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Various Good Minnesotans – Good Minnesotan #4


Good Minnesotan #4

I’m in  a bit of a pickle here.  You see, the Good Minnesotans responsible for putting this anthology together sent a collection of minis that make up GM #4, all bundled up in a lovely slipcase.  However, they recently had a successful fundraiser that will let them print this whole pile of comics in (what I believe to be) one volume.  So my righteous rant about how silly it is to put a table of contents with page listings when there are no page numbers in the comics can’t go anywhere because they will probably have that problem fixed in the final edition.  That’s fine, there’s no reason to focus on the negative with a pile of  stories like this anyway.  It will also make my selection of a sample image from each of the 5 minis seems a little excessive (and guys, if this is too many for you let me know and I’ll take most of them down), but I’m trying to give a flavor for the whole thing here.  I was also going to break this down into five sections, one for each mini, but as they aren’t numbered in any way I’m just going to go with my usual clumpy review.  Tales in here include some creepy microscopic organisms by Justin Skarhus, The Poo Lagoon by Lupi (sadly, it seems to be a true story), is it a caraway seed or a rat turd by Sarah Julius (I think), Nic Breutzman as a child watching his neighborhood being built and marveling at the quiet at the end of the day, Kevin Cannon’s recap of the men who tried to be the first to reach the North (and South) Pole, a pile of creepy and moody photographs by Buck Sutter, planting mama with the onions by Anna Bongiovanni, Renny Kissling’s silent tale of an alien being tortured,Meghan Hogan’s adventures of crocheted animals, Martha Iserman with the adventures of her stuffed parrot-beaked puffer fish, and some food thievery by Raighne Hogan.  There is one mini that stands alone as a complete story, by both Justin Skarlus and Raighne Hogan (each taking half the book) about a terminator-ish creature that doesn’t seem to have much of an ability to stick with one target, but that’s probably because I’m imposing that idea onto that character.  It’s a bizarre pile of transporting vaginas, submachine guns, brain-eating and quiet contemplation.  You’d love it!  So, at the end of the day, I don’t know what the final version of this comic is going to look like.  I hope they can keep the front and back cover of the slipcase, and I hope they manage to number the pages to go along with their table of contents, and I hope it’s clear that I’m not even commenting on about 1/3 of the stories in this to leave some surprises for you people.  If you’ve seen the past issues of this series you know that “Good Minnesotan” is a mark of quality, and they didn’t disappoint this time around.

Moorman, Ed Choy – Decorum #1


Decorum #1

First things first: that is one excellent cover.  Mostly because I’ve seen enough of Ed’s work to have my doubts that he would ever do anything like what’s on the cover (although it’s possible he just puts up a very good front), but any time leering leads to a floating cigarette it makes me happy.  I’m funny that way.  This is a collection of funnies, so if you’re made uncomfortable by exploring the profound mysteries of life, this one is for you!  Well, except for the part where he asks people how they fill the void in their lives.  That one might get you thinking, but your laughter at some of the answers (my favorite was cookie dough, followed closely by blood) should ease the pain of self-discovery.  Other pieces in here include a creepy dancing hand, a drunken brawl between a priest and a parishioner, his Uncle Joe’s Christmas card (apparently real, and a thing of true beauty), an even creepier dancing head on a torso, and sunbathing Jesus.  Once again I was torn on which page to use as a sample, and as the image below made me laugh out loud both times through the comic, it was the winner by a nose.  When the only complaint I have is that I wish there were more pages, that’s the mark of a pretty damned successful comic.  Buy it already!  $3

Moorman, Ed Choy – Comic Strip ’til Nude



Comic Strip ’til Nude

See, I knew that the four panel comic strip format could be done well.  Granted, this isn’t a perfect book, but it does help show people stuck with the idea that a punchline is required that there are actually other ways to go.  This is a smallish collection of daily strips by Ed, which were apparently done on his website first.  His website has a whole pile of comics, just so you know, some like these and some longer stories.  For any readers (if they exist) who follow this site every day, Ed is also a contributor to the Good Minnesotan anthologies.  So now that the trivia is out of the way, how about them comics?  A lot of the strips are interpretive and either wordless or contain only a few words, leaving all sorts of room for interpretation.  Themes that are easier to nail down include his constant thought, a mean turtle, begging to get back together, Stevie Wonder as a child, bravery, icebergs, dry-humping, and OCD.  Chances are I got at least one of those wrong too, but that’s a risk of the bidness, I suppose.  Whole strips didn’t do a thing for me, frankly, but I was so happy to see a richness of four panel strips for once that it was easily ignored.  Sizes vary, there are no recognizable characters from strip to strip, and even though there is the occasional punchline, it’s clearly not required in Ed’s head (if I can put on my mind reading hat for a moment), so kudos to him for that.  Recommended if you’re as big of a dork as I am about that sort of thing, or if you don’t mind spending a buck for a pretty solid collection of strips.  $1


Moorman, Ed Choy – Dark Cloud Comin’



Dark Cloud Comin’

