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Jackson, Rob – Hollywood on the Croal


Hollywood on the Croal

It’s best to start this one off with a confession/explanation. Rob put out a comic in 2007 (or at least that’s when I reviewed it) called On the Banks of the Mighty Croal. That comic, like this one, was a narrated walking tour through the town of Bolton, a lot of which being adjacent to the Croal river. Now, that review was 16 years ago and, as you may have guessed, my memory of it is somewhere between hazy and nonexistent. So is this book a sequel to that comic, a continuation, or an expansion? It’s listed as having a new map in the synopsis on his website, so I’m guessing expansion/new edition. Look, since it’s been 16 years, chances are that it will seem new to you regardless. As for the comic itself, there’s not much to say that wouldn’t be me just repeating facts that I learned here, which would get boring for both of us in a hurry. Picture a walking tour accompanied by a guide who was funny and clever and also had both a lifetime of familiarity with the area and had done a ridiculous amount of research to dig up obscure facts and info. All that and it’s “narrated” by Telly Savalas, or at least it us until Rob is no longer able to afford him. It’s a fascinating journey, and if I was suddenly plopped into Bolton right now I feel like I’d have a fighting chance thanks to this comic. Now, if it was 16 years from now, probably not so much. Once again we play the conversion dance to try and guess pricing, and if I’m right it’s around $7 (but there’s a good chance I’m wrong).

Jackson, Rob – Medieval Comics


Medieval Comics

I just had a terrifying thought: I’ve written so many reviews of Rob’s comics over the last decade or so that I’d bet any halfway decent AI program could fill in the blanks here pretty easily. Sure, the real artists should be OK, at least for now, but lunks like me who just talk about comics are in trouble. Ah well, best not to dwell on my once and future obsolescence. Let’s talk about comics! There are a couple of things you can always count on with Rob’s comics: he’s never going to cheat the reader (this one is 48 pages and it’s rare that he puts out less than that) and you never know quite what his comics are going to be about. This one, sure, that title gives you a solid hint right off the bat, but having a comic set in medieval times still leaves a lot of room for stories. This one starts off with a monk trying to see his abbot about a vision he (the monk) had overnight. Rather than dismissing him the abbot takes it seriously and calls in a few of his closest advisers to hear the monk out. His vision was about a field of the bones of 100 martyrs, which was big business at the time, and he’s given permission to set out with a few helpers to verify the truth of his vision. No big loss to the church if it was nonsense, so they didn’t tell anybody about it, but potentially a big reward if it was true. From there it’s a genuinely odd but engaging quest story, with the monks picking up companions along the way with mysterious (or not so mysterious) motivations, intrigue, hardships and even a murder. And once they do get to the location the monk had dreamed about, there’s still the question of the purpose of the vision and whether or not it was really a good idea to follow it through. This here is another in a long line of really solid work from Rob, and at this point it’s safe to say that I’d be able to entertain myself for a day without leaving the house if I just laid a stack of his comics in front of me first. And boy howdy, after all these years, it’d be quite a stack. So if you’re intrigued by old timey religion and artifacts, not to mention some genuinely bizarre visions, I’d say you should give this a shot. If that’s somehow not your thing, check out his back catalog. Believe you me, there’ll be something on there that gets your attention.

Jackson, Rob – Edie Blenkinsop’s War


Edie Blenkinsop’s War

One of the most prolific people in comics is at it again, and this time it’s about a historical event. Well, sort of. I don’t think this is based on a true story, but that’s also the beauty of it: if it was a true story, chances are that none of us would have ever heard of it. Things start off with an illustrator putting together a children’s book until she’s interrupted by air raid sirens. She’s in England in World War II, and that sort of thing was all too common back then. Edie is also feeling like she could do more to help in the war effort, so after lunch with a friend she meets up with another friend who’s involved in the intelligence aspect of the war. Edie’s plan was to help by drawing some illustrations to be placed around town, but instead she finds out that an old boyfriend of hers is suspected of being a spy for the Germans, so she somewhat reluctantly takes up the job of ingratiating herself with him again. After a brief training session she takes a job near his house and “happens” to run into him. She’s not suspicious at first, but after planting a bug in his phone and listening in she starts to have other ideas. From there it’s a bit of a cat and mouse game, with her trying not to get discovered and him refusing to listen to the suspicions of his friend telling him that her timing in arriving was entirely too convenient. And if you’re wondering if all this sneaking around leads to a big old shoot-em-up eventually, you had better believe that it does. I don’t remember the rules on the size of “actual” graphic novels, but this is 72 pages (per his website) and sure feels like a graphic novel to me. There’s also a lovely epilogue that I sadly can’t spoil, but just trust me on this, OK? If you’re looking to get somebody into Rob’s work (or if you’ve been holding off on taking the plunge yourself), this would be an excellent place to start. Based on historical events, with none of the weirdness that I love so much/that might turn off the more normal folk. I’m lousy at conversion, but it’s probably right around $10.

