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Mendes, Melissa (editor) – Can’t Lose: A Friday Night Lights Fanzine



Can’t Lose

I’ve read plenty of anthologies over the years that I’ve been writing reviews here, but very few of them could qualify as a love letter. This comic here? That’s exactly what it is. This is 20 of some of the best artists going right now, and they all have one thing in common: an obvious love of the tv show Friday Night Lights. If you’ve never heard of this show, or if you dismissed it out of hand because “it’s about high school football,” all I can say is that you missed out. There’s still time to fix your mistake, as it’s still on Netflix as of May 2016; just watch the first few episodes and try not to get hooked. Or maybe the fact that so many great artists came together for this project will clue you in to how great of a show it was, I don’t know. Does it seem like I’m not reviewing the stories? Yeah, I’ll get to that. I’m just trying to convert the last few decent people in the world who haven’t already seen this show. Frankly, I remember most of the stories as giant hearts on the page, so it’s tough to write anything mildly intelligent about that. OK, I’ll flip through this again. Highlights include the Tim Riggins cut-out doll as the centerfold (comes with different outfits!), Tim Riggins in the year 2050, a story about young Billy Riggins, the conversion of a skeptic into a fan of the show, how the team playbook got leaked to a rival, a growing rage of somebody trying to convert friends as they get increasingly sleepy while watching the show, and Coach Taylor sitting on the Iron Throne. Seriously, if nothing else, just look at that list of artists and give it a shot for that reason alone. Or do it the right way: watch the series, then go back and enjoy this fanzine. I’m not going to close with the team motto right here, but know that I am thinking it.


Madden-Connor, Jonas – Ochre Ellipse #3



Ochre Ellipse #3

Can we get those “science fiction” stickers for all comics?  That and “auto-bio”, “western”, etc.  For me, the raygun on the cover gives it away, but I like the idea.  This is, after a couple of issues of bits of randomness and things that were open to interpretation, a pretty simple story.  There’s a solitary and unhappy adult who remembers his childhood fondly, as then he was solitary and happy.  Determined to find out where he went wrong, he signs up for a time travel trip, goes back to his childhood (where he is invisible and intangible so as not to mess up the time stream) and discovers something important: he used to rule a vast imaginary kingdom and would have all sorts of adventures.  The adult quickly becomes obsessed with this “kingdom” and repeatedly visits the same time period, silently playing along with the boy and slowly building up the number of invisible and intangible duplicates that are all in the same time/spot.  We see the humdrum of his daily life and take an extended trip into his childhood fantasy life, but never get a lot of specifics.  They’re not really needed, as any adult can relate to happier times as children, but few can really pinpoint why that was the case.  It’s a genuinely inspired story, told without casting judgment either way.  He’s three for three on these little mini books, although I have to imagine most of you are already aware of that fact by now.  Check it out already.  $4


Madden-Connor, Jonas – Ochre Ellipse #2



Ochre Ellipse #2

Is it wrong that I get the impression that Jonas is just toying with us?  After reading the first couple of issues of this series I get the impression that he has a ridiculously firm handle on the “rules” of making comics and is trying to nudge those rules in subtle but different directions.  This comic starts off with a young man who goes into a grocery store on a regular basis (but never actually buys anything) because he’s obsessed with the clerk.  He has her schedule figured out, but has never worked up the nerve to talk about her, preferring to imagine the things she could be doing instead.  Jonas then uses a concept that I first saw in a Concrete story but that’s still visually striking: the idea that a person leaves a trail, a collection of images of themselves in motion, wherever they’ve been.  This is the first half of the comic, the second is when things start to wander a bit.  We see our hero from the last issue (regular size, and he sure seems to be a stand-in for Jonas) entering the same grocery store and chatting with the clerk.  He winds up on a bus with our hero from the first half of this book, chatting about the story so far and moving on to a theory of evolution.  Not THE theory, but it’s too complicated to get into here.  Read Stephen Jay Gould, that’ll help it make sense.  This returns us to the clerk, who has to decide whether or not to find out some potentially troubling genetic information.  All this leads to a sweet and open-ended finale, which I won’t ruin here.  As a reader, I’m a big fan of endings where we don’t know exactly what happened next.  Well, generally speaking, anyway.  My reasoning is complicated and probably contradictory, which means that it must be right.  This was up for a couple of awards (and won one of them), and deservedly so.  $4


Madden-Connor, Jonas – Ochre Ellipse #1



Ochre Ellipse #1

First issues are generally a time to work the bugs out, to get everything in their proper order for better future issues.  Jonas gets right out of the gate with a fantastic first issue, and it sounds like #2 was nominated for all sorts of awards, so it only gets better from here.  Theoretically, anyway, as it’s possible that the Ignatz people suddenly lost all taste in comics.  This mini has a few different stories that could all be distinct, but Jonas ties almost everything in nicely.  Things start off with a man talking about the migratory habits of birds and moving on to a race of tiny men and their tiny horses.  The next story only has a tangential connection to that, as it’s about a bird-like human who grows out of his apartment and keeps right on uncontrollably growing.  This is the heart of the book and it’s the human touch that sells it.  The bird man doesn’t know what’s happening and awkwardly tries to navigate through these changes, with mixed results.  This leads to another young bird creature (normal size this time) riding an airplane and fantasizing about riding his bike along the clouds.  The clouds feel the need to chat with this young boy about this theory, which is great fun for the other passengers.  Finally there’s a text story called Lorbrulgrud, an excellent capper to the comic, as it starts with a few people trying to hide from a giant peering down at them.  We gradually learn more about them, but less about how exactly they got in their situation.  It’s an excellent comic, and I’d be saying that even if I didn’t know that there was more (and quite possibly better) comics to come.  $3