Gator Town 3 and 4
More Gator Town, folks. More Gator Town. Dissmeyer lives in Nebraska. Lots of gators up there, so I’m sure there’s no one more qualified to make tons of comics about them. And he’s got issues 3 and 4 of Gator Town for me. When a gator in Gator Town orders a large, you better not be giving him any wimpy babies. He wants the large, okay?!? Mushy pokes the gator on the back cover. Quit poking the gator, Mushy! Now on to issue 4. Oh, man, it gets dark at times! But there’s the lighter fare too … like a cute baby gator being entertained by a mobile over his crib made of human feet. God, I love Gator Town (as you know since I also reviewed issues 1 and 2), but I hope my boat never sinks near that island. I would hate to wash ashore only to be greeted by a gator holding knife and fork wearing a napkin and a big grin. These are 8 page stapled mini comics. Everything else in this review is a one page folded into 4 page mini comic.
Mushy Offline (Gator Town 3.5)
Lots of jokes about not having any connection to media. Mushy starts it off by gleefully tossing his phone into the toilet, then almost immediately missing his friend “Phonie.” My favorite strip is the one about Dune. I once committed to reading the entire book of Dune on the toilet (this was college). My roommates all adopted the phrase “taking a duner” to mean “going to use the restroom.” Update: I did accomplish my goal … did Mushy? I’m not sure. One of our gator friends makes a tragic appearance in this mini comic. Urp!
G. Ballard’s Plauge of Comics (Gator Town 4.5)
Words by J. G. Ballard accompanied by Dissmeyer’s imagery featuring, Mushy, some gators from Gator Town (yes!), and J.G. Ballard himself. It makes you think … why a plague of comics? Is that Dissmeyer’s ideal dystopian future for all of us? Is he the harbinger of this plague? Is J.G. Ballard? I am just happy this plague keeps infecting my mailbox. Update: Clark Dissmeyer tells me that it’s because his first mini comic from 1980 was called “Plague of Humor.” Here’s a look at issue 3.
Swamp Murder (Gator Town 5)
A poem by Robert E. Howard is recited by Mushy, as a red eyed gator lurks in the swamp. I love how whenever a gator gets ready to eat, he produces a knife and fork. Where does he keep his utensils? I’m always missing them whenever I’m on a road trip. I wish I knew the gator’s secret. For this one, Dissmeyer gives a bit of red to the otherwise black and white mini comic. I’m sure he hand-colors every copy!
The title and theme shifted in the last few Gator Town comics to be quotes from literature. I’m guessing Dissmeyer has been reading a lot during the pandemic. This issue are excerpts from various works including “Franklin Jones” by Edgar Lee Masters, Osip Mandelstam, “Gold Unicorn” by Tanith Lee, and “The Triumph of Bohemia” by George Sterling. All quotes seem to tie in a theme about the insignificance of any effort done by ourselves or even nature in the infinite expanse of time. Mushy recites in a somber and sometimes tearful tone, and yet … it’s Mushy the mushroom.
The Gold Bug Variatons
This feels like another “Mushy Reads”, but has it’s own title (borrowed from the novel by Richard Powers). Mine came with a bug hand-colored in gold on the front cover! We get more quotes recited by Mushy including something from D.H. Lawrence, some funny afterthoughts from Mushy about awkward expressions by Henry James, and it’s topped off with a famous Walt Whitman quote from “Song of Myself.” You know the one. This mini comic is landscape one page folded into 4! It’s the only one that Dissmeyer has sent me in this format so far.
Mushy Reads Clark Ashton Smith 1-5
Okay, this is a bit epic for the Mushy Reads series, and Dissmeyer tells me that it’s the first 5 issues that set him on this idea. There are 5 mini comics that follow the theme of reciting quotes of works by Clark Ashton Smith. Dissmeyer loves all things Lovecraft, and here we get a glimpse at the deep dive he’s made into one of Lovecraft’s influences, Clark Ashton Smith. The first one is bleak, and a lot like the first Mushy Reads. He gives us the “Sonnet of Oblivion” to ponder, and then we glimpse his tombstone. In #2 (we’ll call it “Wind Ripples), he gives us “The Twilight Woods” and a quote from another work on the back page. Some strange thoughts concerning the turning of the mind as the day begins to turn to night. Issue 3 is also titled “Fungi from Tsathoggua!” At this point, I wonder if I’m reading science fiction or poetry? I also went down a bit of a rabbit hole to find out. He’s an early sci fi writer, or at least an obscuro writer of the early 20’th century. Dissmeyer gave me this preview of a documentary about him. The poetry recited here in issue 3 seems to be a bit of existential dread as we travel through the universe on a globe. In issue 4 (we’ll call it “In the Desert”), we get pieces of work by Ashton Smith including “In the Desert”, “The Mad Wind”, and “Saturn.” Observing nature almost in an animistic sort of way, we get a feel for how some of the harsher climates feel about us (spoiler alert: they don’t care!). Did I mention that all of this incredibly somber stuff is still being read by Mushy? Okay then. Issue 5 contains excerpts from “A Song of Dreams”, “Lethe”, and “The Masque of Forsaken Gods.” These works feel like Ashton Smith tried to go beyond the limits of what happens when we are forgotten. Do we re-emerge in someone else’s dreams? What of the forgotten god? A fun final act to this series. By the way, Dissmeyer really applied himself to the art in these 5 mini comics. Really intricate drawings at times with nice gray tones.
There’s a mini comic here called “When Harold Met Mushy” which is part of the “Harold th’ Armadillo” series by Buzz Buzzizyk. Warren E. Elliott reviewed issues 1 -8, and I’ll be writing about the next several at some point now that there are AT LEAST 14 issues thanks to this one (rumor has it that there is another one coming as well), so I’ll hold off for now. But I also received a Christmas card from Dissmeyer, and it counts as a mini comic! It’s another Mushy Reads, really, 4 page folded mini comic poking at Edgar Allen Poe. Good! He deserves it. The reindeer nose is hand-colored red. Thank you, Mr. Dissmeyer. I appreciate all of your mini comics, and am really happy they exist. More people need to laugh into the meaningless howl of oblivion by making cute absurd mini comics.
You can get mini comics like these from Clark Dissmeyer by sending some love to PO Box 1 Riverton, NE 68972. I bet if you sent some gator paraphernalia, you’d really get a nice package.