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Hill, Dan – The Fifty Flip Experiment #32

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The Fifty Flip Experiment #32

In this issue, a young woman desperately tries to save her friend from falling into a volcano. Welp, that’s it for this review, what’s going on with y’all? Oh, I kid. Ha! Ha. If you’ve been reading Dan’s comics, either for a long time or a short time, you know what a ridiculously incomplete synopsis that is for one of his pages, let alone an entire comic. If you are new and can’t make up your mind about trying out an issue, consider this: are you frustrated with the limitations of language, or even the combination of visual and written language, to convey the ideas that you’d like to express? Well, read a few of his comics, and you’ll quickly see that anything can be expressed through comics, and comics are even better if they have to percolate in your brain a bit before they settle. Got it? OK, for everybody else who already knows his stuff, I wasn’t lying in my earlier synopsis, that is indeed how things start off. See? I even used the first page as a sample to prove it. And so I wouldn’t have to type out that splendiferous title. Jennifer is trying to save her friend, but both of their arms are slippery after their successful battle against the eye monster (battle, sadly, not shown). Naturally, endurance and muscles play a big part of a thing like this, but that can’t do everything. So she reflects on her cult training (I’ll let you discover that part for yourselves), and manages to send out a distress signal. Naturally, this call goes to a larval child, who passes the signal along to bears. But these bears have to pass the message along to the cult, who are very busy with a series of interpretive dances. Sure, but do we meet each of these dancers? You bet! And we also get the names of several dances. But wait, what about the lava? Yeah, I’ll leave that for you to discover too. Also, once again, his intros and outros (although it’s kind of the same thing this time around) are worth the price of admission alone, and will give you a lot of insight into Dan in case you ever find yourself asking “who would make a comic like this?”, whether in a reverent or negative tone. These are always a treat to me, so you can guess where I’m heading: give it a shot. Get a few of them, is my advice, so you can get a real sense of what’s happening here. $5 ($7 with shipping)

Hill, Dan – The Fifty Flip Experiment #31

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The Fifty Flip Experiment #31

Oh, what a journey we’ve been on together, as I’ve spent the last couple of months getting caught up on Dan’s comics so that I’ll be ready for the blockbuster #32, which should be coming out any time now. The things we’ve seen! This one starts off once again with Dan’s lengthy introduction, and just in case anybody reads “lengthy” and thinks that’s me taking a passive aggressive dig at the man for rambling, well, listen. For one thing, I have no standing to criticize anybody for rambling. That’s literally 85% (according to scientists) of what I do here. For another thing, his intros (and outros) are a joy, and you’d only think such a hurtful thing if you’ve never read one of his comics. Which is more of “you” problem than a “me” problem, hm? Anyway, this time around he really breaks down what exactly is happening in this issue, as well as what’s not happening, so if anybody occasionally gets lost in the narrative, he’s written a handy guide to lead you back. Honestly, I would have put that intro as the sample page but the print is too small. As for what you’re getting into this time around, the title is: Crazy Drag Racing Days During Dinosaur Times: Forced Ascension into the Crystal Dimension Because of a Spell from the Forest Witch. Kind of says it all, doesn’t it? Things start off, as all races did during dinosaur times, by a Fred Flintstone looking dude racing home at the end of his work shift, xylophone spine on a dinosaur’s back and all. From there the mayhem comes a pace that’s difficult for anybody to faithfully retell, but you will have the chance to put your picture in the story, further enmeshing yourself into this tale. Can you get out after that? That depends on your level of basis in reality at present. There are accidents, a cat puts a full fish into its mouth and pulls out a fish skeleton, an emergency ejection is needed, and a bird friend commits a betrayal most foul. Also the Fred analogue has odd eye stalks instead of regular people eyes. Again, I’m giving you a basic taste of the comic; the whole meal can only be found out by reading. Oh, and if you’re getting back issues along with this one, he suggests #23, as a character in that is similar to one in this issue. Makes sense to get a few at once, right? Right. $5 ($7 with shipping)

Hill, Dan – The Fifty Flip Experiment #30

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The Fifty Flip Experiment #30

