Various Anthologies – Failure
This is an anthology that’s all autobio stuff, and it’s all about some real or perceived flaw of the author. Naturally, that means I love it. Hey, you should all know by now that I’m biased towards good autobio comics. The first story is by Rose Crowe, whose main failure is her inability to accept praise and good things. Then there’s Antar Ellis, with an average (I only say average because I’ve seen the concept so many times) story about how he screwed up meeting a woman back in school. Jerry Stanford is up next with a depressing tale about addiction, not that there are many stories about addiction that aren’t depressing. Greg Vondruska follows that with a story about rapidly gaining weight, something that I can relate to after too much time in a “comfy” relationship. Last is Drew Weing with a story about being covered in moles (not the underground kind, the skin kind) as a child and dealing with other kids. Lots more to all these stories, of course, but it’s a solid enough book that people should pick it up anyway, so why give anything away? It’s $3, check out the website, I’m sure there’s more goodies there and contact info for everybody…
Various Anthologies – Potlatch
Well, it’s a benefit book for the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund, which is about as worthy a cause as you’re likely to find in the comics world, so I don’t want to say too much bad about it. The problem is that it pretty much sucked. All of the names that I bought this for just put in some old strips. I don’t know if that’s what everybody but I’d have to guess that that was the case. Greg Vondruska, Neil Fitzpatrick, Stan Yan, Dave Law, Barrett Lombardo, Kistof Spacey & Sal Cipriano, Chris Staggs & Marc Deering and Jose Mochove had stories of varying degrees of interest in the book (actually, I thought the Jose Mochove stuff was the highlight of the book, so check out his site). As for everything else, I either thought it was stupid or mediocre. One man’s opinion, granted, but there it is. If you want to give the CBLDF money, just go their website and make a donation. It might look like I put a lot of names up in the “OK” pile, but I was being generous and some of the other stuff was really bad. It’s cheap at $4.95, but that’s the best thing I can say about it. Stay away, Joe.
Vonduskra, Greg – Tread #8
Here’s another fine collection of random comics from Greg. The guy on the cover with the huge eyebrows is in a story getting his ass kicked (along with a guy with a mohawk) and in plenty of one page pieces getting run over (not literally) by his girlfriend. You also have the sampled piece (which I mostly sampled because I wasn’t quite sure how to describe it, which is always a good thing), a tale about birds and porridge, Bible Adventures, and almost seeing Traci Lords on Oprah. Perfect for the fans of comics full of many random stories! And who hasn’t known someone with giant eyebrows who just had beating after beating coming? Seriously, if you haven’t checked out any of his stuff yet, this is a good place to start, as he’s really been honing his skills with the previous issues and this one has all new stuff in it, so you don’t have to catch up or anything. It’s $3, contact info is up there I’ll bet!
Vonduskra, Greg – Tread #6
Greg goes back to a bunch of short stories in this one instead of one longer one, proving to me once again that he’s getting to the level of doing everything right. The story of his travels was great, partially because it was one long, coherent story, but I think he has the timing down of the short stories pretty much nailed. Don’t make me choose which one I like better! The main story is about a snake charmer. Written by Robert Young (and shame on you if you don’t know who he is, as he’s putting out the only real competition to The Comic’s Journal), it’s also the basis for the lovely wraparound cover. It’s a grim and dreary tale, but also fascinating, so don’t be sad. Next is a quiet, poignant story about the culture of fear that’s been so prevalent since 9/11, as he describes all the little things about an airport. The last one is a wandering story about a cockroach and a woman. Still interesting, it kind of meanders a bit. All in all, it’s another solid book, and I don’t see that changing as long as Greg keeps trying new things. Check it out, and read his older stuff too if you haven’t already…
Vonduskra, Greg – Tread #5
It’s hard to say much bad about an artist who has a better effort every time out than his last one. This is the conclusion of his travel journal to India and London and it’s just fascinating. He has a very real and self-deprecating way of looking at how other people must see him in his travels and a real appreciation for how lucky he is to be seeing all the amazing things that he is. This book is all about his trip, no shorter strips involved, and I think it helps that all we have to focus on is his trip. If and when he ever collects his stuff I think this should all be in one volume. There aren’t many artists out there who do much of the travel journal stuff, Peter Kuper and Joe Sacco being notable exceptions, but I think Greg could be in that illustrious company if he has the money to keep going places and the will to keep writing about it. I’m fascinated to see where he’s going from here, and to everybody who’s been reading me ramble about him for a while now but still haven’t checked him out, this is an excellent place to start. Go to his website and check out his stuff!
