Blog Archives

Ambasna, Anu – DJ School

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DJ School

DJ school! We’ve all thought about it. OK, some of us have, at least, and maybe even in the olden times when it involved switching out actual records. Why, in my day… man, sorry about that. Narrowly avoided a serious old man rant. Anyway! In this issue our hero is bored at his day job and dreams of being a DJ. That terrible boss is wrong; a kitchen is absolutely a perfect place to pretend to be a DJ. He gets fired, more or less, and tells us his origin story, which involves hearing “Firestarter” by Prodigy at the age of 3 and having it change his life. How many DJs did that song create, do you reckon? It has to be hundreds at a minimum. He looks online and finds a course about becoming a DJ, although he finds it boring and a bit obvious, at least until he discovers… the secret trick. As we move on to his first gig, our hero is nervous, so a well-meaning (?) liason offers him what solves all problems at a rave: hard drugs. Our hero thinks he’s maybe bitten off more than he can chew, as he can no longer tell where his hands are, but in case of emergency he can always rely on… the secret trick! It’s a fun story with a happy ending (spoilers I guess), which is very much not a guarantee with the mini kus books. It’s also $7.95 by itself or $22 if you buy it with three other comics and, as always, you know which of those two options I recommend.

Colin, Gary – Link

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Link

What a gorgeous, precise little comic this is. Not that most comics are sloppy or anything, but this one was clearly made with intention in each image/line. Think of this as a meditation session but with you being represented as a video game image and you’ll come close to the feel of it, although this is definitely one of those comics you need to experience for yourself to have a chance to fully understand it. As such, does this mean that mini kus has done it to me again, as this comic is basically unreviewable? They surely did! Let’s see what I can say about it. Things start off with a login for the session, followed by subtle changes to the character, followed by changes of the scenery. The character (or you, if you’re meditating along with the comic) merge with the scenery, get invaded by all sorts of images and ideas, but maintain serenity throughout. This could be a harrowing experience if you weren’t meditating already, so it’s probably best to calm yourself and enjoy the ride. Could this comic alone drive you to madness otherwise? I mean, probably not, unless letting the fluidity flow through or blending into the background would be problems for you. It’s somehow a riveting and relaxing story all at once, so yeah, I’d definitely say it’s worth checking out. $8 for the comic or $22 for this one with three others, and you know by now which deal I recommend…

Horvat, Nuka – Transgender Homebody

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Transgender Homebody

Again and forever, I wish I could just reprint the synopsis from the back of this comic in the place of a review and call it a day. It says everything and somehow manages to convey terror and deep eroticism at the same time. But no, I’ve given that synopsis away for free too many times, so you’ll have to buy a copy to read it yourself. Or go to the link where you can buy a copy, as the whole thing is there as well. This one is ridiculously open to interpretation, as you could go with the idea of somebody ogling their neighbor through the peephole and imagining a sexual encounter (or several), or you could go with this being a faithful retelling of some sexy times. The images are a jumble of chaotic and/or angry lines, with various sexy bits coming to the surface and being submerged again, with dialogue that shows the sexual fluidity (and sheer, rampaging horniness) of both participants. It’s mesmerizing, even with the ending that takes a serious turn into ______ (what, you thought I was going to spoil the ending? For shame). Read it and be dazzled, unless you’re one of those prudish churchy types, in which case you only clicked on a review with this title because you were titillated by it. Admit it, at least to yourself! $7.95 for the issue but, as always, I’d recommend getting the bundle of four for $22 with this one in it.

