Blog Archives

Flores, Madeleine – Bear, Bird and Stag Were Arguing in the Forest (And Other Stories)



Bear, Bird and Stag Were Arguing in the Forest (And Other Stories)

There are a fair amount of fables adapted as comics out there in the world, correct? It seems like there are, but I’m drawing a blank now that I’m trying to come up with them. I’d say that I’m losing my memory as I get older, but I’ve always had a crap memory. Anyway! If that isn’t a thing that happens all the time, the fables being adapted into comics, then it should. The first story in this bunch (and the title of the comic) is either a fable or a story that should have been a fable, and it deals with those three animals trying to figure out which one of them should rule the forest. They go to the forest witch to have the matter decided, and the witch tells them to each bring her a royal item to help them decide. I won’t ruin anything here, but those items are both more and less important to the deciding process than the animals were led to believe. Yes, it is possible to be both. But wait, there’s more! Other stories include a spirit being woven into various items to help protect a baby (and eventually a child), the soul being expelled in little bits all the time and what eventually becomes of it, and what happens to eyeballs after you go to sleep. Or possibly just after Madeleine goes to sleep, or possibly it’s just a story and not meant to be taken literally. I prefer to take it literally for the mental images alone, and I will not tell you what they are because you haven’t read the story. Yet! Because you really should. This is a solid collection of stories, each of which will stay with you long after you finish the book. Hard to think of better praise for stories than that. $6


Brown, Box – Number 1



Number 1

Most people probably have that moment as a kid when they learn that something that they believed to be real isn’t actually real. Mostly this is because our parents have lied to us (about Santa Claus or the Easter Bunny or “work hard your whole life and good things will happen to you”), but in the case of this comic this comes about when our hero meets a wrestler and learns about “kayfabe.” In wrestling terms, this is the acting out of the story, where the winners and losers have already been pre-determined, and pretending that this is all real life and they’re making it up as they go along. Once our hero learns of this it’s impossible for him not to apply it to the rest of the world around him. For example, when the anti-drug people came to his school and sprayed something that was supposed to smell like marijuana at them, he couldn’t help but notice that he had also smelled the same thing when he went to visit his father at work. From there the kayfabe theory spread into everything, and the only thing he had left to do was to start a magazine explaining his theories and the proper way to view the world at large. The rest of the comic deals with chasing his hero, expanding the business (by learning how to properly exploit the dopes who were willing to pay for it in the first place), and learning how wrestlers “blade” so that they can properly have a crimson mask for certain matches. It’s a damned fascinating mash-up of the hopefulness of starting a new business mixed with the bleakness of starting that business to tell everybody that the world is all bullshit, and the uncomfortable reality that a hero of his who inspired the entire thing can easily be forgotten by the world at large. There are also two one page strips at the end, showing a documentarian who goes about his daily life while not being entirely clear on how to interact with humans. The inside back cover showed that Box was working on the life story of Andre the Giant, which will be required reading for any human once it comes out. I don’t know if the full story of Andre has ever been properly told, but the idea of it coming from Box sounds just about perfect to me. As for this one, it’s well worth a look, but Box’s name alone should have been enough to clue you into that fact… $6


Alden, Sam – Wicked Chicken Queen



Wicked Chicken Queen

You know that part of the comic where things need to get wrapped up in some fashion, and you’re left wondering what exactly the creator was going for with that ending? Well, without giving anything away here, that’s where I am with the end of this comic. It seemed like the events of the end of this were going to get a bit of an explanation, then the comic literally just faded away. Boy howdy am I ever getting ahead of myself with this review, but that’s the last part that I read, so it’s the first part on my mind. This one starts off with a race of people relocating to a new island. They find a giant egg pretty early on, and it becomes a crucial event in the development of their society. The egg eventually hatches and the giant chicken is adopted by the king, eventually taking over as ruler of this land (as you may have guessed from that title). The chicken queen marries her best friend, they reign happily for many years, and her friend eventually dies of natural causes. From there the queen becomes different, mostly showing this by being more distant, but the violence does come eventually. While I may not have been totally happy about the ending, the individual pages were fantastic, as there’s plenty happening on every page. Each page is one panel, and they each show basically the entirety of the island and many things that are happening on it. I did like the bit towards the end describing the inability of the townspeople to communicate with the chicken and why that was the case, I was just a little underwhelmed with the ending. To me that still makes this a comic well worth reading, as I thoroughly enjoyed the ride and several little touches along the way. If you’re the type who has to have a completely satisfying ending to make it all worthwhile, maybe you should move along. Of course, there’s always the chance that other people will have a different opinion of the ending than I do. Shocking, I know! $5


Muradov, Roman – Picnic Ruined



Picnic Ruined

There are times when I have to admit that I have no idea what I can contribute to the conversation about a comic. No, this isn’t me getting all self-effacing and “aw shucks” about this website, as I think that I do contribute meaningful rambles about comics every now and then, or at least point at books that deserve more attention. It’s just that when I run across somebody like Roman, with his ridiculous list of credentials and clients, it’s clear that the guy is operating on a different plane than me. That’s the basic reason why I barely ever bother to review the new Dan Clowes book, or anything by the Hernandez Brothers, those sorts of things. They know what they’re doing, anything I say would be nitpicking, so why bother? So instead of treating this comic like that, I’m just going to treat it like any old comic and see what happens. This is a comic of shadows holding images and images holding shadows, thoughts that trail off into jumbled messes or moments of insight, thoughts of self-doubt turning into rueful acceptance and/or tolerance of the way things are and maybe even getting to a perfect moment. Or it’s about a guy who wanders aimlessly through his evening, including literally running into a tree while not paying attention. Or both! Things start off at either a really boring porno shoot or a naked art project, which leads our hero to wonder about what things in the world have a foreskin and what things should have a foreskin. Right away Roman has introduced something that I’ve never thought about, which was quickly followed by wondering why I never thought about it, so kudos to him for that. From there our hero flees out of fear of being photographed at this event and into a bookstore, where things get messy in a hurry (with a delightful curse thrown in). The rest of the comic deals mostly with his thoughts, his conversation with somebody who isn’t into indulging him on his shit, and dealing with his self-doubt. In other words, not the sorts of things that are easily reviewed, or are even helpful things to review. On an aesthetic level this is gorgeous, as you can take the linear approach or just follow the lines of dialogue to see if you can spot every random thought that pops into his head but is written down too quickly to be understood. If you’re looking for people punching each other to solve their problems then this book won’t do you any good, but if you’d rather wonder about the universe while wondering if that wondering is itself pointless, maybe you should give this one a shot. $6