Comics Worth Reading » Minicomics http://comicsworthreading.com Independent Opinions on Comics of All Kinds Tue, 03 Mar 2015 11:33:24 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=4.1.1 Thoughts From Icelandhttp://comicsworthreading.com/2014/08/24/thoughts-from-iceland/ http://comicsworthreading.com/2014/08/24/thoughts-from-iceland/#comments Sun, 24 Aug 2014 21:17:17 +0000 http://comicsworthreading.com/?p=36455 I enjoy comic travelogues. It’s a great match of content and form, since the pictures allow you to vicariously experience somewhere you may never otherwise go, while the text gives you insights from someone who was actually there, and the selection of what to show makes the experience individual.

Thoughts From Iceland Day 1 cover

The latest one I’ve read is Thoughts From Iceland, a series of three minicomics by Lonnie Mann. He went to the remote country in 2012 and captured, in the form of short diary strips, his experiences. They originally ran online, and they can still be read there, but the print versions have some amount of extra content, I’m told. I’m guessing that’s the photos he includes at the back, which make for a fun comparison with his illustrations.

With two strips per page, the books read as a series of key moments and memories. “Day 1″ shows the flight over, the hotel, a museum visit, and some shopping. Given my interests, I was thrilled to see Mann capture most of his meals, particularly the unique ones or those representative of the country. I was also tickled by the strip laying out how he stayed warm walking around. The various layers reminded me of a paper doll. Because the comics are full-color, the tones add another layer to the experience, with the shades mostly blues and greys, suited to the cold weather climate.

Thoughts From Iceland Day 2 cover

“Day 2″ tackles a glacier hike, with a brief folk tale, and Lonnie gets lost at night. Mann’s got a very friendly style, slightly cartoony, particularly when exaggerating the eyes to express delight (in a manga-like way) or uncertainty. It makes any experience more fun and welcoming, so instead of worrying too much for him, lost in a strange city in the dark and cold, it seems like more of an adventure with a layer of humor.

Thoughts From Iceland Day 3 + 4 cover

“Day 3 + 4″ is more touristy, with more shopping, including a comic store, and museums. The treats sound delicious (or exotically weird), while the purchases indicate that consumerism is what drives the world all over, without as much distinction as there used to be. There’s a celebrity cameo (although I had to look up who it was), as well as some interesting images of art installations and some notes on the language.

I want to visit Iceland after reading these, so they serve as a great brochure for the country. Thoughts From Iceland can be bought in print form from Lonnie’s etsy shop or digitally at ComiXology. (The artist provided review copies.)

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How to Sell Minicomics to Retailershttp://comicsworthreading.com/2014/07/14/how-to-sell-minicomics-to-retailers/ http://comicsworthreading.com/2014/07/14/how-to-sell-minicomics-to-retailers/#comments Mon, 14 Jul 2014 19:58:18 +0000 http://comicsworthreading.com/?p=35951 Many minicomic creators handle their own sales, usually on the web or in person at appearances. But if you want to take another step and get your minicomics into comic stores, Big Planet Comics (a retail chain in the Washington DC area) has posted a substantial amount of information on how to do it professionally. It’s a great primer on a lot of business tips you should be aware of.

I bought these minicomics years ago at Heroes Con

I bought these minicomics years ago at Heroes Con

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So Buttons #6http://comicsworthreading.com/2013/09/10/so-buttons-6/ http://comicsworthreading.com/2013/09/10/so-buttons-6/#comments Tue, 10 Sep 2013 18:22:59 +0000 http://comicsworthreading.com/?p=32641 Another SPX, another issue of So Buttons by Jonathan Baylis! It’s always interesting to see which artists he’s lined up to illustrate his autobiographical stories in this minicomic series. Ed previously wrote about issue #4 and the first three issues, but since he’s no longer reviewing, I’ll tackle the two more recent issues.

So Buttons #6 cover

So Buttons #6 debuts at SPX this coming weekend. Under this cover by Jay Lynch, there are 24 pages of comics for $5. I didn’t care for the style of the bookends by Victor Kerlow, which are done in a arty, color-splashed style with wiggly lettering, but it’s a neat way to talk about art history in NYC and the work of Jean-Michel Basquiat. Even though it’s not an artistic approach I normally care for, it’s a good choice to match the material, giving me new appreciation for the style. (I unfortunately can’t say the same about the final piece by Josh Bayer, which I found nearly unreadable.)

The next story, by Becky Hawkins, tells of Baylis getting laid off and using severance money to go to Spain. The cleaner and more cartoony style gives the piece a sense of fun that plays into his attitude at the time. Baylis points out in the story that he’s not making a sensible choice, and the art backs up the appeal of the trip for him while making that clear.

Sam Spina follows up with a piece on revenge based on an unexpected chance meeting with someone who passed Baylis up for a dream job. (Trust me, working for a corporate comic company isn’t really as great as you think it is.) The next section, by T.J. Kirsch, departs from the theme of work and art to tell a somewhat out-of-place story about a gift request from Dad, before Fred Hembeck illustrates a meeting from Baylis’ time interning at Marvel. It’s a touching, sentimental piece, about history and being affected by those who came before, so the long-running Hembeck is a great choice, bringing another layer of memory to comic readers.

As always, Baylis’ glimpses leave me wanting more. I’d really like to see a whole book (a long one, with a spine) of his work in and around comics, with the references here suggesting a bunch more tales to come. I had no idea he’d worked at the various companies he cites, including some no longer with us, and I think a less jumpy, more substantial history would be informative to read. With the story choices (for the most part) about being affected by visual art and creators, this is a great choice to bring to an artist-focused comic show. If you won’t be there, this issue can be ordered from Baylis’ website soon. He’s also posted sample stories there.

If you’d like a cheaper way to try out the series, last year’s issue #5 is 12 color pages for $2, with a Kirby-inspired cover by Tom Scioli. The stories vary more widely in subject matter, with a pet visit to the vet (illustrated by Paul Westover), a coffee search (Thomas Boatwright), a movie visit (Noah van Sciver), and a recipe from mom (Lisa Rosalie Eisenberg). These are much more traditional autobiographical topics, just slice-of-life incidents that might entertain or reassure readers. With all his stories, the more you can relate — whether it’s craving the perfect cup of java or loving Kirby’s superheroes or questioning your parents’ advice — the more you’ll get out of them. (The author provided review copies.)

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MoCCA Minicomics 2012http://comicsworthreading.com/2012/05/14/mocca-minicomics-2012/ http://comicsworthreading.com/2012/05/14/mocca-minicomics-2012/#comments Mon, 14 May 2012 11:28:02 +0000 http://comicsworthreading.com/?p=26258 It’s wonderful to be able to go through the minicomics I brought back from this year’s MoCCA Fest and recall how much fun I had at the show. Here are some of my highlight acquisitions.

Urban Nomad

Urban Nomad #1 cover

I enjoy Alisa HarrisCooking Up Comics, so I was eager to try her minicomic series Urban Nomad.

