Various Artists – On Your Marks #1

December 18, 2013



On Your Marks #1

Oh, what a crank I am. I get a pretty damned great anthology filled with small press people living in Seattle who could use a little more exposure and I can’t help thinking that I would have liked it better with a clear indication of which artists did which pages. They’re even all listed on the inside front cover, but they’re inside of a drawing, which makes some of them tough to make out. Does this take away from the quality of the content? Not one bit, no, as it’s not like it’s impossible to figure out who did certain pages with a little bit of work. Eh, I blame it on the general tone of the holiday season. All this Christmas music everywhere just bugs me. And if you ever needed more proof that I am in fact a total curmudgeon, there you have it. Anyway! This is a collection of mostly one page strips, done by all kinds of people that you either already know about or should be ashamed of yourself because you’ve never heard of them. Stories include Ben Horak having the comic he made when he was 6 read by adults (with a perfect final panel), Tom Van Deusen’s creepy piece about a head growing out of a roof and what happens when it’s removed, Bobby Madness and the sacrifice he made for the environment, Kelly Froh’s traumatic moment on an aimless afternoon, Pat Keck and his dungeon Gremlins, Aarow Mew and the result of his “spider” bite, Julia Gfrorer’s tale of a creepy ouija board experience, Rick Altergott and Pat Moriarty’s story of what cats think is going on with their litter boxes, Marc Palm’s Flannelwolf and Frankcan, Robyn Jordan’s worries about what she’ll be like in 10 years after she has kids, David Lasky’s questions about what you would do if you were a superhero, and Max Clotfelter’s mistaken assumption involving getting his older brother involved in protecting him. Like I said, it’s a damned solid anthology, full of ridiculously talented people. Maybe next time they’ll put page numbers on the pages to lessen my crankiness, or maybe it’s something I need to work on on my own and I’m sharing too much here… $4


Stanton, James – Takilma

February 14, 2012



Ah, dream comics. They’re damned near review-proof, at least in terms of the story, because what are you supposed to criticize? I can say that it now makes sense to me that James rarely uses humans, as the few unobscured human faces in this one were flat and their mouths never opened, but even that is a petty point to make, especially when it’s always possible that the faces were drawn without much detail based on the dream. So what is the dream about? Ah, this part is always fun. Two girls are out in the dark following a trail only by the soles of their feet, but when they reach a fork in the path a comet comes by to briefly light their way. They find the house that they were looking for, but after knocking on the door a large cluster of ghost crows emerge and light the forest on fire. The girls wonder if they should move away from the flames, but out of the forest emerges what appears to be a badger wearing a cloak and with two human legs. Or is it one large beast leg later on? Again, it’s a dream. This almost excuses me from my pledge not to do spoilers, but not quite, so I’ll leave it there. James has a nice afterword explaining the point in his life when he was inspired to do this comic (the dream wasn’t his, so he couldn’t explain it to the reader anyway) and a few more drawings from that time in his life. If I come across as hating this book, that really wasn’t the case. I loved the wisps from the house welcoming the girls, the transformation of the crows, and more than a few other little touches. As to whether or not you should buy it, that depends purely on your opinion of dream comics. It’s a worthy addition to that field, but clearly this wouldn’t be your best bet if you were looking for a definitively coherent story. $5

Stanton, James – Gnarlton Livingston

January 26, 2012


Gnarlton Livingston

Do you like pot? Do you like comic stories about pot? How about comic adaptations of a song that’s about pot? In that case, this comic will be right up your alley. As for the rest of us, you probably won’t find a whole lot to like here. This is an adaptation of a Carlton Livingston song called “100 Weight of Collie Weed,” which is about a guy trying to evade cops while carrying around, um, 100 pounds of weed. This comic kind of encapsulates my problem with comics/music/shows that are all about weed: OK, we’ve established that you really, really like weed. Now what? James has a pot leaf on most of his comics and his dinosaur series was all about dinosaurs that smoked a lot of pot, so we can kind of see where he’s coming from. But hey, at least that series had a lot going for it outside of that (and I should mention that he’s putting out a collected edition of that series soon with an entirely new “fifth issue” included), while this is a straight up adaptation of a song, which has never been my favorite kind of comic in any circumstance. Throw in the fact that I don’t generally care for reggae music and I’m not left with a whole lot. As for the rest of you, who knows? If you’re in your early 20’s and just discovering pot then you’ll probably love this, and his art is always nice enough to look at, but there’s not a whole lot to recommend this for the rest of us. I should also add that there’s a fold out cover (comprised of what is essentially four comic pages) for the song by Carlton Livingston, so if you do love the song then you can get a very nice poster about it for buying this comic. #5

