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Reed, Desmond – Troubled Teen



Troubled Teen

This creepy world of Desmond’s is really starting to come together. Granted, I got a bunch of his comics all at once and have no idea what order they were supposed to be read in (if any), but this issue features an appearance by both Scumbag and the Uncles. But enough about them, this is all about our hero, Troubled Teen. This gentleman was discovered in a trash can (“like most folks”) when he was a baby by a group of Uncles. The Teen, in the manner of most characters in this universe, aged to maturity over a span of a few weeks. This would imply that his species tends to reproduce quickly, and this is confirmed when we get a close up look at one of the many zits on his face only to see a tiny Troubled Teen beginning to form. Our hero has his own unique form of population control, which shouldn’t come as a shock to anybody that knows any actual teenage boys. Scumbag is somehow his brother (best not to dig too deep into the logistics of that one), and Troubled Teen delights in tormenting Scumbag whenever possible. The rest of the story deals with a possible origin story (specifically who dumped him in that dumpster), but that’s all we get this time around. Assuming that there are more issues coming, which I have no information about one way or the other. In theory Desmond could build an even more expansive universe out of all this. If the only thing holding that back is an unwillingness to creep his audience out even further, I say bring on the creepiness!


Reed, Desmond – The Littlest Pervert



The Littlest Pervert

Have you ever wondered what it would be like to read a children’s story based on the life of a pervert? Well, wonder no more! Maybe this isn’t technically a children’s book (no “maybe” about it, really), but that’s how this comic reads, which makes it extra creepy. As the title would suggest, this is the story of the littlest pervert. His tiny size makes him the butt of jokes amongst the other perverts, and it also makes him really stand out in police lineups, so eventually the perverts gang up on him and chase him out of town. From there our “hero” goes on a quest in the forest, and I have rarely been more tempted to spoil an ending. I’ll just say that I wasn’t sure if it was possible for an ending to be deeply creepy and somehow still a happy ending, but Desmond has managed it here. There are plenty of times when I wish a comic I was reading was a continuing series, but Desmond has put together a bundle of one shot comics that could only work in that format, and he has done it beautifully. I hate to think what would actually happen to this character after the end of this issue, but as a single issue it’s funny and unnerving, which is exactly what it should be.



Reed, Desmond – Scumbag




Now that was one viscerally creepy comic. It takes a lot to get my skin to crawl after being desensitized over the years by horror movies and video games. but this thing grossed me out. I mean that in the best possible sense, of course. So! This one is all about a Scumbag who was born to two other Scumbags, but they didn’t want him so they left him in a dumpster. You can’t see the entire glorious picture from that cover, but this creature was also born wearing tighty whitey underwear. Anyway, he was taken in by “a pack of wild uncles,” and we’re treated to one of said uncles nursing the Scumbag. They all lived a happy life together until one day our hero felt a sharp pain in his stomach and was astonished to see a tiny Scumbag pop out of his stomach, fully formed. This then started happening every day, and the rest of the comic deals with his attempts to keep his offspring alive against a variety of enemies/nature. And then there’s the babysitter that will haunt your soul. It’s a thoroughly entertaining story, and a good peek into where Scumbags might come from. It does make a certain kind of sense that they would enter this world fully formed, that’s for sure…


Reed, Desmond – Uncles #1



Uncles #1

Uncles! Rarely is the word said in terror, but Desmond does his level best here to show why that should change. This one starts off with a young man and his girlfriend wandering off into the dark woods to try and find their missing dog. They stumble across a group of Uncles eating stuff out of a dumpster, which seems a bit odd out in the middle of the woods, but ignore that bit. Possibilities race through the mind of the young man, as he’s well aware of what a terror these creatures are, but he finally settles on a solution: running away. Unfortunately this plan leaves out his girlfriend, and the rest of the issue is their eventual reunion and what happens to her after the fact. I’m used to seeing Desmond’s stories crammed into smaller pages after his last book, and this time around her really lets his characters breathe and show some full page reactions. And if you thought that maybe he chose to use a simpler style of artwork on occasion because he was hiding a lack of talent, well, worry no more, as this issue looks fantastic. I have no idea where he’s going with this (who would in a series about the terrors of Uncles?) but I’m thrilled to be along for the ride, as Desmond rarely fails to get at least a few solid chuckles out of me. Check it out, be the first on your block to learn the terrors of this strange group of people. Cartoonists, that is. Or Uncles! That works too.


