There are some reviews that just write themselves. Look, I’ll give you the part of the lineup (that way part of it is still a mystery!) for the anthology, OK? Neil Fitzpatrick, Souther Salazar, Josh Simmons, Paul Hornschemeier, Marc Bell, Dylan Williams, and Scott Mills. The idea here is that everybody picks up after everybody else, in whatever manner they see fit. For example, Dylan Williams has a short story about a man in a bar, complaining about music, until he sees “Me and My Demon Speeder are Gonna Win This Race” written on the bathroom wall. Marc Bell picks up right there, with a character that only Marc Bell could draw, in a race, on something that looks like a demon speeder. Some of the transitions are smooth, some of them aren’t, but this book is a tremendous experiment regardless. Yes, I know it’s been done before, but this book is $10 and hefty, so it’s nice to see it being done on a larger scale. My only beef is that the pages aren’t marked, so it’s hard at times to tell what artist is drawing certain pages. Still, a minor thing, and something that could probably be remedied with a trip around my website, looking at samples from everybody in it, if only I wasn’t so damned lazy. Here’s hoping the contact info above is correct, it’s the only address I have…
Flummy (art by Scott Mills)
Here’s a mini by two people I like a fair amount. Strangely enough, this one didn’t do much for me. It was a long way to go for a pretty predictable (and stupid) punchline. Still, I’ll bet it was fun for them to do, and maybe it was just obvious and stupid to me. It’s all about Flummy (the alien on the cover) wandering into a business office by mistake. Hilarity ensues, in theory. Ah, it was OK. Check out the website, I’m guessing it’s $2 or so…
Flummery 10th Anniversary Edition Now Available! $3
How does some of the stuff for the online store sit here so long unreviewed anyway?Â It’s almost like I’m making this site up as I go along. Flummery was started in 1995 by Scott Mills and Jeff Sharp.Â 11 issues later, Scott got big and famous (sort of, at least for small press comics) and Jeff gave up the ghost… until now.Â Or, more accurately, then, as this was put out in 2005.Â There’s a whole pile of short pieces in here, some longer than others.Â The highlights to me are the story about Jeff playing Civil War as a child (always as accurately as possible, at least until they got a couple of historically incompatible props), a true story about a man putting his stamp on one of the first things the US shot into space, Jeff’s story from his Uncle Leon on how he almost ran over General Patton, a creepy tale about cutting the heads off some pesky turtles and how said heads could live for days, and the story of how Jeff (as a small child) ruined his new pants and how he covered it up to his mom.Â That’s a lot of highlights, considering there are only a few more stories in here.Â Those are fine too, I’m just mostly ambivalent about them while the stories I mentioned had a tendency to resonate a bit more, for whatever reason.Â This thing has a gorgeous package too, what with the purple cover and the gold print and all.Â Worth checking out for fans of the old Flummery series, or just for people who like a good autobio story every now and then.
Seamonsters & Superheroes #3
I hope you’re all happy! Because you didn’t make Scott rich (apparently), this is probably the last issue of this series. I for one miss having individual issues of comics to look forward to. Sure, you still get stories from the comic greats, but it’s mostly in graphic novel form, and you only get to see those once a year or so at best. Exercise some randomness, for the love of all that is holy! Just do a comic about whatever random stuff pops into your head instead of making sure it all fits neatly into a graphic novel! Economically, I know it’s probably not possible, but there’s always mini comics. OK, rant over. This one is about, surprisingly enough, seamonsters and superheros. You have a joke about a head shop, random three panel funnies, an old Jewish man and an alien partner, legos at war, single panel mayhem, death, a planet of clones, and, of course, giant monsters. It’s the perfect example of making a comic out of every single random thing that comes into your head, and I for one couldn’t be happier. Contact info for Scott is all over the place, I think he should be a rich man, but what do I know? $2.95
Seamonsters & Superheroes #1
Hey, Scott Mills has his own regular series from Slave Labor Graphics! Who knew? A bunch of people, probably, but I rarely get to the comics store these days. This is, as the name implies, a bunch of random stories about seamonsters and superheroes, sometimes together, sometimes separate. This issue is all over the place, frankly, but it’s still a fun book. Stories in here include a regretful ship captain, a quitting superhero, a blob, some dude eating planets, a lover’s quarrel, a superhero on the crappers, the true life story of Scott Mills (or is it?), and stupid aliens. Oh, and more text than you can shake a stick at, although I’m not sure why you thought shaking a stick at something was constructive in any way. There’s also the most detailed description of the next issue that I’ve ever seen (he goes into panel descriptions for certain page, although it’s all in fun) and a description of what it’s all about. In other words, he uses this book to talk about stuff, which is fine with me, as I’m usually curious to see what the guy has to say. It’s $2.95 and well worth a look, I’ll let you know about future issues (although I know #2 is already out). Oh, here’s the Slave Labor website!
