Club Queen Rat King [Small Press]

Club Queen Rat King (Ray Ray Books): Emma Louthan's impressive A4-size mini-comic is a thing of rare beauty, hailing from Cody Pickrodt’s small press publishing endeavor. Club Queen Rat King juxtaposes the titular queen and king as social oddities coveted in a bizarre and surreal nightclub. The startling realization we slowly acquiesce to is that they're really no different than the odd conglomeration of social mores, and artifacts, and sexualization that accumulates in our modern club scene. It’s a place where, if you’re good enough, you catch the eye of the owners, and are spirited away to the VIP room with mysterious offers of employment. It's exclusive, and that's secretly what we all aspire to be, to be special, to have access, to be different, to be in on the secret, whatever the secret is, and the depths we’re willing to go to in order to obtain that, even when we harbor a sneaking suspicion in our gut that something just isn’t quite right. Exclusivity is one of the keys to ego, and the culture perpetuating that, as the owners say “Even God isn’t allowed in VIP!” As great as the story and themes are, Emma Louthan’s art is also something special. Her diminutive figure scale is composed of very fine lines, the characters dance around on the page like some kind of underground Victorian sketches, ensconced in feathered wisps of ink on porous paper. There are two colors prevalent, a rich blue and a sort of burnt mustard yellow. It is all things. It is weird, and different, and poignant. It is revolting, and irresistible, and important. It’s one of the best art comics I’ve read in a while. Man, it’s only January and I now officially have one entry slotted in for contenders on my Best of 2014 list. Grade A+.

Another Glorious Day at The Nothing Factory [Small Press]

Another Glorious Day at The Nothing Factory (Self-Published by Eroyn Franklin): This is Eroyn Franklin’s most compelling work to date, an ethereal experience that mirrors falling in and out of love with a heavy heart. The opening passages reveal an impending divorce and the remaining expanse of the hardcover graphic novel is a self-exploration as to why, how, and what it all means. Franklin’s protagonist, who we assume is an autobio cipher to at least some degree, is surrounded by a city filthy with reminders of togetherness, and finding it impossible to erect new monuments of solitary identity, she seeks refuge in a rural retreat. 

The entire book is constructed on black paper, with what looks like white cutout figures laid over them. On the left pages, there’s white text against those black backgrounds. On the right pages, we find the silhouettes of the figures, these two opposing series continue for the length of the project, continually at odds, words and feelings vs. pictures and perceptions. Franklin has such a way with pointed language, whether it’s noting how little effort is required to maintain her broken heart, mundane gems like the fact that a tube of toothpaste can sometimes outlive a relationship, or explaining that “I grew up in the suburban footprint of a giant city” as she recounts her life, family, and relationships.

The deeper into Another Glorious Day that the reader gets, the more they realize that the approach to this book isn’t some obtuse exercise in autobiographical navel-gazing, the industry is all stocked up on that quotidian fodder, but rather, Franklin has presented us something of a blank canvas with these black backgrounds, white silhouettes, and deliberately not mentioning names – we know the characters only as “the husband,” or “the sister.” It allows us to imprint our own people, lives, and little dramas onto to the work. It allows us to instantly connect because we see the shades of ourselves reflected in someone else’s story.

By the end, Franklin’s wry bitter observations about wanting bad things “to satiate some soured part of me” are just so remarkable in their honesty. Another Glorious Day at The Nothing Factory is forthcoming, ambitious, and we get the sense that the art wasn’t the thing for her, but occupying her mind with an exercise that forced her to sort out her feelings was, yes, catharsis was the primary driver for Franklin when crafting this book. It’s her most personal, revealing, and artistic expression to date, within an expanding line of strong offerings. Between all the heartache, turmoil, and honesty manifested as artistry, it’s obvious that Eroyn Franklin is a creator to watch. Grade A+.


