The Cornelia Collection
Let’s say that you’ve seen Kel’s comics over the years (and the man has been doing this for at least the last 10 years), but maybe you picked up a mini of his that wasn’t 100% funny to you. Or maybe his vast selection of minis intimidated you, you big baby you. Well, you’re officially out of excuses to give the guy a shot, as this collection clearly only has the best of his material in it, and you’re damned near guaranteed to laugh at least once during each of the stories. And there are lots of stories! For you new readers, Cornelia is a short woman in her mid 20’s who can’t handle her booze, has shallow friends and not much in the way of personal ambition. And she’s considered ugly by the rest of the characters, which becomes more important as you go. Stories in here range from several pages to one page strips, with short pieces about Ed Thud (another of Kel’s characters) sprinkled throughout just in case all that estrogen starts to get to you. Which is a little jarring, as this is listed as a Cornelia collection, but hey, minor quibble. Stories about Cornelia include a series of three of her dreams (of increasing insanity/self-loathing, and he sets a high bar for the rest of the book right away), going to the wrong rave, fighting for disco, trying to fit into the busy schedule of a friend, Cornelia’s dad getting tired of the fact that all corners of society that used to be just for men are now for women too and his quest to win a beauty contest, trying to find the last group of beings that you can still make fun of without getting in trouble, joining a protest group with ADHD and not reading the fine print, trying to win a radio contest by revealing the cure for AIDS, having to stand as the sole representative of her age group, her 15 minutes of fame, trying to get a DVD collection of her cancelled favorite show, the dangers of studies showing that certain types of alcohol are good for your health, the schemes of her friend to get Cornelia her job back while Cornelia is stuck in a lobby reading magazines from the 80’s for hours, indulging in a pint of ice cream with her friend (who has recently been broken up with) and misreading an ad for applying to the Vagina Monologues. The Ed Thud stories include the recurring problem of his head falling off, the superhero who helps him get his CD open (which makes me wish that Kel had included publication strips for some of these strips), the new Hitler youth organization going door to door with an entirely new perspective, the offer he gets for his used car, and his awkward realization that he’s on a reality show. Whatever you think happens in those stories based on my description, chances are that Kel takes it in an entirely different direction. Give it a shot, it’s funny! $9
I just now realized that this was different from the PANEL set of anthologies put out by Ferret Press, the ones that I love pretty much every time (which is saying a lot for an anthology). Is there a feud of some kind going on, or are there just too many stories for them all to be contained in one anthology? Or hey, maybe it’s because the PANEL anthologies tend to stick to one theme, while the only theme of this one seems to be “people who were at SPACE in 2012.” Whatever the case, this is a damned solid anthology, and if you find yourself wondering if you really want to pay $20 for an anthology, remember that a good chunk of the proceeds go towards keeping the same price for the yearly convention and generally funding all aspects of the thing. Think of it as a donation to a worthy cause where you come out of it with a fairly hefty anthology that also happens to be mostly in color. I always thought that seeing The Accidentals (by Mike Carroll) in color would be a revelation, and it looks like I was right. If only he could afford to put them all out like that! Ah well. Stories in this one include a John Steventon piece about the eventful birth of his daughter, a battle for the fate of the universe that came a little too late by Jon Michael Lennon and Thor Fjalarsson, an utterly unique vision of the afterlife by Leslie Anderson, a Christmas alone for a bear by Shawn Smith, an uneventful conquering of the world by Bob Corby, Kathleen Coyle and Jason Young’s piece on Kathleen’s first time seeing Return of the Jedi as a young child, Brian John Mitchell exploring the meaning of it all (he also edited this whole thing), Mari Naomi’s attempt to square the image in her head of her grandfather with the horrible stories that she was told about him after he died, Mike Kitchen’s hilarious take on the attention span of iPad users, Steve Myers and his tale of reality blending with fantasy, Matt and Jeanie Bryan’s unique take on a ruined date, Kel Crum’s computer virus, Kris and Mary Lachowski’s piece on a bizarre half dream half reality conversation, Blair Kitchen’s superhero who’s having a really tough time saving the damsel in distress, a sneak preview of Dave Kelly and Lara Antal’s tale of the Night Watchman (probably not what you’re thinking, but maybe you nailed it!), another great Homegrown Alien tale by Joe Davidson, a one page shortie by Ray Tomczak, and a brief bubbly piece by Maryanna Rose Papke. The color was done really well, and it was great to see some of these characters done how they were “meant” to be done (for all I know the creators were perfectly content for these stories to always be in black and white but couldn’t resist the chance to change it here). It’s a nice pile of stories and seemed to be really representative of the work of these people, which is why this thing exists in the first place, right? $20
Oh, Comics! #20
