Echo! Echo! #7
32 pages, quarter-sized
Aesthetically pleasing little perzine by Keet from Canada. Stream of conscious writing about feminist leanings and aversions to being girly. A trip to New YorkCity inspires four short pieces. An encounter with an old woman while waiting for a train inspires another. And of course there's heartbreak. Artwork, comic jams, and a few poems round out the issue. Keet is a little self-conscious about this issue, but I think it's her best yet. Lots of good one-liners and a great effort overall.
Review by Dan Murphy, publisher of The Juniper and Elephant Mess. PO Bos 363 Edwardsville IL 62025, http://juniperbug.blogspot.com/
Tuesday, December 29, 2009
Echo! Echo! #7
Monday, December 28, 2009
Sunday, December 27, 2009
The only issue to my knowledge, Digger previously did IQ32 zine, this one got more into anarcho- political stuff, interviews with Chumbawamba, Anarka and Poppy, No Ones Property, stuff on Burtonwood Peace Camp, Stop the City, The Miners Strike, Free Festivals ( plus sex and drugs!)
INDOCTRINATION FOR THE IGNORANT CHILDREN 1
In the Name of Love (R. Kelly Comics)
There are times when I just don't get it. This is, of course, a useless opinion when it comes to writing a review, because then why would you even bother? Well, Scott has done some work with Chris Anderson (and all of you should immediately buy and enjoy his comics, or at least all of his comics that I've seen), so I thought he needed his own page here, a way for people to contact him directly. Scott has done here what it probably looks like from the cover: he has illustrated various R. Kelly lyrics. The trouble is that the images seem to have little or no connection to the lyrics. Don't get me wrong, the man can draw and some of the images by themselves are powerful/funny/impressive. But the two things never seem to line up, and it's hard to wonder why this exists in the first place. If he was looking to shine a light on the sheer ridiculousness of some of R. Kelly's lyrics, well, kudos, although how these lyrics are any dumber than any of the other utterly interchangeable R & B singers is beyond me. Maybe it's all a bizarre meta experiment in making reviewers look stupid? Hey, I don't need any help. At the end of the day it's nice to have at least some small clue of why a comic exists, and this one just baffles me. Check out his work with Chris Anderson, as it's brilliant, but this one is easily skipped. Unless you can spot something in that sample that I'm missing… $3 (?)
oh shit! so i'm almost done with rav 3, i dunno how it happened, it all happened so fast! i didn't expect it to happen so fast. anyway, if you read rav 2 you may have noticed there was a letters column... you also may have noticed that letters column was fake. i was hoping that rav 3 would take longer to complete, and the fake letters column would have baited some actual letters. well! it didn't. partially because nobody writes letters anymore, but mostly because nobody actually cares about my comic. and i don't say this in a self-loathing, pity me sort of way... i say this in a hyper realistic, the numbers don't lie, in the grand scheme of things sort of way. well anyway, i was hoping some of you guys who read rav 2 would write me some more stupid bait letters so i can hook some real letters from actual strangers with rav 3? you can email them to me: michaelacolette (at) gmail (dawt) com
bonus points if you're an actual stranger.
also i attached some random out of order pages from rav 3!
John McNamee and Ted Raskol get together three times a week to draw jam comics. The comics are always four panels long, but they alternate who starts each one. What goes on from start to finish is completely improvised from panel to panel. Their strips are posted on the website Digestive Comics.
McNamee's webcomic Pie updates thrice weekly. He has drawn over 660 strips so far and shows no sign of stopping. He has been published in three issues of Pulse Comic Zine and has self-published two compilations of Pie. He recently lent his drawing skills for Duck Tales from the Crypt in Big Planet's November newsletter.
Raskol authors Raskol Political Cartoons, which updates daily. He has been published in Pulse Comic Zine and finds that it's not so hard to draw a daily cartoon, as long as you're willing to cut all the people you care about out of your life. His political drawings lean to the left of the political spectrum, but have a streak of independence when it comes to the economic issues.
