Jay, Damien – The Natural World #4

December 1, 2010


The Natural World 4

Why aren’t there more serialized stories in the small press comics world?  Oh, I don’t mean the people who write for one of the “big” publishers, but among the mini comics folks it seems to be exceedingly rare, and that’s a shame.  Damien says at the end of this issue that he thought he would be about ready to wrap up the story at this point, but that it “has already strayed a few times from its anticipated course.”  Good!  Let it stray, let it expand, and let it be whatever story it’s supposed to end up being.  If I had a large chunk of disposable income I’d ask my favorite dozen comic creators to come up with ongoing series and give them money to put them out instead of focusing on single, unconnected issues.  What set me off on this subject?  Um, it’s Wednesday?  Who knows.  So how about this issue?  Well, if it really was only a three or four issue series, it would have arguably been a waste of time, as what we get is Shannon (the crazy guy living in the woods) and Walter (the only slightly less crazy guy with the dog) chatting in the forest. In a shorter series, this might have been a bad idea.  In a series that is probably going to go 10 issues, it’s perfect.  We’ve seen both of these guys plenty but haven’t had much of a chance to get into their motivations or what they’re all about for any length of time.  Here that’s ALL we get, and it’ll almost certainly pay off big in the long run.  So what did they talk about for an entire issue?  Screw that, buy it and see for yourself.  If you’re not already reading this series you certainly should be, so why should I give anything away?  OK, a taste: that carved bird pops up again, we learn that the dog doesn’t like Shannon very much, and much fun is had with Walter’s way of talking.  $4

Jay, Damien – The Natural World #3

August 2, 2010


The Natural World #3

We’re back to the characters from the first issue this time around, as Damien’s master plan starts coming more into focus.  Well, just barely, but I am going with the theory that he has a master plan at work.  He even changed the outfits of the bandits from the end of the last issue (he will send you a copy of #2 with the altered outfits if you’re that neurotic about it, although he used a nicer word) because that fits in with his plan for the whole series, and I’m all for that level of foresight.  The hermit from the last issue doesn’t make an appearance, but we do learn that Edith (last seen having sex with Reeve in the first issue) is accused of being a witch, Walter is still wandering around the forest talking to himself (although this time he appears to be on mushrooms), and the bandits are essentially 12 year old boys who fight amongst themselves for little reason.  The only trouble with a series like this is that it’s hard to build up a complex story when it’s only coming out once or twice a year, but I’m not sure what the alternative is.  Somebody like Bill Gates could come out as a fan of small press comics and give everybody who ever made a mini comic $10,000, but that seems sadly unlikely.  So we just have to be content with the occasional blasts of brilliance like this, with a creepy and somehow childlike man getting hugged by trees, a man who cheated on his wife trying desperately to convince what is almost an angry mob not to jump to hasty conclusions about a supposed witch, and bandits with a new set of clothes for what I’m sure is a perfectly reasonable reason in the mind of the author.  $4

Jay, Damien – The Natural World #2

June 2, 2010


The Natural World #2

Good news for people who like continuing stories but don’t like the inconvenience of missing the first issue: this comic has almost nothing to do with the first issue of this series.  Well, it’s set in the same world and the same little village, but the people involved are completely different this time around.  Things start off with a couple of women out working in the field, unaware that they’re being observed by an odd little hermit man who hasn’t seen women for a very long time.  He falls at least mildly in love with both of them but retains enough self-awareness to know that the women would probably run screaming if they saw him, so he makes a carving of a bird for them to find.  Unfortunately for him the women do find the carving but decide that it must be from a man in the village who one of the women has a crush on.  The hermit is unable to take this and can’t resist jumping out and confronting them.  As he suspected, this does not go well.  The comic also manages to leave us on a cliff-hanger, but it sounds like the third issue is going to go back to the characters from the first issue, so I’m not sure how this is all supposed to tie in.  Ah, that’s half the fun of series like this, trying to figure out where things are going.  As long as Damien has a clear idea in his head of where it all goes, I’m more than happy to stay along for the ride, especially if he’s going to make the individual issues as entertaining as they’ve been so far.  Fun stories of an odd little world and some great artwork are all I need, and this series clearly has plenty of both.  Check it out already!  $4

