I was curious so I just looked back on how I labeled all of my old reviews on David’s books, as he’s the writer but usually only the artist on some of the comics. I was all over the place over the years, sometimes calling him an editor (which I’m sure he is too), sometimes listing the various artists, usually not. This is all to say that all of those names in the tags? Those are all of the artists in this issue. I never go story by story in these reviews, so if you liked one piece in particular, look up that artist why don’t you? Christ, now I’m telling people how to use the internet. OK, moving on. This is another collection of short pieces by David and friends (nothing is longer than a couple of pages this time around), and it’s yet another solid pile of stories. If you’re thinking that “yet again” is a slam, no it is not. Somebody putting out quality work on a consistent basis should never be taken for granted. Stories this time around deal with whether or not the Titanic cracked in half before sinking (I had no idea that this was a controversy for decades before the wreckage was found), explaining the gap in observable work between comic writers and artists, car people vs. non-car people, the disturbing process of “weeding” in public libraries (basically pulling books from the shelves permanently that haven’t been checked out in a certain number of years), trying to do a nice thing for a new writer, how some painful memories may be ridiculous but still manage to haunt you, rejecting the cop-out answer that saying you believe in god doesn’t hurt anything because you’re covered if it does or doesn’t exist, how the official Star Wars Celebration has changed over the years, and being yelled at by an automatic fridge to close the door. That last one was illustrated by Peter Conrad, another one of those artists who were around in the early days of the website but I’ve since lost track of. Well, he’s still making comics, which is always a positive sign. I mentioned maybe half of the stories in here, so that leaves plenty of surprises for you to find. So, to recap: are these great stories that I will enjoy? Yes. Are there a wide variety of stories so that I’ll still like plenty of them even if some of them aren’t for me? Also yes. When in doubt, should I just throw money at indie comics in case I like them, because even if I don’t like a particular issue that still means that the artist is more likely to make comics in the future? Absotively yes. All clear?
Did I really not write any reviews about David’s comics last year? It looks like my last review was on the literal last day of 2021, and this is early 2023, so I guess not. Sure, he actually sent me this book several weeks ago, and it could be argued convincingly that the gap is my fault, but hey, look over there! This is another solid collection of stories by David and friends, which is something I’m kind of starting to take for granted, so maybe he should have his next collection by filled with total crap to keep me on my toes. So what’s going on this time around? There are stories about the time a polar bear broke captivity and got loose in Scotland in the late 1800’s (it seemed to be OK for everybody for involved, including the bear, which is a rarity), the difference between being “legal” to drive and being comfortable driving when you’re having trouble reading street signs, how Luke and Han are handling being replaced in the popularity of Star Wars merch by the Mandolorian (with a punchline that got a literal laugh out loud out of me, so kudos), not knowing where your mask is but having it end up in the most obvious place (possibly not as relatable to American readers, sadly), revisiting the TV show Miami Vice years later after it was too “adult” for him to watch as a kid (with Clio Ding), the sad reality of the modern state of sex robots (with DogJohn), the righteous anger of Disney using May 4th as “Star Wars” day when it has nothing to do with any actual anniversary (with Rebecca Horner), and a brief history of Tears For Fears, including a possible way for them to keep performing a song written by one of the members about the other member from back when they were feuding. As always, that’s roughly half of the stories, and the rest are left as a mystery to you. Well, I can’t resist mentioning one more, which is a love letter from David to all of the various spaceships of his youth as they all face off in a space race. I think we’re roughly the same age, but even I couldn’t place a couple of them, so good luck to everybody on that one. It also has a really great ending and, as per his end notes, no, it doesn’t feel like a cheat at all. Give it a try, there’s something in here for everybody. $5 (ish, once again I’m unfamiliar with the conversion rate)
I realize that nothing is promised to anybody in this life, but it really feels like there needed to be at least one great drunken story in here. Alas! This is yet another really solid entry into David’s personal library, and he’s once again backed up by a solid crew of artists. They’re all listed in the tags and I’ll mention them when I talk about specific stories, so don’t fret. As always, you get your money’s worth and then some with his comics, as it also includes exhaustive end notes on the stories (which I always find fascinating) and a couple of interviews he’s done recently on top of a whole bunch of stories. Star Wars is covered again in a few different stories, as we see some of his doubts about the accuracy of Han’s demolition work in Return of the Jedi, see his brief meeting with Dave Prowse (the man in the Darth Vader costume), and see an alternate ending for RotJ where Obi Wan Kenobi finally gets to make some sense out of his cryptic final words. There’s also a brief bit about an interview he saw with Harrison Ford in 1990, where he was asked about working with somebody who was only 12 years older than him an playing his father in the third Indiana Jones movie. I had no idea as a child, but seeing it now it’s pretty obvious. I’m not going to go story by story here, what with my constant bias towards leaving some surprises in comics, but some subjects include how meaningless “now” gets after time travel has been invented, a lockdown fairy tale (with an appropriately ghoulish ending), how quaint Billy Joel’s “We Didn’t Start the Fire” looks after 30 years of his generation not doing much of anything to fix things, the blending of binging with reality (art by Abi Wye), fighting with the internet to get a good description of why women get rejected (art by Ali Hodgson), taking lessons learned from teaching about how much students love stickers to realize how accurately it applies to internet adults today, reimagining Back to the Future with a time traveling Chuck D singing Fight the Power (and good lord would that be an amazing movie (art by Mike Sedakat)) and the thrill of getting the last one of something and the likelihood that you’re being scammed with that information (art by Zu Dominiak). And, as always with this man and his comics, much more! Maybe the David Robertsons of the world (and the Brian Caninis, Simon Hanselmanns, etc) should offer some motivational speaking for comic creators, some words of wisdom to keep them half as productive as they are. Hey, it might be worth a shot! As for this one, in case it isn’t already clear, yeah, it’s worth a look, it’s pretty great throughout. And if you do like it, you have a vast back catalog of his comics to look forward to!
