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Steiner, Steve – Odd Clods #7

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Odd Clods #7

Note: the images were, um, “borrowed” from Steve’s online store. I think these books are getting bigger, as they don’t even kind of fit in my scanner anymore. Well, somehow Steve has managed to put out 4 issues of this series in the last year, which is ridiculous, and since I’m a dummy I only grabbed the most recent one at SPACE this year. I remember the earlier issues being mostly single page gag strips with a few longer pieces, but he seems to have evolved into mostly longer pieces with a few shorties. And it works! Mostly because he’s fully leaning into some genuinely bizarre stories, which is my happy place. There are seven stories in this one, and I feel kind of guilty giving you one of them as the sample image, but I figured it was a solid example of his humor. Don’t get it or don’t think it’s funny? Chances are that you won’t like the rest of it. Also chances are good that we wouldn’t have much in common if we ever met, but you’ll just have to live with that. For the rest of us, other stories deal with a rogue hamburger decontamination squad, a leech art show that gets completely out of hand, a cool new toy that let you skate around on a trail of snail mucus, and the terrifying brutality of tree jail. Still, the heart of this sucker is Tourists in the Nightmare Realm, which is almost a parody of a family vacation where the parents (the Dad specifically) are determined to show the kids something new and to insist that everything is going great no matter what’s actually happening. As you might have guessed by the title, a family goes to a nightmare realm (Steve does some excellent work with the monsters; they were mostly hybrids of existing creatures, but they were creepily unsettling). They can barely find a boat to get them to the island, it’s unknown if the captain is even willing to come back and get them, and there’s no internet reception (much to the chagrin of the “influencer” daughter). Oh hey, thanks WordPress for telling me that “influencer” isn’t a word! I agree, but sadly the culture has outvoted us. Anyway, without giving anything away, most of the story is the part of the horror movie where you’re constantly yelling at the hero not to go in there or not to do that, but genuinely funny and somehow almost lighthearted at times. It’s an odd mix, but Steve nails it. So basically this book is gorgeous and it got several actual laughs out of me. If those sound like a good combination to you, give this a shot. $15

Steiner, Steve – Odd Clods #2

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Odd Clods #2

More newspaper mayhem from Steve, who really might have found his niche with this format. That’s odd to say about somebody whose work I’ve been enjoying for quite a few years now, but the oversized format really lets him show off his artwork, and the ability to print this in full color makes the whole thing gorgeous. If you’re new to the world of Odd Clods, these issues are collections of short pieces, using a variety of subjects. There’s actually a continuing story in this one (starting with the sample page), dealing with a giant lizard monster that keeps attacking a fried chicken restaurant and the increasingly desperate lengths the owner goes to to try and keep his chicken safe. Other subjects include Ninja Human Resources (it’s trickier than you’d think!), the grand bee joust (and all of the dangers that would be associated with such a thing), the eternal struggle between mittens and gloves (and the ultimate sacrifice one side must make to keep their people safe), a fricking hilarious guided tour through a rich people habitat with their various eccentricities joyfully mocked, the options on day one for every new president, being intrigued by an offer that sure sounded creepy at the time, and the pros and cons of using the old timey computer game Oregon Trail (or Pioneer Wagon here) to brainwash the youth, and one other strip that I’m leaving just for you. Yeah, I’m a mensch like that. I think this is the last of his newspaper comics that I grabbed at the last con, and after reviewing each of them I have to say that a solid rule of thumb is that if you see Steve at a convention, you can’t go wrong with any of them. Give the man his $10 and get ready to laugh!

Steiner, Steve – Odd Clods #1

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Odd Clods #1

Confession time: I’ve often been hesitant in the past when it comes to reviewing comics that come in newspaper formats. Not for any aesthetic reason, it’s just that I’m a simple country reviewer, with a regular old scanner that can’t handle the size of such things. Well, I think I’ve cracked the case. The sample image cut off a little bit of the words, but I think I nailed the combo cover image. And that concludes the segment of the reviews that nobody asks for: behind the scenes at Optical Sloth! I’ve been reviewing Steve’s book for lots of years, but it’s been a few since I’ve seen any of his stuff. He sent along a few of his newspaper comics, and this one in particular is a hoot, and a bit of a departure from some of his other stuff that I’ve seen. It’s a collection of short pieces, but thanks to the format he doesn’t have to worry about space constrictions and he uses that to his full advantage. Subjects include a hilarious piece on how teachers have learned to detect the early warning signs of a potential anti-christ in their classroom, the terror of seeing unknown warning lights in your car while driving, an awkward message sent by an even more awkward gift, the different types of parasites in the midwest, the research and conclusion of a recently discovered terrarium in the human stomach of a comatose patient, a simple test for determining what types of hair you’ve found in various apartments, and a brand new personal defense system that’s designed to stop bigger dudes (and impress horrible women who are only attracted to violence). You know, I was going to wrap this up by mentioning how his (already impressive) artwork has somehow managed to get even better, but after going through that wrap-up on the stories in here, I should really point just how damned funny this comic was. Just about every one got a laugh out of me, with the possible exception of the stomach terrarium story (which was really more of a horror piece anyway). Give it a chance, why don’t you? Don’t you like funny things too? $10