True Story, Swear to God: Chances Are…

A cartoonist tells the real-life story of how he and his wife fell in love in True Story, Swear to God: Chances Are…. After meeting at a well-known amusement park, they have to deal with a long-distance romance, with him in California, her in Puerto Rico. Tom Beland’s pages contain simple, cartoony figures that, like good caricatures, capture the essence of the characters. The author is drawn as a regular guy, with open-circle eyes that make him a willing receptacle […]

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True Story, Swear to God: This One Goes to 11

Following up on the events of Chances Are…, This One Goes to 11 begins with a hurricane threatening Puerto Rico while Tom can do nothing but worry long distance about his girlfriend Lily. He’s taking his stress out on his co-workers and family in realistic portrayals of how people distract themselves from big issues with smaller disagreements, punctuated with asides on problems with the media. Such a tense situation, a matter of life and death, drives the realization of the […]

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Sonovawitch! and Other Tales of Supernatural Law

Sonovawitch!, the next book after Tales of Supernatural Law by Batton Lash, contains the lengthy title story about a man’s mother casting a spell that causes a colleague to fall in love with him. It also features a morality play about a doctor who’s legally enjoined from transitioning his patients and a mob vampire story told entirely through TV screens. A set of stories focus on Mavis the secretary, about her decision on how to respond to her boyfriend’s proposal […]

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Tales of Supernatural Law

This series, formerly titled Wolff & Byrd, Counselors of the Macabre, is easy to sum up: two lawyers represent a variety of monsters in cases ranging from the punny to the parodic. Background storylines, usually involving the cast’s love lives, provide continuity, while their ever-changing caseload deals with established horror conventions, including vampires, zombies, and curses. It’s quite amusing to see how such a factual, evidence-based profession interacts with the vagaries of the supernatural. This collection, first in the series, […]

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Thieves & Kings

Thieves & Kings is a classic fantasy adventure, with a young witch and a lost princess, a forgetful wizard and a boy thief, pirates and palace guards. Mark Oakley wonderfully creates the effect of another world. While I was reading the collections, anytime someone would interrupt, they’d ask if I’d been taking a nap, because surfacing from his kingdom was like returning from far away. The first volume begins with Rubel, the thief, coming back to Highborn after four years […]

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Middle Man #1

To promote their release of the Middle Man trade paperback, Viper Comics has made the first issue downloadable for free. That’s a great idea. Nothing sells product as well as a free sample, assuming that the product is any good, and this one looks like a good one. The first issue is well-done, with an interesting character with a distinctive voice. Wendy’s a temp who wants to be an artist, and because she’s disinterested in her day job answering phones […]

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Hopeless Savages: The B-Sides

B-Sides: The Origin of the Dusted Bunnies, the latest in the Hopeless Savages series, is a shorter sampler than the other graphic novels. It contains three flashback stories, all written by Jen Van Meter, about Zero’s friends and bandmates. “Flora” (art by Becky Noonan (Demo)) shows the origin of the band, set against a backdrop of preteen exclusion and school politics. Flora’s somewhat pretentious, with the vocabulary of a Dawson’s Creek refugee, but she’s got an in-story reason: Mom’s a […]

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Too Much Hopeless Savages

Too Much Hopeless Savages, the third book in the Hopeless Savages series, is written by Jen Van Meter and drawn by Christine Norrie and Ross Campbell. It begins with mom Nikki’s mother holding a protest on the family’s lawn. Gran has taken up with a religious type and, convinced that punk is sinful, calls the children names on TV. Arsenal and Twitch, meanwhile, are dating the Shi brothers (Claude and Henry, in a followup to “Romance #1” from the first […]

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