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Neal, Andrew – Smooth Moves


Smooth Moves

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

Neal, Andrew – Gone Ghost: A Val Cannon Mystery


Gone Ghost: A Val Cannon Mystery

Should Meeting Comics change into nothing but Val solving mysteries? I mean, I like the rest of the cast too much to wish for that to happen completely (this comic flashes back to 1996, so only one other member of the modern crew is still around), but I certainly wouldn’t mind if it became a regular thing. This is set a few months after the events of Val’s last mystery (Where the Rent Went), and it’s at a Halloween party, which is a setting that’s always just full of possibilities. The mystery itself takes several pages to get going, but before that we get the joy of seeing Val’s roommates set boundaries with her (the five of them want Val all to themselves; she had been going outside the house for sex and agrees to go “steady” with them only) and an incident with a raccoon in an attic. It also nicely sets up an issue-long problem, one that is rare for a sex machine like Val: she’s blocked from sex at every turn, by an increasingly ridiculous series of events, in the funniest bit of the comic. Eventually we find out (through a cop stopping by her Halloween party) that there’s a missing woman and he’s hoping she can help out, since she’s famous from her last successful solving of a mystery. As always, this issue is packed with details, from the various costumes sprinkled throughout (some time sensitive to the 90’s, some not) to the fun of trying to spot the missing woman in the background. Here’s as close to a spoiler as I’ll get: she was at the party all along! Andrew was also nice enough to send along his “making of” zine for this issue, and if you’re interested in his process, I can’t recommend it enough. Bits that didn’t fit, his artistic process, a comic from him in 1996 about a story that took place at the house that inspired Val’s old house with all the roommates, just a fascinating pile of information. If you’re wondering if I’m recommending this, it should be obvious by now, but yeah, it’s not like Andrew suddenly lost his touch since the last issue. And it’s self-contained, so you don’t have to read all the older issues of Meeting Comics (even though you should, assuming you like to laugh). Maybe get Val’s two mystery issues, and if you like those, branch off from there to the rest of the series. $7

Neal, Andrew – Nexus of Exes


Nexus of Exes

So here’s how big of a dummy I am. Since there have been so many breakup and partner swaps in the Meeting Comics universe, I assumed that this would be a convergence of all of them based on the title alone. Now, if I had looked at that cover a few seconds longer, maybe I wouldn’t have assumed, since it’s all Val all the time. Just a peek into this brain of mine, on the off chance that anybody thinks I’m infallible just because I’ve been reviewing comics for 21 years. So yeah, this one is all about Val. She’s getting older, and she’s finally starting to wonder if she’s made the right choices in her love life and should maybe start to think about settling down. Still, even in a Val issue the MC (Meeting Comics, nerds) universe has gotten too big to focus purely on one character, so we also briefly catch up with the aftereffects of the wrestling show (everybody got covid) and spend a bit more time with Don, who’s dealing with the deaths of both his mother and his ex-wife. She hated him after she found out he was gay and broke up their marriage, so he’d always hoped that they’d manage to patch things up. It seems like it was too late for this, until Val notices a telltale letter in her coffin at the funeral. He also has a pretty big life change pop up, but I spoiled it in the sample. Oops! The rest of the issue deals with Val going to visit a favorite ex of hers, which causes her to think that maybe the two of them should give things another shot. This all leads to the last half dozen strips or so, which I can’t mention because they were simply too shocking. Just a terrifying concept for anybody with exes. Don’t worry, there’s no reason a little soul searching can’t be funny, so you’ll still get some solid laughs out of this issue. I actually thought I was caught up with his comics for once, but when I went to his website to link to this issue I noticed that he already has another issue out. Damn you Andrew Neal! $5

Neal, Andrew – Wrestling and Mania Part Two


Wrestling and Mania Part Two

It’s time for a rasslin’ show! Andrew starts this off with something that I didn’t know I needed: a flow chart of every character, with links to their exes, friends, enemies, casual hookups, and secret identities. Things were getting a little out of hand, so this is welcome information to have all in one place. A big old wrestling show needs an opening number, which involves Kevin maybe letting his hatred for the police get the better of him. The matches themselves start off friendly enough (between two new characters, who I’m guessing we never see again, but who knows in this comic?), but things get personal in a hurry when it’s Marisol versus Tina. A double page center spread of some wrestling action follows (as is almost mandatory for this particular clash), and it ends in the only way it really could, but I’m not spoiling a bit of that perfection. Also Dick Punch (the former mayor) is scheming behind the scenes, so you’d better believe that that comes into play later. There’s one final match, a few characters really pour their hearts out, and that’s the end of that. I honestly have no idea where Andrew is going from here. This feels almost like it was wrapping things up, but there are still dangling plot lines all over the place, so who knows? It’s definitely a satisfying conclusion to this little wrestling storyline, and I’d very much recommend getting these two books at a minimum. He even catches new readers up! $5