Reed, Desmond – Fruits and Vegetables



Fruits and Vegetables

Pretty much the only problem I’ve ever had with Desmond’s comics were that some of them seemed too short, which is pretty much the best “problem” you can have with a comic. Well, even that little thing has been solved with this issue, as Desmond put a dozen short stories in here and each one of them is damned funny. The creatures/food items/utensils involved in these stories usually come to bad ends, but at least it happens for the purpose of causing laughter. My only trouble is explaining these strips in a way that won’t ruin anything for the reader, so prepare to be dazzled by my lack of specificity! Stories in here include a conversation between two Tyrannosaurus Rexes (or is “Rex” still the plural?), three worms and the hygiene behind sharing their dirt, utensils with some alone time, a dog and a hamburger trapped on an island, two eggs talking about how things could have been much worse for them (this is the one that got the biggest laugh out of me), an imaginary imaginary friend, showing up too late for the comic, a cloud trying to get out of a conversation, two monsters knowing that they’re in a comic strip and that their life is as finite as the strip, mugs trying to figure out their purpose and geometric shapes and their inability to return a book in a timely fashion. At least a couple of these stories have previously been released as their own comics, but it’s hard to think of a more perfect collection of his work. Buy this immediately if you like laughing, or if you need a reminder that the original purpose of comics was to make people laugh. $5


Reed, Desmond – Some Stories #1


Some Stories #1

Is it just me or are some people not even trying with their comic titles? In the past Desmond has come up with some clever, sparse titles that usually got even funnier after you’ve read the story. This one? Pfft. That being said, I did enjoy the content a whole lot, which is the point of these funny books. “Some Stories” in this case refers to two stories. Why not just call it that? OK, I’ll shut up on that subject now. The first one is called “4 O’Clock” and deals with the untimely death of a guinea pig just as it’s about to get a nice, juicy carrot. He chats with god (well, the god of the guinea pigs) and finally learns of a deal he can make with the devil to be brought back to life and finish up any lingering tasks. He wants that carrot so he makes the deal, but this is the devil we’re talking about here and yes, that title does come back in a pretty damned funny way. The second story is either a masterpiece of an homage to Memento or a direct rip-off of Memento, depending on your perspective. Like Memento we start at the end, but in this case it’s a heartwarming scene of two fish falling in love. The idea is that fish have such tiny brains that they’re constantly forgetting what’s happening to them, so as we go back in time we watch the awkward courting process, keep seeing signs referring to a “Todd,” a singing crab, and if I say another word I’ll start to spoil too much. Once again the ending is a thing of beauty, but in this case it also makes the entire comic that much better. If you were afraid to try his previous comics because they were too tiny, this one is perfect for you. Two whole stories, one lazy title, $3.50!

Reed, Desmond – Dexter Park


Dexter Park

Desmond has a very good idea about requesting that reviewers don’t reveal the endings for his books, as they’re tiny things and why would somebody ruin a perfectly good ending anyway? Still, he has so far managed to put together a twist ending of some kind in most of his books that just scream out to be spoiled. I’ll continue to resist, but to those of you reading these reviews who are unconvinced: seriously, send him a few bucks for a few comics and you’ll see for yourself. This one starts off very quietly with a single frog going about his day. He meets up with an old friend from his tadpole days and ends up getting invited to a party. The catch is that this party is in one of the “forbidden areas” where frogs are not supposed to go. Why? Rumor has it that there’s a monster in the area. Not all frogs believe in this monster, so our hero goes back to his grandpa who survived a previous encounter with this beast. Well, his tale is a little sketchy, our hero is no longer convinced and all the frogs end up heading to the party. That’s when it gets really good, but you’ll have to see for yourself. I love the quiet moments at the start of these minis. This one has a whole page of a frog eating a fly before things get going, and past issues have had similar quiet moments before things get crazy. Desmond also has a real knack for internal consistency. That’s a strange thing to tout for an author, but his books always make perfect sense by the end of them and they’re usually endings that you probably should have seen coming, but no less clever for that fact. $2