QU33R [Small Press]

QU33R (Northwest Press): From his editing projects, to self-publishing his own work, to his reviews at The Comics Journal, I’m always curious to see what Rob Kirby is up to, so I was quite excited to digest this thematic companion to Justin Hall’s No Straight Lines. It’s billed as 33 creators coming together to celebrate the diversity and examine the future by showcasing queer comics legends and new talents alike. There’s a confident and sophisticated set of experiences presented here, and I particularly enjoyed the market differentiation between mainstream and indie appearances of LGBT characters and ideas. In the intro, we’re told that there’s a social need for this book, because mainstream comics are largely concerned with assimilation and normalization, while indie comics are still responsible for offering a true insider’s perspective. There were only a couple pieces that didn’t resonate with me for whatever reason; here are the selections that really stood out to my eye…

Eric Orner opens the project incredibly strong, with a piece surrounding the “privilege and duty” to explore how people self-identify. Orner’s piece shows the internal monologue, a person fighting with themselves and struggling to find a comfortable place, caught in the social vortex between heteronormative behavior and the perceptions of judging eyes. The colors are sharp, with hefty line weight and liberal inks. I particularly enjoyed the occasional attempts in QU33R at quietly subverting genre comics, with things like “Hal Jordan is well hung” scrawled in bathroom graffiti here, or the mention of Dazzler later in an Ed Luce piece. Orner’s entry encapsulates the guilt built into hetero society for gay men, not to mention the shifting generational rifts. With its length, Eric Orner’s story works well to anchor this anthology, but it’s also strong enough that it could have stood alone as a solo mini-comic.

Annie Murphy follows with an interesting piece about different family members sometimes needing the benefit of distance and time to be fully understood and appreciated. There’s free-floating text with reproductions of photos set against black backgrounds that makes for a visually engaging composition. Mari Naomi uses long lean figures and relays a story of some apprehensions being universal. With washed out colors taking away stark contrast, she exposes the dilemma of bisexuality. Instead of opening up possibilities to both genders, sometimes it just doubles the complexity of relationships. There’s a full page shot of a wide-eyed cat that sells the sense of the sexuality of the moment, with only the hint of bare skin. It’s masterful. I also liked the inconclusive nature of the ending because it plays like the uncertainty of real life.

Ed Luce shows us how to survive the pit in such a distinct visual style and color palette. Dylan Edwards contributes a fun gender identity number steeped in Transformers and other pop culture ephemera of the 1980’s. Justin Hall’s “Seductive Summer” was one of my favorite pieces, running an in depth study of the correlation between power and seduction, mental and physical power, and the beautifully awkward phases of an atypical (as seen in traditional media) budding relationship. Danger is sexy, and Hall isn’t afraid to address the scarred personalities – gay or straight, the complexity of love, lust, and trust swirling around any romance, and scared the crap out of me with a freaky “scarecrow” of returned belongings. Hall’s lines are so sweet, reminding me of what Chip Zdarsky is currently doing on Sex Criminals at Image Comics, and considering this is another feature-length work, I couldn’t escape the feeling that I’d love to write a script for Justin Hall to illustrate.

Jennifer Camper’s piece about a noir hitwoman in Carbon City subverts this male dominated genre and many of the familiar tropes. There’s an interesting interactivity to it as well, displaying things like cock fighting that rely on the audience to speak aloud what they’re visually seeing in order to reveal the joke. There’s twist up on twist, some of which we can see coming the second the women meet in a bar, but it’s still quite fun and stylish. Eric Kostiuk Williams has a nice bead on RuPaul’s reality TV show “Drag Race,” rendered in slick duotone, that’s an interesting mix of meta, sentiment, and strategy. Kris Dresden uses a lush style and quite a bit of space to punctuate a single idea that kind of leaves the audience hanging with what happens next. I’m not sure the atypical layouts accentuate the storytelling, but the art itself is gorgeous.

