Hey, Slither! It’s been ages. For people who don’t follow the website or Kelly’s work, that’s not to say that she’s been slacking for years, that after starting Slither 8-10 years ago (at a pure guess) she’s just been coasting. She’s done plenty of other mini comics, and at least a few of them that referred to this period in her life. Anyway, this one is all about her last year of art school in Vancouver and her falling in love with her current boyfriend (it always feels stupid to call somebody that when they’re over 30, but I’ve never been able to come up with a good alternative either. “Significant other” is just odd). The introduction mentions that she intended to finish this in 2006, so I guess you could call it late, but it fits right in with the other issues of Slither. Stories include her little section of Vancouver (and how her friends and everything that mattered was within walking distance), her awful experiences with her printmaking teacher, her boyfriend coming to visit and that developing into a situation where he was soon moving in, various activities around town, spending time in Georgia, her bad movie club (wasn’t Larry Drake, the “mentally challenged” character from L.A Law, in The Dentist too?), mice in her apartment, and finally graduation. It’s another solid mix of short pieces that leads up to her life during that years and, as always, I think you should buy it. What can I say, I remain biased towards the good stuff. Oh, and one more thing as a general reminder to people who send review comics: if I don’t review your comic within a few months of you sending it (depends entirely on how much of a backlog I have to get through), then that means either it got lost in the mail or it got lost here. Mounds of mini comics are not a good organizing system, but maybe the second decade of this site is when I’ll finally get that shit organized. For everybody who doesn’t send me review comics, please disregard that entirely and just buy her comic already. $2
Slither #6 Now Available! $1
Kelly takes care of one of the worst problems with autobio comics right away here, as she has plenty of interesting things to write about. A fair amount of comics like this are just plain dull, and that is never an issue with this one. This covers the summer of 2005 and as such it’s a remarkably focused book, sticking to a pretty strict timeline. It starts off with an awkward date with an internet friend (portrayed as one silent page of panels) and keeps right on going from there into living with her parents again (at age 31, briefly), trying to find a summer job, her dealings with the people at her pizza place job, saying goodbye to everybody, taking a trip to Seattle and finally ending up back in Vancouver. She uses all sorts of different techniques here, sometimes going with silent stories following text pieces, sometimes going with the more traditional comics with text (although no word balloons, maintaining an unintentional website theme for the day), and occasionally even going with photographs. It’s a great layout for a book and even ends on a bit of a cliffhanger, even though I have some idea how it turns out, as this was about the summer of 2005, after all. And all that for a measly buck!
Slither #5 Now Available! $2
I suppose I should pick one issue out of all these Slithers and recommend it to anybody who wants to get a good example of Kelly’s work. And that would be… this one! It’s odd, because this is the least “comic-y” of all her issues, as the bulk of this issue is a text description of her second semester at art school in Baltimore. Luckily for the reader, Kelly is equally capable of excellent writing as she is at the pretty pictures. Things are broken down into seemingly minute detail, but it never manages to get dull. She tries to adjust to a new city while having no money and few friends, starts counting all the time she’s wasting waiting for the perpetually late bus, walks the usual tightrope of trying to keep peace with a roommate, and starts a phone relationship with somebody she met online. This relationship seems to be the thing that takes the most out of her, as this guy lives across the country and their phone conversations pretty much have to occur at (for her) 3 in the morning. As usual, Kelly doesn’t disappoint with the effortless honesty in describing how things went with the guy, even including a free insert comic detailing how their eventual meeting turned out. It’s rare that you can curl up with a mini comic, but on this rainy March day this was a damned welcome way to spend a chunk of the afternoon. In my continued war against chronological order, this is the last issue of the Slither pile reviewed, and I have to honestly say that you could pick any issue out of this pile and still see what she’s capable of. A bit of a rarity, especially considering how first issues are generally just hints of what’s to come. She did improve over the course of the issues, granted, but there’s plenty to love all the way through. $2