Jackson, Rob – Trashcan Private Eye


Trashcan Private Eye

I won’t tell you why, but I will tell you that this comic ends with a song. And still I somehow resisted the temptation to not use that final page as the sample image! Sometimes this reviewing thing is a sheer test of willpower. So what’s up with this one? It’s a sprawling conspiracy, all with our hero Trashcan P.I. at the center of everything. Things start off with our hero creepily sizing up a young lady who’s come by his office… er, trash can, trying to get help in locating her missing brother. This is where a traditional noir story would begin their romance, but this comic doesn’t go anywhere near that. Possibly because the dude lives in and conducts business out of a bin, which traditionally has been a bit of an impediment in the romance department. So our hero tracks down leads, gets knocked out (which I’m using as a sample image purely because I’ve also often wondered why it’s so accepted in movies to bludgeon people into unconsciousness), and generally spends the bulk of the comic trying to get to the bottom of things. It all spirals into a vast connected gaggle of characters, and you’d better believe that things end in mayhem. I recently watched The Maltese Falcon and was a bit surprised how many of those tropes made it into this issue. Of course, noirs all have at least similar events happening (femme fatale, double crosses, bad guys accidentally telling the detective too much, etc.), so it’s not like I’m assigning any nefarious intent. Besides, all of the ladies loved Sam Spade, so that’s a pretty substantial difference right off the bat. And since I’m not going to tell you all the bits leading up to the dramatic conclusion, I’ll have to content myself and you by revealing a few of the (fantastic) names that Rob has come up with. Wall Face! Big Orange! Smart Guy Eddie! Big Jim Tuckshop! OK, that last one doesn’t even have a cameo, but what a name to put on a mailbox. If you’re already a fan of Rob’s, of course you should give this one a shot. You probably knew that already, as it’s not like the guy makes a lot of stinkers. If you’re new to his work, I’d recommend one of the heftier titles, but if you’re also on a budget and love noirs, you could do a lot worse than this one. If my internal currency converter is even close to correct (it almost certainly is not), then this is roughly $6.

Jackson, Rob – The Haunted Hotel


The Haunted Hotel

I tell you what, this Rob Jackson is one hell of a storyteller. Yes, if you’ve been around this website for a decade or so you already know that, or if you’ve just read his comics throughout the years. But I can’t think of another comic artist who has this wide of a range of the types of stories he puts out. He’s very high up on my own personal list of reasons why I really do have to organize these comics of mine at some point, as it would take me hours (honestly, probably days) to pull all his comics that I own together. Anyway! You’d think that the theme would be obvious from the title, and you’d be right, but only sort of. The hotel does play a role in things, but not until the very end, and it’s not like I’m going to talk about that. This is a collection of three stories that the concierge of the hotel tells as he tries to give some prospective guests fair warning about what they’re in for if they stay overnight. It’s more than that though, as all the stories come together to further contextualize the concierge, his family situation and how all the disparate threads come together. The first story deals with a group of previous guests, a rock band who’s touring in Venice. They’re a bit depressed by one bad review in the newspaper (well, the lead singer is anyway), and they find out that he’s also staying in Venice. This leads to the thought of a confrontation, and the drunk lead singer ends up in a mysterious bar drunkenly asking somebody to murder the reviewer. The second story concerns the lady who was asked to do the murdering and how she ended up in her situation, and the final story concerns the efforts to get her out of that service. The band story takes up the bulk of the comic, and it’s full of little personal touches that really flesh out the bandmates as characters. The concierge ends up being the star of the story, although it’s way too much of a stretch to refer to him as the hero. This is another worthy addition to the Rob Jackson library, so if you’re in the mood to be creeped out more than a little bit, give this one a shot.