McNamee and Raskol met while publishing daily comic strips at The Cavalier Daily, which is an independent and self-sustaining newspaper published by students at the University of Virginia (both were graduates of the class of 2007). McNamee has had a table at the last two Small Pres Expos, while Raskol visited to mill about for awhile. By next year's SPX, they plan to publish a compilation of Digestive Comics.
- Sarah Morean
Puffed was a three-issue mini-series from Image in 2003, yet this trade is from 2005 and published by IDW. That's the way it is with creator-owned stuff, I guess! John Layman wrote it, Dave Crosland drew it, and IDW charges $17 for it. I usually wouldn't review it because it's, you know, so old, but Layman himself handed it to me and didn't charge me for it, so I would feel bad about not reviewing it. It's not like it's super-duper well known, right?
Layman, of course, is the writer of the excellent series Chew, although he's been around the comics scene for some time (the dude wrote Gambit, for crying out loud), and Puffed is somewhat in that vein. It's not as good as Chew, but you can see the twisted sense of humor that Layman brings to his latest series, even if it's somewhat less refined. Yes, I just implied that a series about a cop who eats parts of human beings is "refined." But I'm talking about the humor - Layman never overdoes it in Chew, while in Puffed he goes a bit too far. As in, the main character walks around with shit in his pants for most of the series. That's what I think of as "lazy humor."
That doesn't mean this isn't fun to read, however. Layman introduces us to Aaron Owens, a worker drone at an amusement park whose punishment for showing up late one day is to dress in the dragon costume rather than the bad-ass Big Bad Wolf he wants to be. Meanwhile, he draws the ire of an unbalanced and fairly stereotypical redneck because he's flirting with a girl at the park - naturally, said girl doesn't like the crazy redneck, but the crazy redneck believes that she's meant only for him. So after his shift, Seaton - the crazy redneck - beats him senseless, loads him in his pick-up truck, and takes him to the Big City, where he dumps our hero in an alley. It's already been established that it's difficult for Aaron to get the costume off without some help, so he's kind of trapped in the costume. And then he shits in his pants. And witnesses a murder. C'est la vie!
Aaron gets away from the murderers, drives around the city for a bit in a limo he happens to jump into, goes to a bar and hears an old dude tell a story of lost love, gets caught by the murderers, and manages to escape with his life. I couldn't get the Jeff Goldblum/Michelle Pfeiffer movie Into the Night out of my head while I read this - yes, it's much cruder and features a dude in a dragon costume, but it has that fish-out-of-water-in-the-big-city kind of vibe, and it takes place over the course of one long night. I'm sure there are other movies in this vein, but that's the one I though of. Sue me. Layman and Crosland follow it up with two shorter stories, one that features Seaton fighting the war in Iraq and another that shows what happens when both Seaton and Aaron end up in the same hospital. They're both goofy, much like the main story.
Layman doesn't stretch his muscles too much, simply allowing lowest common denominator humor to rule the day. The best part of the book is the old guy's story about the love he had and lost, which isn't funny (nor is it meant to be). Layman can write humor very well, but these few pages that aren't funny are really well done, especially when we consider the lessons Davey - the old guy - learned about the woman, what she really wanted, and who serves him his drinks every night. It's a twisty little noir story shoved into a truly silly story of a guy in a dragon costume. Again, there's nothing really bad about Aaron's story - even though I don't think it's all that hilarious - but when we get to Davey's story, it's interesting to see how good Layman can be.