Slither #4 (art by Chris Warren & Aaron Mew) Now Available! $1
Checking over that last review I can see that Kelly promised depravity this time around, and she delivers! Or at least she delivers if you consider talking about sex like an adult talking to other adults “depravity”. This issue covers a time span (I believe) through 2004, dealing with such things as traveling, dealing with her family for a wedding, visiting all sorts of friends, trying to imagine how she could ever fit in in New York, the sheer delight of kicking an asshole in a movie theater as he walks by, and Warren. Warren was her love interest (is there a more modern term for that I could use? “Love interest” makes me feel downright prim and proper) at the time, and Kelly honestly goes through how they got together, how she resisted at first but eventually got won over, how Warren lost interest once he saw that he had achieved his conquest, and how she let the whole thing die. The thing I love most about Kelly’s descriptions of her relationships is the absolute lack of any self pity. She tells a story about Warren telling her a pretty cruel thing, but it’s very clearly told because it’s an integral part of the story, not out of some desire to get sympathy from the reader. Self-indulgent auto-bio cartoonists, take note. The issue wraps up with the reader matching outfits to their respective cities, and a listing of the various types of people who ride buses, and I think I’ve seen all of them except the overtly paranoid guy. Another excellent issue, and anybody who doesn’t take a few minutes (and a few dollars) to get a stack of her comics is only hurting themselves.
Slither #3 Now Available! $1
It’s the second year of Kelly’s time at art school, and this issue goes through the horrors involved, or at least the highlights. Maybe “horrors” is too strong a word, maybe “uselessness” or “inanity” would be a better word. Essentially she’s there trying to learn, improve her craft, get a little sense of art history, that sort of thing, and what she gets are egocentric teachers: one who wants to do her work for her, one who has a creepy alter ego, and one who is so in love with the sound of his own voice that the class is lucky to get any useful information at all. She goes through the rest of her year in this issue as well, telling us all about nights out, a sexy wedding, an art show, her intimidating pilates class, an awkward night on stage with a comedian, a date with a filmmaker, and some things she will both have and never have, given her debt and imagined status in life, I suppose. It’s all wrapped up with a few pages of looks people cultivate to find a soul mate, and good luck not finding something to laugh at there. Another solid issue, although you have to forgive me if I’m a little more excited for the next issue, as she promises depravity inside. Yes, it’s Monday and I’m already looking for more depravity… $1
Slither #2 Now Available! $1
So who wants to read the sometimes painful process of living with your parents out in the middle of nowhere (Wisconsin) while pushing 30? Kelly has yet to disappoint with one of her minis and this one is no exception. This issue tells the tale of the time with her parents, with flashbacks thrown in occasionally to illustrate who exactly these people are and their meaning in her life. She also goes through a failed romance over her time in Wisconsin with an old friend who just happens to be married. Most of the book is dedicated to this time in her life, with the last few pages telling a morality tale about how maybe it’s not so bad to be trapped in corporate life after all. Another engrossing issue, if it wasn’t for my personal policy of reviewing stuff from people sporadically instead of all in a row (to give more theoretical readers a chance to see their name on the front page) I would have torn through all five issues already. $1
Slither #1 Now Available! $1
And here I thought these Slithers were going to be something of a straight line in the life of Kelly. Turns out that there are plenty of surprises still to come in issues 2-5, as #6 (the one reviewed first, for anybody who’s reading this, not looking inside my head and is a bit confused) appears to come directly after #1, at least chronologically. This issue details Kelly’s return to college after about ten years away, her living with two stoners (never, ever rent a house unseen), trying to make friends in Vancouver, a spider with a vendetta, and a few throwaway pages at the end with senior pictures. It’s always tough to say, when checking out the early work of somebody you like, whether that work is going to be painful, watching them learn as they go. Kelly has the storytelling figured out right off the bat (although the art does get better as she goes) and I’m really looking forward to filling in the blanks in this series in the coming weeks. $1