Pixin, Weng – The History of a Toss

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The History of a Toss

The idea behind this one is specific, and while it seems like it probably hasn’t affected that many people, this one will hit hard for certain folks. Have you ever been enjoying some quiet time, either alone or with others, when suddenly a large heavy object comes flying through the air and strikes you, seemingly for no reason? Like I said, that just lost a good chunk of you, but for those of you who are nodding your heads right now, you’re in luck! This one starts off with our hero the bunny trying to enjoy a cup of tea when they’re suddenly struck by a phone book. It turns out that the roommate (the frog) was just trying to throw the phone book away, but they’d misjudged both how hard they threw the book and the distance to the garbage. After a sudden clobbering like that, it’s hard not to feel a little targeted, and this might bring up memories of previous conversations with your roommate about their family members throwing things in anger. This might also bring up a defensive reaction on their part, as they see it as an unfortunate if innocent mistake. From here there are two main possibilities: either the offending party sees that what they did was at best thoughtless and apologizes, or they dig in and use the opportunity to bring up all kinds of irrelevant grudges, both real and perceived. And if the aggressor takes that second tack, well, things are probably going to get ugly. This book is an exploration of that conversation, and how “heroes” and “villains” in this situation don’t necessarily mean a thing in regards to who “wins” the argument. It’s a fascinating and more than slightly uncomfortable book, so yes, we can add another mini kus book to the “yeah buy that why don’t you?” pile. $7.95 (for this comic, it’s $22 for this and the next three in the series. I know which one sounds like a better deal to me!)

Vola, Noemi – Are You Lost, Little Bunny?

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Are You Lost, Little Bunny?

Oh, I’ll bet that title got at least a few people to buy this who didn’t get what they were expecting at all. This is the story of a sad little bunny, mostly, who gets several pieces of advice from an unseen narrator that aren’t at all designed to cheer the little creature up. Still, the narrator is not wrong, and it’s clear that the little bunny needs to hear this stuff. The bunny is sad, you see, but the narrator is a little sick of having to cheer the creature up, and makes the decision to tell the bunny about how others can’t save you (they’re mostly too busy to even notice you have a problem to save you), the narrator is frankly a little sick of having to make a show of trying, it’s maybe your own fault that these things keep happening, and the only thing that won’t abandon you is your tears. I mean, they’re not wrong, but the juxtaposition of all of this advice with the dazzling array of colors and cuteness can make your head spin at times. It really is a gorgeous book, and I’d honestly be curious what a kid who hasn’t learned to read yet would get out of it. Granted, that last one is mostly because I’m a weirdo. Some solid advice in here, and possibly a useful reality check for at least a few people. Does that mean that this is another mini kus winner? Why yes, it certainly does. $7.95 (or cheaper for a bundle of four different comics, always a good deal)

Matos, Ana Margarida – Grapefruit

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Grapefruit

And lo, there comes a time in every review pile of mini kus comics where it ends up being so abstract/hard to put into words that I end up fumbling even more than usual, often ending up saying nothing at all. If you enjoy these awkward moments, stick along for the ride! The sampled page was the only one that wasn’t a two page spread, so do me a favor and read it. Gets your attention, am I right? The reader is instantly curious about the lack of existence previously, and the idea of 1000 randomly selected people all putting their comics together to make the whole is inspired. What follows is a complicated journey dealing with the images telling the story, making your own reality, instructions on how to make your own comic, defining yourself down to a single thought, a goddamn beautiful sentiment about the benefits of non-existence, seeing how the world goes on without you and the importance of narration. It’s also about none of those things and is instead a poetry collection with a trapped narrator. Or I’m wrong on all counts? Look, these types of minis are up to you to interpret. Get thee to The Comic’s Journal if you want smarter people than me to analyze this thing to death and squeeze every bit of your own discovery out of it. As for me, it’s a mini kus book. Haven’t they earned the benefit of the doubt by now? $7.95 (or the bundle of four comics is always available)

Shuler, Darin – Piggy Fire

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Piggy Fire

Long time readers of this here website will know that I’ll often dance around in a review of a comic when something is so wonderfully shocking that I don’t want to spoil even a hint of it, and that is rarely more true than it is this time around. I’ll just say that that title? It means a whole lot, and almost certainly not in the way that you might be thinking, no matter what way that is. So, what can I say about the comic? Things start off with our hero in bed with his wife, who’s being attacked by their two children. Well, they just want to snuggle, but our hero sure makes it seem like an attack. We see a few pages of their (rather stifling, to my childless eyes) domestic life, and our hero heads out for a planned trip with a friend. We see them enjoying some loud music on the road (I recognized Smashing Pumpkins, but not the other song), and on a whim they decide to get something at a gas station that’s meant to liven up their campfire, i.e. give the flames some color. They set up their campfire, tell a few stories, and finally decide to use the “Funny Fire” on the campfire. This is where we get our first glimpse of full color, and it’s also where things start to get really weird, and it’s ALSO also the part where I have to stop talking about the comic. Will the payoff here be as perfect for you as it was for me? I can’t guarantee a thing, and maybe if you’re in your early 20’s or so it won’t hit as hard. But anything past that (and possibly any age), you’re going to agree with me that the last page of this comic is the most solid ending of a mini kus book in awhile, and they often nail their endings. Look, I’ve been rambling about comics for almost 23 years now. Trust me on this one, OK? $7.95 (or cheaper if you get a bundle of four different comics, which you should always do)