The comics contain short pieces, moments from her life as an art student in New York City, with emphasis on the urban environment. I like the balance between the dream of being a creator in the most exciting place in the country and the reality of the struggles to survive there. Some of the incidents are widely universal — such as working in a bookstore or the depression of a cubicle job — while others are particular to the region, as when dealing with a persistent subway masher or a particularly agressive pet cat or a mice infestation. They’re not all bad — I liked the reminder of how diverse international grocery stores could be. She also talks about forming a domestic partnership and even includes a short piece on how she got into comics.

Harris’ art really appeals to me. It’s got a clean line and a great sense of movement. I wasn’t surprised to find out that she’d been an animator, since she has the flow breakdown skills that comes from that kind of work. The only suggestion I have for improvement is to include the story titles on the pages themselves. Her works flow into each other, and sometimes I only recognized the distinctions based on the table of contents.

What’s Normal Anyway?

What's Normal Anyway? cover

Morgan Boecher’s webcomic What’s Normal Anyway? tackles being a trans male with jokes and observation. He’s got a good sense of humor about a very tricky subject, but the comic also works to increase awareness of what it might be like to be in such a situation. There are all kinds of little notes that can only be expressed by someone who’s been there and knows. Funny and educational, which makes for a neat discovery.

This minicomic contains the strips from the beginning through August 1, 2011, which covers Boecher’s last year of college in Florida. I don’t see a Store link on Boecher’s site, so I don’t know if he’s offering it online yet. I hope to see a sequel volume at next year’s show; in the meantime, the strip updates every Monday.

(Update: I’ve been informed that a store section should be added to the website this summer.)

As the Crow Flies

As the Crow Flies cover

This first chapter of Melanie Gillman’s new story, about a queer black teen girl who finds herself in an all-white Christian summer camp. It’s being serialized online, but the print version has a few more pages than are up on the website so far.

This is another case where I can’t find a link to buy the minicomic online; maybe the author considers it unnecessary, or maybe the convention show and online audiences are considered different enough there’s no point in offering the same things to them, or maybe the print version exists only to have something to sell in order to make back table fees. Either way, it’s a trend I’m just noticing, and I need to talk to more creators about it. Then again, perhaps artists just don’t want to manage a mail order business.

Anyway, Gillman’s colored pencils are gorgeous and beautifully textured, while the story subject fascinates me. Charlie, our protagonist, is distinctly an outsider, and the idea of an all-girl backpacking trip is a good one to draw her differences into sharp focus while demonstrating achievement. It’s terrific to see such a female-centered story presented in such normal fashion. I want to be part of this group of characters.

I admire Gillman for taking on the question of religion as well. Many creators aren’t willing to cover it, or treat it in flat, two-dimensional ways, but that’s not the case here so far. It’s a motivating force in so many people’s lives that I welcome seeing it in comic stories.

Rockall

Rockall 2 cover

Rockall is an Irish island in this dialect-driven folktale by Amelia Onorato. Tommy is newly arrived to work a croft, but the widow and son of the former farmer are still living there. She’s said to be a selkie, searching for her seal skin so she can return to the sea, her home.

What we have is a charming story about the nature of small towns and outsiders. It’s plainly told, which is just what it needs, conveyed in a style that suits its characters, hardy island folk. Onorato has a good sense of black. The woman’s long black hair and dress pick her out among the panels, and other items of clothing ground the characters on the pages.

At first, I thought Tommy was going to be the typical naive youngster setting out for life on his own, but he’s got more intelligence and know-how than I gave him credit for. The series runs as a webcomic as well. It’s a wonderful story, and I look forward to seeing how it plays out.

Happy Punks

Happy Punks

John Seven and Jana Christy, who once upon a time back in the day brought us the Very Vicky comic, are dipping toes back into the medium with this little book of Happy Punks teaching us how to barter.

It’s brightly colored, as though a children’s book for aspiring anarchists, with a cut-paper assembly look. The story is simple, as one character trades silly objects in order to get the guitar string he needs, but reassuring and pleasant, a reminder that there are more ways to get through life than selfishly.

There will be more Happy Punks coming out later this year and next, apparently, and I’ll be happy to see them. It’s being exposed to this kind of alternate world view that expands minds and keeps us young.

So Many Moons

Billage, based on his website, loves the ocean, and that feel of time spent at the shore comes through in this experiential portrait of a summer day. Pages are made up of fragments of observation and moment, scattered. I think the activity shown is called kiteboarding, but it’s not explained so much as shared. It requires some work from the reader to puzzle it out if they’re not already familiar with the activity, but once immersed, it seems fun.

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Freeloader by Nomi Kanehttp://comicsworthreading.com/2012/04/26/freeloader-by-nomi-kane/ http://comicsworthreading.com/2012/04/26/freeloader-by-nomi-kane/#comments Thu, 26 Apr 2012 12:43:07 +0000 http://comicsworthreading.com/?p=26042 After seeing Nomi Kane in the Cartoon College documentary, her name rang a bell. Then I realized I had been given a copy of her minicomic Freeloader at last year’s SPX, the show where it debuted.

Freeloader

It’s a 16-page traditionally quarter-page-sized collection of short strips based on Nomi being unemployed and living back with her parents. While that’s a time period I’m sure she doesn’t want to dwell on too much, I wished there was a lot more about it, since she only really scratches the surface here, and this comic left me wanting to see more of her work and observations. It’s a great idea with a lot of appeal.

Unfortunately, it’s been a situation over the past few years many young adults can relate to. Here, Nomi contemplates how to get work, with the standout strip for me being the one where she’s turned down for looking too young. Two other strips don’t have anything in particular to do with the economic situation, with Nomi feeding a dog and fighting a bee. As with many diary comics, these are moments in time selected for their interest to others, and each succeeds in keeping my attention.

Her work is anchored in many panels by the solid black of her hair. A little more shading/background detail would be a natural direction of growth, as would a bit more attention to flow between panels. Her individual illustrations are well-chosen and executed, but they feel like static moments in time as we move from one to another. For a second opinion, Rob Clough has also reviewed this minicomic.

Nomi Kane has an online store offering this and other of her minicomics — several of which I’d like to buy and read. – but I couldn’t get it to work this morning. I suggest emailing her if you’d like to see Freeloader or her other work. Update: Store should now be working.

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SPX 2011 Minicomics (by Ed)http://comicsworthreading.com/2011/09/22/spx-2011-minicomics-by-ed/ http://comicsworthreading.com/2011/09/22/spx-2011-minicomics-by-ed/#comments Thu, 22 Sep 2011 19:33:31 +0000 http://comicsworthreading.com/?p=22167 Review by Ed Sizemore

Under Bunnies by Eric Leland

Pages from Under Bunnies by Eric Leland

Under Bunnies by Eric Leland
This is a beautifully crafted book. I love the cardboard covers and spiral binding. The story is wonderful, too. It’s about bunnies stealing carrots and has a Fantastic Mr. Fox feel to it. This is a must-own.

Contents of Octobox by Pam Bliss

   Contents of Octobox by Pam Bliss

The Last Island by Alex Cahill
This is a story about a boy on a desert island and the odd things that begin to happen to him. Or so it seems. There’s a fantastic twist at the end that will make you go back and re-read the book. You can read a preview of the book at New Radio Comics.

