth history? I reviewed Untamed Highway #2 (yes, he started the numbering over without changing the title, but if the big publishers can do it, so can he) back in May of 2005. So outside of being yet another reminder that I have to find a spare several months to go back and put dates on all the old reviews, I’m obviously not going to remember a thing from that series, so keep that in mind. Here, I’m going to crawl all the way up my own behind and paste my favorite quote from one of my old reviews for this series: The art to me looks like what would happen if Hunt Emerson and Peter Bagge somehow had a baby who eventually grew up and renounced all ties to his fathers. Gosh, I was insightful 18 years ago! All downhill from there, sadly. So what’s happening in this issue? There’s no recap of any kind, which is a shame, but maybe he made the decision not to mention anything that happened previously to start things in a new direction. Or maybe this occurs directly after the last issue which, again, has long since left my brain. Anyway, we have a brain in a jar (with a googly eye that needs reattached) with an assistant named Mortimer. They’re both waiting for their doctor friend to return so that this brain can get put into a human body. Well, the doctor returns with bad news: there’s a cadaver shortage. Things get a little tense after that, but it’s a little tough to carry through on threats when you’re a brain in a jar. There’s also a short story afterwards about the guy in a gorilla mask that I referenced in a previous review, who is apparently a hitman. Again again, memory bad, my apologies. He does have his previous three issues for sale on his Etsy page, so you can catch up if this all sounds intriguing. Taken in a vacuum, this is still a solid issue, with lots of unanswered questions about who these people are and what’s they’re up to in general. I’m curious to see where he takes things next, but if I have to wait another 18 years to find out I’m going to be even more hazy in that review… $5
OK, I’m back. It was a busier election than you’d think, considering how stupid the issue was. I even had a block of time carved out last weekend to post some reviews, but I made the fatal mistake of taking a “quick” nap. Four hours later, my day was shot, so here are some reviews instead. New review today for the final (at least for now) volume of The Lighthouse in the City by Karl Christian Krumpholz!
The Lighthouse in the City Volume 11
The sample image below is for everybody who has a cat that got just a little too curious about the shower/bath that their owner was taken, resulting in a trail of wetness going through the house in a panicked fashion. Seems to be a thing that every cat needs to figure out for themselves. Oh hi, it’s time for a new volume of Karl’s autobiographical series! This one cover September 2022 through the end of the year, and (no spoilers, but kind of a spoiler, I suppose) this is the last volume he’s going to be doing for a while. Completely understandable, and he’s lasted longer than most who attempt the daily diary strip. I’m curious to see what he does with this new bounty of free time. So what’s this particular volume about, you ask? There are of course several adventures with Oola (both real and imagined), some strips about his time at a few conventions, more tragedy in his personal life (he was on a rough string of losing friends and family members for a while), observations from his walks around the neighborhood, getting through a rough cold (and still making comics through it), and so very much more. Which seems like a copout on the part of a “professional” reviewer, but the man has over 130 pages of strips in here and I’m not going to bloodlessly boil them down to their essences. This is the 11th volume, after all. The man is a hell of a storyteller (and an artist; the level of detail in these strips considering that they’re produced daily is staggering), so I’m guessing that you’re already on board for his comics at this point. If not, it would probably be kind of funny if you jumped on with the final volume of this three year journey. He was nice enough to send me his earlier volumes (that I hadn’t reviewed) a while back, so maybe I’ll review a couple of those randomly while I wait to see what he comes up with next. Will it be odd to talk about those, especially the BO (Before Oola) days? Yeah, probably. We’ll see. Meanwhile, this is yet another solid entry in this series, which you should be checking out already. $12