Jackson, Rob – The Woodsman


The Woodsman

Is this the longest book that Rob has done? At 88 pages (according to his website anyway; he doesn’t number his pages and it’s not like I’m going to count them) it has to be close. This is the story of an aspiring writer who goes out to a secluded cabin in the woods to try and find some inspiration. Yes, I’ve seen stories start with this premise before, but believe you me, none of them came close to going the places that this one did. Anyway! Our hero (Bill) tries writing for a few days, has no luck, and eventually runs into the Woodsman as he’s out hunting and laying traps. They slowly strike up a friendship (I’m most likely rounding up a bit with that word), and they get to talking about previous writers that have also used that cabin for inspiration. The Woodsman reveals that they all had similar problems, and he offered each of them a deal: if they write a story for him, they were guaranteed to get back on track with their own books. Bill recognized a few of the names, so clearly the deal worked for them. He thought about it for a few days and agreed to the deal. The next thing Bill knew, he had significantly fewer blank pages in front of him and his writer’s block was gone, so he spent the next two weeks writing what turns out to be his best book yet. Still, the uncertainty haunts him. What happened that night? What did he write for the Woodsman? Surely it wouldn’t hurt to go to the Woodsman’s cabin and take a look, right? This is the point in the review when I can’t say much more, because despite the fact that I’m maybe 20 pages in at this point, there are so many twists and turns that I don’t want to spoil any of them. There’s the question of the nature of the Woodsman, what the other writers remember about their deals, what each of them ended up writing for him, and about a dozen more questions that I’m not even going to mention. It was riveting all the way through, who could ask for anything more? If you’ve somehow made it however many years reading this website without reading one of Rob’s books, this seems like an excellent place to start. No pesky series to get bogged down in and his artwork is as good as it’s ever been. Don’t ask me to do the currency conversion thingie, but I think this would be roughly $13 here in the U.S.

Jackson, Rob – Meat Grinder


Meat Grinder

More than once I’ve thought that I should gather up all my old Rob Jackson comics and read them again. The man has been doing this for quite a while now; I’m curious to see what’s changed. If you knew my (nonexistent) organizational system you’d know why that always up just being an idea, but today a second thought struck me: maybe I should go back and read just my reviews for his books. I have to have written at least a couple of dozen reviews of his work over the years, and I’d be astounded if I hadn’t repeated myself in that time, probably several times over. For example, one of the first things I thought while reading this was how impressive Rob’s ability was to create a fully formed world, then move onto something completely different in his next comic and do it all again. This one is filled with characters that bring up a lot of questions, but chances this is all we’ll ever see of them. I should probably get to the comic, right? Right. This is basically one long cooking contest, with the stakes being pretty damned high if our heroes end up as losers. There’s the glutinous ruler, the other contestants, the judges, our hero the clown and his two helpers. Then there’s the meat itself, which is a delightful source of suspicion all the way through the ending. As always with one of Rob’s comics, there was suspense, surprises and more than a few funny bits. Seriously, if you can get through that sample page without laughing, you might be dead inside. Check it out, give the man some money so he keeps making these things. Probably around $6, but I don’t know the exchange rate at the moment…

Jackson, Rob – Merchants



I’m not sure if I’ve ever offered an alternate title for a comic in a review before (it’s pretty low down on my list of priorities for a great comic), but I’m surprised that Rob didn’t go with the obvious one here: Lute Brute! Granted, you’d have to read the comic for it to make sense, but Rob created a star here, and I for one would love to see an origin comic. Granted, the Lute Brute plays a small part in the proceedings here, but his reign of lutey terror effects just about all of the other characters in one way or another. This is (maybe?) Rob’s first graphic novel, but that’s based on my famously shoddy memory. He had a few series that could have easily been collected into graphic novels, but this is the first one I remember that came out all at once like this. It’s the story of a cast of characters (helpfully labeled on the inside front cover), their dealings with their bosses/rulers, the motivations of the rulers/bosses themselves and how difficult it can be to find good help or competent people in positions of power. Still, one of the main images that’ll stick with me is that of poor Edwardo being terrorized by the “pling” and “plong” sound effects of a lute being angrily wielded. One thing that this page count (roughly 100) does it allow Rob some room to breathe; he’s usually quite verbose, but this time around there are several sections with little to no text, where the action or the setting speaks for itself. It was a thoroughly entertaining read with a few sections where I laughed out loud, which is always a welcome surprise. Give it a shot, one of the most prolific artists in comics today could use your support! $12 (ish)

