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Magazine Mania

August 5, 2022 in Art, Reviews

I have a handful of magazine-sized (8.5 x 11) anthologies to report on. Some saddle stitched, some side-stapled, some black and white, some riso-colored, and some laser printer colored. Are you ready for this? Here we go:

Beacon #3 | Steve Keeter and company

20 pages, side stapled, black and white interior with color front and back covers.

Steve has a real love for holding on to his creations from his younger days. The Beacon is a super hero that has been around for almost 50 years and appeared in his 2’nd issue of OM in 1973. BTW, “OM” has to be just about the best title of any zine I’ve seen. OM! Timeless. I can’t wait to see what Keeter does with it next. But I digress! Beacon #1-2 were published by Jim Main in 1989. But what’s truly amazing is that this comic of the Beacon was started in 1975 written by Kurt Erichsen and illustrated by Steve Keeter. It’s been resurrected by Erichsen and Keeter with a 3 page intro by Dan Burke. Erichson also did the color front and back covers for it.

The story is wacky, and reminds me of my own writing style for Ninja Guy. You meet a washed up degenerate couch potato dude that turns into the Beacon when he drinks a certain brand of diet root beer. The Beacon is supposed to be a superhero, but his motivations are completely controlled at a subconscious level by a mind control villain named Doctor Lobster. The Doc motivates Beacon to start an all-out fanzine war with another robber baron fanzine editor, Albigenses Feather. Huh?!? Getting rich off of fanzines? It made me think of the DC/Marvel rivalry of decades past, and maybe that’s what it’s satirizing. Really great art and story. In fact, the best thing I’ve received from Steve Keeter thus far. Check it out.

$4.75 paypal to stevekeeter at gmail dot com.

Flowered Anthology / Operation Wisteria | Various

Lots of colleges are offering comics classes nowadays, and often that means an anthology gets produced at the end of the semester from the student work. I love this concept, and it seems to be helping to spur on the spirit of self publishing comics.

I received Flowered Anthology from Rebekah Dass, a student of one of these classes (who was also a contributor to my anthology, After That!). Dass has a piece in here called “Operation Wisteria,” a 4-page comic about fairies doing what fairies do (making a potion!). Dass wasn’t happy with the risograph version in the anthology, so I also received a stand-alone version of Operation Wisteria laser printed! It features a great purple-hued cover with floral drawings. It’s side-stapled, and the interior pages are black and white with touches of purple ink throughout. A nice touch.

The anthology is 38 pages (not counting the cover). In addition to Dass, it features works by Lecsi Pillar, Jordan Mayo, Reina Leigh Hudspeth, Bijan Keshmiri, and Hale Peterke. Peterke’s piece, “Oleander” is an outstanding wordless comic about a woman who becomes one with the garden she’s caring for … or at least that’s my interpretation of it. The rendering of it appears cut and paste and really makes great use of the riso-printing process.

This particular one is probably out of print, but I’m assuming the best way to inquire about others from this school would be to inquire with Christopher Kardambikis of George Mason University.

Cartoon Loonacy #149 – 151

149: The APA Cartoon Loonacy 149 hit my mailbox awhile ago, but I neglected to report on it until now. It’s got a lot of great work by various artists such as Michael Kraiger, Hilary Barta, Tom Cherry, Yul Tolbert, Michael Pecorella, Gary Fields, Geo. Erling, Adam Yeater, Charles Brubaker and Brian Buniak. Many members offer encouragement in the form of written text within the publication, but to save space (and money on copies that I would otherwise have to print myself), I’ll use this more open channel to give my feedback (although, I’m betting not everyone in the APA reads this). Tom Cherry gave a funny short one page gag called Oh! Those Savages. Ew. Then a potential glimpse at Tom’s experience in the hospital (COVID? Unknown). Michael Pecorella debuts in the pages with some anime-influenced cute animal cartoons. Then we get some classic Geo Erling NitWitz comics – 4 pages! Darren Auck’s editorial is nicely broken up with some great cartoons, and then a big scary splash page concludes it. Gary Fields gives a fun one page Comeex Comix comic called “Didja Ever?” The next page has 2 drawings that absolutely explode. Then a jam page featuring Gary Fields and … Adam Yeater? That was unexpected yet really cool. Charles Brubaker takes us further into that classy 60’s Hannah Barbera vibe with several Fuzzy Princess comics. These are mostly “Ask a Cat” comics. Then an Adam Yeater page (mine was printed on green paper!) featuring his organic parasite collage work and a one page Blood Desert strip. Then there’s Brian Buniak’s continuing saga which promises to have an epic episode in issue 150. Michael Kraiger wraps the book up with a self-portrait comic and the back side of death … on the back.

150: A packed slab of side-stapled Cartoon Loonacy to treasure! It includes a history of Cartoon Loonacy, which has been going strong now for 38 years. The look-back by George Erling is full of illustrations from the past, including the first flyer that was sent out to get it all started. There’s tons to look at from some of the original members such as Steve Willis, Mark Campos, Bob Vojtko, Gary Wray, and Greg Bear just to name a few. The issue itself features a cover by Bruce Chrislip and work by Russ Maheras, Yul Tolbert, Tom Cherry, Brian Buniak (with that epic finish titled “Spinning Gold into Straw”), Mike Kraiger, myself, Charles, Brubaker, Gary Fields, and Tom Desieno. There are lots of nuggets from archives that contributors have held on to over the years and a great back cover of some of those original members that kept it going for so long.