Fazenda, Joao – Farewell

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Farewell

For the last of this current batch of mini kus comics we get a simple, heartfelt tale where the title does a wonderful job of summing things up. It’s the story of a family going back to their childhood home, which just so happens to be on a peninsula that’s soon going to be underwater. There’s a plan in place to use all of the materials from the house so that nothing is wasted, but what’s going to happen to the things inside of it, the items that might trigger memories from its former inhabitants? Three generations meet up to figure things out, and there’s the added factor of a possible tiger lurking in the woods. Joao does impressive work here with light and shadows, particularly the scene towards the end where they get lost in the woods in the dark on their way back to their boat. As for the story itself, it’s a thoughtful piece, where everybody has their specific things that they’d like to take back with them, but there’s also an overall acceptance of the state of things. Does this mean that I’d call this yet another solid mini kus book to add to the gigantic pile of them, and that anybody reading this could do a whole lot worse than to check this out? Reader, you know it does. $7.95 for the issue, but I still say the $22 offer for four of them is a much better deal.

Fikaris, Michael – SRY not Sorry

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SRY not Sorry

Who’s in the mood for a nice, quiet little meditation on the ways we communicate, why we communicate and the virtue of time saved? Or the idea of making and maintaining human connections? If you’ve said no, so long! I reckon there are plenty of shoot ’em ups available for you to watch/read instead. This comic does start off with an assumption, and since I’m one of the people who disproves it I’d like to remind everybody again that it’s not true for everybody. Michael starts by saying that “they say” that your age can be determined by how you use your phone, but I know from my friend group (generally mid 40’s and above, with plenty of exceptions) that it’s all over the place. I was an early adopter of texting whenever possible, basically as soon as I figured out that my phone could do it. Other people my age still call. Was I going somewhere with all that? Be careful of assumptions, I suppose. From there this becomes a comic that I really can’t say much about, even more so than usual, as there’s very little text. More of a message throughout, of conflict and grabbing tightly onto someone for comfort, living through cycles, doing what you need to survive, and the question of whether or not a new contribution to the world is possible. It’s fascinating overall, and the sort of thing that’ll lead to all sorts of questions popping up in your mind on a lazy afternoon. Which is fine by me, since I generally write these on Saturday or Sunday afternoon. Maybe don’t read this one on the bus, I guess is what I’m saying. But do give it a shot. $8 (or 22 for a bundle of the latest four issues)

Wynbrandt, Gina – You’re the Center of Attention

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You’re the Center of Attention

Thanks once again to mini kus, as they have introduced me to an artist I clearly should have already heard of by now. I desperately need to get back to Chicago one of these days to ransack Quimby and/or Chicago Comics. Assuming they both survived the pandemic, and I don’t even want to think of a world where that’s not the case. Anyway! This is the story of a fictionalized version of Gina (can’t really say how close it is to the real her, as this is the first comic of hers I’ve read) and she’s competing on a game show to win some money and become famous. The money is clearly an afterthought to becoming famous, which drives everything she does in the comic. Things start off with her fantasies of what famous life would be like before the actual show begins. She also meets a bug named George who encourages her, and yes, this is relevant information later, because we wouldn’t have one of the great comics finales of all time without him. Getting ahead of myself, I guess. The game show itself is a series of escalating embarrassments for Gina, seemingly designed to get people to give up. But she does the chicken dance, runs around on all fours and sings (poorly), all in good spirits. Still, things are just getting started. Will she have the willpower to read her most recent internet searches aloud in front of the studio audience and the world? What about… eh, that’s enough specifics. Let’s just say that she’s tested personally and professionally. It’s a hilarious peek into somebody who’s obsessed with fame without having the sense of shame that might tell them to slow things down before they do something that’ll haunt their lives forever. So it looks amazing, has more than a few funny bits and an all-time great final panel. What more do you need? $7.95 (or you could always get this in a set with the other three most recent mini kus issues)