I have nothing but praise for the art, though. Crosland is magnificent, and I'm kind of stunned I've never seen anything else by him. I've been poking around his web site and it appears he doesn't do a ton of comics work, focusing instead on other media, and that's cool, but this book is almost worth it simply for the art, and I'd love to see more of Crosland's work. When I first saw it, I immediately though of Jim Mahfood, which is odd as Mahfood introduced Layman to Crosland (as we're told in the sketch section in the back of the book). Crosland's work is a bit softer-edged than Mahfood's (that's not, in my opinion, a bad thing) and, if possible, a bit more energetic. He does a great job with character design, making Seaton, for instance, almost inhuman, and the full-page shot of what the stoned limo driver sees when he looks at Aaron is marvelous. Crosland also shines on Davey's story, during which he goes even further in eschewing traditional panel layouts, blending every part of the story into an almost dreamlike swirl of drawings. He also does a nice job with the frenetic fight scenes, one at the beginning when Seaton beats Aaron up, and one at the end when Aaron gets a tiny measure of revenge. This is a fantastic book to look at, and it smooths over some of the weaknesses of the narrative.
I can't unequivocally recommend Puffed, but if you like potty humor, you might love it a lot more than I did. However, I do think it's worthwhile to check it out for a couple of reasons: Layman is obviously a talented writer, and parts of the comic are very, very good, while Crosland's art is stunning. And there's a bear! And pin-ups by people like Frank Quitely and John Cassaday! And a bear!
Saturday, December 26, 2009
4 pages, 5 x 6
This is a mini-comic review of a book by a deceased religious scholar and Catholic priest named, Charles L. Moore. Aaron met Moore in a dream and later, while listening to late night AM radio, learned that Moore had passed away. This prompted Aaron to purchase a copy of Moore’s book. In his unique style, Aaron created this mini-comic using stick figures and cut-n-paste images to share his thoughts about the book (which he found “dreadful”) and to reveal portions of his own spiritual awakening. This little comic, much like the bulk of Aaron’s projects, was an enjoyable and insightful read.
PO Box 24894
Detroit MI 48224
Review by Dan Murphy, publisher of The Juniper, and Elephant Mess. If you wish to swap zines with him, send them to: Dan Murphy, PO Box 363, Edwardsville IL 62025, http://juniperbug.blogspot.com
18 pages, 8 ½ x 11
James is a long-time and prolific zinester who has apparently become disheartened by today’s internet dominated zine scene. Yes, zines have gone digital just like everything else, and if you knew a life of zines before the world wide web, you may indeed find yourself increasingly disillusioned by the amount of online traffic that zines are participating in these days, especially when it seems to come at the cost of content and regularly filled PO Boxes. James is so disturbed by this trend that he wrote a rambling, 18-page zine about it, and while reading it I couldn’t help but feel sorry for the guy and his desperate attempts to cling to the past. Nostalgic over days when thick, text-heavy zines would fill his mailbox on a regular basis, and long, engaging letters to and from zine friends were the foundation of deep, personal connections; James is now steeped in frustration as he attempts to communicate with fellow zinesters through online forums and social networking sites. Sadly, he is left feeling unfulfilled and out of the loop. More frustrations abound in his endeavors to print out online zines and blog postings at his local, college library. “Why doesn’t anyone post or publish their physical address anymore?” he inquires. James’ rant, despite the moodiness and general nit-pickiness, is worth some consideration. If nothing else, send James a letter and let him know that indeed there are still people out there who value networking the old-fashioned way.
James N. Dawson
PO Box 292
Malden WA 99149
Review by Dan Murphy, publisher of The Juniper, and Elephant Mess. PO Box 363, Edwardsville IL 62025, http://juniperbug.blogspot.com
Friday, December 25, 2009
Fantagraphics continues to bring out nifty collections of olde-tyme comics, allowing us whippersnappers to check out what the four-color stuff looked like back before the Internet, cell phones, video games, Alan Moore, and the wheel. This time around, we get Strange Suspense by Steve Ditko, whom you may have heard of. It's $39.99, but man! are these some cool comics.
