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Fitzpatrick, Neil – Me




Has the internet and social media ruined auto-bio comics, or have they just made it impossible for anybody to be completely honest in them? Please present your argument in the form of a 300 word essay… oh right, I was just asking a rhetorical question to start this review. This is Neil’s post-breakup therapy, done in the form of a comic. And no, I am not a dick for pointing that out, as he makes it pretty clear in the intro/outro. But what got me wondering about that opening question was the fact that everything he said in here was incredibly vague or general. Sure, he knows what he’s talking about, and his ex knows what he’s talking about, and some friends of both of them do too. The rest of us get to see that he got dumped by somebody who completely broke his heart, for reasons that he doesn’t think are fair, and that if he did tell everybody what she really did then her reputation would probably be ruined. Which is most likely the answer to my question right there, as he doesn’t want to ruin her life. Maybe I’m just spoiled because I read the original Peepshow strips by Joe Matt again recently, and his honesty is so relentless that it’s shocking when compared to more modern comics. Of course, that was back in the late 80’s, where the only people reading his strip were the ones who actively went out and bought Drawn & Quarterly (back when that was the name of a bimonthly (?) anthology series), and it’s not like that particular relationship of his ended well, in large part because he said too much about their relationship. I seem to have looped back around into understanding exactly why Neil did these strips without giving away any of the really sordid details. Oh, and those giant black eyeballs of his? MUCH creepier when placed on a recognizably human face. Anyway, if you’ve been involved in a breakup where you felt like you were the wronged party, you’re going to relate to plenty of these strips, and you’re going to fill in some of the details with bits of your own life where appropriate. If you’re the type of person who has only ever broken up with other people, maybe you should read this to see some of the damage you’ve done in your life, you monster you. $4


Fitzpatrick, Neil – Jerry’s Journal #2



Jerry’s Journal #2

How much of this comic is autobiographical anyway? There’s no way to know, and Neil makes fun of that fact in his brief epilogue. But the fact remains that Neil got his heart broken while he was making this comic, and the second half (and then some) deals purely with “Jerry” trying to come to terms with it. This comic is a series of one page strips, dealing mostly with life, trying to get some meaning out of it and the horror of dealing with a breakup. It’s pretty clear where this breakup happens, as things get grim in a hurry. Still, plenty of that stuff will look familiar to other people who have had their hearts broken, or everyone. Unless you’re one of those assholes who only breaks hearts, in which case shame on you, aren’t you aware of the trail of devastation you leave in your wake? Those looks aren’t going to last forever, you know. Anyway, there are still plenty of genuinely funny moments, as Neil is a master of that sort of thing. But this one also gets a bit more “real” than past issues of Neil’s comics. Or not, as Neil has always been about finding some meaning in the universe, and what’s more real than that? If you like his stuff I can’t see why you wouldn’t like this one, and if you’re not familiar with his stuff, where have you been these last 10 years or so? The man’s a comic producing machine and you should be reading his stuff. $5



Fitzpatrick, Neil – Jerry’s Journal


Jerry’s Journal

Have you been enjoying Neil’s comics over the years but always thought that maybe they should be just a hair sloppier? Then Jerry’s Journal is for you! Neil finally bought a sketchbook, you see, after being against them for years because he always thought he needed structure in his work. The end result is a pretty damned funny comic, with panel lines and the occasional character image (almost always Jerry, as it’s all about him) that are a shade less than as universally perfect as the rest of his books. The comic itself, as the title implies, is all about Jerry and his constant, apathetic quest to find some meaning and/or summarize the high points in his life. Subjects include the important things in his life, the inevitable (and at least partially welcome) end to it, being alone, thinking too much, ways to get away from life, thinking about giving the world another chance, the unfortunate biological imperative to stay alive, and reflecting back on his life. Those are from the first half of it anyway, the rest is yours to discover. These are all one page strips, and it’s always a good sign when I have a hard time picking a sample image from a comic like this because so many of them made me chuckle. Don’t get me wrong, a lot of these strips are fairly dark, but would you really be reading small press comics if you didn’t have at least a slightly dark sense of humor? That’s what I thought. Seeing as how Neil is already one of the most prolific artists in comics, if he really takes to this sketchbook stuff we should expect to see a few dozen new books by him every year, which sounds good to me (if possibly fatal for the artist himself). And really, a good chunk of the small press artists out there wish they could be as neat as Neil’s “sloppy” sketchbook stuff. $5