Reed, Desmond – The Neighbor


The Neighbor

Ah, cats. It’s a sad but true fact that the inclusion of cats in a comic will make me more likely to enjoy it. Yes, I’m a guy in his mid 30’s with one cat who is somehow still managing to turn into a crazy cat lady. Still, I like to think that I wouldn’t like a book JUST because it had cats, and going by that theory I’ll say that this is an objectively good book, not just a good book because of the cat. Anyway, this book deals with a cat that is new to a neighborhood and has the place all to itself. No communal litterbox like at the cat shelter and everybody loves it.  Things take a sudden turn for the worse when this cat notices another cat just across the way, but this other cat seems to be evil. I’ll say no more, but I will say that I loved the fact that Desmond mentioned in his letter that I was allowed to use the artwork in the review as long as I didn’t spoil the ending. I understand that that could be a problem at some other sites, but your secret is safe with me. After all, in the few comics of his that I’ve read so far, the ending has been the best part, as every time it’s managed to be clever and unexpected while still fitting in perfectly with the rest of the story. No mean feat, and he’s three for three at the moment. $2

Reed, Desmond – Aloha



How exactly does a worm hold an axe?  Sorry, my inner comic geek occasionally busts out, much as I would like to keep it down.  This simply done comic, which should forever dispel the notion that people who can’t draw can make great comics, deals with three worms having a conversation.  Oh, and just so it’s clear, I’m not saying that Desmond CAN’T draw, just that this comic consists of worms, piles of dirt, a flat ground and some darkness.  Anyway, these worms are talking, two of them realize (after the third worm has left) that they really don’t like that guy at all and have no interest in meeting him for lunch tomorrow, and they devise a plan to get rid of the worm.  With an axe.  If you know your science and know what happens to worms when they are cut up the ending will not come as a shock to you, if you don’t know your worm science, well, prepare to be amazed while learning something!  Also, if you’re keeping track, that’s two comics by the guy and both of them have been fantastic.  Not the fancypants, “discover something new about yourself or the universe as a whole” kind of fantastic, just the “that’s some funny shit that I didn’t necessarily see coming and even if I did it was still pulled off extremely well” kind of fantastic.  These things need definition, don’t you know.  Desmond is selling his two comics (The Island is the other comic) as a pack for $2.  I suppose you could maybe badger him into just getting one or the other, but why?  Just buy them both and enjoy.

Reed, Desmond – The Island



The Island

Here’s a little bit 0f “inside reviewing small press comics” trivia, in case you were curious.  If you were not curious, my apologies.  Reviewers have an unspoken ability to use images from comics for review purposes, provided that they don’t cross the line of using too many images or (at least in my case) posting images that give anything away.  I’ve been doing this for 9+ years and no one has ever asked me to take images down from their review, although I would be happy to do so (and legally obligated) if asked.  I bring this up because Desmond has a request that lines right up with my thinking when it comes to using samples: “You have my permission to use the cover art or the inside art for your review as long as what you use doesn’t ruin either of the endings of the stories”. ( I should also mention that he sent along another comic that will be reviewed in the coming weeks.)  Couldn’t have said it better myself.  So why go off on such a long tangent of something that is probably self-evident?  Mostly because the true genius of this book isn’t disclosed until you know how it ends, and there is no way that I can tell you that.  This is the story of two beings who are trapped on an island.  How they got there isn’t discussed, but it isn’t relevant.  We do learn at the beginning that they have been there for five months, that the food is gone and that things are getting tense.  And then things happen!  The end.  It’s a shortie, and I wasn’t fully convinced until the ending that I probably should have seen coming but, really, didn’t.  The artwork is simple, as that’s all that’s needed here, but effective.  There is also a distinct lack of backgrounds, but hey, they’re on an island in the middle of nowhere.  Not too many backgrounds in that type of setting.  Right now Desmond (and raise your hand if “Desmond” and “The Island” being that close together brought “Lost” memories into your brain) is selling this along with his other mini (Aloha) as a bundle for $2, but you could maybe convince him just to send you this one for $1 if you asked nicely.