Octobox: A Box of 8 Eight-Page Minicomics and Fleek by Pam Bliss
This is an artist Johanna introduced me to, and I’m very glad she did. Fleek is a fun tease of a book. The junkyard receives a box and tries to identify it. We’re never shown what’s in the box as they debate what it is. Perfect for eight pages.

I highly recommend the Octobox. It’s a great sample of the various styles of story Pam tells with her comics. There’s a travelogue, a couple of slice-of-life tales, a couple of dreams, urban fantasy, and a meditation. Also included is an instruction book on making your own eight-page minicomic with advice on how to structure the story. I can’t wait to buy more stuff from Pam.

Gimmick Illustrated #1 Vlak by Jason Little
I’m a big fan of Little’s Bee Comix, so it was thrilling to get to meet him. Vlak is done like a photo book of a vacation. It’s an odd but intriguing tale. There isn’t much of a plot; it’s a man going through a sparsely populated town and catching a train. There’s lots of suspense with no explanation yet. I’m definitely going to pick up the next volume.

Comic Book Legal Defense Fund: 2010 Year in Review by Various
I love the fact that the CBLDF did their year in review as a minicomic. This is another must-read, if they are at the next comic show you attend. Pick this up, then donate. Actually, don’t wait. Donate now. These people are doing great things and need our support.

Milky Way Shuffle by Eilo, published by Koyama Press
This was a good read, although the art is a little busy for my tastes. Also, I can’t say I’m a fan of the character designs. It’s a nerd-saves-the-day story, so I have to confess I’m sympathetic to the plot. Also, it has a good sense of humor.

In the Parlor Room

In the Parlor Room by Jeremy Sorese

In the Parlor Room by Jeremy Sorese
This is another comic I picked up because it was beautifully constructed. I love the yellow band and the Velcro flap. The interior art is as beautiful as the book. It’s the story of a couple of thieves having free reign in an abandoned, flooded city. You can read it free online. However, you’ll miss the joy of the physical book itself. This is another must-own.

Oh boy, comics! #1 by Neil Brideau
I initially bought this because it had hand-stitched binding. The artwork is simple but highly effective. This is a collection of earlier works. There are fun nonsense rhymes, illustrated poems, and short stories. I was struck by how much I enjoyed the writing. I love seeing someone play with language, and the stories are of a perfectly length. Brideau even has a minicomic of the month club. If I have any money left after NYCC/NYAF, I plan on joining.

Wall Street Cat: Money Takes Naps by Sara Lindo
Okay, it’s a comic about a cat, so it’s not really a hard sell for me. This is a delightful fantasy where Lindo’s cat serves as a stress counselor for a Wall Street firm. The art is just as good as the story. Plus, this has a beautiful full-color cover. I do love cat comics.

The Rise & Fall of Studly Pete: Chapter 0 by Renee Lott
This is a short preview of the webcomic. The art is well done, but there isn’t enough story to know if I’ll like the webcomic. I assume if the name doesn’t attract you, then the comic isn’t for you.

Impartial? by Gregory Robison
This is a fictional account of how Washington DC’s first newspaper, The Impartial, got started. It’s not a bad read, but it doesn’t have a real ending. Robison just stops telling the story. I’m also not convinced Robison isn’t reading 21st century motivations and politics into 18th century people. This really needs to be a full-length graphic novel — there are just too many unanswered questions.

Black Magic Tales by Carolyn Belefski & Joe Carabeo
This is the same team that did The Legettes, which I enjoyed. The minicomic is a sample from a longer comic. It’s about a pair of crooks with incredible luck and skill. It was fun, and I’ll definitely check out the full comic. You can see preview pages of the completed first volume.

Map to Worlds End, Cyrano de Bergerac’s Ballade, and Unsung by Ken Wong
I’ve been a huge fan of Ken Wong since I discovered him at MOCCA three years ago. He is the most innovative creator of comics that I know. I’m always impressed with this newest works. These three are no exception.

Map to Worlds End is just what the name implies, a road map to the end of the world. It’s a great pastiche of the old Rand McNally maps. There are references to the Book of Revelation, Mayan mythology, Planet of the Apes, Harold Camping, and more. You’ll spend hours figuring out the references. The blend of dystopian sci-fi and religion is perfect for me.

Cyrano de Bergerac’s Ballade is an adaptation of the fight scene Cyrano has with Valvert from the first act of the play. There’s a clever device for illustrating a poem with a repeating refrain. This is done in comic strip format, with the final page longer than the rest. The final panel of the final page is the refrain, and thus, it is always visible as you flip through the book.

Unsung by Ken Wong

Unsung by Ken Wong

Unsung is the story of a man whose heroic feats can’t be made public. The President has a private meeting with Dr. Unsung to thank him for all he’s done. Again, the construction is brilliant. It’s a single sheet folded very small. As you unfold the page, the story unfolds. As the page gets bigger, so does the mystery of Dr. Unsung and how he’s able to do all these amazing deeds.

Swamp Talk! by Mike Stanley

Swamp Talk! by Mike Stanley

Swamp Talk! by Mike Stanley
This is a neat little work. It’s a small eight-page comic made from a single sheet of paper. It’s book style but uses no staples. Instead, it’s done by making a single cut in the paper and some very ingenious folding. The story is about an alligator janitor enjoying some music.

Strange Fruit Comics #1-4 by Joel Christian Gill
The series subtitle, “Obscure Black History Comics”, says it all. The stories include a slave who escaped by being mailed north, the story of the first black professional basketball player, and the first American stage magician. I hope that Gill does a huge collection of stories. These four issues only whet your appetite for more. You can see previews of the comics at his website.

The Matter #1-2 by Various
This is an anthology. It’s a mix of comics and very short prose stories. Two comics, “Turriimo” and “Brink”, are continuing stories. I enjoyed all the pieces. My favorite piece would be the sci-fi psychological tale “Brink”. My only complaint is with the anthology’s grim tone. A few humor pieces would be nice.

There is a website listed in the books, but currently, the website doesn’t exist. This is a problem because Turriimo is done mostly in Somali, and you’re directed to the website for a translation. There is an active Facebook page for the anthology.

Secret Prison #5 by Various
This is a newspaper-style anthology. These were more miss than hit with me. I enjoyed the comic strips by Tommy Rudmose on the inside front cover. I liked a piece by Box Brown and Mike Sgier, which I took to be an homage to Steve Ditko. You can see the piece here. As a fan of Jack Kirby’s art, Tom Scioli’s Myth of 8-Opus is always a delight to look at. The rest didn’t really connect with me.

Overall, I was surprised at my batting average for minicomics. Part of my success may have been my taking my time this year and reading before I buy. I’m glad that I got to add several new artists to my shopping list for next year.

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SPX 2011: Quick Thoughts and Mini Reviewshttp://comicsworthreading.com/2011/09/11/spx-2011-quick-thoughts-and-mini-reviews/ http://comicsworthreading.com/2011/09/11/spx-2011-quick-thoughts-and-mini-reviews/#comments Sun, 11 Sep 2011 13:06:06 +0000 http://comicsworthreading.com/?p=21894 From my perspective, the 2011 Small Press Expo has been very busy and crowded. Yesterday, I arrived at 8 AM to help with registering exhibitors. Picture to right taken by volunteer coordinator Michael Thomas, who was doing an amazing job. That’s Daniel (who helped me figure out we met at an SPX in 1998, we think it was), Catie Donnelly (who makes webcomics; this was her first SPX!), and me in my antique staff shirt, from when they were trying to call it “The Expo”.

