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Baylis, Jonathan (with Various Artists) – So Buttons #13


So Buttons #13

What’s this? Am I attempting to sneak in another Karl Christian Krumpholz book under a different name? No, you silly things, he just did the cover and a story for Jonathan’s comic. This time around the theme is (more or less) Hollywood, his time in it, and Harvey Pekar (and his time interacting with Harvey). Mostly, anyway, as he always has room for random stories. Topics in this one deal with him discovering Alan Moore as a young comics kid and how it shaped him (it also mentions that Alan drew a strip for Harvey Pekar in 1990, which I now have to locate) (art by Tony Wolf), his time working for the Sundance Channel and how it eventually ended up with him sitting directly behind Harvey Pekar for the premiere of Harvey’s movie (art by Joe Zabel), a solid choice for a midnight movie experience (art by Bernie Mireault), his time going to school with Eli Roth and his joy at watching him shoot Hitler in Inglorious Bastards (art by Gary Dumm), an entirely too detailed depiction of his having to get his Lasik eye surgery adjusted (art by Maria and Peter Hoey), his love of a good Ennio Morricone soundtrack (art by Rick Parker), a well-earned love letter to Tallulah Bankhead (art by Michael T. Gilbert), Nolan Ryan’s disgusting trick to toughen up his fingers to pitch a baseball (art by T. J. Kirsch), and of course the story with Karl Christian Krumpholz with the odd bit of synchronicity of them talking about The Friends of Eddie Coyle when I just watched that movie a few weeks ago. Coincidence? I mean, obviously. Still, it’s an obscure enough movie that I’m tickled by it being mentioned. Obviously there are few more stories I’m leaving as a total surprise for the reader (I mean, I didn’t even mention Whit Taylor’s piece), but even compared to his already solid body of work, this issue is a shining example of what Jonathan can do with a solid cast of artists and when everybody is firing on all cylinders. What does that mean exactly? Probably a car thing. Anyway, heck yeah you should check this one out. $10

Baylis, Jonathan & Various Artists – So Buttons: Man of, Like, a Dozen Faces


So Buttons: Man Of, Like, A Dozen Faces

One sign that I’m reading an amazing book? When I pick about a dozen pages in my head to be my sample page, then realize when I’m done that I could really use just about any page. An embarrassment of riches, I believe it’s called. If you’ve been living under a rock (like me) and have somehow never heard of “So Buttons” even though you already know almost all of the artists involved, you’re in luck! This book collects stories (possibly all of the stories? It’s not clear) from the first 7 issues of his comic series. He uses several different artists, with a few names popping up several times. These strips are all autobiographical, and (this is important for people thinking about making an autobio comic) each of them had something to say. Even the ones about mundane aspects of his life; it’s clear that the guy has seen a lot and/or known people who have seen a lot, which is when it’s advisable to make an autobio comic. Not to name any names of people who make autobio comics for years with seemingly little to nothing to say. Ahem. Anyway, this one starts off with a comic about Jonathan’s first day working for Marvel in 1994, which happened to be the day that Jack Kirby died. He was there when John Romita Sr. did the tribute art for Jack, and he was the one who had to tell him to improve his Thor drawing. Which was a little intimidating, to put it mildly; if you’re not familiar with comics history, those were two legends and it was his first day. This story was also drawn by Fred Hembeck, which is not a name that I’d ever thought would be on my website because he’s a Marvel guy through and through, but here he is. There’s a real danger of my saying either too much or too little about the remaining stories, but I’ll give it a shot. Subjects include taking a trip to take in some art, overdoing it on the Halloween makeup before getting into an auto accident, his kinda sorta connection to R. Crumb, the dangers of meeting your heroes (in this case Robert Redford), meeting Jackie Mason, the perfect joke after seeing Schindler’s List, trying to find the secret to the perfect brisket, how he manages to love both New York baseball teams, how we went from bully to bullied in one word, his Annie tryout in grade school, his unfortunate reaction to the news that John Lennon had been killed, hanging out with his dad and learning that the guy wasn’t as predictable as he thought, bringing out a traumatic memory of the war from his uncle, and almost meeting Jim Jarmusch. There is also almost an entire half of the book that I didn’t mention at all, so obviously there’s a lot here to love. The artists do amazing work with the material they’ve been given and Jonathan is an incredibly gifted writer. Yeah, I don’t have a single bad thing to say about this one. Check it out! $20

Piskor, Ed – The W.Y.S.I.W.Y.G Technical Pamphlet #1


The W.Y.S.I.W.Y.G Technical Pamphlet #1

I’m all for comics people getting into something a bit meatier. One shots about how crappy life/relationships/everything is are fun for awhile, but give me a decent series or mini series any day. Lucky for me, Ed has started an 8 part story detailing the life and eventual incarceration of an infamous computer hacker. Things start off slow in this one, as it mostly deals with the very early years of Kevin “Boingthump” Phenicle (yes, the nickname is explained here). The inside cover wraps around with comments from people who knew the man throughout his life, something that’ll make a bit more sense as the story moves along, and the whole thing is told as part of a radio broadcast detailing his life, although it’s mostly there to set things up and it transitions into a normal comic story smoothly. In here Kevin learns the basics of getting things without paying for them, scamming his way into a free pizza, as much Pac-man as he wants to play with one quarter and an unlimited bus pass with a simple paper hole puncher. Oh, and he gets beat up a lot because he’s much smarter than everybody else and a quiet kid. It’s an interesting start, maybe not the greatest comic in the world as a stand-alone mini, but that’s not what it is, after all. It has all the makings of a great graphic novel if everything keeps up and Ed keeps putting these out on a consistent basis. $3

