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Various Good Minnesotans – Good Minnesotan #4


Good Minnesotan #4

I’m in  a bit of a pickle here.  You see, the Good Minnesotans responsible for putting this anthology together sent a collection of minis that make up GM #4, all bundled up in a lovely slipcase.  However, they recently had a successful fundraiser that will let them print this whole pile of comics in (what I believe to be) one volume.  So my righteous rant about how silly it is to put a table of contents with page listings when there are no page numbers in the comics can’t go anywhere because they will probably have that problem fixed in the final edition.  That’s fine, there’s no reason to focus on the negative with a pile of  stories like this anyway.  It will also make my selection of a sample image from each of the 5 minis seems a little excessive (and guys, if this is too many for you let me know and I’ll take most of them down), but I’m trying to give a flavor for the whole thing here.  I was also going to break this down into five sections, one for each mini, but as they aren’t numbered in any way I’m just going to go with my usual clumpy review.  Tales in here include some creepy microscopic organisms by Justin Skarhus, The Poo Lagoon by Lupi (sadly, it seems to be a true story), is it a caraway seed or a rat turd by Sarah Julius (I think), Nic Breutzman as a child watching his neighborhood being built and marveling at the quiet at the end of the day, Kevin Cannon’s recap of the men who tried to be the first to reach the North (and South) Pole, a pile of creepy and moody photographs by Buck Sutter, planting mama with the onions by Anna Bongiovanni, Renny Kissling’s silent tale of an alien being tortured,Meghan Hogan’s adventures of crocheted animals, Martha Iserman with the adventures of her stuffed parrot-beaked puffer fish, and some food thievery by Raighne Hogan.  There is one mini that stands alone as a complete story, by both Justin Skarlus and Raighne Hogan (each taking half the book) about a terminator-ish creature that doesn’t seem to have much of an ability to stick with one target, but that’s probably because I’m imposing that idea onto that character.  It’s a bizarre pile of transporting vaginas, submachine guns, brain-eating and quiet contemplation.  You’d love it!  So, at the end of the day, I don’t know what the final version of this comic is going to look like.  I hope they can keep the front and back cover of the slipcase, and I hope they manage to number the pages to go along with their table of contents, and I hope it’s clear that I’m not even commenting on about 1/3 of the stories in this to leave some surprises for you people.  If you’ve seen the past issues of this series you know that “Good Minnesotan” is a mark of quality, and they didn’t disappoint this time around.

Breutzman, Nicholas – Yearbooks (with Shaun Feltz & Raighne Hogan)



Yearbooks (with Shaun Feltz & Raighne Hogan)

Technically this should probably be on the Various Good Minnesotans page, but as it’s mostly the work of Nicholas (as artist and one of two writers), he gets his own page!  Besides, all those various folks from Minnesota are all going to be doing their own solo work soon, if they’re not already, so why not start giving them all their own pages now?  Before I even get into the story here, I have to say that the art is absolutely gorgeous.  Nicholas uses the silences of his characters beautifully to convey emotions that would take him pages of exposition and Raighne nails the drabness of high school while still managing the vibrancy of the students and the general high school art world.  As for the story, it’s the tale of a young high school student as he tries to navigate the hallways and avoid getting beat up, learn something from a wise art teacher (but one who’s reluctant to show his own work), and deal with his feelings, whatever they are, for an attractive female friend.  It’s all tied together by a dream Ryan as he imagines a younger class, all doing their bleak and honest art projects, which causes their teacher to turn into a literal moonbat.  In the meantime there’s Ryan trying to learn the basics from his art teacher while coming to the sudden realization that the guy, his expertise notwithstanding, is a bit of a creep.  No, I can’t say more without ruining the comic.  There are many books that go back to the high school years in sort of a perfunctory way, dealing with the actual events but without managing to capture the mood.  The whole art team does that beautifully here, as Ryan knows that minding his own business is not enough to avoid confrontations, his female friend struggles basically alone to grow up while being young, gorgeous and a loner, and the whole book beautifully illustrates that the only person you can count on in high school is yourself.  Another great comic from this crew, here’s hoping that they stick with their anthology while managing to put out great projects like this.  I wouldn’t have guessed Minnesota to be one of the places that could legitimately be called the future of comics, but if these people keep this up they might well get there.  $13


