I took a trip to Grand Rapids Michigan and visited the Vault of Midnight location there. They had a rack of local comics, and I quickly snatched a couple of titles. Here’s what I found:
SarahLife | An Autobiographical Comic by Sarah Wood
This is a 26 page black and white digest sized comic with a card stock color cover featuring Sarah hording some glowing crystals. Sarah Wood, the cartoonist who made this, was 18 at the time (2014). The comics are mostly 4 panel strips that last a page each, and they are funny. This book claims to be autobio, but it flows from bit to bit like a good standup comedy routine. One example of a strip titled “Steven Ogg” features one couch-reclining Sarah staring at her phone and another person nearby (possibly a sibling or a friend). Sarah: “Oh my god, Steven Ogg is so hot” Friend: “Gross, stop.” Sarah: “No OMG look at him!!!” Friend: “If you keep talking about Steven Ogg I will stab you in the crotch.” A wordless panel follows where the 2 characters continue to stare at their own phones, then a final panel with Sarah: “I wish Steven Ogg would stab me in the crotch.” Friend: “Oh my god stop.” It’s plain that Sarah gets how funny the shallowest parts of our psyches can be, and she leans into it with her comics. This first volume continues with various scenarios of Sarah accidentally catching the football in gym class to not deleting photos of Daft Punk on her phone.
Books by Sarah Wood (including Sarahlife volume 2?!?) can be found here:
The Nunica Falls Plumbing Repair Co. 1 and Butcher Bob and the Quest for the Origami Salami 1 | Simon Scheer
When I go to a comic shop and look at small press and locally made books, I purposefully steer clear of the indy crowd-funded glossy hype and go for the xeroxed barely held together low-fi stuff tucked away usually on a bottom shelf. That’s where I found Simon Scheer’s work. There is no contact information on these 2 comics, so I don’t know how to get in touch with Simon, but if anyone does, please let me know. His first 2 issues are an earnest attempt to make a comic about plumbers who fall into a fantasy world, clearly inspired by some other plumbers that need not be mentioned. The drawings are the works of a beginner, but the vision is broad and impressively executed. What is normally seen in kids comics is a rush to the finish line, but Simon is taking his sweet time with the plot. The plumbers don’t actually show up for a house call until page 6. It takes Simon 6 pages loaded with small panels to set us up with a young couple’s plumbing problems, which may have something to do with a diaper that accidentally got flushed. The plumbers get to work for the remaining pages of the book and are eventually transported to another world in the very last panel, a world we don’t get to see, and the issue is OVER. After reading this, I just put the book down and smiled over the fact that I had just read a comic book entirely devoted to a single plumbing problem. The back of the book has a 1 page 17 panel (Yep, Simon’s pages are very dense!) comic strip called “Llama Spitting Contest.”
Simon’s other comic I picked up, Butcher Bob and the Quest for the Origami Salami, is paced just like his other work. We start out reading about Bob, not as a Butcher, but as a kid in daycare when he first realizes he wants to become a butcher. Eventually we come to the point in Bob’s life where he is a butcher, but he doesn’t sell salami until one day, a very pushy customer forces his hand and he feels compelled to go on a quest to find a supplier of good quality salami. On a tip from a genie, he takes a flight to Albania. Once he lands, he gets a bit frantic trying to find his genie friend, who eventually appears again to help him by promising to hook him up with a contact. A giant foot steps in at the end, and Bob looks up in fear at what he sees, but we never see what he finds because the book is OVER. The back cover features a comic of robots fighting, but it’s actually an ad telling us to pick up the next issue of Butcher Bob at Vault of Midnight. So I’m guessing Simon is content selling his works at that store. Perhaps if you find yourself in Grand Rapids, try to find some of his comics. They’re really fun.