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Barnett, Lauren – New Things


New Things

Remember how in those old timey movies about a reporter going after a hot story you’d often see them take out a little tape recorder to record notes for themselves? You know, leads they’d need to follow up on, that sort of thing. Well, I read my review for Lauren’s last book (Ruining Your Cat’s Life, in case you need a reminder) and I mentioned missing several of her books/comics and needing to rectify it soon. I have not done that thing! Will I remember to fix that this time around? Well, if this book doesn’t lodge that into my memory, nothing will. This is a collection of a bunch of Lauren’s new strips, and two things are true about this at the same time: there’s some ridiculously funny stuff in here, and it would be wonderful if like 90% of it really did happen/start happening in real life. I mean, the sample image! What a fantastic idea. And spare me with the “oh, think of the food that would be wasted, the chef would have to make full size portions of each just for little samples.” No! She’s trying to imagine a better world here, and this would absolutely apply. If you’re new to her stuff, or unsure, her website has all kinds of sample comics. If you can scroll through that for a few minutes without laughing, I guess you won’t enjoy this, but I also feel sorry for the lack of laughter in your life. For the rest of us, if you’re curious what goes on in this particular volume, Lauren has some suggestions for other medical practitioners and the samples they could be giving out after appointments (seriously, why is it that only dentists do this?), new vanity plates, ways to disguise a cell tower, condiments that help you out, new vegetables, new appetizers, dream restaurants, new fruits (and seltzers, and animals, and jelly beans, and ice creams; again, the world would be a better place with a lot of these things in it), and some movie ideas that should happen as soon as possible. As always, just describing these takes some of the humor out, which is why I keep it vague. There are also a few more ideas in here I’m not even going to mention (except for the pajamas that show cats knocking things off of shelves), but the important thing is that they’ll make you laugh. Yes, that’s a guarantee. $15

Barnett, Lauren – Ruining Your Cat’s Life


Ruining Your Cat’s Life

I found it! It’s the best graphic novel to come out of the pandemic! Go ahead, other comics artists, just try to top this. As you can tell from the title, a lot of this is about Lauren’s cat, but even more of it is about navigating pandemic life. And, just to throw this out there, it had me laughing so much that my sides are still hurting as I type this. A first in my reviewing days? Eh, maybe. Either way, it’s hard to pay a funny graphic novel a higher complement. Where do I even begin with this majestic beast of a book? Well, for one thing, it reminded me that I’ve missed a couple of her books, so I’m going to fix that toot sweet. But what about this specific book? It’s made up of either single page strips or l’il stories. The single page strips are either about the pandemic, her cat or fighting off depression because of the pandemic or her cat. We’re talking picking out a pandemic outfit, the cat’s perspective on the humans suddenly never leaving, the drop-off from ambition to actuality in making breakfast, and so many other things that I’m not even going to ruin even a bit of it. I’ve already said that this is my favorite pandemical book so far, so I’m basically just filling space here for the few of you who haven’t already rushed off to buy a copy or the others who have given up because they have no joy in their lives and can’t understand “funny.” For the rest of you, a bonus! Longer stories deal with sweatpants, the snackmaster, kids’ party games in the time of covid, how to deal with assholes not wearing masks as you’re trying to take a walk, the differences in the lives of indoor cats and outdoor cats, doing the chores that the cat allows, and how to live life as a cat. I feel obligated to mention that I just chuckled writing the last bit of that sentence, as even the MEMORY of that story is enough to make me laugh. That’s some concentrated funny right there. If you need some joy in your life and have already tried drugs and booze, the answer is right here! It’s this particular graphic novel. Buy it and learn to laugh again! $20

