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Reed, MK & Dalrymple, Farel – Palefire




Hey wait a minute, I thought that title looked familiar! MK wrote and drew this story years ago, probably with a few changes, under a series of mini comics called Pale Fire. Now it’s drawn by Farel Dalrymple and called Palefire. In case you hang out at the oddest/best bar in the world, there’s a trivia question answered for you. I looked back at a few pages I posted in older reviews and the dialogue is almost identical. So if this is basically a remake of a comic that’s already out there (if out of print), is it worth checking out? Assuming you’re one of the dozens (or hundreds; I’m just going with the average mini comic audience size) of people who have the entire original story, yes it is. Because Farel Dalrymple is the artist, and he can do amazing things with facial expressions. And MK writes some of the most realistic dialogue in comics. Put those two things together and you have a hell of a powerful comic. Oh right, I haven’t even told you what it’s about yet. It’s about a high school girl named Alison who has a crush on a kid who is known around school as a firebug, as a kid who blew up the hand of his own brother with fireworks. Naturally, her mom doesn’t care for this idea, but instead of stating that fact as a stereotypical parent who finally gives an ultimatum before being ignored completely, MK is able to write all of these people as humans with recognizable motivations. That doesn’t sound like a strange thing, but as somebody who reads a whole bunch of comics/books, the teenage kid/parent/sibling dynamic is difficult to get sounding natural, and MK nails it. Anyway, Alison meets up with this firebug at a party (along with three other potential suitors who each underwhelm her in different ways), we get to see various interactions with these people, and finally we get to the image from the cover: Alison in a secluded spot with the firebug, with him going off into the woods with a can of gasoline. That’s about as close to a spoiler as I care to get, but this is one of those comics that just makes me happy. Mostly because it’s a great comic by itself and needs no other qualifications, but also because I’ve been reading minis from MK for over a decade now and this reads like a natural evolution of her talents, and the high point of her work. For now, I should add, because I only see bigger and better things in her future. Especially if she’s sticking to just writing these days, as that’s bound to cut down on production time. That’s how all that works, right? Never any issues with artists not getting the pages in on time? Yep, that’s what I thought. $12


Various Spark Plug Anthologies – Bird Hurdler



Bird Hurdler

A free sampler of some cartoonists you publish?  What a great idea.  And not just your average sampler, as the stories in here are self-contained, not just bits of stories to show off the artwork.  They even have more available!  It’s a good thing to be this impressed before I even get to the contents.  Stories in here include Julia Gfrorer’s (and I would love to hear how that’s pronounced) story about getting killed by the chief man-witch and having to babysit for his child, Andrice Arp’s tale of a creep on an Amtrak train getting shot down, Zack Soto’s quiet piece about a relationship falling apart (told as an actual physical beating), Lisa Rosalie Eisenberg’s story of a cat trying to figure out the treat it got on Thanksgiving that was the best thing ever (and its sorrow at never being able to get said treat again due to the ethical constraints of its vegetarian owner), Farel Dalrymple’s piece on a botched magic spell and a girl who beats up boys on a regular basis (the only story that was a “part 2”, but it held up fine by itself) and a silent sleepy story by Theo Ellsworth.  On the Spark Plug website they say that it’s available for $.01 and postage, but I’ll bet if you ordered a healthy stack of comics from them and asked politely they’d probably throw a copy in for you.  Or maybe Nerd Burglar is better (as it’s also free), but I haven’t seen that one yet and this one if fine by itself.  Any time I get a story told from the perspective of a cat I’m happy, as I’m apparently slowly turning into a middle aged woman.  I still only own one cat though, so all hope isn’t lost for me yet…


Manning, Matthew – Getting the Sex Out of the Way


Getting the Sex Out of the Way

Is it considered an anthology when one person writes a book and a whole bunch of people draw different parts of it? If so, I apologize. Here are the artists: Stephen Q. Stardog, Raina Telgemeier, Matthew Loux, Farel Dalrymple, and Robert Donnelly. This is also a Meathaus book, and they always put out books that are at least interesting. This one is no exception. It’s the story of a group of folks, seemingly random at first, and how they all come together. Lots of relationship stuff, lots of friend stuff, lots of silly stuff. The theory behind the whole thing is that a Kleenex company is secretly spying on people, with their cameras being activated when they use a tissue on their eyes to see what’s making them cry and, therefore, what kind of Kleenex they would need to feel better. I thought it was a great idea, although it looks a little silly as I’m sitting here reading it. Anyway, the book is interesting, if a little confusing with all these people drawing it. I’m still not sure exactly who (reference deleted for your benefit) at the end. Still, a great concept, and an interesting, if somewhat confusing, book. Send money ($2.50 for this, more to get some of their anthologies) to Meathaus at 184 Kent Ave., Apt. 322 Brooklyn, NY 11211.

Dalrymple, Farel – Pop Gun War #5


Pop Gun War #5

This issue just goes to show that there’s no way to randomly pick the perfect issue in a store by somebody that you know nothing about. I think all 5 issues of this were available at a remarkable little comic store I went to in Yellow Springs OH (Dark Star Books) but I went with the latest issue to see how good he is right now, knowing full well that I might be lost in the story. Well, I’m going to take this as a stand-alone issue, even though it seems fairly obvious that there was some buildup to a lot of this. It’s a story about a puppeteer who wants to keep all the children of a dangerous city safe by forcing them to watch his show. Then there’s a boy with wings, a giant, a floating fish and a robot. Yes, it’s confusing, but it all holds together even without a back story. Visit his website, there are plenty of samples there of all 5 issues and links to order them. I think he’s also been in some Meathaus anthologies, I could swear that I’ve seen his artwork before…