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Seck, Steve – Monday Saddies #2



Monday Saddies #2

There’s no way that the “Locker Junk” story should have worked, but it ended up being pretty damned funny. I love it when comics end up working out like that, and in a perfect world it would make a great cartoon. Oh hi, did I start in the middle of the comic? Yeah, kind of. This one starts off with new characters from the last issue, so don’t be alarmed if you missed the first one. First up is the pair featured on the cover, as a bored young man suddenly has a ghost pop into his life. His immediate assumption that this ghost must be a member of the KKK was hilarious, and the revelation that this ghost died in 1983 and missed all kinds of important events could be fodder for many comics to come. Or the story could have come to an end in this issue, as the main problem seemed to be all the movies that the ghost never got a chance to watch. Anyway, there’s that initial “origin story” and another shorter piece where they try to watch the movie that the ghost never got to watch when he was alive, and they’re split up by the story of the locker objects. Ordinarily in stories like this (food items coming to life), there’s a certain uniformity to the proceedings. Either everybody can talk or nobody can, or maybe just the food items, or the inanimate objects, whatever. This time around none of that holds, as the main characters are a sandwich in plastic, a can of peanuts (?), a rubber band and a banana. Their only contact with “god” comes when he/she puts items into the locker or takes them out, and the items have a wild range of intelligence. There’s the horrific dirty gym bag that can relate on the level of watching a video of a farting donkey with the can of peanuts, the “elders” (who aren’t very smart, just old) and a couple of items that had clearly lost their mind from being neglected for so long. Again, it shouldn’t work as a story, but Steve pulled it off beautifully. Oh, and that last image of god may or may not haunt you, depending on your religious upbringing. $5


Gennis, Emi (editor) – Unknown Origins & Untimely Ends



Unknown Origins & Untimely Ends

You should have a pretty easy time knowing whether or not you’d be inclined to like this book from the title alone, and I’m happy to tell you that the contents more than live up to it. Emi has been doing mini comics on this theme for a few years now, and she took her chance to edit this anthology and ran with it, doing a really fantastic job of picking out/accepting these stories. I should say up front that I have no patience for those stupid “ghost hunting” shows with the shaky cams and the loud noises and won’t believe that aliens have visited us until I see solid proof (which is not the same thing as declaring that no other life exists in the universe), but overall this isn’t that type of book. These are all, as Emi says in the introduction, unsolved mysteries, so the reader doesn’t get the satisfaction of getting the story neatly tied up in a bow by the end. Instead you’re left wondering what the hell happened for these 32 stories. If you’re a naturally curious person and/or at all interested in the weird and bizarre then you’ve probably already stopped reading this and ordered a copy. For those of who are too polite to quit reading in the middle of the review (and it’s OK if you do, I’ll never know), subjects include a mysterious gelatinous goo that rained down on a town, the monster with 21 faces, an unexplained shower of meat from the sky, an arcade game that quickly came and went in 1981 under mysterious circumstances, a tumor that was bigger than the carrier, Gef (of which I will say no more but this may have been the most intriguing tale in the book), that weird hum in the air that some people can hear all the time, the Nain Rouge and his continuing destruction of Detroit, the money pit of Oak Island (which some bored billionaire should look into), creepy kids with black eyes trying to enter homes, the Leatherman and theories of who he might have been, unsolved murders at a campsite, the former Prime Minister of Australia vanishing while swimming, the missing body of Addie Mae Collins, why 9 campers in Siberia ran from the safety of their tent (sometimes barefoot) and why they never went back to it, two bodies and their lead masks, Rasputin (an oldie but a goodie), Frederick Valentich and the UFO that seemed to by toying with him, D.B. Cooper and his disappearance (it’s an ever funnier story to anybody who watched Justified this season), a bridge where 600 dogs have committed suicide, the Axeman, and a serious skeleton in the closet of Orson Welles (possibly). DC comics used to do a series of “Big Books” on various subjects, and after seeing this I’d suggest that they start it up again and put Emi in charge. Not every story was perfect, granted, but good luck not having several of these stories haunt your dreams. Also good luck on not taking to the internet to learn more about them, as I already know how I’m spending the rest of my afternoon. And look at that pile of talent in the tags section! Why would you possibly need any more convincing to check this out? $12