Fitzpatrick, Neil & Madson, Justin – Happy Town Vs. Neil Jam


Happy Town Vs. Neil Jam

If you have “vs.” right in the title, doesn’t that mean that there has to be some sort of an epic battle in the book? Maybe I’ve just read too many superhero comics when I was a kid, but having a “vs.” in the title just screams out for mayhem. Not so much with the mayhem here, as it’s mostly about the some of the main characters from either creator (Justin Madson with Happy Town And Neil Fitzpatrick from Neil Jam) trying either to spend some alone time with the girlfriend or just getting away from it all. It turns into a giant web of deceit and lies, and proves once again that the best thing might not be getting what you want. I thought it was a fun little book, but only essential if you were already big fans of both books, for the sheer “gee whiz” factor of seeing these worlds crammed together. If you’ve never heard of one or both of these series, please remove yourself from your cave and check them out, as they’re both consistently wonderful. Then come back to check this out so you can see what it’s like when they’re all in one place. Contact info is around here somewhere, Justin Madson has a page on this website if you want to learn more about the man, and this one is oh, let’s say $3.

Fitzpatrick, Neil – Neil Jam #15


Neil Jam #15

It’s odd to me how the issues focusing on the “lesser” characters seem so much more… well, “coherent” is too strong a word, but they seem to have a little more flow than the other issues. Whether or not that’s a good thing is entirely up to you, as a lot of the charm of Neil Jam is seeing all the random characters interact with one another. Still, there were two main stories going on in this issue and, while they did meet other random characters along the way, the drive of the issue was clear. There’s a new ghost in town who’s going around asking people if it’s OK that he haunts them, and there’s Fenwin and the reactions he’s getting from everybody else. As usual, Neil nails it, as it was hilarious to watch that ghost learn what it’s supposed to be doing, and the sheer terror Fenwin inspires by being different (in a world of oddities) is a wonderful thing. There are also a few pages at the end of the “regular” issue dealing with all the main characters, just in case you were starting to miss them after almost two full issues with the new and/or rarely used characters. Oh, and have I ever mentioned that the insides of the front and back covers of these issues invariably have famous characters from all sorts of places with giant black Neil Jam eyes? You get your money’s worth with these issues, that’s for sure, and you have the extra added benefit of being haunted by those huge black eyes for days. What’s not to love? $2

Fitzpatrick, Neil – Neil Jam #14


Neil Jam #14

Finally, some quality time with the lesser characters of Neil Jam. This issue and #15 are both dedicated to the characters we may not see quite enough of, and with this issue Neil Jam has officially taken over the planet. The stories in this issue are longer than your typical pieces as well, with Caroline (the talking carrot) taking the bulk of the issue to grow a new friend, as she’d really rather not be seen with Cotton, the rabbit who’s in love with her. Cotton gets a new outfit to cheer himself up, then kicks a Tot into somebody’s face (not sure of the name, he looks like the anti-Willis), which has the desired effect. Other highlights among many include Bat Jam (in which “Batman” runs away from beauty), the Sleep Sheep’s ongoing quest to sleep with Willis, and the introduction of Fenwin, Caroline’s new friend. Well, as Neil Jam has officially taken over the planet with this issue the man doesn’t need any words of encouragement from me, but this has remained a delightfully disturbing book for years and years, so kudos to the guy for that. And for giving the fans what they want, namely more time with the odd characters that we don’t see nearly enough of. $2

Fitzpatrick, Neil – Neil Jam #13


Neil Jam #13

Ah SPACE, land of the new Neil Jams. Three new ones this time around, so expect to see a few more updates in the coming weeks. My only regret is that I forgot to go back and get that color print of Neil Charlie Brown and Snoopy. Sigh, maybe next year. This issue introduces the Tots, although I’d swear I’ve seen them in these pages before. Jerry continues his efforts to fly (this time with a clear sign from above), Ona and Willis keep their “romance” going, a rabbit falls in love with a giant carrot, and King Tot has his revenge for all the little tots. As always with the Neil Jam books, it’ll take me a few minutes to stop seeing everything in the world with those giant black eyes, and that’s a good thing in my book. $2

Fitzpatrick, Neil – Neil Jam #12


Neil Jam #12

Why isn’t Neil Jam a weekly strip in alternative (do they still even use that word?) newspapers? Seriously, he has an established cast of characters, those giant black eyes make everything adorable as hell (or unbelievably creepy, depending on your point of view), and he seems to be able to put these things out on a regular basis. Either I’m just missing it where I live or there’s a giant untapped market waiting to be filled with Neil Jams. This comic is more of the same from Neil, which is a wonderful thing indeed. There’s the increasingly creepy Sleep Sheep, kicking the bird, a ghost that isn’t scary, a mean dinosaur, and being a loser (by Justin Madson). About the only complaint I have about Neil Jam is that some of the punch lines aren’t funny, but isn’t that true of punch lines by nature? You’re only hurting yourself if you don’t read these, you know…