Vonduskra, Greg – Tread #4
It’s always a treat to get a new one from Greg in the mail. This one was mostly about his trip to India. A travel journal is kind of a different direction from him, but it was fascinating to read. He was traveling a few months after 9/11 and perceptions were (and maybe still are) different. His experiences around town are fascinating. It wouldn’t be a Tread comic without a few short strips though. You’ve got one in this book about the Smiths, one about him talking to Eddie Campbell, and a couple about robots. I think this is probably all around the best issue he’s done to date. Everything in here was interesting and well put-together, and I have a hard time asking for more from a comic. If this is my first review of mine of his work that you’re reading, well, I think he’s got all kinds of potential and you should be reading his stuff. You know, it actually sounds kind of bad to say “potential”, as that implies that he’s not doing great work now. He is and you should be reading it. Contact info is above, all you have to do is scroll up…
Vonduskra, Greg – Tread #3
The latest from Greg Vondruska came today, and it’s a good one. He takes it in a slightly different direction with this one, veering a little bit from the introspection that was in the first couple of issues. Which is a good thing, as that can only last for so long and be entertaining. It’s good to see that he’s stretching. Lots of stuff about fish in this one, with one of the characters being swallowed by a fish and the other one meeting a school of talking fish underwater. Throw in a few stories about Peg Boy (not the band, and I wonder how many people out there will get that) and one about love after death and you have a pretty well-rounded book. It’s $3 and it looks nice. My opinion on this guy hasn’t changed, folks. He’s got some good stories in him and you should buy his stuff. Check the other issues for contact info, I’m too lazy to link everything again…
Vondruska, Greg – Tread #2
#2 has plenty going for it too, don’t get me wrong. Manic Dreams, Sleepless Nights (about the protagonist’s intense paranoia of cops and his descent into temporary madness) is great, as are a few of the shorter pieces. Check out his website for more samples of his stuff. If you want to buy these, send money to Greg ($5 for #1, $2 for #2) to 16812 Landings Pte. Lne. #304 Tampa, FL 33624. Or e-mail him and ask what he’s up to. Basically, these were two thoroughly entertaining books, with #2 maybe being a little bit weaker because it’s shorter. Not much to complain about here, folks.
Vondruska, Greg – Tread #1
One of the quotes on the back of #1 talked about the lyrical quality of his writing, and that sums it up as good as anything. He actually puts lyrics in #1, maybe he’s a musician, I don’t know. If he’s not he should think about writing songs. What about the comics? His strength lies in his longer stories, at least that’s what I’ve been able to tell from the stuff I’ve seen so far. A Token and Two Bucks (you can see half of it here, by the way) is fantastic, although it doesn’t come close to The Death of the Reader. Was that one ever nominated for anything? Anybody? I know it’s an older piece, but that should have been a comic exclamation point right there. It’s the story of a man who has given up on painting, which was the only thing he ever wanted to do, had a job that he hated and was recently divorced. Then he spots a mysterious book store that he had never noticed before and I kind of thought it was going to degenerate into a “mysterious shop” story. You know, the kind where the shop appears out of nowhere, our hero goes in and gets something, usually for free, and when he goes back to ask about this item he finds that the shop is gone. Not the case, as the shop owner charges a whole lot for the book that he gets, which has these strange symbols on every page… If you want to know more than that, buy the first issue. That’s the stronger of the two in my opinion, which almost isn’t fair because it’s so much bigger than #2.
Vonduskra, Greg – Tread #7
Is it just me or is it getting longer between Treads? Don’t you slow down on me Vonduskra! Anyway, this one is all little memories he has from childhood. In here are stories about cracking his skull after falling off his bike, tasting the cat’s food, kissing a girl, and his reaction to Reagan getting shot. There’s also a long prose piece about a kid in camp running around naked, trying not to get caught because he wants to save his only towel for swimming the next day. It was OK, but I’m a much bigger fan of his comics. Altogether not the best issue he’s ever done, but it has plenty of good moments. It’s a bit smaller than his recent books and it’s $3, but points for the cool cover. Contact info is all over this page, I’m sure you can find it. Oh, and here’s another website that he mentions in his comic. Aren’t you curious what you’ll find there?
Vonduskra, Greg – Worker Bee
Ah, I love the nice people who send me all of their work.With most folks I have to read one or two things and then wonder how they progress because I don’t see anything else from them for years. But then there are people who are as nice as Greg and send me all or most of their stuff, and it’s a real treat. This is the best thing he’s sent me yet, hands down. Not that I didn’t like his other stuff (just scroll down if you don’t believe me), it’s just that this is a stand-alone story and it’s huge where all of his other stuff was scattered. It’s the story of a man who is in a cult (or something) who gets thrown out for suggesting… you know, you should read it yourself. He has to deal with the loss of everyone he apparently knows and how he can live in the outside world. The title makes a lot more sense when you read it, on a few different levels. And that’s the beauty of this book: the different levels. There’s all kinds of stuff going on here, I feel like I barely scratched the surface with one read. $5 is a bit steep, granted, but it’s huge and it looks great. You know, I don’t know why I’m rambling about this so much when you can read the first half of it here and figure it out for yourself. Keep up the good work, Greg…