What a fantastic comic.  I mean that in the most literal sense: this is one of those rare stories where, for every thing that is explained, you sense all sorts of other wonders right below the surface.  This is the story of a young tomboy, her family, a giant and how it affects their society.  This behemoth theoretically protects their society from some undefined harm, and all it takes to keep this arrangement going is the occasional pure baby to eat.  That’s how things start, as the agent for The Holy Hand (local religious group who deals with the giant) comes for the brother of the young tomboy and she, seeing the effect this has on her mother, decides to go after the giant and try to reason with it.  This is where the sense of a fully realized other world comes into play, as she passes talking stalactites when entering the cave and, when eaten by the giant, runs into a frog creature who has also been eaten.   The giant is also writing what appears to be a memoir on the cave walls, although we’re never given a clear glimpse outside of a few sentence fragments.  Inside his belly the child takes the knife from the frog creature and continues searching for her brother, with disastrous results for the giant.  Where does the town go now?  How will they cope without a protector, if it was in fact protecting them at all?  It’s rare that, after reading a comic, I’ll stop and wonder what a half dozen of the characters involved are doing after the comic ends.  The obvious answer, of course, is nothing, as the comic is over, but there was so much depth to this comic that it felt like it could have gone on for ages.  If all that wasn’t enough, the art was breathtaking, a clear step up from his previous work, not like that was bad to begin with.  With the year being about half over (or with about half the year being left, if you want to be an optimist about it), this is probably the best comic I’ve read all year, or damned near, as I always forget about certain comics when I make claims like that.  Still, even though people probably get desensitized to my enthusiasm for certain comics and have this part of the reviews fly right by them: buy this comic.  If you’re at this website at all you love comics (or you’re related to me), and this is easily one of the best comics of the year.  $3


Moorman, Ed Choy – The Love Song of Kermit the Frog



The Love Song of Kermit the Frog

Just so it’s clear: that cover folds out so that it’s a full page thing with the entire title on it.  I scanned it that way because, well, that’s what it looks like when you open it up, and I didn’t want to give the impression that this was magazine-sized.  That useless aside being said, this is definitely one of those comics where you know from the cover whether or not it’s something you’d enjoy.  Either you’re one of those people for whom the Muppet’s have been an endless source of amusement and inspiration over the years (or at least until Disney got their soulless mitts on them) or you’re a sad, sad human being who can get no enjoyment out of anything.  Yes, in this case it really is that simple.  These are all Muppet’s comics, starting with a brief history of the life and death of Jim Henson, with all of the breakthroughs in between.  There are the origins of various inspirations, some hard moments in Jim’s life, the start of Sesame Street and his various other film and tv projects (anybody else remember the old tv show The Storyteller?  I sure don’t).  I could have done with a few dozen more pages, but then this would hardly be a mini comic, and I can see the tough choices Ed had to make to cut the life of this remarkable man down.  Short pieces make up the rest of the book: a young girl describing Kermit as her first crush, the early years of Dr. Bunson Honeydew, and an extended poem to Kermit before he wrote Being Green, which is something I could have done without, but I have no soul and don’t think much of most poetry.  Like I said, this is either for you or it isn’t, but if this is something you’d be interested in I can almost guarantee you that you’ll learn something new about the life of Jim Henson.  And, if you’re like me and want more, Ed was nice enough to recommend a few books on the subject.  $2


Moorman, Ed Choy (editor) – Ghost Comics



Ghost Comics (edited by Ed Choy Moorman)

Sometimes I make these reviews overly complicated, and I probably will with this one too, so I wanted to sum it up simply: this is a collection of different takes on ghost stories from some of the best small press cartoonists around.  Ta-da!  What more do you need to know?  There are all kinds of highlights to choose from, and somehow there’s not a stinker in the bunch.  That’s a rare thing with anthologies, but Ed has put together quite a cast here.  Things start off strong with Hob’s tale of a dinosaur ghost witnessing everything that follows its death and the eventual destruction of the earth.  From there Jeffrey Brown talks about making a fool of himself to a member of a band he likes, Corinne Mucha implies that the “ghosts” in her dorm were really just an excuse to get people to sleep together for protection, Maris Wicks goes into detail about the creepy and non-creepy aspects of living with a ghost as a kid, Madleine Queripel relates the reality of trying to scatter ashes, Toby Jones (professional boyfriend) goes into how useless he is when confronted with death, Lucy Knisley visits an old school she attended briefly and is shocked by the sheer number of ghosts still around, Allison Cole finds a practical way to rid herself of ghosts, Evan Palmer tells the tale of a knight misguidedly trying to win love, and Jessica McLeod warns of the dangers of ghost tomatoes.  Then there’s my favorite (among many “favorite”) story: Kevin Cannon’s tale of all the major landmarks of the world joining together into a Voltron-like creation to fight evil, how one member of that band is destroyed  and, as a ghost, sees a plot to destroy the world.  Any more detail than that would ruin it, but trust me, it’s a purely awesome thing.  If that still hasn’t convinced you, here’s everybody else involved: Ed Choy Moorman (duh), Aidan Koch, Mike Lowery, Sean Lynch, Sarah Morean, Jillian Schroeder, Zak Sally, Abby Mullen, Eileen Shaughnessy, Tuesday Bassen, Sarah Louise Wahrhaftig, Jenny Tondera, John Hankiewicz, Will Dinski, Mark Scott, Monica Anderson, Warren Craghead III and John Porcellino.  Topping off that pile of talent is the fact that this is a benefit anthology, with proceeds going to the RS Eden, which started off as a chemical dependency center and evolved into helping community members at need in all sorts of areas.  So it’s for a good cause, it’s packed with talent and it’s only $10.  Sounds like a no-brainer to me.  $10