Jennifer Camper and Michael Fahy team up for an uncomfortable story about predatory ways in the big city. I enjoyed the retro art style, but some of the illogic (would a young person plan arrival to a big city without first contacting the family they intend to stay with?) makes for an implausible cautionary tale. Edie Fake offers a quick entry that relies on witty wordplay in lieu of foreplay. Steve MacIsaac contributes a winner about the haunting memories of hometown, and how those can shape our adult personalities. I really liked the fine lines and great figure work. Rick Worley has some nice Paul Pope-ish portraiture accompanying a poetic excursion through San Francisco and several relationships.

Carlo Quispe’s piece is full of interesting political distinctions between SF and NYC, and punctuates these health care factoids with the unexpected  burst of a hate crime incident popping off. Andy Hartnell experiments with an engaging take on the Bradley Manning transcripts, hitting on the intersection of gender identity and the national intelligence apparatus. Some of the stats are staggering, with half a million events in the Iraq War, and 260,000 leaked State Department cables regarding the systematic way the first world exploits third world countries. Carrie McNinch recounts a wistful experience about kissing a girl for the first time. It’s brilliantly juxtaposed with Skylab falling to the Earth, all about stars, and wishes, and dreams, and barriers being broken. It’s simple, but lovely. Rob Kirby contributes a short story about a date gone awry, his verbal shorthand with the dialogue is really slick.

Sina Sparrow dishes a good reminder (in the vein of The Perks of Being A Wallflower) that you only allow yourself the love you think you deserve. Ivan Velez, Jr. offers up a wonderful piece about a mask bar that’s a secret hangout for gay supers. There’s a gorgeous compactness to the art style, and more overt subversion of genre devices, drops to “Silver Age Night” and “Seduction of the Innocent” and even a character named “Indigo Bug” in lieu of Blue Beetle. I could use an entire graphic novel set in this universe. Craig Bostick presents a cool love triangle around the guitar, bass, and drums in a band. There are very deft palette choices as told from the alternating POVs of each member. Jon Macy discusses writing mentors, including Djuna Barnes – a 1930’s lesbian author, with a palpable sense of adoration and appreciation. I enjoyed the articulate mindset with which he wants to approach life, and the bold greens and blacks capture an evocative and contemplative mood.

The vast majority of the pieces in QU33R are strong, and it gets special points for avoiding one of my pet peeves when reviewing indie anthologies. Sometimes, in their rush to get a product out, things like a table of contents or a method for easily identifying which artist was responsible for which piece is overlooked. Not the case with QU33R, there are handy colored banners at the top of every entry letting you immediately know which creator is responsible for your favorite pieces. I appreciate that level of detail, as well as the fun bios in the back. Perhaps Howard Cruse’s reappropriated Dagwood Bumstead riff is an emblematic entry. There’s a certain aspirational nonchalance there to coming out as a young gay man, a matter-of-fact blurt-out from a closeted lesbian housewife. The people are just there, just living, and the future is wide-open, as indicated by so many of the inconclusive endings found in the entries. Kudos to Rob Kirby for the well-curated selections, along with achieving a rare narrative and aesthetic cohesion of all the themes and styles. Grade A-.  

1.22.14 [Weekly Reviews]

"Weekly Reviews" is a column brought to you with generous support from our retail sponsor Yesteryear Comics. Make Yesteryear Comics your first and only destination in San Diego for great customer service and the best discounts possible on a wide selection of mainstream and independent titles. Customers receive an attractive 20% discount on new titles during their first week of release. Yesteryear Comics is located at 9353 Clairemont Mesa Boulevard.