Quadri, Marco – You Feed Fire Like It’s A Horse

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You Feed Fire Like It’s A Horse

Fellow worker drones, I’m sure most of you have some experience with some sort of “productivity expert” being called in by your office to walk you through a tedious, simplistic and dehumanizing formula geared towards increasing your productivity and/or decreasing the amount of time management has to spend checking your work. Well, this comic delves into that terrible world, as things start out with the dude on the cover being called in to an airport to teach them all “the five S’s,” which I’d like you all to make up in your head rather than me typing them in here. If you’ve been to enough of these classes, your guesses will end up being pretty close. He teaches his (mandatory, obviously) class, the management is thrilled, and they all end up taking a field trip to the forest. While they’re out there the other workers “accidentally” leave him behind, but how do you survive all alone in the forest if you see all of life through the prism of your formula to increase work productivity? You try to make the entire forest fit into that box and get to work on the problem. This was an inspired idea by Marco, and the corporate trainer taking a walk through the workspace of several employees and berating them was more than enough motivation for them to leave him in the forest. His time in the forest was like watching an A.I. in the movies confront one of those logic puzzles that causes them to short circuit, but there’s still time for one final visitor to stop by his campsite. I’m not spoiling a thing about that, so I’ll just say that it was completely unexpected, and a nice way to work the title of the comic into things. The whole thing was wonderfully done, and the only reason I didn’t use the page of his conversation with the snail as the sample was because I thought it was too good to give away for free. It’s mini kus, so you know it’s quality, but I’d say this one is even a step above their usual. Give it a try! $7.95 (or $22 for four issues including this one)

Laroche, Pia-Melissa – La fleur au fusil

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La fleur as fusil

Long time readers of these mini kus reviews know that there are usually two reasons why I blow it in the reviews: it’s incomprehensible to me (most likely because of my stupid brain and not the creator of the comic) or it’s so short that there’s just not much to say. I mean, that’s assuming that I succeed in the other reviews, if such a thing could ever be said about a review. Anyway! This time around it’s the second of the two options. This is a silent comic that’s full of double page spreads, so when you’re already dealing with a mini comic that just doesn’t leave a lot of real estate to cover. Why don’t I start off by telling you that the French phrase that makes up the title means (according to the back of the comic) “you are confident and carefree.” However, the back of the comic may be trying to fool the reader, as Google translates it literally as “flower with gun.” Maybe both are correct, based on the comic itself. It’s the story of a young man who takes his bow and arrow and goes out hunting. Is killing the mark of success, or is it bringing back something that his (I’m assuming) lady love prefers? And what’s so great about arrows anyway? Huh, it turns out that there was a fair amount to talk about after all, and all without spoiling the story. 21 years in, I just might be starting to get the hang of this reviewing thing… $7.95

Zahradkova, Klara – Jumping Things

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Jumping Things

Be honest, who among us hasn’t wanted to wander off into another world every now and then? That’s the story with this comic, more or less. Our hero (we learn later in a brief origin story) had what appears to be an MRI on her leg, heard the sound of a train and then popped up in a different world. Along the way she meets a floating head, which may or may not be a part of her from another world. Sometimes it’s a floating balloon, sometimes it’s a head attached to a foot, and along the way it appears to go through male pattern baldness. There’s also more than a bit going on with the mysteries of the universe, and how they tend to get obnoxious when you’re confronted with them all the time. I’m very tempted to describe some of these new worlds now, as they’re filled with delightful surprises, but nah. If you end up with a copy of this book yourself (and you should, it’s a hoot) take your time with the various panels/pages, as Klara has packed them full of oddities that will reward those who pay close attention. Is this the part of the review where I say “mini kus, you’ve done it again!”? Yes, it is, and yes, they did. Oh, and in case I’ve somehow neglected to mention this so far in these reviews, they’re also selling bundles of four of these minis at a time, which is very much something you should look into. Meanwhile, give this one a look! $7.95