Hello comics anthology! What sort of mixed bag do you have for me today? Before I get into it I should point out (in case I haven’t already) that I love that title, as it could be taken in so many ways. I prefer to take it as an exclamation of alarm, but am also happy accepting it in the context of some lovable scamp accidentally knocking over a flower vase. The subject of this one is “Air” (which should maybe have been mentioned on the cover somewhere, but in hindsight it’s hard not to think of air when you’re looking at that cover by Max Ink), and stories include a silent tale of an overly inquisitive space ghost (not THE Space Ghost) by Bianca Alu-Marr and Steve Peters, a hilarious parody of the 50’s style alarmist propaganda videos by Derek Baxter and Brian Canini (probably the highlight of the anthology), Pam Bliss proving that she can draw the difference between a husky and a wolf, a gloomy but accurate (and gorgeous) tale of an astronaut trying to fix a satellite and the consequences of it by D. Skite, Canada Keck’s tale of getting on a plane and getting a one-way ticket to anywhere, two short poems/pieces by Matt Levin about the subject matter, Michael M. Carroll’s tale of some issues between the elements of his Accidentals, Bob Corby’s piece on space cops and their search for an illegal passenger, and a Robert Gavila tale from 2004 about giant lizards. I saw the ending of that one coming, but I am also a gigantic dork with way too much knowledge of such things. There are also a couple of Cornelia pieces by Kel Crum and one story by Steven Myers that I didn’t mention because it is not for me. The two lady hero characters are called She-Eagle (seriously) and First Lady, and the whole thing is meant in earnest, and it is just not something that I enjoyed. But hey, to each their own. It’s a nicely varied pile of stories, and there are quite a few of them for that tiny $5 price tag.
Cornelia Cartoons #12
You’ll most likely be a bit lost if you didn’t read the last issue of this series, as this is a rare two part story, but I can sum it up for you. A new drug has been introduced that makes people deliriously happy, which really screws up the profits of the drug companies and various other folks who make a living on treating the depressed. This issue starts off with our heroine forced to hand over the formula to this wonder drug to a masked figure, who then loses it to another masked figure, who then loses it to another masked figure. It turns out that each of these people represents one of the many interests that would be adversely effected if this drug goes into mass production, leading to a pretty damned funny scene of them all trying to figure out who would be the most damaged and what their options were. The real fun begins when they each realize that they’d like to try the drug out for themselves, which they all unfortunately do before learning of the many possible side effects from taking the drug. From there things get more or less happily wrapped up, including an incredibly awkward revelation from the woman who was tricked into psychiatric care in the last issue. There’s also a very short story at the end about a man who finds himself trapped in one of those comic pratfalls that happen every time somebody hears something truly shocking. You know, the famous Robert Crumb (among others) habit of having only the upraised feet visible on the panel when somebody faints dead away from shock/indignation/general astonishment. It’s a nice extra funny bit after things got a little heavy in the main story, so no complaints here. This two part story is really worth a look if you’re at all interested in what legal drugs are doing to people and what the next logical step to the whole thing is. Or even if you just like funny bits of conversation about such things, as it’s not all as heavy as I’m making it out to be. The man just had a point that he wanted to make and I think he made it very well. $2
Cornelia Cartoons #11
Ah, the first of the random grabs from SPACE 2012. Random grabs for comics to review, that is, as I already have a few of Kel’s comics up here and I was actively looking for more of his work at the convention. This one is the first of two parts (which I believe is a first in this series, as there are usually a few shorter stories in each issue), and it deals with an interesting hypothetical discovery. A drug has been discovered that will “permanently remove all negative energies and self doubt.” Great, right? Not necessarily, especially if you take a step back and think of the many monied interests that would be affected. The drug companies are mad, the therapists are going out of business and there’s still the slight problem of a lack of overall testing on the drug and any possible side effects. So on the off chance that you bought past issues of this series and were wondering why it was mostly focused on a few characters (outside of the fact that it’s called “Cornelia Cartoons” and is mostly about Cornelia), well, this one is about the world in general and their reaction to this discovery. Mix in a fully automated therapist, a visit from a sleazy therapist that gets an old enemy drunk to trick her, a few belated ethical quandaries and a cliffhanger ending and you get this book. To be concluded in the next issue, so I’ll have more thoughts on the whole story then, but as the first part of a storyline this one had it all. All kinds of situations to be resolved and, while I have a few ideas of where this series will NOT be going based on that ending (just assuming from Kel’s past work on this front), I admit to have no idea of where it WILL be going, which is always nice. It’s worth a look, and if you’ve resisted trying his stuff over the years these two issues make up a nice hefty story for you to give it a shot. $2
Pork Belly #3
One of these days I’m going to ask Dan at a con what exactly are the differences in his various anthology titles.Â Theoretically he could just put them all out under one title, or there are basic structural details I’m missing.Â As they’re pretty consistently entertaining it’s a bit of a moot point.Â No sense in me complaining about one of the few guys in the business who puts out comics on such a consistent basis.Â So how about the actual contents?Â Things get started with a delightfully disgusting piece by Kel Crum about the standards of bird vomit, Macedonio has a piece about “illegals” and who to really be worried about and a piece about ethnic birds, and Dan has mildly awful pun on the cover and two other pieces inside.Â Those two are fantastic, one dealing with a man shipping himself to save money on a trip and the eventual consequences and the piece I sampled below.Â Embiggen that sucker and be amazed at how the encroaching police state hits even little kids, then get mad and do something about it.Â I recommend watching some TV, like I’m one to talk about political activism.Â It’s another pile of great stories for a measly buck, so what exactly is stopping you?