151: This one shrank in size, but it still has a ton of great comics.The lineup this time is Gary Fields, Brian Buniak, Tom Desieno, Tom Cherry, Charles Brubaker, Darren Auck, Geo. Erlin, and Mike Kraiger. You know … the great 8. Each issue of Loonacy also comes with mini comics that various contributors have decided to mass produce and send in to all of the members. This issue came with “Royal Merkats” and “Never Enough Toons” by Charles Brubaker, Harold th’ Armadillo 4 and 5 by Buzz Buzzizyk, and “Fowl Scribblin’s” by Gary Fields. It also came with a perfect bound fanzine called “Maelstrom” by Russ Maheras. Russ writes a lot of fanzine articles in Loonacy, and this 64 page book compiles a lot of them. Back to the issue at hand: Buniak offers several “jam” drawings he did as faculty at the Joe Kubert school on attendance folders. They are a sight to behold. Brubaker carries this issue. In addition to the front and back cover he did for it, he’s got 18 pages of comics for us inside. Cherry provides a one-pager on a cardstock titled “Sign – I Need a Hug – Close Enough.” It’s about how much of us have probably felt these days. Tom Desieno contributed a 2 pager. A very heartfelt prayer illustrated and a self portrait. Gary Fields’ “Comeex Comix” has a real energy to it, and this one is no exception. It’s a play off chocolate and peanut themed cartoon references and more. A great one page variation on a theme. That’s one angsty Charlie Brown, Gary. Darren Auck, like Brian, contributed a jam cartoon full page. Some fun super hero poses. Geo. Erling in “Spiritualized” produces a comic using lyrics from various song writers who wrote a “prayer” somehow into their lyrics. He gives the credits to all of the songs he references, which is pretty cool. Thre’s a Nitwitz comic, and another that was also part of the recent White Buffalo Gazette. Kraiger finishes it out with a bang … or, a bug fight. I loved this one. It appears membership went down a bit though, which is sad to see. Hope others get on this and help keep the magic going. It’s a really great ride, and always feels like Christmas when it shows up in my mailbox.

To learn how to join the club, contact Geo. Erling at straykatstuff at hotmail dot com or Gary Fields at garyfields at optonline dot net. There is also a facebook group that you can find and inquire about the club. Just search for “Cartoon Loonacy.”

Freaky #7

One of the most ambitious obscuro comix publications right now, Freaky, has hit it’s “Seventh Heavin’” issue. Featuring comics by Jaime Crespo, Cam Hayden, Kyle C. Bridgett, Marc Jackson, and many others. These listed above did some of my favorites from this issue. Crespo’s “Sombreros from Outer Space” is one I’ve seen in his Tortilla Comix one-man anthology. It’s reproduced very nicely in this magazine. Hayden’s “Snakebit” follows nicely as two gross and dumb cowboys discuss a poisonous snake bite that afflicts one of them. The other has a problem with being helpful about it. Bridgett has a couple of one page silent comics that tell the unfortunate end to a mob hit that just keeps getting worse (Sleeps with the Fishes) and a Prince’s failed attempt to rescue a long-haired maiden from a tower (Tower Troubles). These are pieces under the comic strip title “Silent But Deadly”, and are my standout favorites for this issue. Jackson’s “Butz & Fanny” comic is my favorite one to look at for the artwork. It’s got a classic cartoon look to it.

Andrew Goldfarb has a lot of material in here of own comics and cartoon spreads. The issue launches with a photo-comic (photography by Rani Goel) called “Budd Underwood in Visitor from Space.” It reminds me of music videos I’ve seen of Goldfarb’s. It’s a story about how Budd Underwood keeps being visited by an alien who relentlessly delivers a very unwanted package. The comic spread by Goldfarb this issue is another feast for the eyes as you peer down on a Traffic Jam checking out every zany car, driver, and passenger on the interbelt.

There’s plenty more to view and read in this issue, including a hand-woven rug of Freddie Freaknik by Shane Buckley. Somebody had time to do that. Whoa.

Get your subscription of Freaky by visiting patreon.com/freakymagazine

Clark Dissmeyer | Gator Town, Mushy Reads, etc.

June 28, 2022 in Art, Reviews

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!

Mushy Reads

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.

Etc.

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.

Alan Sissom | 3 Mini Zines

June 28, 2022 in Art, Reviews

Zine-ology Report, The Collectors Link, The Imagination Link … they are all linked to Alan Sissom! You have to draw a venn diagram to figure out what the different purposes of all these publications serve, and at times, Sissom himself seems to be re-configuring his own understanding of their various purposes. Here’s how it shakes down at the moment:

Zine-ology Report #4

This is a 32 page black and white mini publication that Alan uses to review fanzines. The difference between this and his Collectors Link zine is that it’s smaller and cheaper to produce and distribute, and the only content is review content. It’s a fantastic resource if you are into fanzines and mini comics and get Alan Sissom’s take on things. He provides nice reproductions of sample work and contact information for each zine he reviews. In this issue, you’ll also get a glimpse into Alan’s opinions about the benefits that APA’s offer such as the UFO and some letters he’s received. $2.00 4.25 x 5.5 b&W mini.

The Wild Worlds of Tisch! #2

Larry Tisch sent me a crap ton of comix when I was making AFTER THAT!, and I imagine Alan gets the same amount of comix created on envelopes from him as well. Here’s a second issue full of those wacky comics featuring stick figure cowboys, flies, geometrical shapes (some well endowed), and other critters all talking at a bar and having a drink. Look out for those sheet metal workers though. In the back, Tisch shows off his actual talent for drawing the human form as he renders various poses just by drawing the directional movement of the spine. When people say, “I can’t even draw a stick figure,” Tisch is a cartoonist that shows why drawing stick figures is actually pretty hard to do. And hey … maybe now I know where to send all of the Tisch comics I didn’t end up publishing. Alan, look out! 28 pages. $2.00. 4.25 x 5.5 black and white mini comic.

The Twilight Zine #1

Here Alan publishes a zine mainly put together by Jim Main. It’s a tribute to Rod Serling’s “The Twilight Zone.” Jim begins the zine with an editorial that sounds a lot like the beginning of a Twilight Zone episode, only it’s Jim Main who is about to enter that strange reality. It follows fan art of the show by artists such as George Lane III, Marc Haines, Rusty Gilligan, Verl Holt Bond, Brad Foster, and more. 16 pages. $1.50. 4.25 x 5.5 black and white mini comic.

You can get these and other media from the Sissom “Mini” Group at P.O. Box 842, Greenwood, IN46142.