Jay, Damien – The Natural World #1

May 3, 2010


The Natural World #1

Since I complain about this for other people, I have to be consistent: please put contact information somewhere in your comic.  Assuming any comic stores sell this, it’s entirely possible for this to be the only comic of yours a person picks up in any given trip, and making locating you even a tiny bit difficult could prevent that person from checking out more of your work.  We live in lazy, lazy times, and I am aware of the fact that typing “Damien Jay” in Google brings his website right up.   That’s fine for him, but when Jim Smith puts out a comic and doesn’t put contact information, the buyer is never going to find more of his work.  There, I managed to get some negativity in what was otherwise going to be a glowing review.  Whew!  This is a continuing series (and Damien was nice enough to send the first three issues, huzzah!) dealing with that creepy pilgrim-ish guy on the cover (and it took me until the end of the book to know for sure that it was a male), his brother (seemingly a local official of some kind), and a group of forced workers who are tasked with clearing some “cursed” thicket. The man on the cover (named Neeve) also goes out with his dog quite a bit in this issue, the dog finds something that isn’t revealed until the end of the issue, and far be it from me to spoil that great of a cliffhanger.  If this was a single issue I might have some complaints about it.  Where and when do these people live?  Why does Neeve start speaking in tongues (or something to that effect) when he gets freaked out?  What did those workers do to be forced into hard labor?  What is Neeve doing out there with his dog all the time?  Luckily I know for sure that this isn’t one of those “one and done” series, and all of those questions are simply tantalizing mysteries to be uncovered in the near future.  It’s great stuff and you should think about checking it out.  No price (hey, two negative things in the review!), but let’s say $5 because of that fantastic cover.

Various Alternative Comics anthologies – Hi-Horse Omnibus

May 2, 2010


Hi-Horse Omnibus

I might have a different criteria for a good anthology than most people. When I get an anthology, I get it to check out work from a lot of different people at once. Therefore, as long as the vast majority of them aren’t actively bad, I usually feel like it was a good anthology. Well, there wasn’t a single bad story in this, so mission accomplished. Lots of familiar names in this (Cole Johnson, Zack Soto, Dan Zettwoch, Jesse Reklaw, Thien Pham, HOB, Damien Jay, Gabrielle Bell) and some unfamiliar names (Howard John Arey, Ellen Lindner, Andrice Arp), which is always a good thing. More than a few of those people are getting e-mails from me to see if they want to be in the distro, in case you were wondering. There’s no theme here, which is also a good thing, and stories include a young girl reluctantly spending time with her father, a man trying to find a working bathroom, a cute pug, getting sucked into the television, dating literal monsters, a stranded pirate rhymer, giant babies taking over the world, and how horrible it is to quit smoking. Great stuff in here all around and it’s only $11.95, well worth a look. Here’s the Alternative Comics website, or just click on the title if you’re feeling spendy…

Jay, Damien – The Probe

April 24, 2010


The Probe

Four years after the first Damian Jay book goes up on this website and I’m just now getting around to reading another comic? Cripes. Anyway, if you happen to be one of those people who likes funny, silent comics, this will be perfect for you. And if you don’t like funny comics, I think you’re missing the point of this whole “life” thing.rabbits, as a rabbit is the first thing it comes across. What follows is a hilarious series of Bugs Bunny-esque hijinx involving various carrots and attempts to get the rabbit to come out of his hole. Laughing out loud is always a good thing with comics, and that happened more than a few times in the short reading time of this one. One look at Damian’s website also shows me that there are plenty of comics that I’ve been missing out on over the years, something I hope to rectify before another four years go by… $2

Jay, Damien – Plates Are Cult #2

April 24, 2010


Plates Are Cult #2 Now Available! $4

There’s not a thing wrong with comics being methodical, and Damien seems to have that down. The first story in here is about Joey the Mancat. Joey spends days (or weeks, or maybe months) just sitting in the same place, watching life go by him. Trust me, it’s a lot more interesting than it sounds. The rest of the book is a guided tour on a deep sea probe, uncovering all kinds of odd things. The sheer earnestness of the two main characters makes this whole book a blast, from Joey’s laid back interest in watching everything happen to Shaun’s joy in every aspect of a deep sea dive. It’s a fun book and it looks great, what else needs to be said? These are $4, and I should mention that they’ll be on sale here as soon as the distro starts. Do you think I was too nice to it because of that fact? Looks like the same rambling, meandering review I usually write to me. Website!