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Canini, Brian – Applewood Canyon #9-11


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)

Canini, Brian – Applewood Canyon #6-8


Applewood Canyon #6-8

Well, it’s official: Brian broke the website. His productivity did it, specifically, and it’s not like he held a gun to my head so I’d review his books a few at a time. Still, this might have to be the norm for a few of his series. When you last saw me talking about Applewood Canyon, I was assuming that that was it for the series and that it had wrapped up in fairly confusing fashion after five issues. I was wrong, which is a thing that happens on a regular basis, and Brian was nice enough to give me the next few issues at CXC in Columbus last month. So, breaking this down by issues, #6 had the escape of our “heroes” (probably need to come up with a better descriptor for casual murderers and a dummy) through the sewer system along with some narration that described what they were all going through, #7 showed them the horrifying truth about Coconut Valley, and #8 had their new plan after being denied entry back into Applewood Canyon. I can instantly see that my problem with spoilers is going to be a big deal while covering a few issues at a time, so let’s just say that any review with more than one issue involved is going to have at least a few spoilers. I liked their trip through the sewer, as we learned a lot more about the characters through an issue of conversation and narration. I would have liked to have learned more about Coconut Valley in the seventh issue, but I get why he’s trying to keep it vague for the time being. And #8 was great for showing just how diabolical this crew could be, with some mayhem sure to follow in future issues. I’m no longer making guesses for how long this series will last, but I am enjoying the ride.

$1.99 (per issue)

Canini, Brian – Applewood Canyon #5


Applewood Canyon #5

It’s the grand finale for the series, as our “heroes” still have to figure out some way to get the dead body out of town. There’s the north entrance, which is guarded 24 hours a day, so that’s out. And the south entrance is a literal minefield. What can they do? Obviously I’m not going to tell you, as it would be a gargantuan dick move to wait until now to spoil the ending. It’s always tricky when I can’t get into such things, so I’ll just say that I thought the ending was… fine, I guess? It solved their central problem, but it also felt like the ending just kind of happened and that was that. Which, granted, is how endings work, and you can throw this whole review away if there are further issues planned. Honestly, it’s probably one of those things where I was anticipating a zig and Brian instead zagged. Who can’t relate to that! I also thought we were going to get into further detail about the nature of the town (what kind of town has guards at one end and a minefield at the other?), but that never happened. Which I get in one sense, as that probably would have required a whole other series. And since Brian is a comics making machine, there’s every chance that he has such a series in mind or is already working on said series. Overall this was still a really fun and/or disturbing series and I think that fans of his work should definitely check it out. $1.99

Canini, Brian – Applewood Canyon #4


Applewood Canyon #4

It’s the penultimate (a word I just don’t get to use often enough) issue of this short series, and when we last left our heroes (?) they were bagging up a body and starting to take it away. The issue ended with a flashlight being shone on them, so in this issue we naturally see who was holding the light. It turns out it was… a small child. With a surprisingly quick grasp of the situation, to the point where it’s hard not to instantly wonder what else is going on with this kid. The rest of the issue deals with her making an offer to the two of them, their response to said offer and what happens once they try to take the body out of town (a town which we were previously told was locked down at night). So! Lots to wrap up in the final issue, and only 8 scant pages to do it. This one has gone a long ways from the faux documentary style of that first issue, that’s for sure, but I’ll make the prediction now that we’ll be left with many more questions than answers. I could very well be wrong, but I probably won’t be (this time). Mainly because I want to know the life story of that kid, and there’s just not enough time to deal with that while wrapping up the main plot. Either way, it’s been a blast of a series, and a pretty cheap one to get all the issues, in terms of Brian Canini series, anyway. $1.99