Volunteering at SPX 2011

Once attendees were able to start buying tickets at 11, there were lines to get in for the next several hours, as well as lines to meet such guests as Kate Beaton and Craig Thompson. It was hard to navigate the floor, with so many people blocking the aisles, but there was good energy, and more eyes for the many vendors. I’ve heard reports of some artists selling out of stock already, which is good for them.

I was really glad to be staying in the hotel, since I kept making trips upstairs to drop off purchases. I bought a lot this show, more than usual. Here are the books, many of which will have more detailed reviews on the site in months to come:

  • If Craig Thompson’s Habibi had been widely available, it would have been the book of the show, but as it was, my nominee is the launch of Kate Beaton’s Hark! A Vagrant, collecting many of her comics with author commentary.
  • Also debuting as an instant success, the second Questionable Content book.
  • Hmm, seems like webcomic collections (with their easy samples and built-in audiences) were a trend: add Mike Dawson’s Troop 142 to the list. He had a very cool way of personalizing your purchase, too, sketching and signing a card and then pasting it in as a bookplate. Classy and arts-and-crafty!
  • The only problem with these dynamite books is that, at $20 a pop, they add up FAST! So I was pleased to see an Odori Park collection at half that, even though it included bonus material and behind-the-scenes info.
  • I felt stupid not knowing that Paul Hornschemeier had a book out earlier this year called Life With Mr. Dangerous. I’m intrigued by the plot, too, as he follows a woman with a dead-end job and no boyfriend (but a pressuring mother) who obsesses over a cartoon.
  • It was a pleasure to meet Jennifer Hayden, author of Underwire, in person, and get to see her book in print, as well as hearing about her other upcoming projects, all of which sound nifty.
  • I don’t normally bring a lot of works for authors to sign (because I get tired carrying them around), but I enjoyed these two and wanted to memorialize them. MK Reed and Jonathan Hill were kind enough to sign my copy of their Americus, as Carla Speed McNeil did with her Finder: Voice.
  • The new Octopus Pie book, Listen at Home With, may be just what I need to get into the strip. I love Meredith Gran’s style, but I don’t know enough about the characters yet to follow along. With its longer story groupings and author comments, I suspect this volume will change that.
  • If you bought the first Johnny Wander book, artist Yuko Ota would draw a hat of your choice on the raven inside. I picked a 20s style topper (that she drew well), so I was surprised to later see while wondering the room the same hat on another artist. Comics!

A special thank you to Terry Nantier at NBM. I was ready to buy the manga Stargazing Dog, debuting at the show, when he mentioned they’d just sent me a copy for review. Very kind of him, to help me avoid double-buying (and freed up more money for other things). And of course, as you’d expect from this show, minicomics:

  • It is always cool to see the origami comics of Ken Wong, and he had three new entries. He’s making comics that could be nothing but, and they can’t be digitized, either, since how the reader interacts with the paper is crucial to the experience. Immensely creative.
  • I got to meet Bill Burg again. I have several of his minicomics from 1998, which I enjoyed. It turns out that after a hiatus of several years, he’s put together a new journal comic collection, which I snapped up. He was tabling with local (to me) guy Rob Ullman, always a pleasure to say hi to.
  • Matt Dembicki had two new (to me) issues of Xoc, a well-illustrated story following a shark through the ocean. It won’t be finishing in that format, though, since he had news that it’s been picked up by a larger publisher for next year. It will also reappear in color, which should be gorgeous with all those underwater tones.
  • Bill Roundy and I swapped drink notes. Among his journal comics and a series reviewing Brooklyn bars in comic forms, he’s also put out a bartending guide I’ve found helpful. Unfortunately, my favorite cocktail, the sidecar, isn’t in it, but he’s planning a revised edition.
  • Marguerite Dabaie (The Hookah Girl) also had a journal comic I’m looking forward to trying. In the print mini, she’s only collected the best of her daily webcomic, a smart approach, since it provides a dressed-up sampling.
  • I was happy to pick up two more volumes of diary comics by Dustin Harbin, who also gave me a mini-lesson on how he draws himself and why he vaguely resembles a wolfman.
  • Cathy Leamy‘s next issue of Geraniums and Bacon wasn’t ready yet, but she did have “What’s the Word? True Tales of a Woman on the Go”. When I bought it, she asked whether I wanted a monster or a robot sketch in it. I picked robot, which was apparently the popular choice of the day.
  • I’ll be talking more about Jen Vaughn‘s Menstruation Station minicomics soon, now that I have the latest. It’s the last taboo subject, you know.
  • Her tablemate, Nomi Kane, had a cute little comic called “Freeloader” about being unemployed. She mentioned that a lot of people said they could relate, which isn’t a great sign, and she hopes that there’s no material in her life for a sequel.
  • Pam Bliss’ work is an old favorite, with her wonderful everyday stories of Indiana life occurring within the framework of “Kekionga MiniWorks” (formerly “Paradise Valley”, which is what her hometown of Valparaiso translates as). She’s been doing this a long time, and her craft shows. They’re comfortable in the best way.
  • I like Kelli Nelson’s flat and spiky art, so I bought her The Horrifically Complete Non-Winner journal comic collection. The only problem is, it’s weirdly elongated in size, so I’m not sure how to get it home safely!
  • Last, I picked up the two latest issues of Jumbly Junkery by L. Nichols.

I haven’t yet gone through the various webcomic postcards I wound up with. More on those later, if I like them.

The afternoon flew by in a flash. I was too antsy to sit still for any panels, but I made up for it later by having two dinners. The first was in the bar with Ed and Julia. That was nice because we all talked about what we’d found at the show, and it was early enough that we could go back to the floor and look at what sounded good from everyone else’s stack, since we finished up before the show closed. Also, the meal ended with the best tiramisu I’ve ever had. Julia got the most unusual necklace — it’s a tiny hand-bound book by Lela Graham.

The second (which I didn’t eat at) was with long-timers Pam Bliss, her husband Nick, Carla Speed McNeil, Steve Goldman, and local Denise Sudell. We shared stories of notorious comic flakes and pondered generational change at the show. It was wonderful conversation, just the kind of moment that makes coming to shows like this worthwhile.

We didn’t make it to the Ignatz Awards, unfortunately, but the show promptly posted (thank you!) the winners list, while Tom Spurgeon added the nominees and links. The event was shadowed by news that Sparkplug publisher Dylan Williams had passed away after being diagnosed with cancer last month. He will be missed.

SPX 2012 will be held September 14-15, 2012, with special guests Dan Clowes and Chris Ware. This year’s was the biggest show yet, and to address the crowd issues, the show is planning to roughly double its floor space next year.