As these weekly reviews roll on, I feel like I’m telling you all less and less of the actual story. The subconscious reasoning is simple: these are a joy to read, with constant twists, turns and unexpected detours, so what kind of miser would I be if I took that experience away from you? Granted, as he admits in his outro, certain bits might get away from him or end up leading nowhere, but this is one of those cases where the journey is the thing. For example, could this story have survived without the line “My feet are changed to cheeseburgers!”? I suppose so; events would have barreled on without it. But oh, what a better experience for all involved, when that line and the subsequent image of it just there, waiting for anybody to pick this up. OK fine, so what’s going on this time around? Dan once again has his introduction, and I think (combined with the outro text that gets so small that it almost fades away) that this might be the most he’s written in this area. It’s fascinating stuff too, as he muses about money, how much more productive he’d be if he had more of it (but not TOO much more, as too much money makes people terrible), the general idea of the wisdom of enriching the artist, and how he feels like he’s really reached the top of his game lately. I’d agree with that assessment, especially now that I know that that impression holds true whether I’m reading his issues once or twice a year or all in a row like I’m doing currently. That’s scratching the surface (the man wrote A LOT), but I must move on to the comic. A woman named Gig Christmas has a plan to replace all the bug juice in middle school cafeterias with healthier kombucha. Chimbly Daddy is trying to stop her plan, but there’s more to the both of them than you’d expect, as we eventually take a detour to see that they area actually two parts that make up a whole, and an explanation of that idea is necessary, so off we go. Gig also has a team, and although each member could have used a bit more backstory (look, a complaint!), they did a lot with the page time that they had. One more suggestion, although I’m guessing cost would be a problem: I do wish that these comics could be magazine-sized, like the original Love and Rockets series. This art, in places, could use some room to breathe. Ah well, I can dream, can’t I? Yes of course you should check this out, and since he mentioned that he could put more of these out with more money coming in, that also sounds like a clue to pick up a few of this back issues. $5

Hill, Dan – The Fifty Flip Experiment #28

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The Fifty Flip Experiment #28

Have I mentioned yet that it’s alarming that my reviews of Dan’s work appear on a Google search way above his own website? The friends who set this website up oh so many years ago really knew what they were doing, but reviews should never come before the work itself. Do better, Google! Meanwhile, hey look, a comic! If you’re anything like me, you read that cover image and instantly thought “Marge’s hair… does he mean Marge from the Simpsons?” In which case you would have been completely correct, as the villains of the piece are… ooh boy. They have the bodies of turtles (with little wings on their shells) and crab claws instead of hands. And the heads of many a Marge Simpson. But I’m getting ahead of myself. Dan starts, as always, with an essay, this time about whether or not the company that made his new pen was historically terrible, and whether or not his depictions of birds, on some unconscious level, may have been based on awful racist cultural stereotypes. I don’t see it, but it’s an interesting essay, and nobody on this planet should consider me an authority on that subject. He also revealed a bit about his creative process, and had one line that was too good not to share: “I hope the fun of sitting down and writing nonsense comes across.” It does, Dan! It absolutely does. The comic itself shows the story of how the two creatures depicted in that statue managed to die at the exact same time, and yes, it does explain the quote about Marge’s hair on the column. It’s a sort of love story/training montage/drug run/brief musical montage/doomed final battle kind of thing, and it is as delightful as you might expect with all of those things blended seamlessly together. There’s also a kicking bazooka involved. Also, you may not expect a happy ending in a comic that starts of telling you that the main characters are going to die, but you know what? You just might get one anyway. Give it a shot, I say, and I also say you should send him enough money for a few issues so you can get some idea of the sheer range of ideas that passes through this man’s mind. One comic by itself is simply not enough to give you that context $5 (or $7 with postage through his website)

Hill Dan – The Fifty Flip Experiment #27

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The Fifty Flip Experiment #27