Jackson, Rob – Beyond Thick Glass, I Saw the Stars


Beyond Thick Glass, I Saw the Stars

It never ceases to amaze me how far Rob can get from the humble beginnings of a story. This one, for example, starts off simply enough, with a gang of guys waiting for the right moment to strip a car of its tires. Right away the title doesn’t make a whole lot of sense, right? Yeah, you have to wait for the payoff on that one. Anyway, we learn that these guys had been saving money, and they finally have enough to go to “Big Town.” From here we learn that this gang is actually made up of tiny people, and there’s some serious friction with the larger folk. But we also soon learn that there are even larger people involved, and eventually we start to piece together exactly what kind of a society we’re dealing with. They’re forced to retreat to yet another society, which is where we learn exactly how people ended up as different sizes, with different expectations as to what roles they’re meant to fill in society. Oh, and at this point the comic isn’t even halfway done yet. Rob has always excelled at filling his comics with imaginative details, which is even more impressive when you consider that (outside of a few exceptions) he works in single issues, meaning he’s starting over from scratch every time. Anybody who’s looking to excel in comics should take a look at his workload and history, there’s a lot here that should be emulated. About the only negative thing I have to say is the same thing I’ve said a bunch of times probably by now: I wish he had a better command of the your/you’re differences. Oddly, I enjoy his comics so much that I’ve made peace with it. And if you knew how much I enjoyed being a pedant about that sort of thing, you’d understand why that’s such a big deal. Prices are listed in Euros, so in American dollars for this 52 page book I’m guessing… maybe $10? Somewhere around there, anyway. It’s worth a look, so go look at conversion rates. If you give him too much money, just ask him to send along some of his other books to make up the difference…

Jackson, Rob – Flying Sausage Academy #4


Flying Sausage Academy #4

It’s the big finale! In this issue we learn why Mr. Bojangles is so bitter at the headmaster, see a bit of the play that has had our hero so nervous, and get not one but two confrontations between Daryl and King Penguin. Well, maybe one and a half confrontations, it depends how you score such things. Oh, and we finally get to see what the problem was with Daryl’s mom, or at least we finally see Daryl’s mom. I loved how this worked itself out, which means that I can’t tell you any more about it. Rules are rules! There’s also one more big fight scene, because who ever heard of the last issue of a series not involving a big old fight scene, preferably one involving giant monsters? This whole thing ended up being another great series from Rob. Maybe one of these weeks I could dig through all of his older series to say which one I think is the best, but that would probably require me magically getting a week off work with nothing else to do, as the man has quite the back catalog by this point. Basically you have two choices if you want to start digging through his comics, which you very much should: either pick a series or two to see what you think (my recommendation) or pick a few of his stand alone issues instead. One or the other, people! Get to it!

Jackson, Rob – Flying Sausage Academy #3


Flying Sausage Academy #3

You know, it just now occurred to me that I never checked to see if #4 is the last in this series. Guess I’ll find out very soon; I’m just curious how many loose ends need to be wrapped up if that’s the case. In this issue we get to watch the sheer depths of panic that Daryl sinks to as he realizes that he has a lot of complicated lines to learn for his role in MacBeth, and that the entire school is going to be watching him and ready to make fun of him if he screws up. Daryl is also hunting for Mr. Bojangles, the missing music teacher. He’s given a cryptic map, which leads him to the prop department, giving the reader a peek into that world. As he’s practicing for the play a giant spider shows up, causing the whole school to come together to fight it, which naturally leads Daryl to seek out the source of the giant spiders. What does all this have to do with Mr. Bojangles? Plenty, as it turns out. How is this play going to turn out? Is Handsome Dan going to punch the guy who took his lead in the play? What exactly is up with Daryl’s mother? Read the next (final) issue to find out! Or just read my review of it in a couple of days, as I’m bound to give up a few juicy details. You should be reading this series, and damned near all of Rob’s series, yourselves, so if you’re quick about it you can order his books and get to the ending before me. It’s a race!