Mars Base Super Trio Now Available! $2
You know what I love? When somebody like Scott Mills, after I’ve already read practically everything he’s ever done, is still able to put out something like this that just completely surprised me. Don’t get me wrong, it’s not the best mini in the universe or anything, but it is a lot of fun and it’s very different from just about all of his other work that I’ve seen. What you have here is a trio of folks (obviously) dealing with some serious boredom in space.Also, a character with a giant ass and a space anomaly suddenly gaining awareness and looking for a human body to take over. I don’t want to say too much because this is so tiny, but you get the idea. If you already like Scott Mills you’ll probably check this out sooner or later. If you don’t, well, this isn’t like his regular work, just so you know. Contact info is here and there, and this is also available in the online store…
If you can’t tell by the sheer number of updates on this page, I’ll let you in on a little secret: I like the comics of Scott Mills a whole bunch. That being said, every review I do of him basically starts off with my loving the book, then he has to lose me from there, and he hasn’t really managed that yet. No, that’s probably not fair to all the people who have to win me over, but what are you going to do? This one is about some skinheads (but the good kind) going to a Fugazi show. Yeah, that’s pretty much it. The important part is mostly the dialogue between these, um, lunkheads though, and there’s plenty of that to go around. If anybody out there goes to punk shows, or used to go to punk shows, read this and run down memory lane. If you didn’t, it’s still a fun book that everybody should read, but I am biased. Contact info is above…
Is “this went by way too fast” a valid criticism for a comic? Didn’t think so. If it is, I’m angry at this comic because it only took me about 10 minutes to read it. Still, it’s a great story and there are a lot of things that stick with you when you’re done. It’s the story of a young orphaned girl and an old man who has recently lost his wife in a storm. A coming of age story, if you will. It’s been done before and it’ll be done again, but rarely as well as this. The overwhelming clumsiness of the girl combined with the loneliness of the old man (not that he wants to admit it) make for a poignant duo. Look, I think I’ve made it pretty clear how biased I am towards Scott Mills. I’ve yet to see something from him that I haven’t liked (with the possible exception of Pet Shop Noise, but that was obviously a labor of love and hasn’t been kept in print) and I’d be surprised if he wasn’t a major voice in comics in a few years. That being said, I think he’s improved by leaps and bounds with this one. It a much larger story than I’ve seen from him before, even though it’s broken up (kind of) into little ones. It flows from beginning to end and you empathize with the old man when he has nightmares about losing his wife. Seeing as how we never actually meet her in the comic, that’s a big accomplishment. I could gush about this for hours, so I’ll cut it (relatively) short. Yes, it’s $13 and yes, you can read it in 10 to 15 minutes. But don’t worry, you’ll read it a whole bunch of times and will probably want to loan it out to friends too. It’ll be well loved by all who like comics, I can tell you that much.