Here it is, the exciting conclusion to his three part extravaganza! Does it matter that I’ve mostly forgotten the first two parts, since it’s been at least a couple of years since I read them? It does not, because Dan was nice enough to put a little recap in the inside front cover. And also because this issue basically stands just fine by itself anyway, except for all that lovely context you get from reading the whole story. Basically there’s an android (whose story was told in the second part) who’s trying to get to Captain Loopback (whose story was told in the first part). He (the android) has hijacked a space bus to reach her (Loopback), which is where things kick off. First we get a listing of the characters on the bus, who just so happen to be dangerous space criminals. Not ideal travel companions, to be sure, but they’re all wrapped up tightly in saran wrap, so he’ll probably be fine. Oh no! The android, who was trying to drive the bus, accidentally released them all from their wrappings! Do you think that a melee is coming? Well, it is, and it does, and it leads to a crash, with only our hero and the flight attendant lady surviving. If you’re wondering whether this leads to a love connection, well, it absolutely does. Still, our hero only has roughly half of an issue left, and he still has to get to Loopback! Can he make it, and what’s likely to happen to them both if he does? Eh, you’ll figure it out when you read it. I’d also invite everybody to read that panel in the spacebus sample image, as there are jokes all over that thing. Another bonus is his essay about one of those “50 games in 1” dealies where you get 50 crappy games for a very low price. He’s put more thought into the concept than I ever did, and while I’m not sure if he ever came up with a satisfying answer, it sure did raise a lot of questions about the creators of the games, who they’re for, the religious angle of them, etc. And that’s just a bonus to the comic itself. As always, you’ll be happy that you read one of his comics, if you have the guts to do it. C’mon, what’s stopping you? C’mon. $5 (with $2 for shipping)

Hill, Dan – The Fifty Flip Experiment #29

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The Fifty Flip Experiment #29

I encourage every one of you to visit his website, as it’s the geocities-ing-est website around. That joke will make sense to very few of you, but I still think it’s worth it. Dan starts this one with his trademark wall of text, which starts off vaguely enough before breaking down into a detailed history of the characters we’re about to meet. He’s also back to doing single issue stories, if you’re warping here from my last review of his series (#26, another gap I have to fill some day). As always, I’d rather let his comic speak for itself, but it does concern the origins of the Jamboree. And frogs. A whole lot of frogs. Say, if I don’t want to talk about the comic, what am I going to mention in the review? Well, I’m going to go back on that statement immediately. Things start off with a positively joyful jamboree, then we learn about how the frogs took power based on their dominance of the three legged races. What does a pie eating contest have to do with this? Plenty! If you’ve ever wanted to go down the line in a pie eating contest to see what each contestant was thinking at that moment, Dan is your man. Do wooden arms help with pies? Unclear, but seemingly no. What about Landwhale Jeff, does he get the better of Skeleton Bear? As if I’d give something so important away here! That does it, I’m going back to not talking about specifics. There’s plenty more, including the cutest little sailor suit you ever did see on the back cover, but the next step in your journey is to buy your own copy to see what you make of all this. Dan also sent a very nice letter along with this comic (or possibly a later issue, as I’m reviewing more of these soon), but I did want to offer one gentle correction to him: this website is actually almost 22 years old, not 15. There have been a few crashes, so it’s kind of lost to history, but this all started in August of 2001. OK, go buy his comic. $7

Hill, Dan – The Fifty Flip Experiment #26

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The Fifty Flip Experiment #26

Optical Sloth behind the scenes! It took me longer than I care to admit to decide whether to use “Fifty”
or “50” for my title. He’s gone back and forth on it, but all my other tabs say “fifty.” What to do? And this concludes my latest example of why there will never be a permanent “behind the scenes” feature at this here website. So, what’s this one about? If you’re new to the Dan Hill ouvre, it’s going to be a little tricky for me to explain, so much so that you’re probably better off just going to his (charmingly retro) website to read through a few samples. Do you like linear storytelling, where characters never turn into pieces of toast? Then you’re going to have to go elsewhere. This is actually the second of a three part story, so consider it a promise that I’ll go back and read these two issues again before reviewing the third one. Why? Because he included a handy and succinct recap and I still didn’t remember a thing about it. Yes, it’s true, I do sometimes go back and reread my own reviews to try to jog my memory. It’s like cannibalizing my own brain! Anyway, a good chunk of this issue is spent with the android dreaming, so we get to see exactly what it’s like when androids dream. Pretty great, actually, as they remember everything in them, and it’s probably handy as an escape mechanism from all the brain repair that’s going on during his dreams. Other subjects touched upon are ouija boards, identity theft of a bus driver, a broken teleporter, Manhattaning a dog, and keeping the sentient toast in the toaster way too long. As always, his intro and outro are worth the price of admission alone. I’m also not going to tell you about them, except to say that he included two outros: one for madness, and one for “where I talk regular.” If you are new here, let it be known that I think Dan’s a hoot, a truly unique voice in the world of comics. He’s one of those people that you may not enjoy, but you owe it to yourself to check and make sure, you know? Because if you do like his work, you’ll REALLY like his work. I doubt there’s anybody alive who’s read his stuff and been ambivalent about it. Give it a shot, why don’t you? $5