Jackson, Rob – Flying Sausage Academy #2


Flying Sausage Academy #2

You know, I’ve been saying for years that more comics artists should put recaps at the start of their comics (continuing series, that is), but I’m wondering if that’s still good information. Is this comic available at many comic stores, or at this point do people mostly get them from the creators themselves? If it’s the latter then there’s no reason for recaps, as people would be buying the whole series. Granted, it would always be nice for people with crap memories like me who read the first issue six months ago regardless, but that’s just me. Am I way off here? Do most of you still get your comics from stores, online or otherwise? Oh hypotheticals, you’ll never be answered. So how about this issue? Our hero was selected to become an undercover agent after his troubles in the last issue, and his first task is to uncover a drug ring in the chess club. Along the way we get another brief peek at his mother (“peek” meaning we don’t see her at all, but we do see him caring for her), we see the world of P.E. in this school and the horrors that befall any student who forgets their gym uniform, the school play of MacBeth gets a cast (with the lead not going to Handsome Dan, which is bound to cause problems later), and Daryl continues learning more about these classes and teachers. Oh, and we also learn the secret of that robot on the cover, but I’m not giving up the goods on that so easily. Two more issues to come, and for once I’m doing the smart thing and reviewing them all in one week, so no faulty memory issues this time around!

Jackson, Rob – Flying Sausage Academy #1



Flying Sausage Academy #1

This review will serve as your regular reminder that Rob Jackson is a comics making machine and you should be ashamed that the amount of comics you make in a year will never match his. Luckily it’s not a competition, but there are very few comics artists working who’ve put out the amount of quality work that this guy has over the last decade. And he has a consistent track record of being nice enough to finish his comics series, meaning that you shouldn’t be afraid of future disappointment with that “#1” in the title. Believe me, he knows where he’s going with this. This, by the way, being the story of a new kid at a school who’s given the instructions that he can’t get in any trouble for fighting. This immediately puts the new kid in a tough spot, as the school is run by a bully named King Penguin. Who looks like a weird human/bird hybrid. Yes, this is mentioned almost immediately by one of the characters, and other characters include a pirate (complete with peg leg), a student in full armor, a teacher who throws hot soup on unruly students and a headmaster in wizard robes. This issue sets up this world nicely, as our hero has all kinds of trouble fitting in without causing any sort of problems that would attract the attention of his father while navigating a world with that bully after him. And the several other school factions that could theoretically protect him from this bully, assuming he can figure out what they want instead. His mother is a mystery; she’s bedridden behind some curtains at home but we never see her. So yeah, this is a nice solid bit of world building, with a varied cast of characters that could go in a number of directions moving forward.


Jackson, Rob – Slaves of the Megapode #3



Slaves of the Megapode #3

Oh Megapode, what exactly are you? That question is answered in this final issue, more or less, and Rob even manages to sneak in an alarming epilogue on the back cover, but I’m getting ahead of myself. In the last issue our heroes were confronted by some Roman soldiers, although that fizzles out without a struggle. They’re arrested and kept under heavy guard, but there are many hidden passages and they manage to escape to get a better look at what’s really happening. From there they uncover where the conspiracy is coming from, which also explains why it’s impossible to do much of anything to stop it. This is also the point where I have to stop talking about the plot or I’ll get into spoilers, and nobody wants that. I’ll say instead that Rob wraps this up in a thoroughly satisfactory fashion; he has more or less mastered the art of the comics trilogy. Unless he’s implying that there’s more to come with that epilogue, in which case never mind. I like to think that he went with that last page to preserve some ambiguity, but I am most definitely not the author, so that’s just a guess. I wonder if Rob has ever considered some sort of personal omnibus? Marvel and DC have been releasing 1000+ pages of certain titles or crossovers, and it’s nice to have everything in one place. Rob certainly has a large enough back catalog that he could put out his own edition. Of course, money would be a big factor, but that’s why Kickstarter exists, right? Anyway, it’s another solid series from the man, and another one that you should check out immediately if you have not already done so.