Barnett, Lauren – I’m a Horse, Bitch



I’m a Horse, Bitch

Now here’s the perfect comic for a Friday afternoon. Are you a horse? Do you know exactly how awesome you are? If that’s the case, this comic might seem a little unnecessary to you, but it’s probably best to put your greatness out into the world in as many ways as possible. If you’re not a horse, but think that they are pretty awesome, you’re going to love this one. That title is not a swerve; this is a comic that does exactly what the title says it’s going to do. A horse tells you the various ways that it is better than you, its true feelings about ponies, and the power that it barely manages to keep contained on a daily basis. And… that’s it, really. What, you wanted the meaning of life in here too? Not necessary. This comic is perfect exactly as it is and you should be able to see that. If for some reason you hate horses, I still think you should read this, if only to give yourself one more chance to love them before it’s too late. $2


Various Artists – The Hic and Hoc Illustrated Journal of Humor Volume One: The United States



The Hic and Hoc Illustrated Journal of Humor Volume One: The United States

Do you like your comics funny? Do you like some or most of the creators I listed in the tags section (right below this post, in big letters, you can’t miss them)? Then this one should be an easy call for you. There, now that I’ve made that case, I’ll go about my afternoon… wait, you want something of substance? Egh, fine. Laurent Barnett does the “Me Likes You” comics (which you should already be reading on a regular basis), and she was one of the editors, so there, that’s substantive. Strips in here include Noah Van Sciver’s fever dreams (both with and without music), funny jokes that aren’t really jokes by Bort, Martha Keavney’s tales of a pet human, Nikki Burch showing us that saying “that’s what she said” too many times will end up with you getting what you deserve, Anne Emond’s cat style, Sam Spina’s ridiculously awesome sex comic, a couple of pages of single panel jokes by Sam Henderson (which should be worth the price of admission right there), Grant Snider’s fears and feats (he had four pages of strips and I don’t want to ruin any of them), KC Green’s depressed fish, Jane Mai’s dream of male lingerie, Nathan Bulmer’s tale of ninja tricks, Julia Wertz’ attempt to get serious and Ian Anderson’s tale of a bear that’s just trying to fit in. But wait, there’s more! And you can discover it for yourself if you buy this. Unless you just have an unnatural hatred for all anthologies, which I guess I could almost understand, but it makes no sense to hate the good ones too, and this is one of the good ones. Hell, just pick three of the names of people who contributed to this, go to their websites and see what there is to see. If you don’t laugh once then I release you from your duty to buy this, but seriously, good luck with that. $10


Barnett, Lauren – Me Likes You Very Much


Publisher’s website

Me Likes You Very Much

It’s unprofessional in the extreme for me to write a review that’s just a long, small childlike squeal of delight, isn’t it? Damn. Perhaps you’re one of the smarter comics readers who has known about Lauren’s comics for some time now, in which case you’re as excited as I am that she’s finally getting a big old book full of these comics of hers. For those of you who have never heard of her, boy are you in for a treat, as this is about 190 pages of pure goodness and light. And, happily, that cover gives several (smaller) examples of her work. If you can manage to read all of those small comics without laughing, you are hereby excused from buying this book. And from having the capacity for joy, you soulless monster you. For everybody else, like I said, you’re in for a treat. Maybe you’re on the fence somehow and I should at least try to make a coherent case for this book, so I’ll give it a shot. Lauren’s comics are generally between one and three panels long and usually involve talking animals. Or lighters, or salt, or many different kinds of food, or just about anything that could conceivably have a mouth and a couple of eyes attached to it. And they’re funny. Really, damned near all of them at least made me smile, and a really solid chunk of them had me actually laughing out loud, which is still a rarity even after all these years of reading these “funny books.” I should point that at least a few of these strips were already published in some of her mini comics over the last few years, but a good chunk of them are in color here, which was not the case for her minis, and wouldn’t you rather have them all in one place anyway? Sure you would. As I really don’t want to ruin anything about the actual strips (why rob you of the joy of discovery?), I’ll stick to the margins. The hamburger asking on the back page if the people quoted praising her book were lying? Well, it’s always impressive if you get a laugh out of me when the book itself is over. Speaking of that, she does have a few random strips before and after the book actually starts, so there’s bonus stuff for you to enjoy. I also loved her chapter listings almost as much as the fact that she actually had an increasingly desperate eggplant (as he realized the reader was approaching the end of the book) introducing the nonsensical chapters. Look, what you have here is a big old book full of the funny, put out by a publishing company that’s just starting out and could use the encouragement, and put together by a woman who’s funnier than most humans have any right to be and who really deserves a big old pile of money for her effort. Help these folks out with that please! $14