Digest Dispatch

June 27, 2022 in Art, Reviews

Here are the digest-sized comics I’ve received recently:

Max Clotfelter

Andros 9 – B&W, 20 pages. 2021. A collection of strips, many of which I’ve seen in other anthologies like Not My Small Diary and Bottoms Up! Clotfelter switches back and forth between funny fictional strips and diary comics. I loved “Who Punked the Punk?!?”, a 4 page comic about trying to fit in with junior high school kids. The book ends with “The Big Chicken”, which is a summary of life struggle up to a point where he moves to Seatle.

Snake Meat 8 – a slightly smaller than digest size book, B&W, 20 pages 2019? This issue contains mostly single panel doodle drawings with 2 gag strips. I see a few humans beating back the hoards of mucus-monsters, and eyeballs galore. I think my favorite is the Josephine sailor drawing. One of the two gag strips is a one-pager about union busters. Who is breaking the strike is the surprise.

$3 each – inquire by writing to maxclotfelter at gmail dot com

Brian Buniak

Apricot O’Toon 1 and 2 – Buniak mostly parades his ability to draw pretty pin up gals in his digest comics, but the first issue begins with a 2 page comic called “Amini” in which he agonizes over beginning to make a digest comic by over-analyzing the formatting details. His muse-character, Apricot, stands nearby and criticizes him for procrastinating. Then it gets going with various characters that have popped up in Cartoon Loonacy such as Babette Quark and Carrie O’Toon. 16 pages. Issue 2 is 16 pages – more of the same. The pin-up characters get blown up, and apparel removed under various unfortunate circumstances. They hide behind curtains, but the Inconvenient Mirror Corporation keeps them revealed.

$2 + 2 forever stamps sent to PO Box 5863 Clark, NJ 07066 will get you an issue of Apricot O’Toon.

Larned  Justin

Inspector Ebay of the Cairo Police, B&W, 16 pages. 2021. Larned gets back into self-publishing after a long hiatus, and has a youtube channel as well where he showcases other self-published works alongside Steve Keeter. In this issue, we get a long narrative about an Inspector Ebay (who is similarly competent to Inspector Clouseau or Charlie Chan). He and Sargant Wannabe follow the clues thrown in their faces to catch a mastermind criminal named Dr Foo Achoo. The humor style will whack you on the head with the obvious stated. Inspector Ebay speculates in a panel that Dr. Foo Achoo doesn’t have henchmen but then – Editor’s note: Dr. Foo Achoo DOES have Henchmen!. And in the next panel, in case the editor’s note wasn’t enough for you, dear clueless reader, you see the henchmen marching off to spy on Inspector Ebay. I love this kind of joke, and Larned Justin pulls off some funny stuff in 16 pages.

Candid Cartoons – an 8 page mini fell out of my copy of Inspector Ebay! It has a parade of characters by Larned Justin.

$4 ppd. Inquire by sending an email to larnedjustin at gmail dot com

Billy McKay

Peculiar Paper People 14, full color, 16 pages, 2020. Always full of poetry, Billy McKay shows us monsters in a different light. This one starts off with a man named Buzz riding a white buffalo (hmm!), and continues on with a poem about “the Inside Outsiders.” There’s “the Secret Nightmare Factory” followed by “Franky and Joey Find 5 Bucks.” Seems like the moral of the story: when your conscious is bumming you out, eat her? And then it all ends with 5 frivolous fables, as usual. It sure is fun to see all of Billy’s old and new comix in full color.

$2.00 or a trade http://billytherobot.etsy.com

Paul KortJohn

Tales for the Toilet #3

The gross, the gooey, and the grimy, here comes another Tales for the Toilet anthology. It will be hard to forget what you’re doing on the porcelain throne while reading comix by Paul KortJohn, Nathaniel J.K., Adam Yeater, Vickie Smalls, and others. As an example, Jamie Barrows’ “Love Lotion No. 2” is about a guy sitting on the john wishing for his long lost love to return. She does, but as a shitty sewer monstrosity right up through the pot he’s sitting on. He’s devoured, and it’s over. The end! Every tale is a wild ride, that goes somewhere south like this. So if that’s what you want while taking a dump, then there’s a comic out there for you.

2£ – To inquire, DM through Instagram at pkortjohncomix

Jaime Crespo

Tortilla Comix 5 and 6

A couple of really great issues here. 5 is a milestone for Jaime Crespo who says it’s the first time he’s hit this number in all the years he’s been making comix. And he’s really hit a great stride with this one man anthology. There are so many great comix in here beginning with an alien invasion (look out, Jaime!). “Bottom of My Heart” is an enduring story from his childhood about he and his friend dodging a bully to get penny candy at the local store. The ending is hilariously high on melodrama. “Boris” is about an unlikely friendship that leaves our cartoonist thinking about the meaning of his existence. And then finally a sweet irreverent tale about teenage Biblical Jesus.

In 6, Crespo takes us aback to his days in punk bands in the late 70’s and early 80’s. The story centers on one of the final bands he played for and about how road trips went sharing the same tape player for everyone to “enjoy” each other’s (ahem) diverse musical tastes. In “Midnight Getaway”, we get a glimpse of junior high Jaime and his buddy sneaking out in the middle of the night together. It’s a great piece on how meditation can sometimes come into someone’s life maybe by accident. “Dedication” got me. I just couldn’t stop reading. I had to know if Jaime ended up liking that album he pedaled in the rain for. The 2 page ending piece dedicated to Crespo’s mother was absolutely sad and beautiful at the same time.

You can get these and other comix by Jaime at http://corntorillapress.com

Sarah Wood

Sarahlife 2

Sarahlife 1 had a real romp and stomp feel to it, but here, the weight of responsibility and life starts to creep in on the cartoonist. This issue feels like it’s been made almost to spite all of that. Sarah Wood throws down the gauntlet to complete Sarahlife 2 for an upcoming creator’s showcase. By the way, all of this is laid out in 4 panel single page gags. There is no preface text explaining anything. Instead, Sarah explains the making of this book within her one page cartoons, and yet she retains the ability to throw down punchlines on every page. Very few cartoonists are able to pull this off, but Wood does a great job. Because these comics were created in such a short period of time (1 month for 27 pages plus a photo of her process and studio on the last page), there’s a real succinct quality about the comics and ideas. There’s the continuous self-deprication that a creator faces when no idea comes, but Wood surprises with a final punchline that actually bolsters her self-esteem. It feels so real and honest. There’s a survival aspect to it that shows how someone who can’t afford the privilege of wallowing in self-pity (think white guy cartoonists like Charles Schultz), have to basically give themselves their own booster shots in order to survive. God I hope there’s a Sarahlife 3 someday.