Hill, Dan – The Fifty Flip Experiment #25

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The Fifty Flip Experiment #25

Aw, Dan’s website (which is delightfully old-timey) has a gif of ladies dancing with sloth heads superimposed over theirs. I’m just going to assume that’s meant as a hello to me, so hi Dan! I also included a rare second sample image because Dan put an ad up for older comics on his back cover, so I want readers with extra time on their hands (I know you’re reading this at work, don’t fib) to go back, read my reviews for those issues, and compare them to how Dan describes them. Do I mention that one thing he mentions? For example, I can’t imagine he did a whole issue (#20) as a Jughead parody, but I’m missing that issue. So it might be true! Ah, that’s enough rambling. I’m paid the big bucks (note: I am paid no bucks) to talk about comics, not to get all self-indulgent and ask readers to compare my reviews to his synopses! This one is part one of a three part series, which should be enough to intrigue/terrify you right there. As such, this one is a bit more linear than some of his other comics, so this review might be more coherent than usual. Emphasis on “might”! This one starts with a space probe cleaning up space junk, and on the first page it disregards a vacuum cleaner for the sake of a toaster. Is this important to the plot? Always assume that it is! The drone is given a treat for finding the toaster, and we follow our hero back to her home, where we get a quick, high detail tour. She then goes on a tour of the local ruined society and ponders what the life of a local monk must have been like. Any more and I’ll wander into spoilers, so I’ll just say that there is a big old fight scene before the issue is done, so don’t you fret about that. And, as always, his thoughts on the back inside cover are worth the price of admission all by itself. Give it a shot, Dan is the weirdo we need for these troubled times. $7

Hill, Dan – The Fifty Flip Experiment #22

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The Fifty Flip Experiment

I’ve officially been reviewing these comics for so long that I’ve completely forgotten what the title was supposed to mean. Seems like there was an explanation in the early days, but we’re talking over a decade here, so it’s apparently left my brain. Obviously to make room for more important stuff and not just because I’m gradually losing my marbles, right? Right. This is the rare issue of The Fifty Flip Experiment that actually looks simple on first glance. The basic story is that there’s a card game going on (in an old timey saloon, naturally), one of players wins the game in a suspicious fashion, and another player calls him out, leading to the prospect of some inevitable gunplay. But this is Dan we’re talking about, so obviously things aren’t going to be that easy. His missive on the front and back inside cover details the allegorical nature of each of the participants (I’d recommend reading it after finishing the story; I split the difference by reading the inside front cover, the story and then the inside back cover. Do not do this!), and each of them has a lot more going on than you may have guessed. There’s also the nature of the angry confrontation after the cheating has been discovered; I abhor spoilers but I will say no guns are fired during this comic. And that ending… well, you haven’t lived a full life until you’ve seen the final panel of this story. In case that somehow wasn’t enough for you, there’s also a short bonus piece with 14 different science fiction ideas, and if you know anything about this comic, 14 new ideas about anything coming from this brain are always welcome. Buy it, love it, be it! $7

Hill, Dan – The Fifty Flip Experiment #23

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The Fifty Flip Experiment #23

