Pettinger, Josh – Goiter Comics #6
Looks like I have a bit of a Goiter gap (I didn’t pick up #4 or 5) on this here website, proving once again that it’s not possible for one person to follow every single comic artist that’s worthwhile, or even most of them, or even more than a few of them. Once again, if there’s a single billionaire reading this that wants to give me a measly few million dollars to do all this full time until I drop, I’m ready at any time. Anyway! The earlier issues of Goiter were solid, but this seems like a leap up in quality. Several stories in here, in a comic that’s the size of a regular comic book, so the whole thing feels a bit nostalgic. Until you see the (perfectly reasonable) price tag of $8, which kills that nostalgia dead. Stories include a mopey man who learns quite a bit about the history of pilates, the terrifying feeling of watching your dog run away from you after they get off their leash and not knowing if you’ll ever see them again in one piece, the spectacularly questionable viewing habits of a young Josh and his mother, and finally the bulk of the comic. This one is grim, and just barely fiction, in that Black Mirror “if this isn’t happening exactly this way right now, just give it a few years” kind of way. Our hero is a worker drone in an Amazon warehouse (in all but name), where every aspect of his job and life are monitored. Sleep patterns, television habits, recreational activities, all are monitored and all are factored in whenever a dip in performance is detected. It’s hard to read because (outside of a few fantastical elements) Amazon is already doing at least half of this to their workers, and we’re all just waiting for confirmation that an Alexa in the house is basically a license to spy. Terrifying but engrossing, that’s what I’d call that story, and you might as well read up on it, as it’s the likely future for all of us. Unless climate change gets us first. On that cheery note, better wrap things up, so yes, I’d absolutely recommend this comic, and it doesn’t seem to be connected to past issues, so don’t worry about being lost. $8
Pettinger, Josh – Goiter #3
When I was trying to find a place to buy this comic online (still not that easy if you’re not logged into Instagram), I came across a brief conversation between Josh and a fan. Josh mentioned that #2 was back in his shop, and the commenter asked about the availability of #1. Josh lamented that he had seen copies of it in the discount bin at Chicago Comics (so if you live in/near Chicago, now’s (11/29/18 as of this writing) your chance!) and said he was too embarrassed to ask for them back. To which I say… don’t feel bad about the discount comics bin! It has no bearing on the quality of the comic. Back in the day, when I was first getting into Fantagraphics/Drawn & Quarterly/mini comics, do you know how I got damned near every issue of Peepshow, Palookaville, Yummy Fur, Naughty Bits, Love and Rockets, even Eightball? Discount bins! This concludes my public service announcement to everyone who has comics in discount bins; you’re in good company. And there’s an even better chance that somebody without much money is going to pick up your book. Sure, it sucks now, but in the long run you probably gained a few fans. Isn’t there a comic somewhere in here I should be talking about? Ah, here is it, Goiter #3! This is the story of a fairly lonely young woman who’s stuck in a dead end job and has just turned 30. She could always move back home, but doesn’t want to admit that this is all there is. Sound familiar to anybody? If not, you’re one of the lucky ones. Anyway, our hero works this dead end job until one day a a giant head appears to her, acting like he has known her forever. Turns out that this giant head is Joe Murphy, or the only part of his that has come through from an alternate dimension. He’s also time traveling, so this version of him had already been dating our hero. She quickly falls in love with him, but meanwhile, things aren’t going so well on Joe’s end, both as a giant head (he has an unknown illness) and for his body back in the other dimension. The rest of the comic deals with those struggles and whether or not our hero can come to terms with the life she’s living. Josh also mentions in the back of the comic that while the book isn’t autobiographical, he also turned 30 and was working a dead end job while he was making this comic, so there are bound to be some elements that are true to his life. It’s a great story, both unnerving and somehow hopeful, so give it a shot, maybe you can find something in here to help with your own dead end job.
Pettinger, Josh – Goiter #2
Previously on this review website, I mentioned wondering how Josh would follow up the first issue of Goiter. It turns out that the second issue doesn’t have much to do with the first (or does it and I missed it? Always possible!), but it is a step up in quality. Not that the quality of the first issue was poor, but Josh has a lot more room to play around with panel structure, silent moments, and a mystery. None of which are mentioned on the cover, although I guess there is a death. Um, spoiler alert. I always say that part too late. Anyway, this is the story of Henry Kildare, a ventriloquist from Chicago who’s stopped at a small town to play a gig. He tries several times to contact a missing girlfriend (or at least a girlfriend who doesn’t want to speak to him), gets several comments about Chicago from people who have obviously never been there, has a middling to bad show and takes mushrooms with the bartender. Things take a real turn after that, as he gets stuck in the middle of a missing persons case, and this is probably the part where I should stop talking about the story. The rest of it, including the ending, is delightfully enigmatic, with all kinds of room for interpretation if you’re so inclined. Both issues of Goiter were delightful in their own mildly unnerving way, so here’s hoping Josh keeps putting out Goiters for us all to enjoy!
Pettinger, Josh – Goiter #1
This is one of those cases where I’m tempted to leave the review blank, except perhaps for a brief note telling you to let the sample image speak for the comic. That’s cheating, and I don’t want to run afoul of the independent comics reviewers review board (you wouldn’t like them when they’re angry), so I’ll soldier on with a few more thoughts. This one came out of the blue, which is always a delight; yes, that’s also true when the comics aren’t that great. This is the first of two issues with the same title, but I don’t know yet if the story continues in the next issue or if it’s something entirely different. The story of this mini is, again, encapsulated in that sample image: a man finds someone to help him fulfill a niche sexual desire of his on an internet message board, with said fantasy involving a fake mugging. The comic shows the mundane aspects of his life, how he gets through an average work day, and the specificity with which he plans out his mugging, including what he can bear to part with in his wallet when he does get robbed. Things take a turn towards the end, which I suppose could be said of most works of fiction, so I don’t think that’s giving too much away. It’s a quietly haunting mini and something that leaves me intrigued to see what Josh does with the much larger follow-up issue. Check in here in a few weeks to see how that goes, or you could cut out the middle man and just order comics from Josh himself, which is something you should think about doing regardless. I don’t see the first issue mentioned on his etsy shop at the moment, so I’ll guess the price is… $5.