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So Buttons #4http://comicsworthreading.com/2011/09/06/so-buttons-4/ http://comicsworthreading.com/2011/09/06/so-buttons-4/#comments Tue, 06 Sep 2011 22:59:51 +0000 http://comicsworthreading.com/?p=21836 Review by Ed Sizemore

One of the books premiering this week at SPX is So Buttons #4 by Jonathan Baylis. As the cover boldly announces, this is his biggest issue yet. Since I’ve complained in the past his books were too short, I found this longer issue a welcome change.

So Buttons #4

This volume contains 11 short stories, each with a different artist. As with the previous issues, these are slice-of-life remembrances. The topics include baseball, movies, and getting to meet one’s idols. The stories are told with a nice blend of nostalgia and humor. Those looking for existential angst will have to search elsewhere.

Baylis and I are approximately the same age, so a few of the stories struck a chord with me. I, too, used to eat my M&Ms by color and remember making origami drinking cups and balloons. Unfortunately, I haven’t had the opportunity to work in the same company as some of my childhood heroes. So I missed both the thrills and disappointments that brings.

Baylis always finds great artists to work with. Having Fred Hembeck draw the story about being an intern at Marvel is perfect. I love Thomas A. Boatwright’s linework. He’s able to capture of feel of those black-and-white movies. Baylis’s longtime collaborator, T.J. Kirsch, is excellent as always.

Folks heading out to SPX this weekend are encouraged to drop by Baylis’ booth and grab a copy of So Buttons #4. If you can’t make the show, then you can order books directly from Baylis at his website. He also has a list of comic stores that carry his books. Maybe I’m reading the wrong books, but upbeat autobiographical comics seem rare these days. It’s great change of pace to read a comic by someone who seems happy about his life.

You can read an 8-page preview at Issuu.

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Geraniums and Bacon by Cathy Leamyhttp://comicsworthreading.com/2011/05/01/geraniums-and-bacon-by-cathy-leamy/ http://comicsworthreading.com/2011/05/01/geraniums-and-bacon-by-cathy-leamy/#comments Sun, 01 May 2011 15:33:36 +0000 http://comicsworthreading.com/?p=19098 I’ve been remiss in not talking about Cathy Leamy’s comics before now. I mentioned her Greenblooded a couple of years ago, due to its unique subject matter (“an introduction to eco-friendly feminine hygiene”), but I haven’t covered her main series, the anthology Geraniums and Bacon.

Each issue is 20 pages of introspection and observation, with expressive, cute, approachable drawings. Instead of being self-indulgent, her self-awareness is eye-opening. I learned things and took lessons in how to approach my own life from her comments. And I laughed when she reimagined herself fighting Death while dressed as Captain America in a piece on religion and whether to believe. She tackles big issues, but she also writes light-hearted entertainment, as in her one-pager on the punchbuggy game.

She makes fun of the process of writing autobiographical comics with the idea of Writer Embellishment, a product that adds excitement. Her dream pieces are full of the kind of symbolic transformation only comics can capture. I especially like her obsession to keep learning, even if she does worry it indicates a lack of self-esteem.

Geraniums and Bacon #1 sample

My very favorite piece occurs in issue #3. In one page, Leamy tells us how she turns programming for the web into a positive affirmation. It’s funny, creative, unusual, and I’ll remember it as a guide for how to approach work with more optimistic energy. But even her daily life stories are interesting, as when she worries about the lyrics of the music she’s dancing to or views an experimental lesbian film or shares travel tales (issue #4, whose centerpiece is a justification of traveling alone that makes me want to go voyaging).

Book 5 leaves the more introspective work behind, instead documenting a visit to a “running of the brides” wedding gown sale, telling the story of a rotting pumpkin that became a home mascot, creating an alternate history/mecha mashup, and trying to shop for underwear. The change and growth in subject matter makes sense for a young author learning more about what kinds of stories she wants to tell and how much material is found around her.

Geraniums and Bacon #5 sample

The five issues of Geraniums and Bacon are available for $2 each from Leamy’s website, where she’s also posted samples. Her newest work is What’s the Word? — right now, it’s only available through her show appearances, but I hope it will be available for order soon. Leamy also created the idea of the Paper Mirror, one of her most famous strips, unfortunately not collected in any of these issues.

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So Buttons #1-3 + Holiday Specialhttp://comicsworthreading.com/2010/12/07/so-buttons-1-3-holiday-special/ http://comicsworthreading.com/2010/12/07/so-buttons-1-3-holiday-special/#comments Tue, 07 Dec 2010 14:48:40 +0000 http://comicsworthreading.com/?p=16453 Review by Ed Sizemore

So Buttons is a slice-of-life minicomic written by Jonathan Baylis and drawn by various artists. The stories range in length from 1-8 pages and are in both color and black and white.

So Buttons #2 cover

Volume 1 is 24 pages long. My favorite piece is “So…I’m Dating a Comic”. It’s a one page comic that explains what it’s like to date a stand-up comedian. It’s a simple reminder that people and relationship dynamics are the same for everyone, regardless of occupation. Baylis’ girlfriend here, Ophira Eisenberg, would become his wife.

Volume 2 is 16 pages long. The opening piece, “So…She Married Me Anyway”, is the best of this collection. It’s a two-page story of Baylis being late to his own wedding. It’s touching and poignant. But as an ex-Navy man I’m compelled to point out a mistake in “So…I’m Standing”. One of the crew members of the Intrepid identifies himself as an ensign (the lowest of the officer ranks) when his uniform indicates that he is a petty officer second class (middle of the enlisted ranks).

So Buttons #3 cover

Volume 3, So Horror-ble, is 28 pages long. It has one true life story and then three fiction pieces. There is a very disturbing zombie story in this issue that has stuck with me and still creeps me out every time I think about it. Which means it’s a good piece of horror. I love the cover and its homage to the old EC horror comics.

The Holiday Special is 8 pages long. I love “So… He Made It Out of Clay?”. It’s actually a story from Eisenberg’s childhood about growing up Jewish and dealing with the Christmas season. Given how culturally sensitive schools have become, I wonder if children sing Christmas carols that mention Jesus in public schools anymore. She might be the last generation to experience such conflicts. It’s a cute story and with a great punch line. Everything you expect from a seasoned stand-up comedian.

So Buttons Holiday Special cover

Baylis does a good job of picking artists whose style meshes well with the tone of the particular story. You get everything from cartoony to hyper-realistic. While I can appreciate using different artists to best aid the storytelling, it does make each volume feel a little disjointed for me.

My only complaint is that the issues are too short. I read all four issues in one sitting, and just as I was getting comfortable with the storytelling, I was out of material. I would prefer to see Baylis put out a trade paperback collection of stories that are arranged in some overarching structure. Given the random nature of Baylis’ writing, grouping his comics thematically might work best. It would be fun to read a section on his childhood, then a section on dating, a section of fiction, etc. A larger collection would allow the reader the needed time and material to get to know Baylis and his writing style better.

Baylis is a good storyteller, and the So Buttons volumes are enjoyable. There just needs to be more of them. You can read samples at the So Buttons website. (The publisher provided review copies.)