Neal, Andrew – Wrestling and Mania Part One


Wrestling and Mania Part One

I finally got to meet Andrew at CXC this year (2022, future readers), and he was delightful. Not that that matters to y’all, but in the unlikely event that you were holding back on checking out his comics because of a previous terrible Andrew in your lives, this one seems nice. As for the comic, it’s about wrestling! And a spectacularly convoluted and manipulative plot that I’m not even going to get into a little bit, in the hopes that it catches you by surprise too. Except for the fact that now you’ll be looking out for a plot. Ah well. The internet porn company that employs roughly half the cast from the original Meeting Comics has decided to branch out into wrestling, but they have a small staff, so things start looking dicey when Laura breaks her ankle while practicing. Who could possibly take over such a job on short notice? Well, Thomas is on the staff, and his ex-wife did do a lot of superhero work, which also involves some extreme physical activity. But things have been tense between them, what with her leaving him for Kevin’s wife, and him ending up with his former nemesis. If you’ve been waiting for all of that to get resolved, this issue goes a long way towards making that happen. I don’t know if something like that could ever be fully resolved, but the involved parties spend some time talking to each other, and things certainly end up in a better spot than they were before that broken ankle changed everything. Other than that we have wrestling, horniness, Val, partying, and an alarming revelation about some lapsed medication and what it may mean for one of the relationships. Vague but enticing, that’s my goal. The big wrestling event is actually occurring in the next issue, which means I just might go back to my old ways and review it next week, as I’m really curious to see how that all plays out. Of course, since it’s the busiest time of the year at work, “next week” might end up being in a few weeks anyway. If you were nervous about this issue because you hate wrestling (you weirdo, give it a shot, it’s just a big goofy athletic soap opera), there are still lots of parts with the old Meeting Comics crew that you know and love. Try it out, if you aren’t already on board. $5

Neal, Andrew – Hell Hand and Other Stories


Hell Hand and Other Stories

Cat lovers, please know that my long haired gray cat just wrote a review of this comic, but I deleted it due to spacing issues and the lack of a single vowel. To any cat readers who were looking forwards to that, I do apologize. To the humans, hey look, it’s another issue of Meeting Comics! Number 23, to be exact, even though the series has outgrown putting that name on the cover. When’s the last time they were even in an office meeting, anyway? The ongoing problems of various characters are very much still ongoing, but this issue makes it seem like a few of them are on their way to getting resolved. Since it’s listed as five short stories (even though it still reads like an issue of Meeting Comics in a lot of ways), why don’t I review it by stories? First up is Hell Hand, in which Eloise tries to return the spell book they used in a previous issue. It comes as quite a shock to the proprietor that the spells actually work, so naturally he has to try one and I think you can see where this is going. Or can you? I don’t know how your mind works. Next up is Tina & Ellie’s Next Case, where they’re recruited by their old office to get their estranged husbands back into the office. A startling fact may make their decision for them! Next is Val’s First Kiss, and if you think I’m going to spill a single thing about that legendary happening you are you of your mind. Substandard Parents has the honor of being the penultimate story, which is a word I can rarely find a good reason to work into casual conversations. Kevin meets up with his mother to pick up his kid, but she has a lot of opinions about the direction she thinks his life is heading and boy howdy is he going to hear about them. Did I mention that she surprised him by also inviting Eloise? Because she very much did that. Finally there’s The Golden Clipper, in which we learn that Thomas wanted to be a barber back in the day, the reason why he quit, what his parents think of his new girlfriend and whether or not they have any suspicions of his alter ego. That’s a lot of comic! Anybody who’s not reading this series by now is just hurting themselves, so if that happens to be you: stop the hurting! $5