Various Good Minnesotans – Good Minnesotan #2


Good Minnesotan #2

Huzzah for a second issue!  Even better news is that this was actually sent to me months ago and I’m just now getting to it, meaning that the third issue is almost out as well.  That level of productivity is never a bad thing.  OK, so the first review was mostly gushing due to how I impressed I was at the concept, so this time I’ll stick more to the content.  It’s the same cast of artists with a few new people thrown in.  First up is Back Pages by Ed Moorman, a fictional (?) conversation with a confrontational Bob Dylan in 1966.  Thoroughly engaging and sharp, and it’s certainly not hard to imagine that conversation taking place with Bob Dylan.  Next is Halloween (Revisited) by Gail Kern, and I have to apologize for using the last page of her story as the sample for this issue.  Regular readers of this site know that I hate spoilers, but that image of the headless horseman frantically trying to save his head is going to be lodged in my brain for weeks.  Meghan Hogan is up next with a bit of poetry about wanting to fight a shark, followed by a surprisingly mournful tale of growing old with someone and the mistakes they made along the way.  Next is an untitled piece by Joseph Nixon, a mostly impressionistic “origin story” on how he knew he wanted to be a painter, which is probably at least a little bit more interesting than most.  Raighne Hogan & Alex Witts team up next to tell the tale of a dictator, his methods and the inevitable conclusion.  Luke has a long but tiny (if you see the pictures you’ll know what I mean) story about… oh crap, a wordless story I have to interpret.  OK, there’s a bird chirping a story to a human about a large monsterish creature going for a walk, playing with its shadow and jumping out of a car.  Yep, that’s why they pay me the big bucks.  Finally there’s The Ripoff by Nicholas Breutzman, possibly the highlight of a collection of solid pieces, involving a pierced penis and the very literal usage of the title.  If you like your anthologies diverse and thought-provoking, you could do a whole lot worse than this.  The $12 price tag may scare a few people off but this thing is packed, and I didn’t even go into all the extra sketches and images at the back of the book.  Worth a look.

Various Good Minnesotans – Good Minnesotan #1


Good Minnesotan #1

More like this please! I’ll get to the actual content in a second and yes, that could be better at times, but this book as a concept is exactly what’s needed to keep this medium going strong: regional anthologies. Columbus has been taking over the anthology world with their Panel books for years now, and more cities with anything remotely resembling a comics community really need to sit down, get together and put out some anthologies. Sure, there’s almost no financial reward for a whole lot of work, but people who do comics generally aren’t in it for the money anyway. Seriously, if you find yourself living in a random city like Boise Idaho, check around the area, see if you can find like-minded people to get something like this going. So how about the actual comic, after that extended rant? Good and bad, but the good bits are excellent. First up is Cookie by Raighne Hogan, in which a bully tries to steal a cookie when he gets hungry, but the other kid manages to push him down, and there’s a brief panel (called a commercial break) with a spaceman in it… ok, he managed to lose me completely on this one. Moving on, there’s the strongest piece of the book, also by Raighne Hogan, called Teddy Bears And Time Travel. Raighne goes into (autobiographical?) detail about a childhood, sudden death, and running out on fatherhood and marriage. Revenge Fantasies by Justin Skarhus and Raighne Hogan gives free reign to some wishful thinking regarding old school bullies getting what’s coming to them. Monkeys On The Bed by Meghan Smith is maybe the most visually impressive piece of the bunch (and that’s saying something, as Raighne’s art, when decipherable, is pretty impressive too), and who can’t get behind monkeys, acrobats, a sleeping little girl and a bossy old lady/grim reaper? Finally there’s Portraitist by Raighne Hogan, dealing with what appears to be the final days of a moon colony. The main problem with that one is that some of the words are either illegible or have things drawn over them, which is good for effect in some cases, but in this case it just left me confused. Overall a pretty solid collection, and for the love of pete Minnesotan’s and all other regional comic people, keep this kind of thing up. Here’s a website for the curious… $5