Hey comics creators! David is back with another gigantic comic full of stories to shame you for your feeble efforts at getting your own books out in a timely fashion. Of course, he does have a small army of talented artists to help him along, so maybe not everybody has that advantage. That’s right, it’s time for another pile of stories, and, as usual, the good ones vastly outnumber the baddies. Based on my subjective opinion, obviously. There’s a lot in here, and I’m going to leave parts of it as a surprise, but highlights for me included his story about getting over Star Wars (not exactly a novel idea at this point, but he told his story well, and his losing interest is more based on all the clues he got over the years about future movies being abandoned by Disney than anything else), Jonathan Swift’s response to a question about where he got his ideas, a day in the life (starting with a night shift job, then trying to get any sleep and finally traveling), coming across a secret comics library at the University of Dundee, a time travel story by a 12 year old David featuring him feeding an entire cow to a tiger, the “lady” that isn’t Betty or Veronica, trying to feel sorry for somebody who got very rich at a young age and who is currently having an existential crisis about it, a lady reporter trying to honestly answer the question of her assignment and running smack into misogyny instead, keeping the reviews of Star Wars Episode 1 under wraps before it came out in the U.K., some acting advice by William Shatner to the new guy, how a puffer fish attracts a mate, and finally the lengthy story of an alien who comes to Earth with a mysterious purpose. Why is he shooting that gun? Does he have our best interests at heart? Does he even care that we’re here? I’ve mentioned his all star team of artists, but the range in this one was really impressive. Flipping through the book it looks like a regular anthology, which I guess it kind of is, except all written by the same guy. Still, it’s a visually impressive mixture, and it’s sure so send anybody who sees it down a few comic lanes that you might not have ventured otherwise. So yeah, check it out, there’s something to love in here for everybody.
To every comics artist out there who worries endlessly about putting out comics on a regular basis, you could do a lot more than emulating David. The bulk of his stories are short, usually only a few pages long. This lets him submit comics for all kinds of anthologies, and every year or so he has more than enough material to put out a book of his own. See how easy it is? Granted, lots of artists only deal with larger stories, but at least having the ability to work on shorter stories would be a nice change of pace for whenever you get stuck on whatever epic you’re working on. So hey, enough of the life advice, how about this comic? The bulk of these 40 (!) stories are written and drawn by David, with about a dozen of them coming from other artists. There’s no central underlying theme, just a big old pile of stories about all sorts of things. OK fine, his “I Live With a Killer” stories (about how his cat brings him pieces of various animals it’s killed) have a connecting theme, but they’re the exception here. Other highlights include the final thoughts of thelast two survivors from a plane crash, our first encounter with aliens, petty space station revenge, the man who’s always falling in love, the story and fate of Dolly the cloned sheep, a story of a missile attack (written by his son I think?), the concept of putting people in concerts who just want to talk for the whole show in their own section, exactly how much of your life you waste on vacuuming, skipping an internet video only to see it on the actual news later, a comic about making a comic that sort of eats itself (drawn by Zu Dominiak), the story a mouse brings back home after nearly being eaten, the robot and the monster, and the inner lives of a couple of flies. That’s what, not even half of the stories here? It’s another pretty fantastic bunch of stories from David, and if you’ve somehow gotten this far in life without seeing his work this is a solid chunk of comics to start with. No price listed, so I’m going to guess the arbitrary number of $10. Contact David and I’m sure he can set you straight…
Zero Sum Bubblegum
My bias is showing again, but I’m always delighted to get another comic from David. Mostly because I know that it’s most likely going to be a collection of short stories, and that it’s damned near a certainty that at least a few of those stories are going to amaze/amuse/befuddle me, and in the best possible way. The other way, in case you were curious, is the “what the hell did I just read and why did I read it?” reaction. Not a problem here! Anyway, this time around subjects include picking your best possible funeral song (which I would have used for the sample image if my scanner was still working), the history of “A Book With Death in the Title” and what happens to the people who read it, an attempted school assembly and the shenanigans going on, tiddlywinks, Bruce the Rat, the fact that nobody is going to keep track of whether or not you give up your seat on the bus for an old lady, trying to finish a comics page vs. trying to comprehend the new mandatory Windows upgrade, sexy Frankensteins, sexy cavemen, scanning for wedding rings on the ride home, that Iron dude in that one suit, having the conviction to play the scrabble words that you’re given, kitten brains vs. lady brains, getting it all out on the deathbed, Princess Leia’s troubles with men, intimidation in the testing room (with Pam Dye), the victory lap (with Paddy Johnston), a lack of comprehension on stamps (with Tim Kelly), the art of engaging in television (with Neil Paterson), looking for that lost thing (with Eileen Budd), taking the lack of a Facebook reply too personally (with Ludi Price), random cruelty on a carnival ride, a dedicated punker, and falling silently through space to your death. Well, not your death specifically, but you know what I mean. Once again this is a really solid collection of stories; that Princess Leia piece should lead off the next movie as far as I’m concerned. How she trusts any men at this point is beyond me. David also has an extensive afterward as usual, so any questions you might have about these stories have most likely been answered (I know they were for me). So yeah, once again you should buy his book. Sure, you could get a few samples for free, but rarely the whole story, and wouldn’t you rather have the whole story? Not to mention the very idea of supporting an artist whose work you enjoy with your money. You still do that, right? Because it’s easy to forget to do it. And it’s roughly $5, assuming I have the exchange rate right in my head, which I almost certainly do not.