Various Artists – Fuzy




Finally, an anthology all about beards! Shame on you, comic universe, for not making this happen up until now. Or if you did and I just missed it, well, forget what I just said. You wouldn’t think that the range of possible beard stories would be all that large, but you would be wrong. Steve Seck starts things off with “The Beard’s Beard’s Beard,” which makes perfect sense when you read it. Let’s just say that it’s all about the beard of a famous actor, the home life of this beard, the beard that he married as a “beard” against his homosexuality, and his lover. I couldn’t get past the question of where exactly a female beard would go on an actual female, especially considering its shape, but it’s probably best to leave that alone. Next up is Baldemar Byars with his tale of growing a beard after heading off to college in 1966, including the panicked reactions of his family and the alarming reactions by some of the anarchists on campus at the time. Jonathan Pekin is up next and he answers the timeless question: in a zombie apocalypse, is the apocalypse itself more traumatic than losing a beard? Sango Imai-Hall shows how awesome a bearded woman warrior could be, and Aaron Cockle shows a long philosophical conversation between two bearded men that might confuse you a bit until you get to the payoff, but it’s worth the ride. Jeff Mumm may have the best story in the collection next (although there are many contenders): a silent tale of a guinea pig and his quest for a beard. It’s done in old-timey animation style, with unexpected, arguably unnecessary and hilarious violence all over the place, and I’m not going to ruin a bit of it for you. Mark Thisse wraps it up with his tale of the missing beard of a magician, and he might have the best title in a bunch of good ones. This is made for bearded people, but even people who can’t grow a beard (most ladies and even some men) should appreciate this chance to see how the other half lives. Well, the other 1/10 maybe, as not that many people really grow beards. $6


Seck, Steve – Monday Saddies! #1



Monday Saddies! #1

Go ahead, make a first impression based on that cover. It shouldn’t be too difficult, with what appear to be three depressed and/or confused characters. That hat on the bear makes it obvious that it’s a talking bear (what other type of bear would wear a hat? Don’t be silly), and you might also get that same impression from the snake because he’s sitting at the table. Do you have that impression firmly established in your head? Yeah, you’re wrong. Or if you end up not being wrong, you might want to look into getting psychiatric help. Things start off with the ranger taking a bunch of kids camping, hoping to show them some constellations. This plan is interrupted by the snake, who has recently purchased a bat signal and is loathe to turn it off. Mayhem ensues, the snake gets the better of the ranger, and you might think that it would turn into a wacky adventure with the ranger trying to put one over on that rascally snake. Well, no. It turns out that the ranger likes getting beat up a little too much, and tries to escalate things with the snake. Meanwhile, the snake (and he’s called Sweetie Snake, which is too awesome for me not to mention) learns that he isn’t exactly punishing the ranger by attacking him, and asks that talking bear for advice. I should say no more, as you should see how the rest of this goes down for yourselves (and the fate of that bear had me laughing out loud), but it’s very much worth a look. And apparently future issues will have entirely different characters, which already has me wondering what Steve comes up with next. $5


Seck, Steve – Life is Good #7


Life is Good #7

Is this the end for our heroes? I can’t explain that any more without giving away way too much, but this issue ended with a few big things wrapped up and no clear direction moving forward. Which would be fine; this comic has been fun but I wouldn’t mind seeing Steve branch out a bit. Then again, he invested so much time in these characters that I am a little curious to see what he’d do next. Mr. Decisive, that’s me. So how about the specifics of this one? Things start with a very thorough recap (I have just enough of an ego to think that maybe my incessant pestering on this issue is getting through to a few people which, if true, will have made it all worthwhile), then Brownie has a chat with the Sewer Gator about the direction of his comic (which the Sewer Gator stole and published without Brownie knowing about it). Meanwhile, Charles is eating himself to death in his effort to stop littering and Dr. Peace Rock has a plan to pin everything on Charles (and get back in the good graces of Unity). This wouldn’t sound all that strange if it wasn’t for the cast of characters, but there are no actual humans in this comic and even the background characters are odd enough to make you sit up and take note. Anyway, things come to the confrontation that has been coming for issues now, but I can’t really talk about that, so you’ll just have to read it to see what happens. Or if you haven’t read the rest of the series then I guess you don’t have to read it to see what happens, but I think the whole thing is worth a look. Hey, come to think of it, now it’s about the perfect size for a collected edition, and it’s a finite story to boot. I’ve stumbled across his master plan! In case I didn’t talk about the specifics enough this time around (I do have a tendency to ramble about ancillary things), his art has only gotten better and has moved up to “pretty damned good,” and I’d even say that the plotting has gotten tighter. The writing was never bad, but it’s remained entertaining all the way through, and who can ask for more? $4

