Gin Palace #2
That Rob Jackson, he has to be one of the hardest working guys in comics today.Â Well, small press comics anyway, as those guys with Marvel and DC have a monthly schedule to keep up, but you know what I mean.Â The first Gin Palace was a success, and this one follows it up nicely.Â Don’t be alarmed with the familiarity of my using first names here, and check the tags so see exactly who they are if you’re unclear. Francesca starts things off with a story about how awesome it was to go out to a bar with her dad when she was very young, Andrew has a story about a black dog rib that flew right over my head, Rob has a lovely tale involving a black hole and a robot that became a god, John/Sean has a story about living with a serious regret even though things aren’t all that bad as they are (probably the highlight of the comic), Paul has an excellent mish mish of family drama, Dave tells the story of a pumpkin competition that goes too far, Pete has a great piece about a grandson being tricked into pursuing a career in science, Sin-Cat (I’m guessing that’s the name the creator goes by too, at least judging from the back cover) has another wandering tale that hits and occasionally misses, Jarod deals with his tricky future self, Brad gives us instructions to build our own intelligent robot cubehead, and Barry has a fairly straightforward story about revenge until the ending.Â What else do you want to know?Â Any comic with Rob Jackson, Dave Hughes, John Robbins and Brad Foster gets my vote, and this one has more than a few great stories besides that bunch.Â Buy it why don’t you?Â $6ish
Thomas Wogan is Dead
You know what’s still woefully underrepresented on this website?Â Comics from countries other than the US.Â Granted, that’s due to the fact that I haven’t been able to travel outside the country for years and the most reliable way to get comics to review is to buy them myself, but I’d love to balance the scales a bit.Â This one comes from the UK (no address given, so that’s as far as I’m able to narrow it down) and is at least mildly brilliant.Â Thomas Wogan wakes up to find himself in a stark white waiting room, holding a number (which is in line to come up on an LCD screen in the room), with a pigeon, sea urchin, frog, bat, catfish and egg.Â Thomas quickly discovers that he is dead, and all the creatures tell the story of their death, except for the egg, as what does an egg have to say?Â As far as the story goes, granted, a bunch of creatures locked in a room without any answers isn’t the most original take on the idea, but this book shines in the tales of their deaths.Â There’s a last grand stand against encroaching capitalism, distracting a predator from attacking their family with their life, the more common ways that creatures die as a matter of course, and then there’s Thomas.Â You can probably guess from the cover that he’s not the most adventurous sort, and the day of his death ended up being the best day of his life, but I’ve spoiled more than enough about this comic.Â It’s a blast, although the muted kind of blast that comes with being all about the inevitability of death.Â What with dollar being worth what it is these days, this is probably $3, but a hefty thing for a mini comic.
The Pasty Anthology (edited by Rob Jackson)
A note to the American readers who have never watched any tv shows or read anything from the UK: pasties look like calzones, but with (I’m guessing here) fruits and cheeses inside.Â They look to be a bit much for a breakfast food, assuming that’s all they are, but what do I know?Â This is an anthology, with all of the stories theoretically dealing with pasties.Â First up isÂ a story by Steve Butler which relates a conversation between two friends.Â One of them is going to get a pasty, the other has been told by his girlfriend that he has to lose some weight so goes off to get something healthier.Â Without giving anything away, it has an excellent ending.Â Next up is a piece by Francesca Cassavetti about… chewing gum.Â Nope, no pasties in that one.Â It’s still a great story, dealing with being told as a child that swallowed gum always stays in your stomach and eventually kills you.Â Jim Medway is next with a unique perspective, as he has a week in the life of a pasty clerk told through the faces of the recurring customers.Â The next piece by Dave Hughes deals with an obsessive young man, making his pasty and having everything planned out just so, only to have it all ruined by gravity.Â Our hero Rob Jackson has the central piece in the comic, dealing with the Greggs and their role in inventing and then improving pasties over the years.Â As I have no idea how much of this is historical I’m just going to leave it alone, but it’s an excellent story either way.Â Next is… hey, who put a text piece in here?Â There’s a three page story by Anthony Mercer called Devil in a Blue Tabard and, as a sucker for the hard-boiled stuff, I loved it.Â It’s all about a pasty shop, a missing young woman, a grimy detective and a very shiny worker.Â Dave Hughes has another piece next, this time dealing with a pasty festival, a pasty eating contest and the effect this contest has on the wife of one of the contestants.Â Finally there’s another text piece, this time by Matt Badham, dealing with the Japanese equivalent of the pasty (sort of), the natto.Â Â It took me a second after reading this to get the catch of the story, and it’s wonderful in an anthology like this, so there’s no way I’m going to ruin it.Â Good stuff all around, which is more than you can ask for from anthologies.Â Â I think it should also come with a free pasty so we can get an idea of exactly what they’re like, but I have no idea how that would work in the real world.Â No price, but I’m guessing it’s around $4.
Gin Palace #1 (edited by Rob)
“Welcome to the first meeting of the society ofÂ enormously be-hatted gentlemen!”Â I don’t usually start with a quote, but how on earth could I pass that up?Â This is a fantastic anthology put together by Rob, with only one story that was mildly disappointing in the bunch (and that was mostly because the copies were a bit off and cut off some text).Â Rob has two pieces, although you could argue that it’s just one piece split up into two: The Ballad of Hatty Jack.Â It’s the story of a land where wearing hats is practically required, but a poor young boy isn’t allowed because his mother was killed while chasing a hat into the street, so naturally he takes to fighting crime while wearing a giant hat that covers most of his body.Â Other stories in here include Little Scary Monsters by Dave Hughes (in which the world of science learns how to avoid making little monsters), In The Gin Palace by Simon M. (dealing with trying to get the attention of a bartender on a busy night to buy drinks), Interview by Ant Mercer (the sampled piece below, as it starts well and ends poorly), Measuring Up by Francesca Cassavetti (relating the story of how she reluctantly grew to love alcohol, and how that reluctance faded over the years), The Rain by Jarod Rosello (a silent piece about a dog in the rain and the heartless people who would keep him outside), Kennedy by A. Mercer (a shortie with a good punchline), and The Adventure Journals of Sin Cat by Lee Johnson (a meandering story of Sin Cat, damaged because of the awkward cropping but still with plenty of funny; if this is the worst piece in the bunch you just made a hell of an anthology).Â Other than that all you need to know is that it’s $4, mostly looks great and is something you should probably rush out and buy.Â $4