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Cates, Isaac & Wenthe, Mike – Elm City Jams #3



Elm City Jams #3

These two (Mike and Isaac) are the mad scientists of the mini comics world. The great thing about that though is that they focus a lot more on the “scientist” part and a lot less on the “mad”. What they’re doing might seem insane, but they know exactly what they’re shooting for seemingly at all times. They might not get there every time, but they’re sure going to give it a shot. That being said, I’m supposed to be talking about this comic, right? Well, it’s a jam book, so other people are involved. Specifically Tom O’Donnell, Jeff Seymour, and people named Shana and Harry. The story behind this issue is that there is one central idea for each comic, which only takes up a single page. Individual panels can be passed along to different people, and they were kind enough (on almost every page) to tell the reader who did which panel and under what constraints they were operating. Examples include having a duck or a monkey in every panel (but not both), having one inbred character, getting hot liquid thrown in somebody’s face, ethnic stereotypes, not being allowed to have robot, human or animal characters, stealing the layout from a page of Fantastic Four #1, and having a comic within a comic within a comic. Look, every single panel of every single page isn’t a masterpiece, but the vast majority of the stories here are a blast. And the best thing about these two is that while you have no idea what you’re getting from issue to issue, you at least know that they’ve put a whole lot of thought and effort into the concept. Well worth a look if you love comics and what they’re capable of being.

Cates, Isaac & Wenthe, Mike – Elm City Jams #2 (with various artists)


Elm City Jams #2 (with various artists) Now Available! $1.50

First, let me clarify that list of “various artists”: Linnea Duvall, Tom Hart, Bill Kartalopoulos, Jon Lewis, Tom O’Donnell, and Jeff Seymour. As always with these jam books, it’s all about trying new things and still making funny, interesting stories. These could easily devolve into academic exercises and it would be hard to fault anybody involved, but I laughed out loud more than a few times while reading this, and that generally doesn’t happen for “academic” books. The rules for this one are simple and wonderful. An artist can take a title (that they didn’t make up) and get to work, passing onto somebody else after a panel or two. The rejected titles are hilarious (my favorite being Meat: The Parents), so obviously the ones they did use are even better. The other method is a bit more complex, involving joining individual panels and filling in the blanks to make a coherent story. So how did they do? I don’t want to spoil a damned thing here, which I suppose is part of my “job” as a “reviewer”. So, while keeping it as mysterious as possible, some of the concepts here include making a deal with the devil, Bert and Ernie running Halliburton, the devil’s avocado, space as a mindfuck, robots in trees, a rapping chicken and knight, drowing in a submarine, and a cursed comic. So, to wrap up, what you have here is some of the best names in comics doing various experimental works that all somehow end up funny. What’s not to love? $2.50