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Roberts, Rafer – Plastic Farm Volume 3: Seasons of Growth in the Fields of Despair



Plastic Farm Volume 3: Seasons of Growth in the Fields of Despair

A message to the people out there who still miss Cerebus (like me, up until the last couple of years of its run where I stopped caring): maybe you should give Plastic Farm a shot. Granted, it’s not a monthly comic, which is where the loss of Cerebus is most acutely felt, but good luck finding another ongoing small press series that’s this compelling. I was all set to bitch about the fact that there’s no recap at the start of this one, but it turns out that this is the perfect volume for there to be no recap. A new reader who picked up the third volume (but for some reason skipped the first two, which is a little crazy) would have no trouble at all picking up the basics of the story, as a lot of this is one long, continuing origin story. For people who are just starting this now, go back and read some of my reviews for past issues, as I’m sure as hell not going to recap everything here. The short version of the early days of this series is that it was a number of stories involving a wide cast of characters, often not initially seeming to have anything to do with each other, and their connections were revealed gradually along the way. Oh, and Chester, as he’s the main character here, and either the savior of the universe or its destroyer. Or a crazy person, or something in between. Most of this volume takes place in an airport bar as people wait until the bad weather clears up and the flights start up again. Chester takes this time to tell his story to this room full of people, with each of them chiming in at different moments to tell their own stories (most of them engrossing, a few not so much, but the other characters are also aware of that fact). This volume starts off with both of his origin stories: being baptized by a mysterious group and then starting college. We see his introduction to alcohol and drugs (and ladies, really), with little hints along the way of the underlying insanity of his life. Rafer seems to have come to terms with the fact that his story is going to be much longer than he initially planned and he’s really enjoying the freedom that comes with having all kinds of space. Chester’s race to get to his first day of class, for example, would have been a panel or two if Rafer was still trying to cram all of this into a dozen or so issues, but he was able to take 25 pages to really show every aspect of it. I was also impressed with how seamlessly this graphic novel came together, as I know it came from single issues but it was really hard to tell where one issue stopped and another started (that’s the highest compliment I can give, in case that wasn’t clear). We also get our first clear glimpses of what exactly that mouse-like creature is all about as well as a holding room of sorts for some of the more imaginative creatures I’ve seen outside of an issue of Idiotland (and those creatures were almost universally gross, while these are mostly just… odd). I’m hoping, unrealistically probably, that Rafer already has the fourth volume ready for SPACE in a couple of weeks, as I’ve gone from cautiously optimistic that he’d be able to pull all these disparate threads together to having full confidence in his ability to do so after reading this one. Provided that there’s still a Kickstarter around or something that he can use to finance them, that is. Of course, that would probably also be less of an issue if all kinds of people started buying his books. Try that out, see what happens! $16.99


Coon, Jim – Detached #1


Detached #1

In case you were wondering about the concept of this comic, one morning a man wakes up to find that his body has detached itself from his head. Like the name, get it? DO YOU? Ahem. Anyway, the body has to go through a normal day at work, trying to get a girl to like him, and drinking out at the bars. This is a lot funnier than I thought it was going to be, frankly. It’s silly, obviously, but never really crosses that line into being stupid silly. OK, maybe it does, but it does it in an engaging enough way to make the book a fun read. Incredibly thin line, you have been successfully navigated! Wackiness ensues throughout the day, the funniest part being that nobody seems to notice that this guy is walking around without a head. I don’t know if this concept would hold up for a regular series (or even if that’s something that Jim has in mind, although the whole “number one” thing would indicate that there’s more), but I’d be curious to see it in action, and Jim has won me over enough with this issue to make me trust him for a little while. Worth a look, maybe there’s more samples on the website if you need more convincing. $2.95

Coon, Jim – Untitled



Ah, the untitled mini comic. Make up your own! Also, some of you may be looking at that cover and thinking this should be on the page for Barry Rodges, but this really is from Jim Coon. Have I mentioned yet how impressed I am by the sheer range of books he has available? This is the wordless story of two creatures who meet and fall in love. Which wouldn’t be much of a story, but one of said creatures is a space explorer who accidentally crash lands on an odd planet. It’s love at first sight with a local creature… at least until science catches up to them. And boy is it tempting for me to describe what that means, but I’m going to resist. Kudos on that one page spread amidst all the cuteness…

Coon, Jim – Tail of the Samurai Cat


Tail of the Samurai Cat

Well, when all is said and done, this comic at least has the honor of having the best reaction from a character after being cut in half. No, I’m not going to say what it was (as this is an 8 page shortie and I’m not going to post the best line from it), but trust me on this one. Other than that, this is the story of a samurai cat who’s seeking revenge after somebody else put a price on his head. Not sure why he was out on a revenge quest BEFORE said villain killed his wife and kids, but really it’s just a perfunctory set-up for some samurai mayhem. I don’t think this has much of a long term future as a series, as the cat meets up with his nemesis at the end of the first issue, but who knows? This was an OK issue overall, but it’s entirely possible that the novelty of a fat cat samurai could wear thin quickly. I’m guessing this is a $1…

Coon, Jim – Zombie Preschool


Zombie Preschool

Ok sure, zombie stories have been done to death, much in the same way that monkey stories have been. But have you ever seen a story about zombie preschoolers? If so, I guess this is redundant, but it’s all new to me. Not a whole lot of plot here, but this is a fun little story about an average day of zombie preschool, one in which a new kid has the misfortune of wandering into this place. We never see the teacher, so we don’t know if he/she is also a zombie, but it doesn’t make much difference. This is a real shortie, and as such there’s not even much of a chance for mayhem. A solid mini overall, but nothing that really jumps out and grabs you either. If you’re a big fan of all things zombie, I’d say pick this up. Otherwise go with Jim’s other work first and work your way down… $1

Coon, Jim – Steve’s Sweet Life


Steve’s Sweet Life

Steve, as you may have guessed from the title, has a pretty sweet life. Until he gets his leg knocked off in a car accident, that is. Then suddenly there’s a dog running away with his leg and an incredibly awkward chase involving a lot of hopping and a pirate, who is nice enough to give Steve a hitchy back ride, so then you have running with a peg leg, which could also probably be considered hopping. This is too short for me to go on or the whole thing will be ruined, but I will say that this is a fun little comic. The art is little more than stick figures if you’re snooty about that sort of thing for some reason, and it has a completely unpredictable ending, or maybe it just surprised me. Hey, who am I to say what would surprise the average comic reader? And are there enough comic readers left to even make an average comic reader? And with that this ramble shall end, I’d say this one is $2 at a guess…

Coon, Jim – Dead End #13


Dead End #13

There’s not much to say about a comic that’s mostly an 8 page long fight scene, but I’m sure I can find a thing or two to bitch about/praise. For one thing, there’s not much point in having a character with blue skin in a black and white comic, unless it’s absolutely essential, and I can’t say that it isn’t after only reading one issue. Too much explaining every issue, you’re bound to bore even your faithful fans with reading that every time. Also the art was great, but it looked either shrunk down or just smashed into the page. He should really consider a larger format, or maybe just more pages with larger panels. The story here isn’t much, as the main character is wondering about his mother, who he had previously believed to be dead, before he is attacked by some racists (I think). Then the superhero action started (no, the blue guy isn’t a superhero) and it started to get a bit silly but, as I said, this is all my impression from one tiny issue. It might get interesting or it might get cheesy, but kudos to Jim for making it to #13 regardless. Check out the website, I’m sure there’s more info to be had there.