Stanton, James – Beast Begat Beast

December 7, 2011


Beast Begat Beast

Have you ever wondered what a sea serpent zoning commission would look like? No? That’s odd, neither have I. Well, lucky for us James has thought of this and then put it into a comic. The story here is that this commission regulates where sea monsters get to live in the sea and assigns them territory. Things go smoothly for 800 years or so, but finally two monsters get together and have a baby, so its territory must be established. The sheer variety of the monsters keeps things interesting, but even so it probably goes on for a few pages too long. There are also four very strange pages dealing with the Barnacle Brothers and their conversations. If you love barnacles, that story is for you. So as a package this is OK, and moves up to pretty good depending on your love for different types of monsters. I loved the fact that he has a table of contents with page numbers for the two stories, but then mentions that there are no page numbers on the actual pages anyway. Yes, I am exactly enough of a dork to get a good laugh out of something like that. It’s been a few years since I’ve seen a book from James and it looks like he has a good selection of new comics available, and he was nice enough to send a few of them along so I can get a better handle on his new stuff. Oh, and in case it wasn’t clear, there are several funny bits in here, it’s just that I thought the main story dragged a bit. Just one man’s opinion, as always. $5

Stanton, James – The Herbivores #3

April 26, 2010



The Herbivores #3

When in doubt, draw a big old fight between a T-Rex and a giant squid monster.  Kudos again to James for throwing in some interesting marijuana facts at the start of the issue, this time dealing with cannabis and religion.  I’m not sure how well sourced these facts were, as they’re all taken from one book, but they were interesting regardless.  In this issue the dinosaurs devise a plan to get inside the temple: have their recently domesticated T-Rex kill the squid monster.  Problem is, the big old dinosaur isn’t quite the killing machine he used to be.  The solution?  Build the biggest blunt they can find and make the T-Rex smoke, as marijuane makes you hungry.  Not to pick at a plot point here or anything, but while I won’t dispute the fact that marijuana makes you hungry, I seriously doubt that it would improve your fighting prowess.  Anyway, the rest of the book is a detailed fight scene with a surprise ending that I’m going to ruin right now: ninja.  No idea where it goes from here, as they still haven’t made it inside that damned temple, but I am at least curious to see where the ninja fits in with all these dinosaurs.  Worth a look, especially if you like big gruesome fight scenes.  $2


Stanton, James – The Herbivores #2

April 26, 2010



The Herbivores #2

James does an excellent job with some facts at the start of this issue, putting up some figures that everybody should know.  He lists the number of deaths each year from smoking, drinking (even leaving out all the drunk driving deaths), overdoses from illicit drugs, and ends with the number of deaths each year from marijuana usage: 0.  It’s really no wonder this country is more or less bankrupt when we waste so much money on something so stupid.  This issue is an attempt to get to know the characters a little better, as it’s all time spent making their way to the mysterious temple and talking about the dinosaur society.  I still can’t tell the members of the band apart, even if they do have different hats and/or hair, because they’re essentially all the same person.  Er, dinosaur.  The flashback in this issue also shows the results of their previous trip to this temple, the creature that almost came out of it and what has happened every time they’re tried to send somebody back in.  One other thing I’ve missed reading the first two issues: why exactly are they going to this place, as it’s so clearly deadly?  Ah well, maybe the third issue will clear that up.  James also has a backup story this time around with a robot and a computer talking like drunken, robotic teenagers.  It’s funnier than it sounds, trust me.  All told this is fun series, the art’s pretty great but I’m not at all sure that the story is anything other than an excuse to have stoned dinosaurs wandering around.  The third issue will decide all that, I suppose.  $2


Stanton, James – The Herbivores #1

April 26, 2010



The Herbivores #1

OK quick: stoner dinosaur reggae band + a momentarily angry T-Rex = ?  I have no idea either, but this comic has a fun time trying to figure it out.  Things start off quietly enough  (and James does an amazing job with the art on that first page) with the band quietly playing, throwing out a few political slogans.  A T-Rex is approaching, and the small parasites next to the band try to point this out, but heavy pot use does tend to dull the reaction times.  The T-Rex get a bite of one of the band, the heavy THC concentration makes the T-Rex wander off… until it gets the munchies.  Considering the fact that this comic is centered around one of my least favorite things in the world (reggae bands), it’s a minor miracle that I enjoyed this as much as I did.  The gorgeous art helped a lot, as the detail everywhere is impressive, and there are more than a few funny bits in this tiny thing.  James was nice enough to send the first three issues, so we’ll see if this gets old in a hurry, but it’s a fun first issue, and there’s a whole bunch of comics at that website to get to know the guy a little better. $2