Mosi, Joana – The Apartment

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The Apartment

Who out there has been in one of those “death by a thousand cuts” relationships? You know the ones, where comments from a partner get more and more low-key hostile and/or passive aggressive until one day you realize that the whole relationship has been hollowed out? If you can’t relate, congratulations on either never dating for long or getting extremely lucky right out of the gate. This comic is, on its face, the story of an apartment going up for sale that’s directly below a couple. Same dimensions, just a floor lower. This, because of where they’re at in the relationship, leads to a series of arguments about how it’s a “better” apartment than theirs, and how they’d be able to have their gym if they bought that one instead. All of this is juxtaposed with quiet images around their apartment, and the story is told almost entirely through blurry, distant images of the couple. That’s the case until almost the end, where there’s a single page shown in realistic, close-up detail, and it’s devastating. If you’re in a rocky relationship at the moment, maybe this one isn’t for you right now? Or maybe it’ll be the thing that lets you take a clear look at your situation and get the hell out of it. Either way, it’s a grim, compelling story that’s expertly told by Joana. $7.99

Nhozagri – I Miss You So Much

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I Miss You So Much

When that magical day ever comes that I gather all my old mini kus books together to see what I’m missing, maybe I’ll be able to get an accurate number for this prediction, but I’m thinking that roughly 1 out of every 10 of these books baffle me. Maybe it’s a language barrier, maybe my own brain is at fault (it’s almost certainly that one), but sometimes these just fly over my head. If you’re guessing that I’m also talking about this issue, congratulations! It has some of the cutest creations that I’ve ever seen (along with some understandably nervous raindrops), several pieces of art on the wall that come to life, and an awfully sweet ending. All that being said, I’m not sure that it’s possible for me to sum up the story. Don’t I usually try and end up making a fool out of myself? Yes, hypothetical voice, that is true. But this time around I did some digging through their website, which was also adorable, and figured out that they’re seemingly more of a physical artist (meaning sculptures and 3D pieces, not so much the comics that I could see), and that this is one of those rare instances where it might make more sense if I walked through a room with these pieces in front of me, all laid out. This is the part where I recommend a book (or not), so this time around I’d say take in the artwork from the samples, see what you think and make up your own mind. If you also think it’s darned near the cutest thing you’ve ever seen, give it a shot! Either way, check out their website, as it’s delightful. $7.95

Turunen, Marko – Dawn of the Living Dead Near Kotka Morgue

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Dawn of the Living Dead Near Kotka Morgue

It seems like it was only a few months ago that I was wondering where all the coronavirus stories were, but look out! They’re coming fast now. Of course, this is a mini kus book, so you’re not likely to get a straightforward tale about isolation, thoughts of mortality or when to get the vaccine. No, this is the tale of a young man and his dog as they wander through a world of maskless or poorly masked people and are then left to panic about whether or not they were exposed. It’s also a stretch to call them “people,” as the first exposure our hero gets is by an octopus with a mask under their chin, which he meets after walking through a bleak landscape of giant coral, traffic and a moose that’s bigger than the cars. I get the feeling I shouldn’t spoil any more, but it’s fighting hard with my desire to mention the giant cat with the erection who’s reciting the current covid figures and the Donkey Kong on top of the building with a giant skull on it. Dammit, looks like the second impulse won out. It probably would have helped if the actual pandemic was as surreal as this, but since we all got stuck in the real world the best way to remember those times is to get this book. If you’re lucky, these images will replace the images of the actual pandemic, which will help make it a more whimsical, unnerving time in your head. $7

Sperandio, Christopher – Li’l Jormly

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Li’l Jormly

Look, I’ll make this review very simple. If you’re a fan of the mini kus books, of course you should get this one too. And the less you know about it, the better. OK? If that’s good enough for you, please click right on that link and buy it. For everybody who wants some (ok, any) details, let’s get into it! Right off the bat, even though you can only see half that cover, it’s obvious that there are some horrors that don’t quite match the whimsical nature of the artwork. Jormly has chicken feet, and what appears to be an octopus hand. And is he a cyclops too? Yep, sure enough. Things start off with one of those fake “back of the comic” ads that I thought were played out at this point, but it made me laugh, so I’m not going to spoil what it’s about. The comic itself starts with one of the denser recaps I’ve seen in a tiny text caption, as we learn that there were three apocalypses that led to this current moment, with some brief detail of each. We also learn that Jormly was “orphaned into the broken world”, and he’s had a miserable life. Don’t let that jolly look fool you! He soon asks a friend where he originally came from, and decides on a quest to return to that location. And then… the comic turns into a children’s activity book, complete with the word jumbles, mazes, etc. that you would normally find in such things, but of course more horrific because of the circumstances. We get some brief updates from our hero along the way, who’s looking a bit worse for wear each time. Basically if you’d rather work on an activity book, this one has you covered, and if you’d like to wallow in a bleakly hopeless future by living vicariously through a pantsless pig, you’ll be doing plenty of that too. Give it a look, is what I say. $7