You can get in touch with Sarah Wood for more comics by checking out http://woodsarah.tumlr.com or Instagram at guwanciale

John Porcellino

King Cat 80

A 36 page comics and journal zine by John Porcellino. King Cat 80 is not the most recent piece, but it’s sitting here with these other digests, so I thought I’d throw in the review for it. While Porcellino’s covers are getting more lush, it seems his interior comix art is staying as spare as always. There’s some simple observations of the natural world around him, and the human to animal interactions that occur. The “List of Birds Spotted in Our Yard” is quite a demonstration of staying home and observing what’s there. A lot of people have been forced to stay at home, but this practice was nice to see how well it can be done. There is a meditation on the cartoonists mom then and now, as well as an actual photograph of her when she was young on the back. It’s a heartwarming photograph and comic. And finally, there is some grief observed about the passing of a beloved pet, and the welcoming of a new chapter as a new pet enters into his life.

You can get King Cat comics and stories 80 (and 81!) by visiting https://www.spitandahalf.com

Steve Keeter

Sunwing 6

I always find it funny when a zine creator talks about their production as a “we” when it’s usually just one person behind the thing. But in Steve Keeter’s case, he does collaborate with the help of others to make his fanzines happen. In this issue of Sunwing, Larry Blake writes and pencils the comic with Tom Ahearn inking, and David Branstetter on cover color. Kip Creel also contributed a drawing.

The story finds Sunwing and Pals investigating some strange crimes that coincidentally happen near concerts staged by glam rock musician, Vann Hellsinger, a newly reformed super villain. Has he really reformed, or is this just a cover up for some nefarious plot? The story is a 20 page monster mash / b movie rock opera. There’s lots of dramatic posing, which of course there has to be. Heroes gotta pose (even when drinking coffee)! It’s sincere. It’s campy (in a funny good way). It’s $4.50. It’s worth it!

Inquire by writing to stevekeeter at gmail dot com.

Adam Yeater | Mini Comix Firehose

June 6, 2022 in Art, Reviews

I’ve been saving up my packages of mini comix from Adam Yeater to do one giant dump of a dispatch about them. Having this many to read really gave me an understanding about what he’s up to.

Yeater’s concepts feel like video games. Everything is built around a thing such as the Blood Desert, and a character moves through a landscape eating rancid mushrooms and shooting up zombies. It’s a concept that just keeps flowing from his brain, and these mini comix exhibit the basic elements that the larger format books use to create the narrative.

So let’s get started on this journey through piles of comix going from smallest to largest:

Micro Mini Comix 2 1/8 x 2 7/8, 8 pages.

Adam follows in the Steve Willis vein of making it impossible for collectors to get all of his stuff because he just makes a ton of it, and you’ll have to open up stapled packs that ruin their supposed “value” if you want to read them … which of course I did. The 4 pack of micro mini Blood Deserts are cleverly numbered on the back thanks to the number of eyes each pig mutant head happens to have. This is how you’ll know their order. 1 is a story about gas mask vs. zombie. Zombie loses! 2 our man eats more fly infested mushrooms. 3 Crow man slays a pig mutant. I liked the hidden double page spread that I had to view by reverse-opening the book to see in full that also worked as split pages in different parts of the story. A clever book-art trick making use of a hidden narrative like that. 4: Our man procures a zombie eyeball with his permanently offensive middle finger.

Mini Comix 4 ¼ x 2 ¾, 8 pages.

There are 3 Blood Desert comix in this format with the rounded corners. The first opens with our man in Tunix Arizona putting his foot down near some fly infested mushrooms. He takes a bite and loses his shit. In the second, he’s fishing in blood river and catches … not a fish. In the third, he hitches a ride on a giant crow. The fourth comic is called “Trash,” and it reminds me of cereal boxes where you can find hidden items in the picture. That reminds me … the Blood Desert concept would make a great cereal with a drawing on the back of the box with tons of hidden items for you to find (as you crunch on your marshmallows shaped like pig heads, mushrooms, and dicks).

Mini Comix 3 ½ x 4, 8 pages (cardstock).

Blood Desert “Nerds!” – Hmm! This all happens about 300 years from now. Interesting. This is about a character that finds his way into the forbidden landscape of violence is a comix nerd. What will our man think of him?

Blood Desert #2 – In which our man is confronted by a zombie. How will he respond? Nyuk! Nyuk!

Mini Comix 4.25 x 5.5, 8 pages.

Blood Desert “Bong” – At the compound bar, our man tries some new brew with gas mask friend.

Blood Desert (metal) – In which our man finds an instrument and plays a tune for death.

Blood Desert “The Wasteland” – Our hero finds himself in a showdown with a zombie. You can guess who wins.

Blood Desert (riso) – Adam does runs of these types of mini comix that are his experiments with risograph. Here I have a pink print of Blood Desert characters.

(Seek and Find) – A green cardstock of characters all jammed together. The challenge is to find the characters Adam lists for you on the back cover.

Spy Eye – Pipes and wires connect panels that offer a glimpse into a voyeuristic world of security cameras. Who is looking, and who is being watched? An exchange of contraband is made. A bird watcher is watched. A death is recorded.

Space Ship – Is a more organic interconnective network of cybernetic and parasitic creatures inhabiting vessels as they travel through spaces.

Lands of Knonx – A sea green risograph comic has a smaller copper toned comic nestled inside. It’s as if the comic itself has a parasite living inside it! But this is a story about a parasite and his vessel in search of water. They have an encounter (the comic within the comic) that guides them to the source.

Singularity – This is probably one of my favorites. Adam skillfully shows the slow progress of a poison that consumes the consumer of whatever they are viewing on their phone (social media, perhaps?).