Here’s what Scott Mills has to say for himself on the back of Space: “Join me on a journey that will likely be considered my most personal, self-absorbed, pretentious and ultimately pointless work” Honestly, my first impression of this mini was that he didn’t have a clue what he was doing and was just rambling throughout. Of course, I bought this with a bunch of other minis out in L.A. and read a whole pile of them in an afternoon, so a bunch of them didn’t get the attention they deserved. After reading this again so I could review it, it turns out that this deserves a second look.
It’s basically the story of a man (Scott Mills, if I had to guess) who’s tired of the crowds on Earth and decides to leave the planet to search for greener pastures. He wanders around the solar system for a little while and eventually finds another planet that reminds him of Earth, but without all the people. Best line of the book: “Now I’m lonely. No one’s gonna want to hang around a guy that hates everyone”. Anyway, his Sweetie has made it to this new world too, and the next thing you know the new planet is overrun with all his children and he can’t find a quiet spot anywhere.
Perhaps I’ve said too much about the story, but you get the idea. I checked for the link after I finished writing this (learning the lesson that I should definitely research this stuff before I write it) and it turns out that this comic isn’t available anywhere that I can find. If anybody out there knows where to find it, write me. It’s certainly worth seeking out, especially if you’re already a fan of Scott Mills. Hey, you can always e-mail him and bug him to put it back in print, right?
There are certain artists where you can point to their drawing style and see exactly who influenced them. Patrick J. Lee obviously “grew up” on Adrian Tomine, Dave Sim (the early stuff at least) just screams Barry Windsor-Smith, and Scott Mills was clearly influenced by Tom Hart. It’s easy sometimes to stop there, to put the comic down in the store before you buy it because you think maybe that’s all the artist is doing, ripping the guy off. Lucky for me, if I have any money and I see a mini comic in the store, I buy it and give it a chance. This is the best mini I’ve read in the last year, and I’ve read a lot of good stuff in that time.
If you’re one of those people who just want to know whether or not I like a book, well, I liked this one a lot. I think it’s the best single thing he’s done, with the possible exception of Cells, but it’s hard to put them in the same category when Trenches is a fat graphic novel. It’s the story of two brothers and their commanding officer in WWI, and it’s incredible. The battle scenes are complete chaos, the flashbacks to the two brothers growing up make them both completely real by the end of the book, and he just tells a great story. A lot of people would be tempted to dumb this down or to make it “politically correct” to avoid offending anyone, and I’m happy to report that Scott isn’t one of those people. He talked about this a bit in the interview I had with him about nine months ago, and I have to admit that I had high expectations for it. They were met and then some. Some might think that this is an overreaction on my part, but I think this catapults him right alongside all of the other major accomplished comics artists, if he wasn’t there already. That doesn’t pay the bills, but he should at least get the same critical success as Chris Ware and Dan Clowes. He’s not as snooty, granted, but he can tell a hell of a story.