Burgos, Pedro – Shooting

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Shooting

Ah, the world of modeling. It’s horrific, and it seems like there’s a better than even chance that the photographer is going to be somewhere between a general jerk or a misogynist. This is a short but brutal tale about a guy who’s trying to get good shots of his model, but his true thoughts come through after she collapses while striking a pose. He’s overheard by a young lady who’s also watching the shoot and is instantly dismayed to find the camera turned back on him. The rest of the comic is the open question of whether there’s any consequences for a person like that, and if so who should give it to him. Or I’m reading it wrong, which is always a possibility, especially with the mini kus books. Pedro uses a full page for every image, allowing plenty of room to breathe for what is a fairly claustrophobic profession. No matter how much wide and open a space the models are given to pose, the lights see everything and even the food they eat while not on a shoot affects their ability to get work. It’s in intriguing and more than slightly disturbing tale, which is probably as it should be when covering a world like this. It’s worth a look, especially if you have any experience in that field, on either side of the camera. $7.95

Wray, Patrick & Heathcock, Clara – Grandad Reg

Clara’s Website

Patrick’s Website

Grandad Reg

I was recently asking where all the pandemic comics were, but it seems like they’ve been coming a lot more quickly recently, and this is another solid addition to the list. This is the story of Clara’s grandad Reg, who passed away from covid in April of 2020, right around the first big wave. She goes through some of her favorite memories of her time with the man, but the main theme of the book is one of confusion. How do you mourn somebody when there’s no event to mark their passing? Everybody was quarantined at the time, so all she has is a few people to contact over Facetime. I was lucky during the pandemic (not that it’s over, at least as of June 2022) in that I never contracted it (or if I did it was an asymptomatic case) and no close friends or family members died from it. Reading about her experience, and how she had to piece together any sense of peace or closure from it, was heartbreaking, and a reminder of just how many people had to deal with this over the last two years. Patrick did a solid job with the artwork, conveying just how stuck in time Clara must have been while still showing a sort of grieving process for her and her family. Does this mean that I’m recommending yet another mini kus book? Yep. I’ll bet nobody could have seen that one coming! But this is another excellent reminder of the sheer range of the series and the artists involved. I’ll bet the next one will be a wordless tale of the life of a dollar bill, or something else completely unrelated to this one. Anyway, now I’m starting to review mini kus and not this comic, but yes, give this one a shot. Especially if you had your own losses during the pandemic, this one might help you process how it all went down. $8

Nieminen, Essi – 10 Sim Lane

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10 Sim Lane

Who out there has played a Sims game? Or one of the equivalent games that asks you to control the lives of various avatars that generally do nothing more complex than what you do in an average day? Well, this one is for you! This starts off with a misdirect, as we’re introduced in the game to what appears to be our hero. Well, surprise, our hero is being controlled by somebody else! The mundane tasks that the avatar was doing are then carried out in real life by the player, and the juxtaposition of the two of them really brings home the banality of his “life” (and the question of why he feels compelled to play out the same events on the screen). Still, it wouldn’t be much of a comic if that’s all that happened, so eventually the player has to make a trip to the grocery store. While he’s out he runs into either an old girlfriend or somebody he has an interest in (it’s not spelled out), and his first foray into live human interaction in possibly several days goes quite poorly. But that’s OK! When real life goes wrong, he always has the simulation. There were some creepy bits, but generally of the “harmless creepy” category, as no humans were harmed. Maybe call it a cautionary tale of playing too much Sims? Sure, let’s go with that. It’s an oddly compelling story, considering how little actually happens. Give it a shot, you can’t go wrong with mini kus! $7