Berserk! – It’s time to take down the hoard, as if it was your one last day! ‘Nuf said.

8.5 x 5.5 (Digest)

One Last Day – A rendering of an illness that seems to be taking over many people in the U.S. – a mass shooting. This is not for the faint of heart or those who have experienced trauma of this sort. It’s an earlier work of Adam’s from 2015 re-printed in 2020.

Blood Desert – I sure wish I had a pop up book of Blood Desert … oh wait! Thank you, Adam Yeater.

You can check out his long-format versions of Blood Desert, World of Knonx, and One Last Day (as well as other titles) at his website: https://onelastday.storenvy.com/

Jurassic Soup | Erik Jasek

May 31, 2022 in Art, Reviews

Erik posted on Instagram something like “I bet nobody will buy my comic based on this post,” and I, of course, took the bait. Now I’m hooked! Jurassic Soup is a 6×6 inch 72 page saddle stitched full color book with a plastic-like (plike) soft-touch cardstock cover.

The comix themselves were created between 2019 and 2021. They have a cast of reoccurring characters that are very enduring in an irreverent sort of way. There’s Owen, the self-conceited aspiring bird actor. His introvert friend, Chris, and a hygiene-challenged druggy vampire named Toddula. This cast of 3 appear in numerous strips throughout the book. The “UFO Bros” are a duo that remind me a bit of Kaput and Zosky, but without any goals to become overlords. In fact, Cap and Leafly are just peace-loving dudes who find themselves in wacky situations as they road trip around the cosmos. And finally there’s “The Scoop!” with Sandra Spoonelli. This is probably my favorite of the reoccurring strips because … it’s just so dumb. Sandra is a reporter journalist. She’s also just a spoon with a microphone. ‘Nuf said.

The format is 4 same-size square panels per page, and the story or gag rarely goes longer than 1 page. This is the result of our social media-influenced media dump where we, the audience, can’t handle long-form comics that we read on the internet. As a result, lots of comix that get their start on places like Instagram are designed for quick consumption. It’s not anybody’s fault. There’s just so much out there that we would get lost trying to follow long form stories. Also, this is no different than what we consumed when comic strips were in newspapers. Who was actually able to keep up with Terry and the Pirates anyway? But we could handle a week’s theme of Peanuts (or just jump in on any given day and read the daily for what it had to give as a stand-alone). And mini comics … traditionally were 4 pages folded from a single sheet of paper. Long form also is not something mini comics do very much either.

The timeline that these comix were created makes for an interesting perspective on the times we’ve lived in recently. You can see Jasek’s slow shift into mentioning themes related to social isolation due to the pandemic. And of course, Owen Owens, Chris, and Toddula are mature enough to handle life on life’s terms, right? Get the book and you’ll see for yourself.

http://linktr.ee/jurassicjasek

Kozmik Star Comics | Mike Hill

May 24, 2022 in Art, Reviews

It was such a bright moment in my day when I received a package from Mike Hill containing a collection of his comix spanning from the 80’s all the way up to the present. Kozmik Star Comics are published and unpublished comics from 1979 to 2021. The published comix appeared in publications from Comix Wave to White Buffalo Gazette to Copy This! to After That! (I was shocked and honored to see my name in the thank-you’s section of the book). It’s even got an introduction by Buzz Buzzizyk. But that makes sense given the collaborations with Mike Hill and Maximum Traffic (with Edward Bolman) that also appear in here (e.g. Skinned Alive Boy). There are also jams that include Steve Willis.

Much of this comes from Mike Hill’s own Worker Poet zine. New Wave is on full display here. It’s full on post beatnik times, and in Hill’s influential style, he plays with text and image in a throw-back and nod to German Expressionism and Cubism. I’m honestly surprised more comics don’t take influence from wood cuts and printed works from the early 20’th century. Collage and shape as from the likes of Piet Mondrian and Pablo Picasso work just like comic panel and text. Mike Hill gets it.

The work starts off with Kozmik Star and Subliminal Lobotomy comix. The idea of Modernman emerges before the actual recognizable character does. It’s as if the panels are the single cell organisms from which Hill’s character will eventually emerge. He plays with form and line, and often this takes over and defeats any attempt at narration, which appears to be stream of conscious.

Eventually Modernman does arrive on the scene, and his problems with living and loving are there with him at birth. He’s a mirror image of 20’th century struggle to assemble identity out of so many incompatible fragments of belief and desire. Good luck, Modernman. The book ends with a couple of comix published in After That! just last year. Overall, it’s really great to see work by Mike Hill blown up into a larger format. This is sometimes a problem for folks like Hill and myself when we want to go back and compile older works but find that our scans were small resolution … which worked for mini comics, but becomes a little problematic for larger use. Learn from us, kids! Save your originals. Still, most comics are reproduced very well, and the few that aren’t are still completely readable.

This 214 page perfect bound collection of black and white comix is an absolute treasure. I look forward to the next 200 pages Mike Hill makes!

You can contact Mike Hill for more information at mikehill001 at gmail dot com

workerpoet.blogspot.com

Poem: A Mashup | T. Motley illustrated

May 11, 2022 in Art, Reviews

By M.D. Usher, and Illustrated by T. Motley

Tom Motley sent me a perfect bound square (6.5×6.5″) 88 page book that he illustrated. It was nice to see Tom’s wild drawings in a book like this. Tom has some illustrations in my anthology, AFTER THAT!, and I see his cartoons on Instagram alot. I am always blown away at the experimental nature of his inking. In this book, it’s on full display and in full color.

The first half of the book is a mash-up poem (known as a “cento”), like what is often done with songs as they get remixed and fused together. The fragments of these poems are from pieces by various poets of the western European-derived literature canon. The poem is illustrated, or rather the script is illuminated, by Motley’s illustrations and decorative calligraphy. This takes up the first 48 pages of the book and printed on a yellow parchment paper. This gives the colors a warm tone throughout.