Jackson, Rob – Slaves of the Megapode #2



Slaves of the Megapode #2

“It’s all fun and games until someone is crucified.” You know, sometimes I think I should start these reviews with a quote from the comic, or at least I should when a comic has as many quotable lines as this one. The second issue starts off a little bit after the events of the last one, with our two heroes waking up, unable to be sure about which parts of what they just saw was a dream and what was real. After a conversation about the night in question they eventually find a good place to get a little bit of sleep, where they once again see the Megapode in their dreams. One of them is woken up by a woman who claims to have inside knowledge of it, but she’ll only tell him what is really going on when his cravings get too great to control. He’s already tasted the fruit of this thing, so in theory it’s only a matter of time until the succumbs to it. The rest of the issue has an armed confrontation on the road, the two heroes infiltrating the Megapode cult (and getting exposed to some gas), trying to convince his Roman army that they really should investigate further despite them possibly imagining it all because of the gas, and an ending that I did not see coming at all. Should set things up nicely for the final issue, which I’ll most likely be reviewing next week if all goes according to plan on my end. Which rarely happens, but I live in hope. Either way, this series is another winner from Rob, and when you buy this be on the lookout for the winged penis statue. Yes, it’s in there.


Jackson, Rob – Slaves of the Megapode #1



Slaves of the Megapode #1

Are you ready for a mystery involving the Romans set way back when they were a thing? Well, THE thing, really, as their empire lasted for centuries, but in theory you already know that. Anyway! A caravan of Romans arrives to investigate some killings and disappearances. The local authorities are baffled, but a slob of a trained slave (with impeccable training and credentials) comes along to try and help them solve the mystery. As a local official says of the suspects, “I tried crucifying them, I tried not crucifying them. I’m at my wit’s end.” An examination of the body turns up traces of poison, and the chef of the poisoned man kills himself while leaving a note confessing to the crime, but it all feels just a little too convenient. So the investigation continues, a strange substance is discovered, and all that’s left to do is to try it out on a suspect. Best not to say much more about the story for now, but Rob has turned into a master of endings, and this one is no exception. Those last two pages are something else, and they have me all kinds of intrigued to see just what this Megapode is supposed to be. He was also nice enough to send me the entire series, so I’ll be reviewing the next two issues over the next couple of weeks. That breaks with my usual policy of spacing out reviews from the same author, but I’m curious to see where this is going and you’re not the boss of me, so I’ll do what I want! Not that anybody ever actually complained about it or anything…


Baddeley-Read, Kyle & Jackson, Rob (editors) – RhiZome #1



RhiZome #1

I can’t help it, it’s just been beaten into me over the years: I get nervous whenever somebody puts the first part of a continuing story in an anthology. I’ve been proven wrong to be nervous about this before, but I’ve also been proven right plenty of times. Which is to say that Rob Jackson has a fascinating first part of a story in here, and I’d really rather the rest of the story wasn’t lost forever because there was never a second issue of this series. Eh, don’t mind me, I’m working on being less pessimistic in the new year. The other stories are all self-contained, so no worries there. These other stories include Max Mose’s tale of a civilization wandering the stars in search of more of the nuclear weapons that destroyed their homeworld, Kyle Baddeley-Read and his piece on the benefits of child slavery (to the children), John Robbins with his story of a man who discovers a giant hole in his stomach and his conversations with his therapist about it, and Pete Batchelor’s tale of a man who thought that he had outsmarted the apocalypse by freezing himself and thawing himself out in 2130. Pretty great stuff all around, and it all added up to a really odd and fantastic vibe for the book as a whole. Oh, and Rob’s story, as I mentioned, won me over completely. It’s all about a man who’s annoyed at getting his new job while also happy because he desperately needed the money. Which wouldn’t be that odd of a story, but this man goes into his first day and finds another man there who has his name and who kind of looks like him. This is more than just a simple coincidence or there’d be no story here, obviously, but the direction that it seems to be taking has me really curious to see what happens next. So check it out, is what I’m saying. Even if future parts of Rob’s story disappear completely (and he has a pretty good track record of finishing his stories so far), then this works perfectly well all by itself.