More and more, Dan’s books defy any sort of conventional analysis and, more and more, reading them makes me want to sit in a corner and think about whether or not reality is really how I see it or how Dan sees it, and what it means if it’s more like Dan’s version. So I’d like to start with a quote from the letter Dan sent me along with this comic; the only background you need to know is that in 2018 I spent some time away from reviewing comics because my back was in excruciating pain pretty much constantly over a few months. “It is too bad that we have to carry around heavy brains wiggling around on top of a frail super-extended spine.” Yes… yes it is. Dan starts off with a long text piece that is on both inside covers, in which he describes the contents of the comic. Sort of, while also leaving plenty of room for your own interpretations, and mentioning several things that don’t seem to happen in the comic itself. Maybe I shouldn’t have read that first, but it was right there on the inside front cover! I had to read that first, right? Anyway, I’ll give this is a shot, fraught with peril though it may be. This is the story of Gerard, who’s an average dude. He gets ice cream with sprinkles, then decides that he wants rainbow tears. A Rascal is brought into the mix, then burnt orange wax. Suddenly, a ramp and a crash! Mortality sets in, and is begrudgingly welcomed. All that is needed after that is a golden coin. Huh. It’s only with Dan’s comics that I’m genuinely not sure if I spoiled the ending, or how much it would matter if I did. His comics are about the journey, not necessarily the destination, except that’s probably not what they’re about, and I’ll never know fully what they’re about, as I’m me and not Dan. Sometimes I hope that Dan’s comics are all that survives after the (choose your own favorite type of) apocalypse happens. I’d love to see the world that aliens would put together using only the information contained in these 23 issues. $5

Hill, Dan – The Fifty Flip Experiment #21

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The Fifty Flip Experiment

Now that is one old timey website. Granted, given my lack of skills is designing (or even maintaining) a website, I shouldn’t be making comments, but there’s some real Geocities-like flashing graphics on that link above. Click it and see! Anyway, it’s been a few years since I’ve seen a comic from Dan, and each time I review an issue I come away from it feeling like I’ve failed to convey just how unique and bizarre it was. Maybe I’m referring to the man, but I’m definitely referring to the experience of reading the comics, complete with the introduction this time around. He mentions in his intro that he put the it in the front of the comic because it was more important to him that the words be on the first page “so that the book looks like a comic book… I take it on faith that things that look like comic books will, given enough time, more or less actually become comic books.” Welcome to the world according to Dan Hill! If you’re alarmed by that #21 on the cover and feel like you’ll never catch up on the story, don’t fret, this issue stands all by itself. Dan explains the real story in his intro, but on a surface level this is the story of a time traveler in a spacesuit who wreaks havoc and death on what appears to be a peaceful alien race who play Jenga as a mating ritual. His sidekick only communicates by little lines of paper that come out of her head and, as there’s rarely time to read them in the heat of battle, he usually reads them while putting together the mission in his head, trying to figure out where the comments belong and what they refer to. Naturally there’s also a final battle with a big boss and something ends up getting thrown into the sun. Once again I feel like I failed to give an accurate summation of this comic, but maybe it’s just impossible. Reading a Dan Hill comic is a singular experience, and everybody should try it at least once. If you’re cheap he has a lot of samples up on his website, possibly even full comics. $5

Hill, Dan – The 50 Flip Experiment #19

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The 50 Flip Experiment #19

I wonder sometimes how many people are still here from the early days of this website (it goes back to 2001, in case you were curious). I wonder that today because I started reviewing this series way back in 2003 (or was it 2004?), and here it is, 2017, and a new issue is available. And, remarkably, it’s only gotten weirder over the years, and I obviously mean that only in the best possible sense. Things start off here with three naked people who are stuck on a lifeboat. One of the naked people has what appears to be a brain in a jar on her head, another is asking the other people on the boat to imagine that he’s a bear, and the second woman is getting her hair brushed by an invisible force while also wearing what appears to be chickens on her head. And that right there is the first panel, to give you some idea of what you’re in for. Our heroes chat about their predicament, they seem to free themselves… and then we’re moving on to the next story. Yes, I left out the bit about them possibly being time travelers, I have to leave some mystery for you to uncover. From there we get a group of students who are at the beach for their last summer together. Also a seabeast. And hot dogs in a fanny pack. And the Queen. And the fact that whoever touches the dead Queen first becomes the next Queen. This is a delightful array of philosophy, nihilism, hijinx and beach horniness. If you can’t imagine how all those things could possibly go together, well boy howdy are you in for a treat! $6