Neal, Andrew – Meeting Comics #22: The Musical


Meeting Comics #22: The Musical

In case anybody is going into this being all pedantic about the fact that there are no audible sounds in comics, yes, Andrew does address this in his afterward. For the rest of us who just like a good time, boy are you ever in luck! I’m known around these parts (i.e. my website) as a crank who rarely enjoys poems or song parodies in comics, although I seem to be softening on the subject in my advancing years. Case in point: this comic, which is delightful. It’s also not 100% a musical, as since there has to be some story-related reason why this entire crew would start singing, things start off with a phone alert announcing a “musical storm warning.” After a brief conversation about which one is more imminent, a watch or a warning (it’s a warning, and Val’s mnemonic device to remember it should become the industry standard), our heroes find out that they’re too late to escape the onslaught, and they all eventually burst into song. Regular readers of the comic may also remember how messy the relationships in the series have become, and what better time to make an attempt to sort all that out than through song? That’s the part that makes my comparing this to the musical episode of Buffy unavoidable, as they both sort through some issues that couldn’t be addressed in casual conversation. Other highlights include Val running away and ending up in a “solo” song with a mirror version of herself, and the remaining guys breaking into their own song, which may or may not end up with everybody working back at the office. So if anybody out there is silently (or loudly) fuming about how the overall story has gotten away from office culture, you may be in luck! Anyway, yes, the streak of quality issues of this series continues. Andrew also mentioned in his afterward that all of the verses would work as songs, if anybody wanted to throw him enough money to hire some musicians to play them. So if there are any eccentric millionaires out there, go for it. I’d also appreciate it if you gave me enough money so that I could live out the rest of my life doing this instead of working an office job, if you’re going to be throwing cash around… $5

Neal, Andrew – Where the Rent Went


Where the Rent Went

Finally, the issue the world has been waiting for! It’s (another fraction of) the origin story of Val! More importantly, it’s also the origin of the moment that Val, who wasn’t short on self-confidence already, figured out that damned near everybody she met wanted to have sex with her, leading to the creation of the Val that we see today. That’s getting ahead of things a bit, so let me back up. The issue starts off with Val arriving at home/the site of her upcoming show with her band, and she’s quickly confronted with the fact that the envelope holding the rent money has gone missing. Throughout the issue Val has to find the time to interview each of her roommates, sing in her punk show, and fend off the advances from every character who isn’t 100% gay. This is completely different from the usual Meeting Comics format (even if it is listed as Meeting Comics #21), as there’s no punchline at the end of most pages, just an ongoing and completely engaging story. Things even end in a bit of a mystery, but since it’s an origin comic it’s a mystery that may never be solved. Now that I’m thinking about it, this may be the issue that I’d recommend to people who want to check out the Meeting Comics world but are intimidated by those previous 20 issues. Sure, they wouldn’t get the same rapid fire jokes (although this one is plenty funny), but this is top notch Andrew working his craft, and anybody who started with this one would have a completely different impression of Val right from the start. Yeah, somebody should really do this. I’m curious how they’d react to the regular series after this. Why oh why won’t any billionaires fund me when I come up with bizarre comics experiments like this? Ah well. If it isn’t obvious by now, yes, you should very much check it out. The next issue is apparently a musical issue, which will be a real test for this reviewer. I generally don’t care for musical/poetry issues, but some of his musical strips have made me laugh before. Tune in next week (or the week after, or some time in the next month probably) for that review to find out! $5

Neal, Andrew – Meeting Comics #20


Meeting Comics #20

It’s the final issue of Meeting Comics! … is what I thought before I hovered my cursor over the next few comics Andrew released, as all of them have their own distinct titles but are secretly also considered to be part of this ongoing story. Probably not an issue for anybody who isn’t a reviewer, but I run a full service rambling station here. So what’s going on this time around? We start off with two musical strips about the covid vaccine as sung by a clown doctor and yes, they’re as glorious as you might have guessed. Other stories include Don dealing with some money problems, Gil taking over the company, Val explaining the secret of her sexiness (it’s all about maximizing the hottest shape around), using their porn studio to film a breakup for the drama, Val trying to set up an NFT (that’s really just a setup for a really solid punchline), and Val finally finding her dream woman, among other strips that I’m not going to mention so as not to be a spoiling monster about it. We also finally get to see Thomas and Tina have a conversation, and no matter how awkward you think it’ll end up going, you can probably add a few more points of awkwardness onto that. Did I mention that both of them brought their current girlfriends to the meeting? Yep. Oh, and there’s also a Val centerfold by Adam Meuse, just in case there’s never enough Val in your life. It looks like the issues are getting a bit more self-contained after this, says the guy who’s over here judging books by their covers. Find out what happens along with me! Unless you’ve already bought all these issues, in which case read along with me to have your own opinions validated/get enraged by how thoroughly I’m missing the point! $5