For the second half of the book, you’re basically sitting down in M.D. Usher’s literature class to learn about the various poets whose works were remixed to create the cento. Motley does an illustrated profile pic for each poet. As an English minor myself, I learned cool stuff! Much of this history was skipped over in classes I took (or maybe I just wasn’t paying attention in my 8am classes?). I even learned about the origins of the real live Mother Goose, which was fun.

The book lying around the house was eye catching to my wife who made a comment about how fun it is to see words exploding off the page, and I couldn’t agree more. For anyone trying to understand what poetry is trying to do to your brain, this is a good simulation.

Poem: A Mashup is available on bookshop.org

You can also explore comix by T. Motley here: tmotley.com

Charles Brubaker | Fuzzy Princess Vol 1 & 2

May 8, 2022 in Art, Reviews

Charles sent me his first 2 volumes of the Fuzzy Princess. You can tell what kind of books these are by the kind of treatment they received in my house. The second volume immediately had milk poured all over it, and the first volume has gone missing … presumably returned to the library on accident with a big heaping pile of children’s graphic novels. So yes! These books grabbed the attention of my kids and were read by them. The books are thick, perfect bound, and would fit nicely in a store alongside any graphic novel put out by Scholastic, but Charles publishes these himself. In fact, he’s a zine guy, and his Fuzzy Princess characters frequently show up in underground anthologies like Cartoon Loonacy and your truly’s After That!. He makes his own digest zines of the various “episodes,” and then eventually colors and compiles them in perfect bound paperback form. And so this is yet another mini comics adjacent publication.

As a cartoonist and storyteller, Brubaker leans in to what he loves which appear to be comics and cartoons from the 60’s full of squatty humans and animals all mixed into the same world. But in his world, the talking animals have come from another world (St. Paws) in a Tardis-like cardboard box and settled in with their human friends in an apartment. Cultures are constantly clashing and learning from each other in these adventures.

The dynamic cast of characters include Katrina, the fuzzy princess cat with the detachable magical tail that can be turned into anything from boomerangs to lassos. Her traveling companions, Chiro the bat and Kuma the bear. And the human friends they are staying with, the kid named Jackson and his 20-something sister Jordan. There are others, but the one I’ll mention by name that shows up later is Katrina’s mom, Queen Felicia, who seems to be one of those characters that was meant to be minor but ends up being a great character, and so she becomes part of the main cast.

Whacky hijinks is the name of the game with these stories. Example: In “A Fuzzy Christmas,” Katrina wants to help out making the holidays special by cooking. The stores are out of turkey, but she notices a flock of geese flying by the apartment. She lassos one with her detachable tail and proceeds to attempt to kill it for their holiday bird. She fails, and the goose flies off (taking the left-over chicken from the fridge with it?).

I look forward to more comics from Charles Brubaker. And I’ll also have to see if I can’t rescue my volume 1 from the library. Chances are, it’s on the shelf there now or in the hands of another kid somewhere in the city … about to spill milk all over that one too.

P.S. Charles is animating these now all by himself! Check out the cartoons and comics from his website:

https://fuzzy-princess.com/

Birdcage Bottom Offerings

May 7, 2022 in Miscellaneous, Reviews

Snake Pit 2009 | Ben Snakepit

A perfect bound volume of 3 panel daily diary comics by Ben Snakepit was an enjoyable read for me. I love reading published journals, and have for most of my life. Years ago, I read C.S. Lewis’ huge journal cover to cover, and just enjoyed the mundane details that were, for some reason, recorded (he took a lot of walks with a cat). Ben and I have both found ourselves in Delaine’s NMSD club over the years, and it was nice to finally have a volume of his in my hands. Starting with 2009 seems an odd choice, especially since Ben frequently ponders whether his daily comix journal is still worth doing. He seems to think, in this volume, that his life has become too boring, too repetitive. And indeed, he repeatedly shows himself at his day job in front of a bunch of video tapes waiting for customers, but I love this. The sheer act of recording this daily grind without apology seems so rebellious to what most of us would do in this situation. Most people would just let the job take over our lives, but Ben harnesses his retail job in his comic, and so keeps his power over it. I can’t think of a more punk rock thing to do, really. It’s how life goes … things seem exciting and much more “story-worthy” when we’re young, but it’s the ability to enjoy the small moments of each day that we end up growing towards, and I enjoy reading these kinds of diaries the most.

Bottoms Up! True Tales of Hitting Rock – Bottom! | Various

Another perfect bound anthology from Birdcage Bottom Books. This one is 249 pages strong, and contains comix by cartoonists about addiction. Sometimes the cartoonist is the subject of the tale, and other times they have illustrated someone else’s story. I ate this volume up. Every story was worth it, and it felt like attending an AA meeting without the silly chants and prayers. There are some truly heartbreaking stories in here where people lose it all, knowing full well they are losing it, but being powerless to stop themselves. I found it fascinating the various levels of “rock bottom” that people would hit, and how some felt self-conscious about hitting one that didn’t measure up to the low level that is often stereotyped as the sort of bottom an addict has to hit. One of my favorites was by Rachel Dukes. The anthropomorphic true-life comic is an atypical choice. Matt Rota’s piece is haunting, and follows the trail of some kids and their addictions to homelessness and death. Brendan Kiefer’s piece was the funniest. This character that he follows is so ridiculously self-centered, and it left me wondering if ever a moment of clarity was so superficial. Adam Yeater created a rare true-life comic for this anthology, but in true Adam form, kept it pretty much wordless throughout. As many of this stories are, Adam’s was a great window into what can happen to some in a moment of loneliness and despair. JT Yost does a great piece playing with decorative text as part of the narration. I really enjoyed this book, and will keep coming back to these stories more than I will the stories in the Big Book.

You can find Snake Pit 2009 and Bottoms Up! From JT Yost’s micropublishing company Birdcage Bottom Books: https://birdcage-bottom-books.myshopify.com/

Getting Started Reading David Robertson Comix

March 23, 2022 in Miscellaneous, Reviews

If you’re like me, your budget for “fun money” is pretty tight, so when I go looking for new self published comics to buy, I’m usually looking for a straight up win. This is hard and also unfair to the self publishing crowd who are mostly full of great untapped talent, but most of our hard earned cash goes into the pockets of a few well-knowns.

