Lay, Carol – Strip Joint

April 24, 2010


Strip Joint

To be totally honest, I pretty much only read political strips. I don’t know why I have the prejudice, as I read pretty much everything under the sun when it comes to regular comics, but with weekly strips I stick to stuff that has a current political message. That’s why this book comes as such a great surprise. There’s all kind of relevance here, it’s just not the kind that comes from yelling a viewpoint from a soapbox. The premise here is simple, and obvious to everybody who’s been reading this for years, but bear with me: Carol sets up a premise every week, makes a story out of it and brings that story to a conclusion, usually in 12 panels. The stories are about all sorts of things, but the one thing that brings them all together is that things are always brought out to their logical conclusion, even when that conclusion isn’t very nice. Overpopulation, good, evil and love are some of the more consistent themes. The best part about this strip is that she avoids ever being preachy, which is a difficult thing with her wide range of topics. Looks like I have another strip to read every week on Salon, which brings my total up to three out of five. Maybe I should give the other two a chance, as they seem to have pretty good taste. Check out her website, all kinds of strips to convince you with there…

Lay, Carol – The Big Skinny

April 24, 2010



The Big Skinny

That’s right, I’m reviewing what is essentially a diet book.  I’ve come to terms with that, you should too.  Actually, Ms. Lay would probably have a problem with this being referred to as a “diet book”, as what it actually sets out to do is show how easy it to to lose weight and keep it off for years.  The intro to the book is excellent: Carol, at a dinner party, is asked by the hostess what her secret is for looking so good (Carol, by her own description, has been at least 30 pounds overweight for most of her life).  She replies honestly “I count calories and exercise every day”.  And, well, that’s really all there is to it.  The rest of the book is her proving that counting calories isn’t as difficult as most people think, how exercising can be incorporated into the schedule of even the busiest person, how you can do those exercises at home (more or less for free once you get a few basic things), and how the only way for this to work in the long term is a sincere desire to change.  She describes how people have to have a moment when they decide they’ve had enough: a certain photo mercilessly shows how you really look, a small child asks you why you’re so fat, some sort of trigger makes you want to change.  Roughly equivalent to an alcoholic hitting rock bottom, I suppose.  She also makes it clear that it is still possible to go nuts on rare occasions and eat things that aren’t justifiable under your new standards, as long as you take care to make up for it in the coming days.  I don’t want to give away all her secrets here, as anybody interested in this sort of thing (which, judging from the sales numbers of diet books, is just about everybody) should buy the book.  Speaking as somebody who is trying to eat healthier (I really mean it this time), this is a damned near perfect way to approach things, chock full of common sense, and it even has a series of recipes in the back along with links to calorie counting websites.  It really isn’t as hard as everybody makes it out to be, and there’s a very simple reason why people want to gum up the works as much as possible here: how else could they convince people to buy every book about the latest miracle diet plan to come along?  This is one of those rare books that actually could change your life, even if you only take some of the suggestions out of it.  Take all of them (and no, you don’t have to completely give up cheese), and you’d have a hard time not being a healthier, fitter person.  $18


Hellman, Danny – Legal Action Comics Volume 2

April 23, 2010


Legal Action Comics Volume 2 Now Available! $18.95

It’s always a copout of some degree to just list the contributors involved in an anthology as proof of it’s greatness. Why not go into greater detail about the (in this case) 73 cartoonists and their individual contributions? Well, to me, the joy of a good anthology is discovering things as they come, finding new artists that you like, taking a chance on all sorts of people you’ve never heard of, that sort of thing. So nailing all this down specifically (outside of it being, in that case, by far the longest review I’ve ever written) kills a lot of that sense of discovery. But none of that is really the point of this book anyway. It’s about trying to help Danny Hellman pay some huge legal bills in a lawsuit that is still apparently ongoing (the only update I managed to find about it (as of 8/15/07) is that only one count is left in the lawsuit and that it still hasn’t gone to trial) and, on a selfish level, getting to see a bunch of the best cartoonists working today all gathered into one book. So how about that list? OK, here’s a few names: Sam Henderson, Carol Lay, Doug Allen, Art Spiegelman, Kim Dietch, Kaz, Johnny Ryan, Tony Millionaire, Ted May, Hans Rickheit, Dave McKenna, Michael Kupperman, Miss Lasko-Gross, Pshaw, Lauren Weinstein, Patrick Dean, Mike Diana, Rick Altergott, and Dean LeCrone, to name a fraction of the people that I had already heard of. There seems to be a bit less personal animosity towards Ted Rall this time around (although there’s still plenty here), with the stories being all over the place. It’s a great anthology whether or not you agree with Danny’s legal case (and what’s not to agree with?), and something that everybody who enjoys this genre at all needs on their bookshelf. $18.95