Neal, Andrew – Meeting Comics #19


Meeting Comics #19

Before I get to the comics, I just wanted to commend Andrew for how he’s portraying the whole Tina and Ellie/Kevin and Ellie/Thomas and Tina romantic mess. It would have been the easiest thing in the world to turn it into a big old drama explosion, but he’s instead treating it like a group of adults who are confused by their new feelings but are all crystal clear that they don’t want to hurt anyone involved. It’s refreshing and realistic. Well, up until Tina and Ellie spend the bulk of the issue trying to exorcise the Dark Lord, anyway, but it’s not like he could leave that story thread just hanging out. So, what’s this issue about? The bit on the cover gives it away, and technically the back cover is even a bit of a spoiler. But you can’t see if here, so it’s still a mystery to you! Other stories include Thomas and Marisol being forced to quarantine together (and it’s a testament to Thomas’s restraint that it takes a few strips before they start going at it; that sexual tension has been flying off the page since they first met), Tina and Ellie trying to figure out their relationships, Gil’s secret twin brother Al, and Marisol taking a new job. Still, the bulk of the book is all about trying to get Gil free from the Dark Lord, and you’d better believe that that exorcism does not go exactly as planned. And you’d also better believe that I’m not giving away the ending here, as that’s been an underlying storyline for the bulk of the series run. This one may be a bit less laugh out loud funny than previous issues (although it still does have more than a few hilarious moments), but that’s only because there’s some unexpected heart here. It’s great, and a satisfying conclusion to that whole arc. It’s also apparently the first issue that Andrew didn’t post online for free, so if you’ve been mooching up until now, buy this one to see how the story ends! $5

Neal, Andrew – Meeting Comics #18


Meeting Comics #18

Could it be that things have finally started to calm down for our heroes? Eh, not really. I mean, sort of, but only a little bit. We start off with several strips in a row about Tina and Ellie, as they’re both coming around to the idea that their fling might actually be more than that. Oh, and they also chat quite a bit with Gil/The Dark Lord, as they’re trying to find some way to get them separated. We get to see a bit more of the new office dynamic at the porn studio. How’s Val handling not being the boss? You’ll be amazed! Well, I don’t know what amazes you, but it is pretty damned funny. Although I guess I don’t know your sense of humor either. Eh, trust me already, or why else are you still reading this review? In other strips Thomas get ready for his porn premier (as the Ribbon Cutter, of course), but a new nemesis pops up that could make things tricky. He also has possibly the best super villain name of all time, but I’m not going to spoil that here. Also, if Thomas can’t make his porn shoot, who could possibly step in? The story may have shifted almost completely from the early issues, but it’s still funny as hell, which is all anybody can ask for in this world. No, not free health care or a world without war, you shut up about that. Just the idea that comics that are supposed to be funny actually are funny. Like this one! $5

Neal, Andrew – Meeting Comics #17


Meeting Comics #17

It’s impressive (especially in hindsight) how on track Andrew was able to keep his series during the pandemic. It also caused a few great issues dealing with some of the funnier bits of it, but with this issue covid has gone into the background and he’s back focusing on his people. I’m assuming covid pops up again, what with knowing that these strips were produced right before the 2020 presidential election and the covid surge after it, but this is as close to “back to normal” as this comic has been lately. Of course, that still means that lots of thing are batshit insane, but that’s just Meeting Comics for you. Tina and Ellie’s affair does get discovered, in absolutely hilarious fashion, but the response from Kevin and Thomas is still being worked out. I was also surprised that it was an ongoing thing and not just a “victory lap” after they solved their case, so we’ll see later how that affects things. The Dark Lord gets more screen time here than usual, but right now he’s not having a huge impact on the story. Kevin has his own secret, which may or may not come up later. Job offerings are hitting the gang, and a good chunk of them have decided to work for their budding porn empire. Andrew also includes The Last Garbageman on Earth, which I’m assuming was its own mini, and the title kind of says it all. He does manage to include the (at the time) upcoming presidential election in the discussion, and if only fixing that problem was as easy as he depicts it here! My apologies if this has gotten boring for the reader, but yes, this is another solid issue, and yes, you should really be giving this series a chance. Before it would mostly apply to people with horrible office jobs, but at this point it’s covering so much ground that it’s damned near for everybody. Well, except the prudes. I’m guessing all the casual sex and working for a porn startup wouldn’t meet with too much approval in that joyless crowd… $5