RIP to Dump, as David says in the afterward that this is the last issue. But he is starting off another comics series and is going to put out the collected Berserkotron, so if you’re a fan you have nothing to fear. If you’re not a fan, why hello there, allow me to try to convince you that you’re missing out! This is a collection of stories, all written by David, with roughly 2/3 of them illustrated by David too and the other 1/3 illustrated by other artists. The final chapter of Dump and the experimental story “November” take up about half of this hefty comic, but I’ll get to those in a minute. Subjects of other stories include whether or not you give a fuck, the consequences of spying on people at 3am, an excellent closed loop of a nostalgic time travel story, running into the former most popular kid in high school many years after the fact, an orb, whether or not it is good to feel pain, that thing you sense in your room while you’re sleeping, being attracted to a random stranger on tv, the Bum Monster, dreaming of teeth, making a wish, playing the music festivals, the decline of sales of televisions and wishing to be enveloped by another human. That’s all suitably vague and enticing, right? Nothing to alarm anyone with possible spoilers. I thought the Dump story had a damned fine ending to the overall story, but my memory of continuing stories in comics that only come out every few years can be hazy, so who knows? It worked just fine on its own regardless. Finally there’s November, which is a collection of strips from November (duh) that I really wanted to like more than I did. Oh, I liked the content of them just fine; the one about his old cat, the Garfield parodies, being trapped in a car with a farter, how Do The Right Thing is just as relevant now as when it was released, etc. The problem is that all the strips were done in pencil (undoubtedly to make it easier to meet the requirements of a strip a day), which is just plain old uglier in collected form, especially compared against the other stories in the comic. Still, some slight aesthetic problem I have with it is no reason to scare anyone else away, as if you can get past that the actual strips in that section were thoroughly engaging. It’s a fine end to a fine series, and David really might want to consider giving this series the collected treatment too in a few years. In the meantime, enjoy the finale! $5
Does this actually not say “#2” on the cover? No, I guess not. I had a few questions about various things in this one before I started (that cover, the abrupt ending of the Dump story) but David covered all that in his afterward, so never mind. This one starts with the second part (of three) of the “Dump” story, this time focusing on our hero as he gets more and more miserable at work, but he does finally meet somebody he can talk to and commiserate with. I love the little touch of the Garvo-Munchers, little horror shows of eyeballs and tentacles, amidst the generally mundane tone of the rest of the story. I’m looking forward to the finale of this one in the next issue, although he might want to put the whole story in one comic when it’s finished, considering the average attention span in this day and age (myself sadly included in that). The short pieces in here dealt with trying to remember the name of that one actor guy, a bicycle ride with a nice ending, overthinking things at a party, trying to come up with a good argument in favor of voting, coleslaw, appreciating what you have and an informal history of e-mail and the internet. Read that last part and feel old! Or bitter at the youngsters because they’ve always had the answer to every question in the world at their fingertips. The other big story in this one (it’s a pretty hefty comic) is David’s 24 hour comic. He starts with a brief history of the 24 hour comics, mentions how one of the rules is to go into such things without a plan, and ends up with a pretty damned compelling comic. He goes into detail about his own history, how he always wanted to do comics but ended up trying a bunch of different things because he couldn’t see a way for comics to be taken seriously. This is where the internet comes in, as the message board for The Comic’s Journal helped all kinds of people from all over the world (David is in Scotland) come together. 24 hour comics can be a bit of a mess, so it’s always nice to see one put together as well as this, especially considering the conditions involved in making such a thing. Read it and enjoy, as there’s plenty to like in here. Don’t let that innocuous cover scare you off!