Deadly Class #1 (Image): By the time the end of this book makes its intentions known with recruitment into the school, it comes off as an indie anti-hero X-Men pitch, stemming from the 80’s instead of the 60’s. But, there's just so much great back story and world building and characterization and action and style leading up to that point that it’s a forgivable writing transgression from Rick Remender that’s quickly reframed. Wes Craig’s art is grand. There’s a real Paul Pope/Emma Rios/Rafael Grampa thing going on here. The layouts are especially noteworthy, compact but effortless, dense but flowing, full of complementary palette choices on the old color wheel. Take a look at that motorcycle fleeing a cop car in cracked mosaic panels and you get a real sense for how this all comes together to create a sense of motion that pulls the reader’s eye around the page. I like to be contrary sometimes, people bandwagoning onto critical darling books that bear saccharine preciousness (hello Saga, I'm looking at you!) sickens me, but I admit here that all the hype is deserved. This is going to be the next hit from Image Comics. Grade A+.
Conan The Barbarian #24 (Dark Horse): The climax of the entire series really came with issue #23 and Belit’s death, but the aftermath occurring here is just as rich. The emotional weight behind Conan's sorrow, fury, and contemplation is written incredibly well. It’s in-voice and utterly in-character as Conan battles primal forces depicted under the lines of DMZ alum Riccardo Burchielli. “The air filled with feathered destruction” and "the oldest race in the world went extinct” are just so crisp. The last vestiges of Conan’s youth are now gone as he sails single-handedly into his future. He’ll just never be whole again, a part of him dies here without the happiness that Belit and their adventures on the Black Coast offered. Well, there’s only one issue of this incarnation of the title left. The only good thing about Brian Wood’s run on Conan coming to a close is that I won’t have to hear homophobic douchebag purist bro dudes whinging about emo barista “fag” Conan anymore. Grade A.

Hacktivist #1 (Archaia): It’d be easy to dismiss Hacktivist as a Hollywood Vanity Project with Alyssa Milano’s name attached, but that’d be too easy, giving short shrift to what the book is trying to accomplish and her pedigree as an actual social activist. With all of the initial references to the Occupy Movement and Arab Spring style uprisings in North Africa, it does feel a tad behind the cultural zeitgeist on that front, which I’m sure we can just blame on development time. However, the latter half threads about the next generation of social media tools and big tech corporations being in cahoots with the federal government and military industrial complex is absolutely spot-on. Ian Herring and Marcus To, whose art first caught my attention on Cyborg 009 (a little lackluster in the writing department) strikes the right tone here. Their work is grounded and realistic enough to make the events plausible, but stylish enough to give the action some pop. I’ll gladly stick with this. Grade A.
Pretty Deadly #4 (Image): There are times when I feel like the audience has to work just a little too hard to grasp all the plot mechanics and character motivations, like there are just 20% too many people and narrative threads in motion to comfortably grasp via span of mental control, but… I still really like Pretty Deadly. It’s wildly different in the way it merges poetic fairy tale-ism with modern genre tropes. The art is ridiculously enjoyable, and Jordie Bellaire has become the colorist du jour, the “get” to give your creator owned book some instant indie cred. Grade A.

Dead Body Road #2 (Image): I was talking to my brother-in-law about the magic a colorist can bring to a book and how their distinct styles can influence an artist’s work. To wit, if you look at Dean White coloring Matteo Scalera on Black Science, the end result looks like artist Jerome Opena. But, if you take Moreno Dinisio coloring Matteo Scalera on this title, the end result looks more like Tradd Moore on Luther Strode (also with writer Justin Jordan). None of this is meant to denigrate anybody’s work with the comparisons, mind you, only to point out the different effects strong colorists can have on strong artists. I love them all. There’s a weird typo maybe with “lane” of fire vs. “line” of fire, but there’s enough style in here to make the noir just different enough. It’s well orchestrated noir carnage with a heart. Grade A.
Wasteland #51 (Oni Press): This book wasn’t released this week, but I finally got it weeks late thanks to some Diamond Shipping Debacle. It’s the final issue of the final arc concerning Marcus and Newbegin, and it’s an emotionally satisfying conclusion to all of the religious and class strife that’s occurred in the city. With Jakob, Skot, and a new female Ruin Runner surviving the end of all things, freedom is the rallying cry, as some head west to an open-ended future. There are only 9 issues left to one of the great modern epics, and Sam Keith is up next for the final interlude issue. If I recall correctly, that’ll be followed by a 7 issue final arc, and then a final-final epilogue issue. Grade A.