This book collects short stories written and drawn by Ditko when he first broke into comics, back when he was in his late twenties (Ditko, presumably, turned 82 a few months ago). It was just before the Comics Code Authority drove companies like EC out of business, and Ditko was going a bits nuts with various stuff, mostly horror and mostly for Charlton. These stories are from 1954 with the exceptions of the first one and the last one, which are from '53 and '55, respectively. The CCA was adopted on 26 October 1954, so all of the stories but the last one are pre-Code (and the last one is a humor story). Ditko therefore had no restraints, and the stories show it. This is pretty wild stuff.
What's impressive about this collection is Ditko's versatility. Yes, the stories are mostly horror, but Ditko also throws in the aforementioned humor story, a romance (a fairly racy one, for the time), some westerns, a crime story, and some space epics. He even retells two fairy tales ("Cinderella" and "Rumpelstiltskin") with some nasty twists. He goes from the West to Egypt to London to the jungle, and while none of the locations are perfectly sketched out (the panels are mainly packed with characters, so there isn't room for backgrounds), Ditko gives us enough to show his chops with setting a scene. His best work comes from the character work, as we get strange demons and fantastic space aliens and giant worm monsters and people who look ... well, not like real people, because they're often bizarre-looking, but definitely distinctive. He puts his characters through the wringer, too, as he was allowed to do back then. While the horror stories pretty much fall into a fairly standard trope - we get a character or characters who are really not that nice put into a situation where they think they have the upper hand, but then, of course, they discover they're really in a pickle and are dispatched horribly - Ditko does such a marvelous job with the design of each panel that even though we know people are going to get their comeuppance, it's a true pleasure to watch it happen!
We really get a sense of a master at work in this book, even though it was so early in Ditko's career. As I've read more Golden and Silver Age comics, I've become more appreciative of Ditko even more than Kirby (sorry, King), and this book is a good primer on why. Ditko's people are more disturbing than Kirby's, from his eerie grinning Rumpelstiltskin to his truly creepy giant worm. He gives us almost subhuman bad guys and exotic evil women, all caught in the grip of cruel fate. Kirby's more lantern-jawed heroes wouldn't fit in this twisted mileau of Ditko's, which, despite the weirdness going on, feels more "realistic" than Kirby's work. If Kirby shows humanity at its pinnacle, Ditko isn't afraid to show humanity at its nadir. As I've read more work from the 1940s and 1950s, I've been impressed with the energy of the work even if much of it was fairly crude. There's nothing crude about Ditko's work here, and even at this early stage of his career, you can tell why he went on to become a legend. Yes, some of the stories are a bit goofy - in one, a modern character's great-grandfather was somehow alive in the time of the pharoahs, while in another, Ditko suggests one can get to Jakarta by sailing down the Amazon river - and the coloring is a bit odd occasionally, but this volume is still wildly entertaining.
I'll just stop writing now and show a few more art samples from the book. I realize this is a bit steep, money-wise, but it shows what a master Ditko was and what he could do when he was allowed to cut loose. It's totally worth the price!
Tomorrow: Yeah, I'll be taking a break, even though I have a few more of these to do. I usually give myself a week or so of lag time before I start posting these, building up a backlog so I'm not so pressed for time. Well, I've used that all up and this weekend has been really rough, so I've started the next review but I'm nowhere near finishing it. Oh well. I'll get a few under my belt and fire them up again, possibly on Christmas but more likely the day after. I'd like to get them done before the end of the year, just because these are all from 2009. We'll see!
This is issue #73 of my twelve-year-old zine Ker-bloom!. It is about a recent tour I did, reading my zine aloud as an opening act for an epic punk band as we traveled around the Midwest and South in a veggie oil powered bread truck.
It's also about friendship and how I figured out what was missing in my life by stuffing myself into a van full of musicians.
8 pages, letterpress printed, 4.25"x5.5" Numbered edition of 287.