Jackson, Rob – California #4



California #4

Anybody who starts with the fourth issue of a series is kind of stupid anyway, but I can’t help but think of at least one poor soul out there who picked this one up without seeing the rest of this series. Maybe they just liked California? Anyway, this poor person would have opened up the comic and seen (on the very first page!) a giant tentacled monster with one eye hovering over a house, a disembodied head bouncing around trying to stay away from the monster, a surprisingly calm family sitting down at a table while the monster smashed the table around them, and the disembodied head bashing into one of people at the table. If this poor soul didn’t spontaneously combust and they made it to the next few panels they would see the head bashing into a few more people at the table and those people vanishing after being struck. At this point I would only hope that they’d stop and go back to read the rest of the series, but hypothetical people can be stubborn. Oh hi, those were spoilers, kind of, for the rest of this series. But they were mostly from the first page of this issue so it’s OK to talk about them. This issues concludes the California saga, and after this one I’d say it’s safe to call it a “saga.” Once again I wish we lived in a world where something like this could be collected and released to wide acclaim, making Rob a wealthy man. But we’re stuck with this world for now, so you should maybe go back and get past issues for this series if you haven’t already. The rest of this issue deals with the horrible monster getting loose in the real world, the missing 200 townspeople, the key to defeating this monster, and the strategies of fighting an invisible monster. It’s a pretty damned great conclusion, all things considered. I loved the creepy teeth in that creature and how they seemed to go on forever, and life continuing to go on as usual so quickly after things wrapped up was nicely done as well. It seems like I’d already declared an older series of Rob’s as my all-time favorite of his (which makes me feel especially stupid for not remembering the name of that series, but it dealt with amusement parts (or my brain has just completely shut down on this topic)), but this one would have to be a close second or third. If you just read the first issue you’d have no idea that things would end this strangely, and that’s exactly how such comics should be done. Check it out and enjoy, and if we all wish hard enough maybe this could magically become a big summer blockbuster movie.


Jackson, Rob – A Handful of Groats



A Handful of Groats

Who likes some good old fashioned mayhem involving knights, mercenaries and castles? Everybody? Excellent. This is the tale of a knight with ambiguous motives who wanders into a small town. This knight goes to the local inn and hears all about the place: it’s being fought over by three people, and their fight is breaking the townsfolk, both financially and physically. So this knight decides that the best way to make a few bucks is by turning these three people even further against each other by killing/kidnapping various members of each group. This is another case where it’s difficult to dig much into anything without giving way too much away, but whether you like your adventure tales grand or maybe not so grand you’ll find plenty to like here. Rob does a great job of plotting everything out intricately while still keeping the allegiances easy for the reader to follow. He’s also come a long way in his depictions of fight scenes, as everything flowed together smoothly from panel to panel. That may sound like faint praise, but it’s really not easy to depict fluid action in a static panel format, and he nailed it. He’s still building an impressive comics library (and he sent along two more books with this, so he’s adding to that library at an impressive pace), and there’s still plenty of stuff in here that just about anybody should at least try out. So hey, if you’re a Game of Thrones fan, but maybe think that that show is somehow not quite cynical enough, you’re in luck!


Jackson, Rob – California #3



California #3

In this issue: shit goes down! There, I’m experimenting with shorter reviews, what with everybody using Twitter and willingly confining themselves to 140 characters per message. Eh, that’s cheating, as I’m assuming people come here to get a little more detail out of their reviews. What’s that? You say it’s mostly just to kill time at work? Fair enough. It’s impossible to say that this is Rob’s strangest comic, because there’s quite a competition for that title, but it’s steadily gaining on his other entries. In this issue Billy confronts Jake in the basement of the church and gets the barest glimpse of what exactly is happening. But when Billy wakes up the next day he discovers that everybody except for the preacher at the other (otherwise abandoned) church has disappeared, he has to go back to his friend from the first issue for advice. And that is when shit goes down. My policy against spoilers has rarely hurt more, but if you think that cover is a rare abstract Rob Jackson cover, nope. That happens in the book, even though you most likely have no idea what’s happening just by looking at it there. Things are “to be continued” again, although I’m guessing from the pace of the story that he meant to say “to be concluded,” but what do I know? This is another impressive series from a man who has built up his own personal library over the last 8 (or so) years, and you should damned well be reading it.