Hill, Dan – The Fifty Flip Experiment #15

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The Fifty Flip Experiment #15

Dan has been doing this comic for 15 issues now (obviously, and huzzah) and he’s clearly getting tired of this one particular view of reality. This time around he’s mixing it up even more, throwing himself in a few times (and not obnoxiously; Dave Sim, take note), and generally treating the stories and panels as his playground. And why not? I’d say he’s been doing this long enough to have earned it. The very first strip with a drunken Pinocchio talking to Gepetto (I’m not giving away the punchline) should have been your first clue, as it’s always a good sign when the opening strip is fucking with you. From there we get a single page image of an attacking helicopter, Darth Vader getting blown/cut with an axe, somebody fleeing from a burning building, a giraffe, and a viking holding a bong. Next is the strip I sampled below, and from there it’s best if you peel the layers of this particular onion yourself. Subjects in some of these stories include funnies about Diogenes, a funny (in a New Yorker-ish kind of way) joke about slavery, pirate humor, a night at Perkin’s (this one may only make sense to people who live in Champaign, unless that place is a chain of some kind), creepy Dan and a woman trapped in her bed, the soul destroying powers of TGI Friday’s, and happily ever after. Dan seems to be taking more time between comics these days (no human could keep up the pace he was on when he started), but if the result is books like this then I’m all for it. Not that I hated his older comics by any stretch, but I’m all for packing as many layers in as possible. $4

Hill, Dan – The Fifty Flip Experiment #3

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A different website

The Fifty Flip Experiment #3

Ah, a comic from back when this comic was funny. For those of you who are sarcasm-challenged, well, the comic is STILL funny (as of #14 anyway), but wow was the format different back when this issue came out. By the time Dan got to #14 the stories were getting longer and the art was getting better, but it’s hard to compare to an issue like this in terms of sheer content. This is mostly a series of comic strips, usually four to a page, along with some single page strips. As a result of all that content I’ll just briefly mention what you could find in the first half of the book: mistaken unicorn identity, screaming dad, some unfortunate third world care packages, the moral superiority of jogging, stupid Simba, the secret of Abraham Lincoln’s hat, medical experiments on slaves (in an odd change of pace for an otherwise jovial book), fucking crows, streamlining the mate selection process, “fake” wrestling, and a suicidal tackle box. And that’s just chunks of the first half! If you’ve never heard of Dan Hill and want to see what exactly he’s capable of, chances are that you’re going to want to start with one of his more recent work comics and work your way back. If you’re already a fan, or if you’re obsessed with getting value for your comics dollar, it’s hard to go wrong with this one. As for those websites, the first one is Dan’s official website (as far as I know), but it’s not working at the moment. The second one lists several of Dan’s old comics, including many of them from this issue, but that’s not working at the moment either. Too bad, but here’s hoping it’s just a temporary thing. If I remember correctly these were generally $2, although maybe the earlier ones were cheaper.

Hill, Dan – The Fifty Flip Experiment #14

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The Fifty Flip Experiment #14

Oh copying problems, you are the bane of the existence of mini comics. I’ll get to the content in a minute, but the fact that roughly half of the pages in here have dark copy lines either partially or mostly covering the pages is more than a bit annoying. Dan printed up a hundred of these things and I’m guessing he didn’t want to bother with the trouble and expense of copying a new bunch, which makes sense when you think how much the average mini comic producer makes (hint: breaking even is often a welcome surprise).  Still, it’s a mess, and it detracts from a few stories.  Ah well, at least this time around he upped the total of naked women considerably. Stories in here include baby as bomb, hobo wisdom, David Lynch making a Hostess snack cake commercial  (that I would have loved to sample if the pages weren’t such a mess), the fact that deaf people are essentially always in a sensory deprivation tank and thus are constantly tripping balls, Spoons for Hands Man gradually running out of steam as Dan clearly loses interest, the location of a tumor, a strip that flew right over my head (at least one guaranteed per issue!), is the cat really in the box, and why Shamu doesn’t sleep. Oh, and the inevitable disappointment of the symphony. Dan also had an interesting introduction about comedy in general, and I’m completely on board with finding fewer and fewer genuinely funny comedians out there.  A CD is also included that contains over an hour of something or other, but I popped it in, lasted a few minutes and then started searching around it. Didn’t find anything that really held my interest, but there could very well be nuggets of genius on it somewhere, my attention span is simply too short to try and find it. He says it’ll be less of a gap between issues this time around (this one came out about a year after #13), and here’s hoping he sticks to it.  He’s gradually carving out his own niche, so it would be nice if enough people manage to notice before he inevitably runs away from comics and turns to drink.  $1