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2010 Isotope Minicomics Award Winnerhttp://comicsworthreading.com/2010/10/17/2010-isotope-minicomics-award-winner/ http://comicsworthreading.com/2010/10/17/2010-isotope-minicomics-award-winner/#comments Sun, 17 Oct 2010 12:26:44 +0000 http://comicsworthreading.com/?p=15465 Isotope Award

The 2010 Isotope Award for Excellence in Mini-Comics was announced last night at Isotope Comic’s APE Aftermath party. According to Leigh Walton, the winner was The Possum and the Pepper Spray by Pete Hodapp.

Congratulations, Pete!

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A Map in the Dirthttp://comicsworthreading.com/2010/07/24/a-map-in-the-dirt/ http://comicsworthreading.com/2010/07/24/a-map-in-the-dirt/#comments Sat, 24 Jul 2010 13:06:03 +0000 http://comicsworthreading.com/?p=13624 A Map in the Dirt is a short (15-page) comic by Jess Smart Smiley available in several forms.

A Map in the Dirt

It’s part of the HIVE 4 anthology from Grimalkin Press. It also completed a successful Kickstarter campaign in April, so it’s available in stand-alone binding as a collectible book, although I’m not sure how you order it.

A Map in the Dirt is about a group of animals (although the deer is drawn as a human in a deer mask) running from hunters out to kill their members. But it reminded me of a variety of influences — Native American folktales, nature comics, chase suspense sequences, murder mysteries (as animals are picked off one by one), mystic fables, and vengeance stories. Mostly, it struck me as a meditation on life, focusing on survival under dire circumstances, and a reminder of natural connections among everything on the planet. Deer, narrating the small group’s struggles, says, “Just as Bear protects, the stories are my calling…. My role is to remember…”

The art is detailed, with lovely animal portraits and an odd mixture of image and text in the opening that adds to the feel of a timeless story. Tracks, seeds, icons, and the like are used as design elements to draw attention to and surround key figures (as you can see in sample pages). The black areas are night shadows, adding to the feeling of death somewhere near but unseen.

I like works that keep me thinking after I’ve read them, those where images swim unbidden into my mind’s eye, and this is definitely one of those. You can find out more about the author’s intent in an online interview. Jess’ all-ages vampire graphic novel Upside Down will be available from Top Shelf in 2011.

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2009 Isotope Minicomics Award Submissions Openhttp://comicsworthreading.com/2009/08/12/2009-isotope-minicomics-award-submissions-open/ http://comicsworthreading.com/2009/08/12/2009-isotope-minicomics-award-submissions-open/#comments Wed, 12 Aug 2009 12:04:54 +0000 http://comicsworthreading.com/?p=8255 Isotope Award

Although I am not a judge this year, I look forward to hearing about the great submissions and eventual winner of this year’s Isotope Award for Excellence in Mini-Comics! Submissions are now open, from now until October 1. The winner will be announced at the Alternate Press Expo, and you must be present to win.

Previous years have turned up a great crop of minicomics — I hope to see this year’s judges talking about outstanding submissions as well as the one that wins, so I can find more titles to check out.

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More Isotope Minicomic Noteshttp://comicsworthreading.com/2008/11/11/more-isotope-minicomic-notes/ http://comicsworthreading.com/2008/11/11/more-isotope-minicomic-notes/#comments Wed, 12 Nov 2008 03:35:06 +0000 http://comicsworthreading.com/?p=4233 One last post about the minicomics I saw for this year’s Isotope Award. These didn’t make my top nominee list, but there was something interesting about each of them worth mentioning.

Moe by Daniel Salcido — Cute fable about a boy who dreams of being a destructive giant until he’s redeemed by his girl friend. The art’s a little *too* simplistic, although I liked the detail of the milk-carton village they built.

Fitcher’s Bride by L. Skinner — A 24-hour comic retelling of a Bluebeard-like tale. Fascinating topic, great character design, I like the knitting motif, but the art’s much too rough because of its origins, and the captions are hard to read. Too ambitious for the time period, I fear; I would like to see it finished and polished.

The Society of Unordinary Young Ladies by Algarmi and D.Y. — The concept will tickle many people’s fancy. The girls of Facts of Life are U.S. assassins, only they’re not very good at it. Also appearing are Charles (in Charge) and Buddy. The art is attractively cartoony, but they’re not great likenesses. I wouldn’t have recognized the characters without the names and combination of appearances. It’s more entertaining to hear about than actually read, because the actual story is tedious.

Epic Tales of the Mundane #5: Please Don’t Show My Parents (or the Government) These Comics! by Brandon Huigens and Brad Dwyer — A story that not many will be familiar with, but a lackluster presentation. The writer went into the Army out of high school and then fakes his way out of it. He was a pathetic, angry kid, and a loser adult, concerned only with minimizing harm to his own skin. He doesn’t appear to have learned anything from these experiences, and he skates over what happened with little insight. The art is serviceable but lacks the emotional impact that would provide this story some necessary grounding and structure.

Florride by Amy Martin — A lovely, strongly female-identified anthology that includes sketches, short strips, and comic stories. The lead is a real gut-punch, about a woman facing the loss of the child that she and her now ex-boyfriend might have had by arguing with a bureaucratic angel secretary. It’s funny, imaginative, and heart-breaking. The one-pager taking a modern, passive-aggressive approach to the Little Red Hen is also memorable. This one is the best of this bunch, but it didn’t make my top listing because the second long story veered from sledgehammer to unfocused. (It reminded me of wannabe Molly Kiely, seeking escape in the desert.) Which is the risk with a collection like this, that some of the material will strike the bullseye and other will go far afield in the reader’s eye. Worth checking out, anyway, to see if you react differently.

There was also one I can’t identify. It was an odd, wordless piece about cavemen and dinosaurs done in deep, murky colors. It’s untitled, but by Joseph Lambert. His website doesn’t seem to mention it. Which is my cue to remind me to put basic identifying information on your comic, like the title, and to make sure your website is updated to cover your latest publications.

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2008 Isotope Award Contendershttp://comicsworthreading.com/2008/11/10/2008-isotope-award-contenders/ http://comicsworthreading.com/2008/11/10/2008-isotope-award-contenders/#comments Tue, 11 Nov 2008 04:02:08 +0000 http://comicsworthreading.com/?p=4227 This year’s winner of the Isotope Award For Excellence in Mini-Comics was Jonas Madden-Conner’s Ochre Ellipse. As I did last year, I thought I’d draw some attention to other worthwhile nominees. But first, some thoughts on …

The Process

How do you judge, from 88 minicomic submissions, just one to be recognized for excellence?

I had no idea how to begin, with only two days to make a decision, so I dove in. On first reading, I made a simple decision: was this a potential, or should it be discarded immediately? Rather like interviewing job applicants, I was looking for reasons to rule out something instead of a reason to keep it, just to help myself out.

That got me down to 15. They came in all shapes and sizes, from something the size of a sheet of copy paper, stapled, to quarter-pages held together with a rubber band to beautiful mini art objects or near-postage-stamp-sized. Most had color covers over black-and-white interiors. A couple were 24-hour comics, which I find interesting more as exercises than art pieces.

There were superhero origin stories, obscenity done with funny animals, and the usual slice-of-life and wannabe genre work (often with influences obvious as neon). One was nothing but a fart joke. Some I can’t describe because as soon as I opened them I knew they weren’t up to the level I was looking for. Competition is tough, and expectations are high. I didn’t have time for ugly art.

