On Your Marks #1
Oh, what a crank I am. I get a pretty damned great anthology filled with small press people living in Seattle who could use a little more exposure and I can’t help thinking that I would have liked it better with a clear indication of which artists did which pages. They’re even all listed on the inside front cover, but they’re inside of a drawing, which makes some of them tough to make out. Does this take away from the quality of the content? Not one bit, no, as it’s not like it’s impossible to figure out who did certain pages with a little bit of work. Eh, I blame it on the general tone of the holiday season. All this Christmas music everywhere just bugs me. And if you ever needed more proof that I am in fact a total curmudgeon, there you have it. Anyway! This is a collection of mostly one page strips, done by all kinds of people that you either already know about or should be ashamed of yourself because you’ve never heard of them. Stories include Ben Horak having the comic he made when he was 6 read by adults (with a perfect final panel), Tom Van Deusen’s creepy piece about a head growing out of a roof and what happens when it’s removed, Bobby Madness and the sacrifice he made for the environment, Kelly Froh’s traumatic moment on an aimless afternoon, Pat Keck and his dungeon Gremlins, Aarow Mew and the result of his “spider” bite, Julia Gfrorer’s tale of a creepy ouija board experience, Rick Altergott and Pat Moriarty’s story of what cats think is going on with their litter boxes, Marc Palm’s Flannelwolf and Frankcan, Robyn Jordan’s worries about what she’ll be like in 10 years after she has kids, David Lasky’s questions about what you would do if you were a superhero, and Max Clotfelter’s mistaken assumption involving getting his older brother involved in protecting him. Like I said, it’s a damned solid anthology, full of ridiculously talented people. Maybe next time they’ll put page numbers on the pages to lessen my crankiness, or maybe it’s something I need to work on on my own and I’m sharing too much here… $4
There must have been an exact point in this book where I went from not being all that sure about it to loving it, but I’m not sure where that was. I do remember the strip that kicked away the last few doubts from my head though. Doofus has a friend named Henry Hotchkiss. He’s swimming in the ocean but realizes that he’s forgotten his bathing suit. Meanwhile, a couple on the beach have a young woman in a tiny biking pass by and they remark on how her bathing suit couldn’t get much smaller… and then Henry walks by, wearing a used condom as a bathing suit. It’s not like everything in here is quite that crude, but if that’s the kind of thing you find funny, you’re in luck. This book has all sorts of stories in it, ranging from the newspaper strip style (I guess he had a weekly strip for a while) to regular comic stories. There’s also a colorful, if relatively similar, cast of characters that I’m going to let you discover for yourself, and stories written by various other Fantagraphics people like Dan Clowes. They also all absolutely loved the book, at least judging by the quotes on the back cover. I feel like I’ve just discovered a new world, but in reading this book I’ve already come to the end of it. Here’s hoping there’s more out there because I want more! And did I mention how incredible this guy is as an artist? That’s something that wasn’t really touched on in all the quotes, but his ability with backgrounds (seriously, if you have a copy of this book, just check out some of the larger panels. Look around in the backgrounds and see what you can see. A few that I noticed had definite subtle themes that had nothing to do with the comic, or I’m going insane) is just phenomenal. When am I going to learn to stop doing parentheses anyway? Sorry. The book is $16.95 and, though it might look short, a lot of it is newspaper strips and it’s a dense read. Check it out and see what impresses the best folk that comics has to offer!
Legal Action Comics Volume 2 Now Available! $18.95
It’s always a copout of some degree to just list the contributors involved in an anthology as proof of it’s greatness. Why not go into greater detail about the (in this case) 73 cartoonists and their individual contributions? Well, to me, the joy of a good anthology is discovering things as they come, finding new artists that you like, taking a chance on all sorts of people you’ve never heard of, that sort of thing. So nailing all this down specifically (outside of it being, in that case, by far the longest review I’ve ever written) kills a lot of that sense of discovery. But none of that is really the point of this book anyway. It’s about trying to help Danny Hellman pay some huge legal bills in a lawsuit that is still apparently ongoing (the only update I managed to find about it (as of 8/15/07) is that only one count is left in the lawsuit and that it still hasn’t gone to trial) and, on a selfish level, getting to see a bunch of the best cartoonists working today all gathered into one book. So how about that list? OK, here’s a few names: Sam Henderson, Carol Lay, Doug Allen, Art Spiegelman, Kim Dietch, Kaz, Johnny Ryan, Tony Millionaire, Ted May, Hans Rickheit, Dave McKenna, Michael Kupperman, Miss Lasko-Gross, Pshaw, Lauren Weinstein, Patrick Dean, Mike Diana, Rick Altergott, and Dean LeCrone, to name a fraction of the people that I had already heard of. There seems to be a bit less personal animosity towards Ted Rall this time around (although there’s still plenty here), with the stories being all over the place. It’s a great anthology whether or not you agree with Danny’s legal case (and what’s not to agree with?), and something that everybody who enjoys this genre at all needs on their bookshelf. $18.95
Raisin Pie #1 (with Rick Altergott)
Ah, credits in comics. It makes reviews so much easier. Raisin Pie is the first issue of the new “regular” series from Rick Altergott and Ariel Bordeaux (sorry, but I’ve been reading independent comics for too long to believe “regular” until I see it). I’m guessing that Rick does the first story, “Blessed Be”, and Ariel does the “Maple Valley Public Library” and “The Ladies Line”. I haven’t seen much of his Doofus work, so I have little to no idea of what’s going on here or who these people are, but I like what I’ve seen so far. It’s the first part of a continuing story about a young kid who’s trying to get back at the judge who sent him to jail and something to do with Satanists. Hey, it’s early yet, I’m not sure what’s up. “Maple Valley Public Library” is basically the story of an irate woman who’s trying to get a book banned and the woman who has to deal with her. Add a cliffhanger ending and you have the second part of the book that’s going to be continued down the road, always a good sign with the whole continuing series thing. “The Ladies Line” reminded me the most of Ariel’s older work, as it’s about two women talking in a bathroom line about all sorts of things that shouldn’t be overheard. Throw in a one page story in the front and the back, one of the most ridiculous back covers in recent memory and you have a a pretty solid book. Keep ’em coming, you two…