Canini, Brian – Applewood Canyon #3


Applewood Canyon #3

One of these days I really need to tally up these reviews to see who I’ve reviewed the most over the 21 (!) years I’ve been at this. If Brian isn’t the winner, he’s got to be in the top 10. Of course, him putting out comics at a ridiculous pace like this doesn’t hurt his chances. It’s the middle issue of this series (assuming there aren’t more to come, but there haven’t been new issues since I started these series reviews), so this was bound to be when things got serious. I’m assuming you’re either caught up or aren’t going to get caught up on this series (which you should; some damned odd vibes in this one), but this one picks up right where the last issue left off, with the murder of the narrator after he stumbled across a grisly scene. How does a narrated comic continue after the murder of the narrator, you may wonder? The sample image will clear that one up for you. It also tells you exactly where this comic is headed, as Mr. Johnston and a reluctant Floyd try to come up with a good plan to get rid of the body. I’ve previously mentioned that these comics are shorties (8 pages each), so I can’t say much more without the dreaded spoilers showing up. I will say that it ends on another cliffhanger, so maybe I’ll give in to temptation and just review the final two issues next week. Or maybe I won’t. I’m mercurial! Anyway, I’m enjoying this series quite a bit, and unlike the saga that Plastic People is turning out to be, this one is a quick five issues. Much easier on the wallet, you cheapskates you (says the guy who usually gets free review copies). So yeah, check it out! $2

Canini, Brian – Applewood Canyon #2


Applewood Canyon #2

The creepy tension from the first issue continues here, overlaid with that wholesome narrator telling an unseen audience about the charms of this town. If you didn’t read the review (or the comic) of the first issue that might be a little confusing, but who would just jump in at the second issue? In the previous issue we saw a bit of the town, and this time around we focus on one house in particular. Our narrator checks the door and, as it’s such a trusting town, finds it unlocked. We get a brief tour, have the residents of the house explained based on a large family portrait, and are suddenly distracted by a loud noise coming from downstairs. Any more than that and I’m well into spoiler territory, which is a constant concern anyway while reviewing 8 page mini comics. Maybe I can get away with saying this: it’s going to be extremely tricky to continue the unseen narrator action going into the third issue. But that’s fine! Two issues in and I’m completely hooked on the mystery, and Brian is doing an excellent job of ratcheting up the tension. Some of the asides are also brilliant; after getting detailed bios of two of the people in that family portrait, we land on the third one and the only piece of information the narrator is willing to dole out is “deceased.” Raises a whole lot of questions, huh? I’d recommend this series pretty highly so far, and since Brian is the man of a thousand comics series, I’ll even go ahead and say that you should start with this one. I suppose it could still fall apart, but it’s certainly off to one hell of a start. $2

Canini, Brian – Applewood Canyon #1


Applewood Canyon #1

Here’s another intriguing start to a series from Brian, the Cal Ripken of comics! Uh-oh, an extremely dated reference. See kids, Cal Ripken is famous mostly for his streak of consecutive baseball games played in a row, which I think was way over 2,000. Google has just told me 2,632, which is insane. Anyway, my point is that Brian has been making comics for a whole lot of years, and in that time he has produced a whole lot of comics. OK fine, so it’s a flawed analogy! I was shooting for a compliment. This follows Brian’s usual (?) format of an eight page mini, and as a first issue the whole point is to get the reader hooked on what might happen next. He succeeded on that front, as I’m very curious. This issue is done like an olde timey tourist commercial for why somebody should visit a town, but it’s peppered with imagery that adeptly disrupts any sense of comfort you might have with this seemingly quaint little burb. As it’s a shortie, it’s tough to say much about it without ruining something for the reader, but putting a panel of a 30 foot high wall (with “expertly equipped guard towers”) in between a panel showing quaint stone walkways and a serene dog park was an excellent way to bat away any expectations I already had going for how the series might develop. This “commercial” ran for the whole comic, so we got to meet a few characters and even learned about a rival town, so I think everything is set up quite nicely for future issues. Brian being Brian, he already sent me the first 5 issues of the series, so I’ll be able to check for myself very soon. And I still have to go back to Plastic People and see how that’s going, but that’s more a note for myself than part of the review, so please ignore this last sentence if you’re not me. Check it out, get in on the ground floor! $2