Neal, Andrew – Meeting Comics #16


Meeting Comics #16

The pandemic continues, and the fallout from the last issue is hitting all kinds of people. You remember, that’s the issue that took place over one insane and ridiculous day? Of course you’ve already read it, what am I saying. There’s Kevin and Ellie trying to return home and being kicked out by everybody else, because their chances for covid are pretty high after that protest. There’s Val, maybe at her most Val, which is both saying something and a genuine joy. The Dark Lord is back, despite being mostly dead, and he’s taking some serious liberties. Kevin has some issues with his band being taken in a more corporate direction. The mystery of the bootleg Ribbon Cutter merchandise is revealed! Speaking of, the Ribbon Cutter is approached to do porn, which leads to an absolutely delightful duet with his nemesis. Once again, that’s not even half the stories, but things are moving right along, and they haven’t missed a beat after everybody got fired from their jobs. It’s almost like the comic was funny on its own, with or without making fun of corporate life! Also I’m just going to go out on a limb and say that if you haven’t read any issues up until now, this is as good a place as any to jump in. A few characters get new starts, and sure, you’ll still be missing some crucial context. But if you’re on a tight budget and don’t want to just buy the first collection of strips and/or read the many free sample strips on his website, maybe start with this one. $5

Neal, Andrew – Meeting Comics #15


Meeting Comics #15

And here I was thinking that Andrew would probably change his format to accommodate his teased storyline that covered a single day. Nope! Same four panel structure, but it all ended up coming together quite nicely. If anybody is coming into this review completely blind and is feeling a bit lost, well yeah, this is a review for the 15th issue of the series. I’m assuming you’re imaginary, but if you’re not, hop on that Meeting Comics train already! So what are the stakes this time around? Val has completely let herself go after finding out that her entire team has been laid off. Kevin has grown a pretty rough quarantine beard and enough time has finally passed for him to rejoin everybody else. The Ribbon Cutters find out about a bootleg mask operation that’s selling their likenesses as PPE for the covid. We find out that Mitch also has an old connection to Val. Tori finally goes off on her own. And since this issue was made during the summer of 2020, you know what that means! That’s right, protests. Not just protests, but the little things about them too, like how the cops used children for propaganda purposes (which I’ll be calling copaganda from now on, which I did not make up, since it sums up the idea in the name) and a Karen making everything about her. Throw all of those elements into a stew, and voila, you get a comic about a single day (that’s really about everything that happened while Andrew was making the comic about one day, but it still works). I guess if you’re an anti-masker and one of the dopes who think that BLM protestors burned down entire cities there won’t be a lot for you here, but if that’s the case I’m alarmed that you ever made it here to begin with. For the rest of us normal folks there’s a lot to love about this issue, just in case you thought he was going to fall on his face while attempting something new. Nope. Buy his comics, why don’t you? $5

