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Kirby, Robert (editor) – Three #3


Three #3

Society is breaking down! Cats living with dogs! Cats being turned into helicopters! And an anthology named “Three” is publishing more than three stories in an issue! Granted, only one of those examples is a real cause for concern, but I’ll leave it up to you to figure out which one. This issue contains four longer stories and a couple of one page pieces. Well, the first page is just nine images for nine different artists, so that’s more of an author bio page without words than a story. The first story is “Love Lust Lost” by Ed Luce, depicting three different silent adventures based on the three names in the title. Oh, and it’s also about those three guys on the cover, so take a moment and decide in your head which character goes with which story. The answer may surprise you! Next up is a story by Matt Runkle and Janelle Hessig in which they manage to get right up next to the stage for a Dolly Parton concert. They went in awed by her existence and managed to leave with even more respect for the lady. From here we go to the type of story that never, ever works: the comics jam. In this case nine artists take turns doing three panel strips, with the condition being that something bad has to happen on each last panel. I’m far too lazy to go through this strip by strip, but check out those tags below to see the people who participated. Oddly enough, for once this type of thing worked beautifully. Sure, it veered off the narrative tracks here and there, but the next person in line always pulled it together. Shit got real when the Peanuts gang also got involved, leaving my favorite strip of the bunch a tie between Howard Cruse (with Charlie Brown finally getting to kick something) and Ellen Forney (with the best final panel in a pile of great final panels). Marian Runk steps in for a one page story about the birds in her yard and her concern for them before we finally get to pretty much the entire second half of the book, “Fly Like an Eagle” by Carrie McNinch. I’ve been reading her comics for years but have never seen more than a passing reference to her “origin story.” Turns out that she was kicked out of her school while in ninth grade and forced to go to a private religious school. She starts off surprising herself by picking up a couple of friends easily (basically because they both also got busted for drugs in their old school), but that kind of thing can be especially volatile in those early years. The rest of the story deals with her gradual acceptance that she is never going to like boys “that way” (including her attempt to use a hilariously wrong library book for help in learning exactly what she was), her progression through various kinds of drugs and finally a damned sweet ending. Once again this anthology is doing pretty much everything right, and this time around you even get more stories. Which you’d damn well better, as this is $.25 more expensive than the last issue. Calamity! $6.50

Murphy, Annie (editor) – Gay Genius


Gay Genius

Watch out homophobes, it’s an entire anthology full of the dreaded “gay stuff!” I like to think that such people don’t read my site, but it’s always fun to scare off the hypothetical haters regardless. This anthology runs the gamut from fantastic stuff to pretty damned good stuff to stuff that’s just OK with maybe a bad piece here or there, which makes this exactly like every comics anthology that’s ever existed. My favorite piece was the one sampled below by Annie Murphy, which hey wait a minute she’s the editor too! This one tells the story of Babe Bean, a mysterious figure from the late 1800’s who dressed like a man, but this person was tiny and refused (or was unable to) speak, so nobody could tell her gender. Tales of gay folks of any stripe from the 1800’s rarely ended well, which makes this one even more of a delight (um, spoiler alert, no violence to be found here). Annie used newspaper accounts for most of her narration, as Babe captured the imagination of the area for a good chunk of time and the papers were constantly speculating about her origins. But the important parts of this story were the areas where Babe broke through the previously impenetrable gender wall to gain access to exclusively male clubs and events. This is listed as a “Part 1” even though it’s not listed in the back of the book as something that is ongoing, which is a shame. I’d love to read about the missing years between the start of the story and the end of it, even if the newspapers moved on and there would be a lot of speculation involved. Other stories in here include tributes to a couple of different deceased friends (by Matt Runkle and Ellery Russian respectively, as they both regret losing access to these people at such a young age), LeRoi Newbold’s story of thinking she got AIDS from a female friend after they had “fake sex” when they were 9 and how she figured out who she was in her early teens (complete with terrible spelling/grammar that makes perfect sense in the context of this story, told from the perspective of a confused kid), the various tales of different butches from Elisha Lim, Clio Reese Sady with her story of the first FTM transgender gathering in 1986 (it’s fascinating to see these people struggling just to come up with terms to describe what they were going through, as they were literally making it up as they went along) and Samantha Jane Dorset with her entreaty for marines to quit the service (with a nice story about one who did and who later became a mentor for other confused marines). You can see from the various tags that there are plenty of other stories in this anthology, but what fun is it if I go through them one by one? You already know that Edie Fake is a consistent delight, and the format of this book allows full color when appropriate, so a good chunk of these stories really stand out visually. It’s worth a look, even for you jaded folks who think you already know all about any possible stories in here. Believe you me, you almost certainly don’t know everything in here. Oh, and I almost forgot to mention the many different definitions of genius in the back, many of which I’ve never heard before. $20

Runkle, Matt – Runx Tales #2



Runx Tales #2

Good luck getting that cover out of your head any time soon.  This has been on my kitchen table for the last week and I just had to review it today so those googly eyes would stop staring at me.  This comic has 4 stories and an excellent illustrated introduction to the man, how he draws himself and his comics.  First up is Wrestling With The Truth, in which Matt, as a young gay man (and seemingly closeted), signs up with the wrestling team for obvious reasons.  After being dumped on his head he has a vision where “it all made sense”, something that he hasn’t been able to make a lot of sense of since.  Next is Nora Stories and, while it’s never a good sign when an artist is bugging friends for personal stories in the second issue, it’s a pretty entertaining piece, all about his friend Nora (and her friends) trying to get away from a creep who follows them around town.  She also has an excellent epilogue where she runs into him at a part a year later and he’s still playing the exact same games, although at least this time he nearly gets clobbered.  The next story is simply called Ranch, and it’s sure to be a big hit.  Why?  Because it tells the history of ranch, and who doesn’t love ranch?  Those adorable vegans, I suppose, but it’s their loss.  It turns out that ranch was invented in 1953 and was not sent down directly from the heavens, and this story tells the tale of how it got off the ground, how other companies are able to use the name, and its evolution over the years.  Finally there’s a tribute to Samantha Jane Dorsett, a friend of Matt’s who died recently.  It’s a short piece packed with personal memories and also tells how they drifted apart over the years.  He also throws in a bit about how sad it was that Michael Jackson died, and I confess to not understanding the whole “national tragedy” thing the country went through after that.  Wasn’t he living outside the country because we (“we” being the media and concerned parents) essentially rode him out of town on a rail. Once he dropped dead all was forgiven.  Baffling.  Anyway, no googly eyes in the comics, just an excellent sense of comedic timing, some purty pictures and the untold history of ranch dressing.  If nothing else you have to be curious about that, right?  $3