Almost Normal Comics and Other Oddities #2
Here’s another great anthology from W.E., with stories about making minis to impress a girl, snail wrestling, jazz pianos, adventurers getting an amulet, spying on regular people, not flying, controlling women and making money doing it, a man crashing a beauty contest, a stripper, fish, being abducted by North Korea, the good old days, a whiner, and trying to balance finding a job and finding a girlfriend. That enough for you? No? Well, I left out the parts from W.E., including the real story of Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, an ancient talking box and an interview with Trent Haaga. Actually, that’s my only real complaint of the book: not enough W.E.! Those little one page stories make the book and there should be at least ten of them per anthology. Am I asking too much? Maybe. That’s what I’m here for! Here’s a list of the talent: Patrick Findlay, Alejandro Alvarez, Matt Levin, Ron LeBrasseur, Adrian Velazco, Phil McAndrew, Buck Weiss, Shannon Gretzon, Jeff T. Kane, Kel Crum, Peter Conrad, David Recine, Simon Mackie, Herve Largeaud, Yul Tolbert, and Anthony Hon. You can find plenty of those people on this page if you’re curious about this book, but seriously, it’s worth the price of admission to find out what really happened to those seven dwarfs, and there’s not really a weak story in the bunch, which is all you can ever ask out of an anthology. It’s $5.50 but it’s huge, contact info is up there!
Sanity Impaired Cat
For the more literate comics folk out there, this mini is a parody of the old Krazy Kat comics (and by old I mean the turn of last century). These are widely considered some of the best comics ever done and are an inspiration for pretty much every comics person you can think of… and I haven’t read them. I know, every little bit of comics street cred I might have built up over the last 5 years just went flying out the window, but I thought it important to mention the fact that I don’t have enough exposure to Krazy Kat to do an informed review of a parody/tribute to said book. That being said, when has that ever stopped me? The look of this book is eerily similar to the older stuff, and there’s a large cast of characters that I’ll bet parody the original group. There are modern references in here but they still speak in old timey talk and this is just hopeless. Look, I enjoyed it with only a bare knowledge of the source material, I’ll bet you’d get a lot more out of it if you knew the original stuff. If you liked the old strip this is only a buck, so judge for yourself. Then post up a reader review so we can get an informed opinion on this one… $1
Cornelia Cartoonz #7
Now this one was funny! Who knows what kind of mood I was in for the other review, or maybe it was just so-so. Whatever the case, I liked this one. Funny, which is always a good thing, and if I’m not mistaken his art has gotten better since that other issue. Three stories in this one. The first one is Cornelia dealing with art school and artists in general, the second is a shortie about a fictional movie, and the last one is Cornelia trying to get her job back at Smallmart (seriously, independent cartoonists, just call it Walmart if you’re going to parody it. It’s not like the CEO of Walmart reads something with a print run in the hundreds, and even if they did I REALLY doubt if they would sue you). She sends in a friend to try and convince the manager, she’s an attractive woman, he’s a sleazy man, hilarity ensues! Here’s an e-mail address in case that one up there is outdated, this is only $1, check it out!
Ed Thud #2
There are a zillion average mini comics in the world, and this is one of them. The high points aren’t too high, the low points aren’t too low, it’s just… there. It is kind of cute at times, and there are some inventive moments. Hey, maybe I’m in a crappy mood and unaware of it, who knows? That’ll teach you to listen to a word I say. Anyway, there are a few stories in here. One deals with Ed trying to get people to stop sucking on bamboo sticks, one is about Dr. Kevorkian and the hi-larious plight of assisted suicide, and the last one is Ed’s no-nonsense approach to picking up a woman in a bar. The suicide machine is kind of clever, and the part with the woman in the bar is kind of funny. Hey, what do you want from me? It’s so-so. E-mail him to see what else he has around (I read a couple of his other books and they were equally so-so) or just mail him a dollar or so per book at: 32 W Goodman Apt. 23 Fairborn, OH 45324.