Hill, Dan – The Fifty-Flip Experiment #11

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The Fifty-Flip Experiment #11

In case you’re curious, yes, the back cover does show the end result from the pose depicted on the front cover.  No, I am not going to show it to you.  Buy the damned book!  Although at the moment Dan’s website appears to be down, and this has also followed a prolonged period of inactivity for the man, so the signs are ominous.  Still, I heard it from the man himself that he will put out another issue, so that’s settled, and I’m sure the site will be up and humming again soon, along with all of humanity learning to love each other.  In “I have to complain at least a little bit” news, the unerased pencil lines are fewer this time around, but the copy smudges and dark spots more than make up for it.  Nothing to be done about it now, so  on to the content!  Stories in here include a running fake newscast gag (involving the horrors of kids reading “e-texts” that are meant for adults and a commercial for a slinky de-tangler), sorting out some angst, the dangers of Garden State addiction, getting a body mod for the kermit face, and a series of strips with the same punchline that somehow got funnier each time, leading up to a grotesquery of funny.   And here’s a fun fact for your Optical Sloth trivia game: I bought a bookcase off Craigslist from Dan Hill.  If you live in town and find something he’s willing to sell, he may even drive it to your house.  I’m mentioning this to point out what a swell guy he is and that maybe you should buy his comics.  Just as soon as he gets his website up and running again…

Hill, Dan – The Fifty Flip Experiment #13

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The Fifty Flip Experiment #13

You can tell it’s going to be a great comic when you’re already laughing at the introduction.  Of course, I was laughing more at my own level of cynicism than anything else, as Dan apologized for being three weeks late with this issue.  Three weeks!  That’s a man who’s dedicated to putting his bi-monthly comic out on a bi-monthly basis.  Does anybody remember why Drawn & Quarterly was named Drawn & Quarterly?  Hint: it has to do with putting comics of a series out on a quarterly basis.  I think they kept to that for maybe the first year or so, or at least tried to, before abandoning all pretense of that being the case.  Of course, according to Dan’s website this is the last issue he’s put out (in September 2009), so maybe regularly putting out comics got to him.  So how about the comic?  It seems… fluffier than usual, like he was trying to burn up page space by dragging stories out for pages that could have ended far sooner.  Not that they’re actively bad stories, but I can see why the man maybe took a break after this one.  The first half of the comic is a story about an alien coming to earth, something that felt more like a movie of the week than anything else, but he did manage to spice things up a bit, and the fact that schmaltz can be funny helped him out a bit.  Other stories include a mildly pointless piece about lounging in space, a shortie about a psychiatrist with a good punchline, Spoons for Handsman eats too many Rolos (hey wait a minute, how did he open all those Rolos with spoons for hands?) and a meandering piece about the national conspiracy to hide any evidence of queefs.  Kids, ask your parents.  On second thought just use the internet, as asking your parents would be the most uncomfortable conversation of your life.  Overall there’s still good to be found here, but if he is taking a break from his grueling schedule (and in the context of small press comics I mean that sincerely), I hope he’s working on tightening his game up a bit.  That and deciding that it’s OK not to have at least one page per comic where you can still see the unerased pencil lines…  $2

Hill, Dan – The Fifty Flip Experiment #1

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The Fifty Flip Experiment #1