Well, if you’re looking for the opus from Scott Mills, I’d have to say this is it. This book is huge, somewhere around 300 pages (there are no page numbers and I’m not THAT dedicated to getting that exactly right). The story here is that it’s 2040 and a scientist is looking to fix the eventual death of the universe in trillions of years by throwing off the orbits of a few planets and creating his own event singularity. He gets an ex-wife and his estranged brother to witness his acts, but things go horribly wrong and they end up wandering the galaxy together, sleeping for billions of years at times to travel the necessary distances. The science of this seems sound, at least based on what little I know, and it’s a fascinating concept that’s done pretty well. Heck, there’s even a vengeful alien tracking them through space because of their accidental destruction of his world, so there’s even drama a’plenty. My only problem with this is that the people were a bit too unflappable, as they woke up at one point, 40,000 years in the future, and didn’t even stop to mention the fact that everybody and everything they ever knew was long dead. Things like that would have really humanized the story, making it maybe a bit more accessible to people who might be a bit turned off by the sheer science of the thing. I liked it, as I’m hopelessly biased towards his work and think the story more than made up for my quibbles, so that’s bottom line to this rambling. It has a cover price of $24.95 but I got it cheap through that Top Shelf Comix sale, so maybe it’s available elsewhere for a bit cheaper than that cover price, if you were willing to wander online a bit…
Zebediah the Hillbilly Zombie Redneck Bites the Dust Now Available! $10.95
I remember reading back in high school that Dostoevsky was paid by the word, which is why all of his books were so long. Of course, he’s probably the best single writer in the history of fiction, so it was a good thing that he was motivated to ramble a bit. What does this have to do with Scott Mills? Well, if he got paid by the mini comic and/or graphic novel, he’d be a very rich man. I don’t know anybody outside of James Kochalka who has a larger body of work in the small press business. Luckily he also has some serious range, which is what makes him so unique. This one is about Zebediah, a zombie with a heart of gold. Well, as much as a zombie can have, anyway. Also you have a mad scientist who’s determined to screw up the parts of the world that weren’t already destroyed by the zombies, elves who want to make the world grow again, and a conjoined killer. Oh, and some of the most incomprehensible zombie dialogue that you’re likely to see, but then, how clear did you expect zombies to be? They’re not here to enunciate, you know. Good stuff again, with the usual caveat that it’s a bit expensive to spend $10.95 on something that takes you 5 minutes to read, but it is a really great 5 minutes…
Memory Palace of Rocket
My old timey reviews continue, as this mini comic is from the ancient year 2000.Â Can you still buy it anywhere?Â I sure doubt it, and it didn’t look like it from Scott’s website.Â Hey, at least he’s still making comics.Â Reviewing these older minis and checking up on what these artists are doing now can be a depressing business, or at least it can be if they’ve given up comics altogether.Â Depressing for me at least, it’s entirely possible that they’re all much happier without them.Â This comic is all about Scott’s memory palace, which is exactly what it sounds like: an imaginary place full of his memories.Â The trouble is that there’s also an evil version of Scott running around this memory palace, and they’re bound to run into each other before the tour (which the good Scott is giving to the reader) is over.Â It’s a fascinating peek into his mind, as he shows various things from memory or from his imagination.Â Honestly, I mostly picked this from his old pile of minis to review because of that classic ending, which I am bound not to repeat here in a review.Â It’s a shame, but what are you going to do?Â If you can find this I recommend it, but good luck with that.Â Maybe once the rental program starts up you’ll be able to read it like that…Â $3
The Final Curtain
More old minis from Scott, one of those rare artists who got me interested (and KEPT me interested) in this small press nonsense to begin with.Â This one is a straight-up science fiction tale, telling the story of a young man who comes from a race so long-lived that he was a mere child at eight millenia.Â He is given a tour of a certain part of the universe, learns that free will is the key to everything, eventually finds out that the end of the universe is coming, and it’s inescapable.Â Instead of accepting that conclusion, he uses his science to try and escape from the universe as we know it, and Scott was nice enough to put his story into a comic book.Â Or possibly he made it all up, as writers usually do.Â Anybody with a halfway decent screen can see that I got this at Chicago Comics, which is still an essential stop if you’re ever in the area, but I have my doubts that this is widely available in any form.Â Why?Â Because small press artists hate their fans and never want their old work to be readily available, that’s why.Â If all goes well that will be at least slightly changing around here in the very near future…
Tea Now Available! $4
You can see the names on the cover, right? I always feel like these reviews are a waste of time, because anybody who reads the site on a regular basis and/or knows mini comics knows that it would be tough for a collection like that to be terrible. So what’s good? The story from Clutch, about a woman going on a first date with a guy she likes and having to break down and tell him that she really doesn’t like tea, Dave Kiersh getting grabby, Dan Zettwoch revealing a secret recipe, and Scott Mills talking about his mom. Nothing particularly bad about this at all, although I think I liked Garlic better. Probably just the subject matter. Oh, and these are both now available, so check them out, or just go to the website if you need more convincing.