Seck, Steve – Life is Good #6


Life is Good #6

Huzzah to Steve for including a concise, informative recap of past issues right on the inside front cover! Hey, if I’m going to bitch about all the people who don’t take that simple step, it stands to reason that I should praise the people who manage to do it, right? Anyway, if you’re not caught up in the series and have plans to at some point (it’s generally funny with a thoroughly ridiculous cast of characters and it looks great, so why wouldn’t you?), I’ll probably spoil a few bits from the past. This time around Charles is trying to come to grips with his “littering addiction,” Sewer Gator gets his revenge on Charles (possibly the most good-natured beating I’ve ever seen), and Peace Rock and Unity Flower continue to see their relationship fall apart (and she finally starts to see through Unity Flower). Also starring Brownie! Seriously, it’s odd that what started out as the main character gets less focus this time around, but at this point all of the other characters are more interesting anyway. Not that Brownie doesn’t have a thing to do, as his crudely drawn daily comics are discovered by Sewer Gator, who then exploits them for all they’re worth. That opening scene with Charles talking about his litter addiction in front of an AA group was beautiful, as was Unity Flower’s hiring a worker to take care of his duties. Steve’s built up a nice little universe here and it’ll be interesting to see what he makes of it over the coming issues. $4

Seck, Steve – Life is Good #5


Life is Good #5

Steve went and snuck in an extra comic along with #5, as this is a flip book that also contains #4. If you already bought #4, well, tough luck I guess. You could always give your original copy to somebody else who might like it to try and get Steve another regular reader, or you could just silently fume about it, but there are plenty of worse things to be mad about if that’s the way you wanted to go. Anyway, this issue, as you could probably tell from the cover, deals with Unity Flower and Dr. Peace Rock. Just the two of them, so if you’re looking for that elusive character development of the main characters, forget it. If you’re looking for development of these side characters (that may blossom into main characters, what do I know about it?) then you’re in luck! Unity Flower is, it turns out, desperately lonely. She’s been having a really rough time of it in the online dating world, so when a hippie comes into her bookstore and takes an interest in how she runs the place, she naturally becomes way too trusting way too fast. Dr. Peace Rock has his own ideas for an ideal bookstore, and they tend to equal very few people actually buying books at the store. Other than that the issue is a descent into hippie madness, as being a vegan was declared to be not pure enough and selling fiction books in her bookstore was considered to be morally indefensible. From there it’s all about Unity trying to figure out if not being alone with somebody that she was gradually starting to hate was worth the trouble. No sense in totally spoiling the ending, but Steve finally referenced back to that scene in #2 with these two stumbling across the drinking pond. The trouble is that that exact scene was a little hazy in my mind (I do read a lot of these funny books and my memory has never been the greatest), so I could have used a bit more of a refresher than an instruction to buy #2 if I was interested. It’s around here somewhere, and that’s a minor complaint anyway. There are also a few extra pages of content to make you slightly less cranky if you already bought #4, but if you decide to make this issue your life’s cause then I guess you can just wait for the hypothetical collection to come out. That’ll show him! $4

Seck, Steve – Life is Good #4


Life is Good #4

Steve apparently decided to skip all that character development stuff this time around and went with an issue that was all about drinking and hanging out with an asshole.  Not that there’s anything wrong with that, this still being a free country for at least another week and all, but it was a little jarring.  Brownie is on top of the world and heads off to a bar that is celebrating happy hour all day.  Apparently he found a job?  That should warrant at least a mention.  Anyway, he meets Charles at the bar, but Sewer Gator is with him, and the two of them start a drinking contest.  Brownie finally convinces Charles to ditch the loser, but he is drunk so his definition of “ditching” involves telling the guy where they are going to escape his company.  A literal pissing contest ensues and, without giving too much more away, I do very much approve of the depiction of cops as literal fuzz.  It ends up being a pretty funny comic, but I was just starting to get a wee bit invested in the characters and only fleeting references to their lives are included in this issue.  Ah well, can’t have everything, and a good comic is still a good comic even if it’s not exactly what I was looking for.  It’s smaller than the other ones, so it’s a measly $2 this time around if you’re just looking to give the series a try.

Seck, Steve – Life is Good #3


Life is Good #3

Reality is starting to sink in by this issue for Brownie, as he sees that those precious unemployment benefits aren’t going to cut it but he still has time to kill before he can find another job.  While having no money and living in a big city.  Hijinx ensue, as it really is tough to find anything entertaining to do for free in such an environment.  Then there’s the return of the altruistic hippies who are, surprise surprise, mostly in it to make themselves feel better and not so much to help others or the world.  I know, that’s a horrible thing to say about the hippies who really are trying to save the world, but I’ve met a lot more hippies in my time who just wanted the moral high ground than I have hippies who really wanted to save the planet.  The ones who were most amusing were the ones who didn’t get the disconnect, but then again I am generally profoundly cynical and the inevitable destruction of the planet doesn’t amuse most people as much as it does me. Yep, I can still bring a review down, no question about it.  Other happenings this time around include a drunk fight on the street that costs money to watch (and the method for blocking out this fight was hysterical), hanging out with a friend who used to be cool and seeing how sad his life has gotten, and the lengths these two will go to in order to get booze when they’re both broke.  Once again it’s a pile of funny, especially if you’re unemployed or have been recently and can relate to exactly what these sad sacks are talking about. Check it out why don’t you, that creature that blocks their view of the fight is worth the price of admission all by himself… $4