It seems like only yesterday (because it was) when I was wishing for a complete collection of John Porcellino’s early, long since out-of-print issues of King Cat.  Today I grabbed the first issue of a series I’ve really come to enjoy to see what it was like in the early days, and man, it’s not pretty.  It looks like he pulled every halfway funny piece out of his sketchbook, no matter how old it was, and threw in a few strips where he seems to have drastically improved his drawing skills, with the end result being a mish mash of nonsense.  He still managed to put together a few funny strips, and I loved his little asides during the strips about how he wasted space on certain strips, but overall this was a timely reminder that it’s often best to go with the later work when trying to form an opinion about something.  If this was the only issue of this series I’d have a significantly more negative reaction to it than I do knowing he got a lot better as he went on, but it would take a real fan of this series/artist to get a whole lot out of this issue.  Stories in here include an astronaut with his co-pilot/blow-up doll, poor table manners, being tortured by sasquatch, a few tales of spoons for hands man (with varying degrees of artistic proficiency, as I think one of these was drawn with magic marker), an awful care package, I Miss Shel Silverstein, pick which contestant has scorpions under his skin, bat erections, new stilts, action hero Jesus, fat man trying to get back in shape, and a number of things that don’t make even a tiny bit of sense but are still somehow at least mildly amusing.  That’s the one thing that keeps this from being a total stinker: the fact that it’s so strange that it’s usually at least a little bit funny.  Still, I’d go with one of the later issues if you just wanted to check out his stuff.  Just sayin’… $1

Hill, Dan – The Fifty Flip Experiment #10

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The Fifty Flip Experiment #10

There’s a lot to be said for simple consistency, the continued ability to put out funny, interesting comics on a regular basis.  Dan, at the very least, has that down.  He managed to put out one of these every 2 months for a couple of years there, no small feat in the mini comic community.  This issue was done a little over a year ago and it looks like he’s only put out three issues since, which means that he slipped up a little bit.  Or you could look at it another way: how many small press people do you know that managed to put out three issues of anything in the last year?  It’s a much smaller list than it should be.  On to the comic, as I sure can meander off topic.  This starts off with a pretty funny text piece based on This American Life, Ira Glass and David Sedaris.  Well, I thought it was funny; your mileage may vary based on your familiarity with those people and/or that show.  The comics end up dealing with utter randomness, including the shortest friendship ever, a married couple completing each others’ sentences, some hyper-literary nonsense that has to be read to be believed (I tried summing it up but it’s impossible), apology lines, a unicorn who thinks we need a strong Israel, and Spoons For Hands Man crapping all over everything.  There’s also the chunkiest part of the comic in the middle, and it’s all about a zombie waking up his dinosaur steed, shooting an alcoholic owl and running over Hunter S. Thompson.  All of that only scratches the surface of the nonsensical hilarity of the comic, and it’s only nonsensical for the parts I didn’t understand, but they probably had a deeper significance that flew right over my head.  These random piles of funny have really grown on my over the last couple of years, you should think about getting a few of these so you can see where I’m coming from.  $2

Hill, Dan – The Fifty Flip Experiment #9

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The Fifty Flip Experiment #9

Damn, and this one got off to such a good start.  This comic starts off with a funny strip (sampled, you can make up your own minds), then a mildly funny strip about the nature of art and pretension, then things went off the rails.  See, if you’re going to have one long story in a comic that’s usually about short funny pieces, it really has to be able to hold your attention, and this one just went on and on and on… and even promises that it’ll be continued in the next issue!  Blech.  What’s so awful?  It’s really not that bad of an idea for a strip, and you can tell the theme for the cover.  Things start with it being a parody of an infomercial, with everybody over-excited to be drinking tears and wondering where they come from.   Then it goes on to give rejected criers, uses for the tears and a reaction from an art snob.  Unless he’s planning on making this into a continuing story and somehow manages to make it funny and interesting again after running it into the ground, it’s safe to say I’m skipping #10.  Not that the whole issue is a wash, there are still four single page strips after the long piece, but it’s not enough to save the comic.  Check out some of the other issues for some genuine funny, but unless your sense of humor is entirely different from mine (that’s entirely possible), skip this one.  $2

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