Fitzpatrick, Neil – Neil Jam #11


Neil Jam #11

Looks like Neil has mostly gone back to doing the issues himself (see the review for the last issue if you’re lost), which is fine by me. I do think he should keep up with the idea of Neil Jam as a franchise done by other people though. Maybe Neil Jam Jam, a “spinoff”? Anyway, this is another solid issue. The cast of characters seems to be expanding all the time. In here you have the eternal struggle of Willis trying to impress Ona, the other eternal struggle of Jerry trying to get up the nerve to fly, a very insistent little guy called Sleep Sheep, an insulted vegetable, Willis as pimp, a giant adorable bunny-like creature, and another Neil Jam story by Justin Madson. Oh, and a wonderfully fantastic back page featuring versions of Neil from various artists, the best one far and away Kurt Wolfgang’s theory of just what’s behind those giant eyes see. Look, you all know by now that Neil Jam is required reading for decent people everywhere, right? Good. There’s more than enough to convince the stray newcomer out there to check out this issue as their first, but the rest of you should already know all about this comic by now…

Fitzpatrick, Neil – Neil Jam #10


Neil Jam #10

Man, check out that cover! His stuff is looking better and better all the time, or maybe it’s just the fact that I have a new scanner now and it all just looks better. Regardless, it had been far too long since I had read an issue of Neil Jam and I was happy to see some new stuff at SPACE this year (2005). He’s working on making Neil Jam a franchise, so a lot of this issue was done by other people. He still has the website going strong with his strips, so if you absolutely have to see more of Neil’s work you can always go there (it’s linked on this page, don’t worry, you can find it), but I liked having a variety of hands interpreting this world. Neil does the first few stories, which were a dream about a duplicate, a tribute to the Peanuts comic strip and a Nintendo Jam, where he’s obviously played way too much of Super Mario Bros. 2 and couldn’t get it out of his head, so onto paper it went. Still, a cute little story. Then you have Justin Madson (who does Happy Town) giving his spin on the Neil Jam universe, as one of his main characters end up there in a dream and hilarity ensues! Finally there’s a story by Jesse McManus, whose silent take on things makes the whole world seem a whole lot creepier somehow. Good stuff all around, a ton of variety, not really much to complain about here. Let’s say $3, contact info is around here somewhere…

Fitzpatrick, Neil – Neil Jam #9


Neil Jam #9

The ninth issue of Neil Jam was split up into three minis. One is talking shit about Batman, one is all about kicking and has a great last panel (not to give anything away), and one is about dinosaurs bugging people. $3, and have I mentioned yet that these are all incredible? The only thing I can think of that it reminds me of even a little would be Steven by Doug Allen, but I’m not sure what my reasoning is behind that.

Fitzpatrick, Neil – Neil Jam #8


Neil Jam #8

A huge issue with super Willis and regular Willis competing for the affection of Ona. I can seewhy they’d be fighting, as Ona appears to be the only female in the world of Neil. $2.50

Fitzpatrick, Neil – Neil Jam #7


Neil Jam #7

A great silent issue and it’s the first time you get to see Willis as a superhero. You really don’t need words with those huge eyes… $2

Fitzpatrick, Neil – Neil Jam #5


Neil Jam #5

A “talking” guitar who falls in love! A cute rabbit who gets kicked around! Robot! Bird! Giant black eyes! You know, I was going to review every issue, breaking down the finer points, but then I realized that pictures from this incredible series will convince you more than I ever could. You’d think that kicking cute creatures around would get old, but you’d be wrong. I was thinking that this wasn’t one of the better ones and then I remembered the guitar. Pretty much all the stuff I got at SPACE (this and everything after it up to #9) is worth getting. $2

Fitzpatrick, Neil – Neil Jam #4


Neil Jam #4

Well, the good news is that at least two more of these have been put out. The bad news is that this guy is still doing these himself when one of the big independent publishers should have noticed him and given him a lot of money by now. Or whatever passes for a lot of money in the small press world… Anyway, the world of Neil, for the uninitiated, consists of a series of characters who all share giant black eyes that take up most of their faces. Some of the stories are a page or two, but they keep the same underlying theme for the whole comic. Mostly tales of violence and confusion with a complete inability for most of the characters to relate to one another. A funny and creepy book, those giant black eyes pretty much hypnotize you by the end. It kind of has to be seen to be believed (keep checking, I’ll get this scanner working one of these days), but I can tell you that I’ll be ordering as many of the other issues as I can afford.