My fantasy of a typical comix buyer browsing through etsy, “Wow, this is a crazy looking cover! I might just buy it. Oh, look at that sticker price, I better favorite it for now and just go buy another King Cat.”

Not that there’s anything wrong with King Cat. The point is, we’re all a bit conservative when it comes to throwing our money out there into the void for something experimental that we haven’t actually thumbed through at a convention or comics shop. So my goal today, is to get you to buy a David Robertson comic.

Browsing David’s store, Fred Egg Comics, you’ll immediately be hit with a wall of work. What is all of this stuff anyway, you’ll wonder? Well, they are anthologies. David writes all of the scripts (with the exception of a few that he gives writer’s credit to his kids for) and draws many of the comics, and he also gives the drawing seat to other cartoonists. Most of the books are perfect bound, and 60 to 100 pages. Sometimes his anthologies are a continuing title (e.g. “Dump”, “That Comic Smell”) and others are just a single volume of works with a one-time title (“Wow Retracted,” “Mount a Rescue”, “Booze Ha Ha”). In a few cases, he does a long story that takes up the whole book to which could be called a graphic novel, if you want (“Bell Time”). The works are mostly black and white, but some comics do have color. “That Comic Smell 2” is mostly color. “Bell Time” is a blue/gray color scheme.

The anthologies are a lot like sketch comedy although not every script is meant to be funny. David seems to challenge himself to turn any passing thought into a comic. It’s a lot like watching Olympic gymnastic competitions. They often stick their landings, sometimes they don’t, but you enjoy it anyway. Many of the stories are 1 to 3 pages long. There are a few that take longer, but not many.

There are a wide range of themes. One minute you could be viewing 2 Victorian era female characters exchanging a heated argument over whether one who shouts “I don’t really give a fuck” actually means they don’t give a fuck or if because they’ve said it, then that actually implies they do give a fuck or they wouldn’t have even said it in the first place (from Dump Volume 3). The next minute you might be seeing H.G. Wells traveling through time to take out his critics and literary successors with a giant robot (“George vs. Herbert” in Wow Retracted). Many times he muses on a theme from his own day. There are “hourly comics day” comics. A reoccurring theme is David’s love of Star Wars.

David’s drawing style is minimal. Line variation is spare, and when he deploys the use of watercolor, he does a nice job. I love and prefer his tone of facial expressions over current trends. It’s so rare these days to see a cartoon character not wearing their heart on their sleeve (I blame, Pixar, Disney, and manga). David’s dead pan sense of humor and understanding of how people actually guard their emotions works well in so many different stories. A short science fiction piece, “Revenge on the Orbiting Space Pod,” (from the Wow Retracted anthology) does this well where the character hides his boss’ notes from a recent meeting to get back at the guy for being such a jerk. When the boss asks his employee if he’s seen his notes, the panel shows the character saying “No.” Out of context, you’d think as much as the boss that he’s being truthful even though he isn’t.

So, if you’re looking for something out of the norm, which you probably are if you’re shopping for self published comics, I think owning a work by David Robertson is a great find. Get one and you’ll know what you’re getting in to if you decide to buy more of his anthologies or even one of his long works. You deserve it!

Fred Egg Comics <- Comics that David publishes

That Comics Smell <- Comics David collaborates with a group of folks

Micro Mini Comix Review

February 23, 2022 in Art, Reviews

My Comix Blog

Micro-Mini Comix | Review

I love micro-minis. The fact that there is no standard paper size that can just be sent through the printer and folded to make one means that any micro-mini in your possession was handled with great care and attention by the maker. The had to cut it on 3 sides before folding it. They probably took a lot of time to lay several of them out on one sheet of paper, and spent even more time figuring out how to cut them out of that paper correctly. They’ve got spec sheets for themselves so they remember how to do it if they have to do a subsequent print run after the first runs out. After all is said and done, they look so simple, and usually that simplicity is capstoned by a single staple to bind it altogether. I know, because I’ve made 2 of them myself. 40 pages, very small 5.5x5cm in size. As expensive as they are to hand-make, they are super cheap to reproduce, which makes up for the time, in my opinion. Here, I’ll examine some micro-minis by two different creators:

Michael Neno

I’ve been sent Michael’s comix by other friends in the past simply because they knew I was making micro minis, and it was a real treat to receive them by the creator himself recently. Neno has been making comix for a long time, and his micro minis are an interesting exploration for this cartoonist. Here, he repurposes out of copyright works by other cartoonists and writes a new script for the drawings. This repurposing reminds me of Duchamp’s “Fountain” idea that an artist can simply claim a found object as their own if the idea is different from the original intent. Neno pulls this off very well with these 4 micro minis as titled:

Spaces – the most dynamic of the set. Neno examines negative space within panels of comics creating a new dimension outside of the original intent. This silent comic is truly experimental and deserving of the title “comix.”

Horse Crime Comics – The title says it all.

Tune Time Presents “The Stuck-Inside Song” – A COVID19 pandemic tale.

Farmers vs. Astronauts – Juxtaposing two different concepts on one panel which is a collage work by Neno where he has old golden age space comics characters dialogue with western comics characters.

These are just 4 of the 8 micro minis that Neno has made re-upholstering public domain comics. You can get them for $4/ea, 3 for $9, or 4 for $11 (postage paid for each option). He accepts paypal at mneno at columbus.rr.com or check/cash mailed to PO BOX 307675, Gahanna, OH 43230.

Rachel Bard

Bard has been someone I’ve been watching on Instagram slowly develop a micro mini comic called “The Chinchillustrator.” As soon as she posted it as ready on her etsy account, I snatched one up and was not disappointed. This is the most well-produced micro-mini comic I’ve ever laid eyes on. Printed on cardstock with a matte finish and bleed to the edge, it’s a 3.5 x 2.5 inch book in size.