HELLO ALABAMA: A ONE-SHOT DISASTER (Tuscaloosa, AL)
Courtney's (Muse) anti-love letter to Alabama was written after she packed up and moved from North Carolina to Tuscaloosa, Alabama to attend library science school. The move came with an unexpected downside in the racist and conservative attitudes of some of her classmates. While certainly not indicting all Alabamans, Courtney describes the self-silencing she must go through to be safe in her new location, from being forced to tear a pro-choice sticker off her car to having to check her political ideals at the door in order to have at least a few friends. There's also a piece about the underfunded and underutilized recycling program in Tuscaloosa, and how its mismanagement by clueless city officials has had devastating consequences for the working-class community who must live next to the plant. I've never moved to a drastically different geographical location (yet), but as someone who grew up in a more conservative area the themes of alienation rang true, and I think this would be a great zine for anyone who feels out of step with their surroundings, whether they're a native or a newcomer.
LETTERS TO WASSILY (Tampa, FL)
Shae's (The Road of Sand, Paingiver, Tragikotatos) new personal zine is built around three separate "dialogues," which can be told apart by their typography. The computer-typed sections are an interview with Shae's "dead Romanian poet lover" Tristan Tzara, where she and "he" talk about writing, politics, religion, etc. The typewritten parts are stream-of-consciousness vignettes about Shae's past (both the real past and the dream past), favorite things, and secrets. Handwritten parts comprise the introduction and a list of definitions, each like its own little one-line poem. Shae sometimes doesn't like it when people say this, but there really are not any other zines like hers out there: raw, honest, intellectual, and gorgeously written and laid out, this is yet another classic perzine from one of my favorite zinesters and people.
ROOTS OF HOPE (Arcata, CA)
Roots of Hope is a chronicle of Korinna's (Rock Star With Words, The Remainder of Zero) past two years working as an academic mentor to high-risk high school students through the Americorps program. She uses zines as a way to get students to tell their stories, and while the resulting classroom comp zine wasn't what many personal/political zine readers would expect, it achieves the goal of getting kids involved with school and with each other. Korinna also writes about being a bitch, and connects her experiences standing up for her principles in her political community with a girl she mentored. After her volunteering is over, Korinna volunteers on farms in Ireland and Spain, and is torn between her two very different volunteering experiences. Korinna was afraid that this zine channels Dangerous Minds, but I don't think so: there's way too much self-awareness and self-doubt for that. Recommended for anyone with an interest in teaching, volunteering, or using zines as a way to foster creativity.
In an effort to highlight different zines available in the catalog and point readers toward a few exceptional titles, I'm offering five-title collections based around a comic and a perzine theme, since those are the two kinds of zines I mostly carry. Sorry, no substitutions, but these collections can be combined with any other order. Collections are priced $10 for US orders, and $13 for international orders... basically, that's free shipping! Take a look at what Black Light Diner has to offer. I will be switching the titles around periodically to keep it interesting! Descriptions of individual zines in the collections can be found under the main zine listings.
COMIC ZINE COLLECTION (Everywhere!)
This collection contains five comics spanning a wide range of artistic and storytelling styles. Included are the personal comic Booty #22, the travel diary Eighteen Long Days, the anthology Play!, the daily journal comic You Can't Get There from Here #12, and the humorous 24-hour comic Evolution Comics #1. Highly recommended for comics fans as well as zine readers who are looking to get into the world of comics.
PERSONAL ZINE COLLECTION (Everywhere!)
This collection contains five of the personal zines currently in stock at Black Light Diner. Included are Ocean's old-school-styled High on Burning Photographs #4, my own personal/political zine Breakfast at Twilight #2, the 23rd issue of Alex Wrekk's seminal zine Brainscan, the incredibly powerful and moving perzine Letters to Wassily, and the uniquely constructed Nothing Rhymes #5. Great for perzine fans, as well as comics fans who want to check out personal zines for the first time (flipside of the scenario above, haha)!
Also, I'm really on the lookout for some new zines to carry, in particular personal comics. If you have something you think I'd be interested in, drop me an email or send it to me!
Thanks for reading,