Piskor, Ed – Isolation Chamber #2


Isolation Chamber #2

More diary strips, this time from 12/23/04 to 1/28/05, again with days getting skipped here and there, again with him only chiming in when he actually has something to say instead of just doing a strip for the sake of doing one that day. At least that’s the impression I got. This one is more of the same from #1, but Ed is also dealing with a tiny degree of fame from the American Splendor book and keeping his comics group tiny and elitist after a newspaper article comes out about said group. He also deals with drugged out friends, lending money to his parents, mentoring his baby sister, creeping baldness (at 22), and snowmen on car hoods. It looks like he decided to abandon the diary strip idea after this, which, while slightly disappointing, is OK by me if it means he has more time to do things like Deviant Funnies. In the meantime there are some good insights in here on artistic integrity and the technicalities involved in getting anything sold and/or published. $1.50

Piskor, Ed – Isolation Chamber #1


Isolation Chamber #1

After reading the two comics listed above, just about the last thing I expected to see from Ed was a diary comic. Yet here it is, and it’s as good or better than his other stuff. This is a history of his days from 11/19/04 to 12/21/04. Days can take anywhere from a couple of panels to a full page, and this is how diary comics should be done. He has the space to talk about anything that pops into his head and tells all sorts of embarrassing details that he’s probably regretted ever since, especially the stuff about his parents being secret online swingers. Oof, that’s a tough one to live with. The problem I have with stuff like the Kochalka diaries (which I’m aware I’ve praised in the past) is that it’s the same thing every day, four panels and that’s it, often done obviously just for the sake of doing a strip that day. Ed has the space here to dig into his relationship with his father, deal with his book with Harvey Pekar (Our Movie Year) coming out, talk honestly about the seeming futility of the local comics collective, and daily life at 22 while still living with his parents. The lettering is a bit sloppy at times, and that’s just about the only thing to bitch about. If you’re a fan of the diary strip idea, this is what the worst of them could be in a perfect world. $2.50

Piskor, Ed (editor) – Marvel Gang-Bang


Marvel Gang-Bang (with various creators)

If you pick this one up thinking it’s nothing but hot Marvel on Marvel action (sex, that is), you’re going to be sorely disappointed. How you could be disappointed after seeing that cover is a mystery to me, but I’m sure it’s possible. What you have here is an anthology of loose tributes to various Marvel characters and artists. There’s Pat Lewis doing a Spiderman story involving J. Jonah Jameson and Magneto, Anne Moffa showing the day to day life of a few heroes, Ed Piskor depicting Ant-Man as a deranged Bill Nye the Science Guy, Tom Scioli doing possibly the best Kirby tribute ever (and I know that’s saying a lot, but the panels where the action is lost in the eyes of Ikarus are just too much), Mark Zingarelli doing one panel bursts about various characters (sampled below) and Paulette Poullet showing the dangers of Hulk hands vs. Thing hands. As is always the case with anthologies like this, unless you know the subject material a whole lot of this will be lost on you, but if you do know the material (and come on, if you’re reading this you probably know at least some of it) this is a thing of beauty. No real weak piece in the bunch, which is always the bane of the anthology. Oh, and it’s free, so if you can find any of these people at a con or send Ed an e-mail, there’s a decent chance that you could get this fairly easily.

Piskor, Ed – Deviant Funnies #2



Deviant Funnies #2

The first issue of Deviant Funnies gave you a variety of stories, the second issue gives you… the Wizmantles. This family consists of the Gummo (the narrator and “normal” one in the bunch), Zeppo (an aspiring wrestler who wants very much to be hardcore), Tuna (the slutty sister), and the parents, Shemp and Gertie. The issue starts off with the news that Gertie, who’s in her early forties, is pregnant. Some of this is based on Ed’s real life parents (at least judging the diary strip at face value), as he comes across their posting for swingers on the internet and gets to see his mom in a thong. Gummo decides to follow them out on a “trip to the doctor”, and it just gets more horrific from there. The whole thing concludes with a great letter to his parents, chastising them to be more careful with keeping skeletons safely in the closets. How much of this is truly based on his parents being swingers and how much is artistic license (assuming, of course, that the diary strip is nothing but the truth) is, frankly, something I’d rather not know. The important thing is that it looks fantastic and it’s a hell of a story, any similarities to real life are better left assumed and not spelled out… $3

Piskor, Ed – Deviant Funnies #1



Deviant Funnies

You know what I love? When a comic has “funnies” in the title and ends up being actually funny. And it also doesn’t seem to have a bit of angst, which is always a welcome thing in comics. Ed has a fairly wide range of stories in here, including a couple of personal ones (about a kid he used to know called “Little Bitch” and his most embarrassing question about condoms as a child), a couple of strips about the wonderful world of drugs, a silent epic about a zombie with a sense of humor and, my favorite, a story about a man who chains himself to a radiator. Which wouldn’t be funny, of course but he mails the key to himself in an attempt to impress his dominatrix and… well, any more would be giving it away. Funny stuff all around, as the title implies, and the man can draw well enough for Harvey Pekar to want to work with him. In other words, not much to complain about here at all. $3