Neal, Andrew – Meeting Comics #14


Meeting Comics #14

The coronavirus cometh! Ugh, I already feel bad about writing that. But here I am, moving right along, leaving that terrible opening line up there for everybody to see. All I can do now is bury it under more words so that anybody who made it past that stomach punch of an opening line will eventually forget about it. So yeah, this one is all covid, all the time. Andrew mentioned in the afterward that he was annoyed about his storylines that had to get changed or abandoned because of the pandemic, but since the comic is supposed to reflect current events, he kind of had to. He did think it would be over sooner than it was, and keep in mind that this was in August 2020 and here in February 2022 the current covid wave is finally starting to ebb. Will that be the final variant? Eh, probably not, but who knows? In this issue, everybody is dealing with things in their own ways. Kevin’s house full of people is already basically isolating together, even the new addition of his ska band staying in the garage… until Kevin’s mother comes by unannounced, coughing, with some meatloaf for everybody. The Ribbon Cutters are compelled to go out because of the imitators, and they end up getting an offer they’d really prefer not to refuse. Rob is running errands for everybody and getting free rubdowns out of it. Val is holed up with Tori, who would very much like something to happen between the two of them, at least until something does actually happen. The Whole Foods detective ends up on the front lines, with everything that that entails. Gil has a meeting with a very sick Dark Lord. Don (along with his boyfriend Terry) pull his horrible mother out of the nursing home, and I’m just guessing that’ll be a larger story going forward. And the whole thing even ends on a cliffhanger, which clearly justifies the idea of my reviewing these weekly. Eh, like it’s a tough job or something. These are universally a treat, and watching him flip all these storylines on their heads without missing a beat is something to see. The next issue looks like it’s all about a single day, so a slight shift from the usual format. Um, just in case you needed any time to prepare, I guess. Anyway, now everybody reading this knows: if we get another variant and you’re trapped indoors again, the covid comics in this series start with #14. $5

Neal, Andrew – Meeting Comics #13


Meeting Comics #13

In this issue, the undisputed star of the 20’s finally makes its appearance: give it up for the coronavirus! It’s only a few strips in this issue, but if I had to relive the early, awkward and confused days of the virus, this is the perfect comic to do it. Still, this issue is mostly just regular strips about the gang, so maybe I should tell y’all what this one is all about, huh? Subjects include an awkward misunderstanding about adulting, a delighted and clueless white man who’s thrilled about how “everybody” gets the day off for MLK day, a Trump impeachment song (first impeachment, and it’s hilarious that I have to specify), finally getting a dress that has it all, a rapping clown whose sole duty is to break the news to fired employees, a miscommunication about the attendance policy for the company orgy, and a brief (and, for Kevin, sexually awkward) trip back into the origin story of Val. As usual, that’s only the first half of the strips, meaning that I’m not going to get into any specifics about the corona strips. Ah, we were all so young and confused about the whole thing back then. And the Ribbon Cutters! Good lord, it feels criminal not to mention what they did in this issue, but I must stay strong! There’s also the return of Mitch Cranberry, and clearly I can not be trusted to stay quiet about what’s in the rest of this issue so the reader can discover it for themselves, so I’m shutting this review down. It’s still hilarious, but that was mostly true at the beginning. What it has at this point is hilarious strips along with some serious depth for the characters, so maybe you should do what I’m doing and try to catch up with the series. $5

Neal, Andrew – Meeting Comics #12


Meeting Comics #12

It’s an issue with a theme! If you’re just jumping into my weekly Meeting Comics reviews at #12 and are wondering what I’m talking about, you know what? I’m not going to hold your hand. Go back and read the other ones to make sense of it. If there’s one thing the consistent childishness of the antimask folks proves, it’s that coddling doesn’t do a damned thing. That’s right, antivaxers turned me militant against recaps! It’s all makes sense somehow. So what’s the theme? There’s a movie premiere coming out, and it has music from Kevin’s band, an invitation to appear for the Ribbon Cutters (yep, now there are officially two of them), and is directed by Val’s old boyfriend. So right away there’s obvious tension all around. Not that Val’s ever tense, but her appearance is bound to make things awkward for her ex and Rob. Hey look, that’s what the sample image is all about! Also the Ribbon Cutters confront both bootleggers (who are selling merch without permission) and two imposters who also went to the premier as the Ribbon Cutters. That whole storyline unfolds beautifully, so I’m not going to spoil any other twists and turns. Still, there were a few other strips in here that were unrelated to the premier, and I reckon it won’t hurt anybody to briefly talk about them. There’s Don learning that his mother is somehow becoming even more of an asshole, Val coming to Kevin’s Thanksgiving dinner, Val promoting somebody else to the management team, and one of the gang getting to ask a single question of the Dark Lord about anything they want. Wow, I guess more of this comic was about that premier than I thought. He also mentions in his afterward that the comics are going to start being about the pandemic as of the next issue because hey, that’s what was going on in real life at the time. Good thing that’s over with, says I from the comfort of 2/3/22, when deaths are only… a couple thousand a day? Yikes. Anyway, give it a shot! This might also be a good one of to show to newbies to get them interested, as it’s more or less self contained. $5

