While I was looking up Edie’s website I chanced upon some artwork he has for sale, and was once again reminded that I’m not wealthy enough to appreciate fine art. Sigh. If you have money lying around, some of those pieces are absolutely incredible and you should buy one. Or buy me one; I’m certainly not proud enough to reject it. Hi, you’re here to read about this graphic novel, and here I am complaining. If you’re familiar with Edie’s work you probably already do and do not know what to expect, as he manages to shock and amaze me every time out at least a few times. It’s no different with this collection, and once again I’m going to try to encapsulate what cannot be… capsulated. That can’t be right. Stories in here deal with an alphabet snake and its quest for a body, its trip to the convenience store, some of the sexiest food prep you ever will see, more food prep but this time with a sense of existential panic, the pumpkin’s revenge fantasies, gender fluidity in said pumpkin, what you might see if you peek through a window while someone has their pants down, fucking with venereal leeches, trying to get blood from tiny veins and using it in serving sizes, and sexy cow milking. Also about a dozen other stories, if not more, and the descriptions I already gave you are almost certainly wrong at points. Yep, this is another case where you’ll have to buy it for yourself to see what I messed up. Luckily reading this will most likely make you a better person, so it’s worth the money from your end. Unless nudity and sex scares you, in which case get thee to a church as soon as possible and away from this book. For the rest of us, there’s plenty here to enjoy. $21.95
Damn, now that’s how you put together a fantastic anthology. The stories in here are of various lengths, but it gets going with a 20 page story by Eric Orner dealing with his coming to terms with his sexuality, dating a woman in college, having a right wing nut of a father and generally not having much of a source to educate himself about being gay. The social progress this country has gone through in the last five years on this front has been staggering (it’s like the majority of the country realized all at once that they were being homophobic assholes and all decided to stop and pretend like it never happened), but it’s stories like Eric’s that remind the youngsters that there were very few options when you were growing up gay in the 70’s and 80’s. The closet was a lifesaver back in those days. Anyway, I’m rambling, and I haven’t even gotten to the other 32 (!) creators in here. Highlights include (and I don’t think there’s a single actively bad story in here, for the record) Annie Murphy’s story about her elderly closeted relatives and wondering what their lives were like, Marinaomi’s first time being an awkward threesome, Ed Nuce and the rules of survival at death metal shows, Dylan Edwards and his childhood friend who referred to his Transformers toys with headlights in robot form as women to try to even out the gender imbalance, Justin Hall’s story about dating a man with (unbeknownst to him) serious mental issues while Justin just thought the guy was trying to work out his life, Jennifer Camper’s hardboiled detective story, Terrance Griep’s most painful wrestling injury, Edie Fake’s hilarious two pages of jokes told by somebody trying to pay to get into a sex show, Steve MacIsaac’s coming face to face with his childhood bully and the unlikely way the conversation ended up going, Andy Hartzell’s story of Pvt. Manning (in his own words) talking about his potential gender reassignment surgery on top of trying to come to terms with his conscience about all of the awful things he knew that the U.S. was doing around the world, Carrie McNinch’s first summer love, and Sasha Steinberg’s triumphant tale of a drag queen buying panty hose. That’s right, I somehow didn’t mention Howard Cruse (who’s been at this for decades and who at least partially started gay comics in general), Craig Bostick, L. Nichols or Rob Kirby, all favorites of mine. So that should tell you the level of quality you’re going to be getting here, right? Oh, and since I’ve been cranky about it in past anthologies, I should mention that Rob does everything right in editing this thing. Creator names at the top of every page? Brilliant! Check it out and enjoy, but set aside an afternoon for it, as this here is a hefty pile of stories. $29.99
Watch out homophobes, it’s an entire anthology full of the dreaded “gay stuff!” I like to think that such people don’t read my site, but it’s always fun to scare off the hypothetical haters regardless. This anthology runs the gamut from fantastic stuff to pretty damned good stuff to stuff that’s just OK with maybe a bad piece here or there, which makes this exactly like every comics anthology that’s ever existed. My favorite piece was the one sampled below by Annie Murphy, which hey wait a minute she’s the editor too! This one tells the story of Babe Bean, a mysterious figure from the late 1800’s who dressed like a man, but this person was tiny and refused (or was unable to) speak, so nobody could tell her gender. Tales of gay folks of any stripe from the 1800’s rarely ended well, which makes this one even more of a delight (um, spoiler alert, no violence to be found here). Annie used newspaper accounts for most of her narration, as Babe captured the imagination of the area for a good chunk of time and the papers were constantly speculating about her origins. But the important parts of this story were the areas where Babe broke through the previously impenetrable gender wall to gain access to exclusively male clubs and events. This is listed as a “Part 1” even though it’s not listed in the back of