Seck, Steve – Life is Good #2


Life is Good #2

Hippies!  You see a couple of them on the cover, looming over the city like some bespectacled Godzillas.  Godzilli?  I don’t think there was ever a need for a plural of “Godzilla,” so who knows?  Anyway, hippies are a good chunk of the theme this issue, as Charles wakes up from another drunken bender to hear two hippies bemoaning the sad state of his pond before it devolves into an argument about bumper stickers.  Naturally, they decide to team up on some sort of crusade that isn’t clearly defined yet, but there are still two more issues to come in this pile, so I’m sure all will be made clear later.  Meanwhile Brownie wakes up after that same bender, needing to get down to the unemployment office, with very little time to spare and no money.  After not doing much but getting drunk for a few days he doesn’t look all that presentable, and that’s not necessarily the best shape to enter an unemployment office in.  Good news follows, unexpectedly so, but you have to realize that this would be a pretty boring comic if it really stayed good news, right?  It’s another solid issue, and damned relatable to me in my current unemployed state (except for the whole “getting unemployment checks” angle; no, nobody pays me to write on my own website about comics.) The character development is still a bit on the thin side, but this is a funny book, not something that is designed to delve into the past of these two and find out why Charles is so lazy.  A couple of clues would be nice, but it’s early in the series yet and Steve still does an excellent job of nailing the funny bits.  Check it out already, chances are it will make you smile, and there’s not a thing wrong with that.  $4

Seck, Steve – Life is Good #1


Life is Good #1

Ah, the idea of all creatures living together in harmony.  I don’t think that was on Steve’s mind as he wrote and drew this, but I generally can’t read minds, so what do I know?  I was mostly commenting on the fact that there are so many different anthropomorphized beings in this comic that it has to represent some sort of perfect world.  There’s the bottle on the cover (the main character, and that makes it extra funny when he eventually descends into drunkenness), an alligator, a carrot, a cat, snakes, a chicken, an octopus, a dog, an ice cream cone, a turtle, a mustard bottle, a pig, and something that appears to the letter “T” with eyes.  If nothing else, the man gets points for creativity.  Anyway, things start off with Brown (the main character, also know as “Brownie”) in a meeting with his boss.  He obviously isn’t thought of all that highly, as his boss takes a lengthy call with the, um, “guy” still sitting there, and the boss eventually gets down to the business of firing him.  Sure, it’s a lousy job, but Brown had always hoped to quit in a blaze of glory, and getting fired has robbed him of that plan.  Brown’s friend Charles the alligator (or is it a crocodile?  What’s the difference again?) insists that Brown get drunk for at least a week, as getting fired for the first time is a perfect excuse to do so, and Brownie eventually succumbs, but only after a seriously bizarre dream.  Hijinx, naturally, ensue.  Steve has a great ear for dialogue, as several simple lines left me chuckling that could have been banal as hell in the wrong hands. This is early days of the series (he sent along the next three issues as well), and the backgrounds are occasionally a little scratchy or vague, but the variety of the characters helps a lot, as does the engaging nature of the story.  It’s possible you’ve read your last mini comic story about getting fired and moving on with your life afterwards, but if you aren’t predisposed against the genre so far I’d say this is worth a look.  It’s hard to hate something that is this consistently funny and engaging unless you’re just trapped in a cycle of cynicism…  $4

Seck, Steve – The Trial of Sweetie Snake


The Trial of Sweetie Snake

It’s not every day that you see a snake with a five o’clock shadow.  That’s the adorably named Sweetie Snake on the cover (duh, and no, it didn’t come all crumpled up, that’s just what the cover looks like), and it takes a little while to get him to trial.  Sweetie Snake, at the outset, could be mistaken for old school Bugs Bunny, as he is scooped up out of the river by an inbred prospector and goes on to a series of escalating pranks until his true nature comes out.  Hey, he is a snake, after all.  A sheriff stumbles across the scene, Sweetie ends up on trial for murder, then things get into O.J. Simpson territory, although it’s tricky to say more without giving away the ending.  The comic occasionally wanders over the line between funny and mean, but only for a split second and it still manages to keep it funny.  That’s probably not going to make sense to anybody without full access to my brain, but it makes sense to me.  The art maintains a cartoonish quality, but that probably has something to do with this basically being an illustrated cartoon.  I have plenty of other books from Steve to come, as he took me up on my challenge to send enough books along for me to review them once a week, so I should get a better sense of his skills in the coming weeks.  As for this one, it was funny, those newspaper titles were hilarious, and he managed to make the very dated O.J. Simpson references seem relevant.  Good stuff, that’s what I’m getting at.  $4