Neal, Andrew – Meeting Comics #11


Meeting Comics #11

I should have thought of this ages ago, but what the heck, it’s never too late, right? Here’s my Meeting Comics challenge for y’all, and it actually extends back to all the other reviews. Can you read the sample comic without laughing? I guess I’m giving away the game about how easy it is to determine whether or not you want to give a comic a shot, but seriously. I just started to go into all the ways that it’s funny before remembering that doing such a thing is a guaranteed method to kill humor, so never mind. If you can look at that and not even crack a smile, I’m afraid your inner joy has been murdered, my friend. So, what’s new this time around? Gil gets to meet the in-laws, and what a group they are. Ribbon Cutter is already sharing the crimefighting duties with his wife, but who’s the mysterious new figure who’s also wearing scissors? Don eventually gets out of the hospital, and he has something to show everybody. The shadows are loose! There’s also a clown involved, which is new. As always, that leaves roughly half of the book completely unmentioned, so don’t worry, there’s still plenty of brand new funny here for you to uncover. Bring a copy to your next office meeting! If they get an attitude about it, just say that it’s about how to make meetings better, which is clearly indicated by the title. Who knows, maybe they’ll even fall for it! $5

Neal, Andrew – Meeting Comics #10


Meeting Comics #10

That cover has a pretty big spoiler. Can you spot it? No, it’s not the slight white marks from where I accidentally gave the comic an elbow drop. Funny story! Anyway, the series has made it to double digits, and the fun thing about reading comics from the past is you can see dreams being broken in real time. Andrew has an announcement here that the collected edition was going to be coming out in February of 2020, and I’m sure he had cons and all sorts of other promotional activities planned. Sorry, but covid had other plans. This issue also had some sort of printing problem, as several strips were lighter than others, but everything is still legible, so don’t worry, you’ll still get all the jokes. What’s the story this time around? Val pays off a bet in which she has to shake out her hair like a sexy librarian, we meet Dolores (who’s been a temp for 14 years), Kevin does some just on the borderline of racist rapping, they learn that the new Fantastic Four will be a rap battle (and boy was I ever tempted to put that as the sample image, but it was just too good to ruin), the Ribbon Cutter goes on hiatus, and Kevin’s baby briefly goes missing. Much, much more, as always, and it’s not like Andrew lost his funny since the ninth issue, so you’ll get some solid laughs this time around too. Go on, buy a copy, help the poor guy make up for the accidentally terrible timing of his book release date. Actually, that book is probably the way to go, as it collects the first six issues. But if you’re not willing to risk it, exactly zero of these first 10 issues were terrible, so I like your chances. $5

Neal, Andrew – Meeting Comics #9


Meeting Comics #9

Anybody else enough of a former Marvel comics geek that they tried to get a No-Prize, that joke prize for finding mistakes in comics that I sadly didn’t understand until I was an adult? Well, the inside cover for this one says it’s #8, but it’s actually #9! …do I win anything? I’ll just wait for my award in the mail. Speaking of Marvel, Andrew really messed up by not putting some version of “in this issue, someone dies!” on the front cover. Silhouettes of some of the characters, gravestone in shadow, that sort of thing. Because this one does start off with a death, even if it doesn’t mean all that much to the story. One of the horde of people at Kevin’s house, his father, starts the issue off by croaking. Spoiler, I guess, but it’s literally the first strip. Anyway, Kevin didn’t much like the guy, and and even when he passed away it didn’t exactly bring up a wellspring of emotions. At the funeral it quickly becomes clear that the feeling is widely shared, which is a nice and honest change of pace from the way deaths are usually handled in four panel gag strips. Unless deaths aren’t usually handled at all in such strips and I’m just making things up, which is entirely possible. Also the image of their baby going all emo after witnessing the death got a real laugh out loud from me, and I just realized that I just used “emo” in both reviews this week, despite probably never saying that word out loud. Huh. Other subjects in this here funny book include Gil hitting on the boss’s granddaughter, finding out what’s under the beard, finding out what’s under the hat, a real “oof” of a strip about adopting a cat while passing an ICE center, flex out a tiddy, how quickly an angry mob forms if a cartoon is rebooted with the lead character having a different race than the original, and the new girl. And lots more, of course; as usual I’m only mentioning roughly half of the strips. As always, check out a few samples on his website if you’re still on the fence, otherwise this is another solid issue. $5