Barnett, Lauren – I’d Sure Like Some Fucking Pancakes



I’d Sure Like Some Fucking Pancakes

If there were prizes just for titles, this thing would win a very hefty trophy from me. Or from some official comics organization, if there was any justice in the world. Well fine, it has a great title, what about the comic? Good news on that front too. This is a nice pile of short pieces, and I hate to have to point this out, but I should reward the people who get this right as much as the one’s who can’t manage it: no spelling errors or production problems! Kudos. This issue starts off with one of the more convincing “please read this” that I’ve ever seen, as she acknowledges right off the bat that anybody she sent this to is basically obligated to look at it. Hey, with a title like that, I would have looked at it anyway. Stories in here include a list of things she worries about (I particularly enjoyed the sampled page for her unwillingness to draw any of the things that really terrify her), a bird losing its feathers and its life without them, a list of likes and her “the grass is always greener” syndrome, a creepy dream where a dog turns into a fat kid, a short piece about how pancakes and grilled cheese are always better if somebody else makes them due to the hassle involved, and a lovely tale about her killing a unicorn. I feel obligated to point out that science has found a way around the pancake problem, as there are now little containers where all you have to do is put some water in it, shake it up and voila! Batter. It also turns into a very odd goo if you leave it in your refrigerator long enough. Anyway, this is a pretty great comic, one that manages the difficult task of living up to that title. Check it out, why don’t you? $2


Barnett, Lauren – A Story About Fish



A Story About Fish

Is it possible to break the category of mini comics down into even minier comics? If that’s the case this would fall into the latter category, as it’s only 8 pages long with one image per page. It’s still a fun story, and probably one of those ones you can relate to if you’ve ever won goldfish at a carnival. After all, you suddenly have a pet and a responsibility to keep them alive, even if fish are pretty low maintenance. Lauren and another person (judging by her use of the word “we”) won a couple of fish at a carnival. The story ends tragically, if you’re hyperbolic enough to think that the death of goldfish represents a tragedy, but if I get much more into it the whole tiny comic will be ruined. I’ll just say that I loved her imagined last “screw you” from the fish as they were flushed into oblivion and leave it at that. Maybe you should pick this up with her other book about pancakes, as it would make a nice bookmark for the other comic. $1


Barnett, Lauren – Was That Supposed To Be Funny?


Was That Supposed To Be Funny?

As should be obvious to any regular readers around here, I am occasionally easily impressed. One of those things that easily impresses me is a knack for great titles, and, though it might be a stretch to declare such a thing after three minis, I think Lauren has that knack. This mini is split up into random stories and adaptations from her old diary, covering random times from when she was 9-13. Stories in here include Broccoli proving to Asparagus that he/she (Broccoli, and I’ve never asked the gender of vegetables) isn’t a bad dancer, the ups and downs of daily life in Brooklyn, how it’s a shame that you can no longer go to your room and slam your door as an adult, her cats plan of attack against bags of all kinds, talking herself into going out more often (but failing to follow through), another day in the life of her cat, worrying about her teeth, searching for a decent apartment, her theory on the flavor of milk duds, and an excellent thrift store find. Old diary bits include watching Jaws, catching the 1992 debates, seriously not being jealous at a classmate getting an award that she didn’t, playing office (and living it today), getting hit in the face with a baseball, and a big crush. That’s a huge pile of stories, not even counting the excellent into and outro pieces. The only trouble I have (in theory, as us high-falutin’ reviewer types often get these things free) is that it’s $5.50, which makes some sense for a fancy color cover, but it’s still kind of steep. It’s worth the price, I’m just sayin’…