Some looked like they were drawn by children. Some were drawn well but had a pedestrian or lacking story. Some had an intriguing idea but looked like crap. Some lacked creator or price information. Some were overpriced. ($5 or 8? For photocopied with no color? In my mind, anything over $3 for a minicomic that doesn’t have some kind of special printing or features is too much.)

So what was top of the heap? In addition to the winner, I picked

My Top Five

Brazilianoir by Emily Stackhouse and Nicholas Shahan. You may have already heard something about this noir blend of Germans and gypsies. After the War, a woman is given a baby and a camera, which leads her to Rio, strange warnings, and a place in history. An odd story that’s more accomplished than the sometimes stiff art and very hard to forget. Shame that it ends before the pages run out.

Solzhenitsyn by Tom Daly. An art object. Under bronze-striped brown hard covers, this hand-sized book doesn’t have a spine. Instead, it unfolds like an accordion, one image per fold. It introduces key facts of the life of the Russian writer and activist. The reverse has his quotes in stark type. It’s thought-provoking, due to its comparison of Solzhenitsyn’s time in the gulag to Muslim prisoners abused by U.S. soldiers, if a little ham-handed in its message.

Arachnofiles by Christine Shea. Even though this was a 24-hour comic, I found it interesting enough to recommend. The art was such that, if I hadn’t been told it was 24H, I wouldn’t have guessed. The subject was well-chosen: profiles of spiders and what it’s like to have a tarantula as a pet. With a good proportion of text explaining the subject, the content is balanced, with a chance to be completed within the restricted time period. The artist’s passion about the subject is evident, and I learned things. Non-fiction comics have an uphill battle when it comes to awards, though. They seem easier to do, although keeping the reader involved takes skill.

Howl Before Sunset by Mariya Pantyukhina. I may have a slight bias here, since her work is part of the Team 8 Press Creator Showcase, curated by friend Patrick Godfrey here in the Richmond area. But I found her art evocative, the text poetic, and the assembly, in its collage appearance, unusual. It had something to say about human interaction and observation, and the comforting nature of drinking, and it could only have been done this way, as a comic.

Dog-Eared Mind by Eric Wilder and Tim Hall. (I can’t find any online links for this comic or the creators.) This appealed to me for similar reasons as the above. Well-drawn, and with dream-like imagery of anxiety as a haunting black dog chasing a cubicle worker.

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2008 Isotope Minicomics Award Winner: Ochre Ellipsehttp://comicsworthreading.com/2008/11/02/2008-isotope-minicomics-award-winner-ochre-ellipse/ http://comicsworthreading.com/2008/11/02/2008-isotope-minicomics-award-winner-ochre-ellipse/#comments Sun, 02 Nov 2008 11:45:45 +0000 http://comicsworthreading.com/?p=4076

Ochre Ellipse by Jonas Madden-Conner (technically, Ochre Ellipse #2) has won the 2008 Isotope Award for Excellence in Mini-Comics.

Jonas discusses the work at his blog, along with showing samples.

Here’s a review at the Daily Cross Hatch, and a shorter one by Laura Hudson.

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Jumbly Junkery #4http://comicsworthreading.com/2008/10/22/jumbly-junkery-4/ http://comicsworthreading.com/2008/10/22/jumbly-junkery-4/#comments Wed, 22 Oct 2008 11:03:56 +0000 http://comicsworthreading.com/?p=3928 L. Nichols does the usual collection of bits’n’strips of personal observations, but I like her perspective, especially politically. Don’t get me wrong, only a few of the strips here are about being a woman in a “man’s” field (engineering) — most are about coming to terms with yourself and your identity. Some are even about observing pet behavior. If you don’t find something to relate to (for me, it was an allergy attack), you’ll at least find something amusing (such as the cats relaxing around the Hello Kitty humidifier).

Jumbly Junkery #4

One recurring strip is titled “Confessions”, about things that distub Nichols about herself, whether paranoia or regret over a childhood choice to lose her accent or feeling like she’s let her parents down. Others deal with never-ending repetitive work as a recurring wheel of the same tasks or feeling like you don’t recognize yourself in the mirror. Don’t get me wrong, this isn’t a downer book. Her insights share the uncertainty and confusion we all feel at times, and knowing someone else empathizes with similar issues is ultimately uplifting, even funny.

I really like the way the stand-in for the author is a rag doll with button eyes sown on with Xs. It’s a subtle allusion to the cartoon sign of death, but it also acknowledges herself feeling constructed, put together out of the experiences she draws about. I also enjoyed her quick reference to how the changing seasons affect mood, with a strip about the different ways of waking up in winter and spring. Even with doll eyes, you can see the visible difference in attitude in how she draws the figure.

The background wash grey tones are attractive. It’s a shame that the cover is so minimalist, because I don’t think it represents the skilled work within. I don’t recall seeing these books at all at SPX, for example, although she was there and I would have liked to have gotten more.

Find out more at dirtbetweenmytoes.com. (The flickr link has sample pages.) Alan David Doane has also recommended this comic.

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Minicomic Monday Clean-Uphttp://comicsworthreading.com/2008/10/20/minicomic-monday-clean-up/ http://comicsworthreading.com/2008/10/20/minicomic-monday-clean-up/#comments Mon, 20 Oct 2008 11:33:48 +0000 http://comicsworthreading.com/?p=3933 I’m tired of clutter, so instead of doing what I’d planned yesterday, I wound up sorting through stacks of minicomics. I apologize to those who sent or gave me the comics dated 2003 and 2004, but I threw those out. I need a fresh start. (Google shows that many of the referenced contact websites are defunct now anyway.) Here’s some of the more recent work that I enjoyed or thought worth mentioning. This isn’t all of it, though, so I hope I’ll be able to do another one of these in a week or so.

Creeping Terror Tales 2

Creeping Terror Tales 2

The first Creeping Terror Tales was nicely spooky. This one, “Unfair”, is drawn by the same artist, Sandy Jarrell, but written by D. Vance Sumner. It’s the story of a strange rural custody battle, with an unusual mood created, very different from the first. I found myself reading it multiple times, both to take in the detail and be sure I picked up on the implications. The art is impressively accomplished. Talking scarecrows are always creepy. I also liked the way the possum and her babies worked as a kind of Greek chorus. You can read it online in color. Check out the flying baby panel!

American Terrorist

The folks behind Adrenaline are preparing another title with an eye-catching name. I picked up a preview sketchbook at some convention this year, which has several story pages written by Tyler & Wendy Chin-Tanner and drawn by Andy MacDonald. The best description of the story comes from the back cover, which says it’s about four citizens who protest the government and get labeled as terrorists. They go on the run and fight to redefine how the public understands democracy. That’s not visible yet in the early glimpse I got, but there are plenty of pages to come, I assume.

The reporter part of the story is too similar, in my opinion, to DMZ, but I loved the realism and personality of the schoolteacher. She’s encouraging her kids to think about what the American Revolution really meant and what it would have been like to live through, so I can see how that gets her labeled a troublemaker. I would say you could find out more at awaveblueworld.com, but all that’s there right now is an out-of-date ad banner. (It says Summer 2008, which has passed.) I don’t know what the plans are for the title, but I hope it still does appear. I’d love to see it as a big thick graphic novel.