It tells the story of a chinchilla artist cleaning their art studio while grappling with a certain amount of artist block. As the clutter gets cleaned, they come upon several old sketchbooks from various parts of their past artistic journey. Here’s the amazing part: the journals are embedded tiny micro minis bundled inside this micro mini! Essentially, this is 4 micro mini comics in one! The tiny journals are stapled inside the “larger” micro mini and show up in the narrative as the chinchilla finds them. It’s a really neat commentary on the artist’s need to take themselves seriously so that they can feel validated in the eyes of others, and then the eventual shedding of that need once they realize they just want to get back to doing it for the love of it. Critics (both internal and external) be damned! The tiny micro minis that are bundled inside are 1.5 x 1.25 inches. Their titles are as follows:

Practice Writing Pad ABC Game – An example of the Chinchilla’s childhood art

Tilly’s Space Adventure – Adolescence uncensored.

Artist Quality Sketch – College and/or early adulthood taking themselves too seriously.

You can purchase more of Rachel Bard’s works at http://rachelbard.com

3 Digest Comix | Grand Rapids Michigan

February 7, 2022 in Art, Reviews

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:

https://woodsarah.tumblr.com/

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.

3 Newsletter / Fanzines

February 1, 2022 in Art, Reviews

Tetragrammaton Fragments #263 | Steve Keeter

A 64 page black and white digest zine for members of the United Fanzine Organization (UFO). Steve Keeter is the current chairman and compiler of this publication. The contents are from members of the UFO who are obligated to contribute articles, art, and reviews. They review zines from each other as well as zines from non members. They report on how their own zines are coming along. Sometimes they’ll write articles about a subject that interests them. There is a comic by Jason Bullock called “Mister Mrrdn!” in which a magician from the turn of the 19’th/20’th century uses a muse from the audience to perform a potentially devious trick (we won’t know until the next issue, presumably). There is a checklist at the back of the book of zines published by UFO members. Tetragrammaton Fragments reads like a blog with multiple contributors all providing commentary and feedback on each other’s work. I imagine this is rewarding for members of the UFO to receive earnest feedback in order to make use of it for the benefit of their hobbies of making zines and comics. For outsiders looking in, the critiques can be a bit of content overload, but the checklists and basic descriptions of small press publications will be helpful for folks who want to get ahold of these other zines by UFO members.

Mantra #12 | Steve Keeter

While Tetragrammaton Fragments was more of a newsletter, this is more of a mixed media creative content zine with prose, comics, and poetry. Being a UFO member, Steve is obliged to include a checklist in the back of his publication of current publications by other UFO members, which is handy. The cover of Mantra is misleading. You would think this is a primarily super-hero fan art zine, but there isn’t much of that at all. There is a 17 page anthropomorphic comic by Larned Justin that parodies the political climate of Missouri. A 7 page comic illustrated by Verl Holt Bond called “Love for a Fox” is a newly illustrated work by Mark Proskey, who wrote the script in the 1970’s. A 6 page hero and villain fight scene called “Emergence of the Cannibal Beast” starring Human Byrd and The Eye by Steve Shipley and Steve Keeter is the one super-hero moment of the zine. Also included: a 1 page comic by Kel Crum, poetry by Jim Main and Will Dockery, and prose by Joseph M. Shea and Mike Tuz. I particularly liked the piece by Mike Tuz about his ability to recycle the same wall calendar he’s had since 1964.

You can get a copy of each by sending 3 bucks for TF and 5 bucks for Mantra via PayPal to stevekeeter at gmail dot com.

Collectors Link Fanzine #2 | Alan Sissom

This is a 52 page zine with comics from various contributors, an interview, and review section (called “the ZINEology Report”). The cover is a painting by Susan Dorne. Comics are by myself, Micah Liesenfeld (Babies Behind Bars), Alan Sissom (The Saga of the Link), Larry Tisch (Cartoon Chuckles: A Tisch View of Comics and Collecting), and Steve Keeter (Galaxy Comics No. 1).  The last mentioned is a reproduction of a penciled comic Steve did when he was 14 years old. I enjoy young people’s comics, and particularly enjoyed this artifact since it had some cold war-era undertones to it. It gave me insight into the psyche of American collective anxiety about things during that time, even though the story is mainly about a super-hero’s origin. The 4 page interview with examples of work is with Verl Holt Bond (interviewed by Jim Main). The Zineology Report follows with examples of the comics that Alan reviews. And finally, there is a letters section, acknowledgements, and some advertisements in the back. The inside back cover is by Steve Shipley. The all black and white contents are wrapped in a color cover, which enhances the inside covers as well.

You can get this by sending 6 bucks to Alan Sissom, PO Box 842, Greenwood, IN 46142. You can inquire about Alan’s other work by emailing comicslink at yahoo dot com.

Grant Thomas | 3 mini comics

January 27, 2022 in Art, Reviews

I ordered 3 Grant Thomas mini comics from his shop, and so I thought I’d give them a review here. These are 4.25 by 2.75 inch mini comics. With the exception of Queen of the House, these are saddle stitched mini comics.

Tatanka

Here we learn about the US agenda to eliminate a primary resource as a way of eliminating the Native American people and their culture. Tatanka is the Lakota word for bison. This and a brief history of this sad part of American history are outlined in this 16 page mini comic. I learned about some of the villains of the story including William Tecumseh Sherman and generals Philip Sheridan and Richard Dodge. I found it interesting that the Wounded Knee Massacre happened just 15 years before the American Bison Society was formed.

Queen of the House

A moment in time of the life of a cat. These appear as charcoal drawings (but maybe not) of a cat, perhaps through the cat’s own self image as queen. There is a pattern design of the cat’s body that feels like it may have been inspired by African art. I think that cats probably do view themselves this way. The comic is made from one 8.5 x 11 inch sheet of paper, slit down the middle and folded, a traditional 8 page mini comic format.

Killer Hats

Is another history lesson about the fashion choice of birds on hats during the Guilded Age and the attempt to save shorebird species in the Florida Everglades. Here we learn about Guy M. Bradley and how he gave his life to protect rookeries of birds from hunters. A couple of other animal activists are mentioned such as William Dutcher and Abbott Thayer. 16 pages.

You can order Grant Thomas comics from his website:

https://www.grantthomasonline.com/shop/

Mini Mart

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