the book as something that is ongoing, which is a shame. I’d love to read about the missing years between the start of the story and the end of it, even if the newspapers moved on and there would be a lot of speculation involved. Other stories in here include tributes to a couple of different deceased friends (by Matt Runkle and Ellery Russian respectively, as they both regret losing access to these people at such a young age), LeRoi Newbold’s story of thinking she got AIDS from a female friend after they had “fake sex” when they were 9 and how she figured out who she was in her early teens (complete with terrible spelling/grammar that makes perfect sense in the context of this story, told from the perspective of a confused kid), the various tales of different butches from Elisha Lim, Clio Reese Sady with her story of the first FTM transgender gathering in 1986 (it’s fascinating to see these people struggling just to come up with terms to describe what they were going through, as they were literally making it up as they went along) and Samantha Jane Dorset with her entreaty for marines to quit the service (with a nice story about one who did and who later became a mentor for other confused marines). You can see from the various tags that there are plenty of other stories in this anthology, but what fun is it if I go through them one by one? You already know that Edie Fake is a consistent delight, and the format of this book allows full color when appropriate, so a good chunk of these stories really stand out visually. It’s worth a look, even for you jaded folks who think you already know all about any possible stories in here. Believe you me, you almost certainly don’t know everything in here. Oh, and I almost forgot to mention the many different definitions of genius in the back, many of which I’ve never heard before. $20
Foie Gras #3
Do you like random images of different types of foodstuffs being prepared that are accompanied by a strange but compelling poem? Then you have found your comic. My general impression of both issues of this series that I’ve read so far is that they’ve both left me with memorable images and phrases juxtaposed together, but not much of the experience as a whole. I have no idea if that’s a recommendation, but that was my overall impression. This series is damned near impossible to review in any conventional sense, which is why I’ve stuck with my tried and true “ramble until the review is over” method. The images don’t follow a linear order like they would if you were making a recipe, although the words do end up making a point of sorts. Kind of. Fuck, I don’t know. Look, it’s a gorgeous book (that cover jumps right out at you) that mostly flew over my head, assuming that there was a larger point that I just missed. It’s also possible that the lack of a point WAS the point, in which case I’m a genius, but I have my doubts on that one. Still no price, still no clue about a price, so this time I’ll go with $4 as my random guess.
Gaylord Phoenix #4
Full disclosure time: I haven’t read the previous three issues of this series and it looks like Secret Acres is putting together a collection of this series in the near future. That implies to me that this is most likely meant to be read consecutively, which is something that I haven’t done, so a good chunkÂ of my comments on this comic could safely be considered bullshit. Not that that means that I’m going to get all complainy up in here, but I did want to make that fact clear. In this hefty, disquieting, mesmerizing, gorgeous and relentlessly compelling book (that, again, I didn’t fully understand) we have the birth of the Gaylord Phoenix. Or at least his birth in his present form, or at least his birth in this particular area. Gaylord is looking for his other self, which resides within him, but getting that self out proves to be tricky. From there we get a rebirth, some mutilations (but all for a good cause) and some generally drastic actions in the other half and the attempts to purify Gaylord. This issue makes me all kinds of curious about past issues and how this whole thing holds together. Visually this issue is stunning, but I needed more of a connection to what was going on here to completely love the story all out here by itself. No price or a place to buy his comics online that I can see (why, comics artists, why?), but you can send him an e-mail from his website.
Foie Gras and the Joy of Cooking #1
I think I picked the wrong book that Edie sent me to review first. The other book is apparently a lengthy collection of previous works, while this is a tiny mini. Oh well, it’s not like I could possibly stop this one and review that one right now. Why not? Um… look over there! So anyway, this one is a series of images (that look like they were taken from cooking instructions, or maybe they were just used as a reference/inspiration) with what appears to be a scattered poem. I’m lousy at defining such things, so I won’t even try. I do know that the combined effect of the words with the mostly innocuous images caused a few visceral reactions, so he’s clearly doing something right. The chopping of the prosthesis, the hand up the turkey’s ass with the words “about my boyhood” and the “fuck me like this” page being the prime examples. Dammit, I really should have read his other book first so I’d have more to talk about. Soon enough, and in the meantime this is almost certainly cheaper than that collected book if you just want a less expensive representation of his work. I have no idea how much is actually costs, as his website doesn’t say much about it, but let’s say $3 for the hell of it. His website also has a lot of sample images, if my word salad of a review was worthless to you today.