Blink Strips

Blink Strips

Blink is my favorite new minicomic, because I love the characters, and the mood behind it is so entertaining and yet calming. It’s like a refreshing adult beverage — relaxing, comfortable, and yet eye-opening in noticing the world from a new perspective. This collection contains short pieces that originally ran in a local free monthly. They’re really good.

Like the characters, surrounded by cell phones, I also miss phone booths. And even though I’m not from the area, I liked the page at the back that gives notes on local Columbus, Ohio, locations referenced in the comics. It’s neat to see a cartoonist actively working to be part of the community. Find out more at Max’s website. Or email Max Ink, and he’ll send you a free sample. Who does that any more?

There’s also a new Blink story in Oh Comics! #17, an anthology that in this issue focuses on water. That longer story not only shares Blink’s real name; it’s also a meditation on loss. And the rain is well-drawn.

Outreach

Raina Telgemeier‘s newest minicomic features short bits she’s heard from kids while trying to teach them about comics. It reminded me of Stuart Immonen’s 50 Reasons to Stop Sketching at Conventions, only gentler. I especially liked the bits about kids’ reading habits. Probably because I already knew that kids don’t think manga is the same thing as comics.

I would love to see much more of these — wisdom from the mouths of babes, and all that. And they’re so cute, even when being obnoxious, when drawn in Raina’s lovely style. (I did want to dub that kid who, when told he couldn’t use profanity, proclaimed, “then I don’t have any ideas!” Baby Bendis.) Find out more at goraina.com.

Mimi’s Doughnuts Zine

Mimis Doughnuts #13 cover

Marek Bennett puts out a down-homey comic strip collection every three months or so reprinting weekly comics from a local New Hampshire paper. The title comes from the setting, Mom’s doughnut shop, but in the issue I sampled (#13), that location didn’t feature much. Instead, some kids went looking for stray kittens, experiencing the mysteries of life and death. Then the talking cats started doing political cartoons. There were a couple of school jokes, too.

The second half is an over-rendered sketchbook from a trip through Eastern Europe in which everything’s dark and hard to make out, followed by a handful of diary comics. Issue #14 is mostly these diary comics, lots of which are about the weather (plenty of snow) or lying in bed or working with kids. I found it sometimes hard to tell what I was supposed to be looking at — the smaller diary comics don’t have all the space needed for the text required to explain what I was seeing. The more dialogue-based Mimi strips thus better camouflage Bennett’s weaknesses. The characters are lumpy and simplified in modern newspaper strip style. The whole thing is well-meaning — Marek seems like a nice guy — but rather boring. It would probably be more entertaining for free than at $4 a zine. But since he’s won a Xeric Grant to do a best-of paperback collection, what do I know?

Find out more at marekbennett.com/mimisdoughnuts/.

Panel

Panel Work

I’m pleasantly surprised that this anthology is still going strong. Then I notice how much attention they put into their themes, including different formatting to suit each issue, and I realize why they’re still around. Their latest, #11, is about Work, and to match, minicomics in various shapes and sizes come packaged in an inter-office mail envelope with a memo (written in bureaucratic doublespeak — actualized, synergistic, strategist) for a contents list.

Unfortunately, the package is the most satisfying part of the assemblage. I can appreciate the imagination that goes into the various comic attempts, but as intellectually interesting as some of them are, none of the stories or art will stay with me. They don’t have the impact I hope for. For example, Brent Bowan contributes a one-sheet set in an apartment building. Following the characters through the windows reminded me of Will Eisner (or that Alan Moore homage), but his work doesn’t have their depth or attraction.

A wordless knights-and-dragons piece by Dara Naraghi (editor of the anthology) and Matt Kish looks like it was drawn by an eight-year-old and fit the theme only in the loosest sense. Steven Russell Black and Tim McClurg do another wordless thing about fish. M.A.D. wasted more paper than was needed on a loosely cartooned interview joke, but at least it’s in keeping with the subject. The most creative match of format and content was a triangular-shaped comic about a pyramid scheme by Sean McGurr and Brent Bowan, but the story provides nothing much beyond a history lesson on who Ponzi was. (I will say Bowan’s art is well-suited to the 50s feel of the two businessmen in a bar.) Craig Bogart does a twist on zombies with the moodily illustrated story of a gravedigger’s passing; surprisingly, this was my favorite of the group.

Find out more at www.ferretpress.com/weblog/.

Untitled

I don’t recall how I got a copy of Blaise Larmee’s latest zine, and I don’t understand the story or the use of what look to me like unfinished panels, so I don’t recommend paying $7 for it, but I do adore this drawing of an elephant in a box.

Elephant panel

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Richmond: Learn How to Make Minicomicshttp://comicsworthreading.com/2008/10/03/richmond-learn-how-to-make-minicomics/ http://comicsworthreading.com/2008/10/03/richmond-learn-how-to-make-minicomics/#comments Fri, 03 Oct 2008 23:40:06 +0000 http://comicsworthreading.com/?p=3742 The 2008 Richmond Zine Fest will be held on Saturday, October 11, 2008, from 11 AM to 5 PM at the Gay Community Center, 1407 Sherwood Ave, Richmond, Virginia.

According to their website, last year’s zine fest featured 45 vendors, with over 250 people attending. This year, one of the workshops is “All About Mini-Comics”, presented by Rob Ullman and Dylan Williams. It’s described as

A primer on the ins and outs of producing and publishing mini-comics, the red-headed stepchild of the ‘zine world! Rob Ullman and Dylan Williams will discuss the history of the artform, avenues and methods of distribution, and offer advice about how to produce your own mini-comics.

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2008 Isotope Minicomics Award Submissions Openhttp://comicsworthreading.com/2008/09/10/2008-isotope-minicomics-award-submissions-open/ http://comicsworthreading.com/2008/09/10/2008-isotope-minicomics-award-submissions-open/#comments Thu, 11 Sep 2008 00:52:10 +0000 http://comicsworthreading.com/?p=3496 I’m pleased and honored to once again serve as a judge for the Isotope Award For Excellence in Mini-Comics, which has begun accepting submissions for this year’s award.

Isotope Award

“There is honestly nothing that makes me happier each year than to get the opportunity to help spotlight a creator who is toiling in the underground making something wonderful,” said James Sime, proprietor of Isotope, the comic book lounge in San Francisco. “And I know that many of you out there are hand-crafting some mini-comics brilliance, let us help share that work with the world!”

In addition to Sime and me, judges include Josh Cotter, 2004 winner of the Isotope Award for his minicomic Skyscrapers of the Midwest, since republished by AdHouse Books; Jason McNamara, Xeric Award-winning author of several books, including The Martian Confederacy; and Kirsten Baldock, librarian and Isotope Special Projects Director.

To enter, send five copies of your minicomic to Isotope at 326 Fell Street, San Francisco, CA 94102, before October 24 at midnight.

The award will be given out in conjunction with the Alternative Press Expo in San Francisco. Because of the nature of this award, the winner will be contacted in advance and must be present at the Isotope at 9 PM on Saturday, November 1, for the award presentation ceremony.

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