Sex #10 (Image): I had a short Twitter conversation with fellow critic Aaron Meyers, and ultimately we came to the same sort of take on Sex as a series. I’m behind Joe Casey with the general approach he reveals in the backmatter, the “post-experience” concept, which examines what happens to these people after the drama. I also think that thematically supplanting superpowers with sexuality is a very enticing premise. I like the slow-burn world-build. I like the quirky characters. I like the art. All of that said, I feel a little on the fence. It’s taken nearly a year to get anywhere on the book, it’s like foreplay writing that’s a teasing delayed gratification scenario. I’ll be looking at the year mark, #12, for this title to come correct. Grade A-.
X-Men #9 (Marvel): I typically give the Dodsons some crap about their art, but this issue isn’t totally one-sided. There are nice parts of the art and some off parts as well. Generally, the cheesecake factor has been reduced, but the consistency was all over the place. Let’s take Typhoid Mary for example, sometimes her hair is brown, sometimes it’s red, sometimes her silver faceplate thingy is on her left side, sometimes it’s on the right, sometimes it’s missing, sometimes you can see her sword strapped to her back, sometimes you can’t, sometimes she’s seen with one sword, and sometimes she’s seen with two, and so on and so forth. I think there might be a typo with the extra “e” in “undesireable,” but overall Brian Wood writes a fun taut script. The female characterization and group dynamics are so good, I really enjoyed Rachel and Sublime’s interrogation, the reemergence of Sabra, and of course, I adore Monet St. Croix. Grade A-.


The Massive #19 [Advance Review]

The Massive #19 (Dark Horse): With roughly a year left before the series reaches its planned ending, it feels like writer Brian Wood has been building to this moment, a ready-set-go confluence of all the plot threds we’ve seen before as the series races to the finish line.

There’s another stunning interlocking triptych cover by John Paul Leon, and it’s a confounding mystery to me why JP isn’t an absolute superstar by now. If I could wave my magic wand like Prospero on his little island, these are the wrongs I would right. There’s a mineraly Earthiness to his inky lines, but also an insane level of depth and detail trailing off into the distance.

This issue kicks off the “Bloc” arc, highlighting the old Soviet Bloc, where everything was harshly disrupted post-Crash. The region is in chaos of every kind, economic dysfunction, government collapse, and military fiefdoms, with energy and weapons taking the place of currency. It’s a land of savagery, the kind of place that “made” men like Georg and Arkady (this arc’s antagonist), and a dying place where Cal feels at home. 

Eastern European Anarchy is the stage for Cal and Mag tracking Arkady, seeking a not-so-proportionate response for what’s occurred. It’s a welcome setting, making good on Wood’s promise to venture to basically every part of the globe by the time the series wraps. With Mary gone, imbalancing the three-legged stool supported by Mary, Mag, Cal, it allows Cal and Mag to rapidly descend into the haunting vestiges of their old life pre-Crash.

They’ll confront some enemies, and confront each other about cancer and friendship. It’s heart-breaking to see Cal still so misguided in his attempts to either protect Mag, or just wanting to do something on his own, to do something lasting, that he still doesn’t heed the advice of Bors, he strikes off and there are consequences to that.

There are some moments where Garry Brown’s art looks a tiny bit rushed or awkward, the early moments between Lars and Ryan come to mind, or there are times when very small details just feel off. For example, a guy like Cal would never rack the slide of a handgun with his finger inside the trigger guard (yes, I’ll be that guy for a second).

For the most part, Brown and colorist Jordie Bellaire capture the right tones though, for an issue where we’re surrounded by a culture of violence, past and present. Brown’s action sequences are spot on, and Bellaire bathes them in muted tones, the gray dreariness of post-Crash rioting lingering heavy on the page. Brown and Bellaire also pull off some nice visual shorthand, things like the manga-esque looks of startled recognition as Cal talks to Yusup about what he knows, or the cliffhanger featuring Mag’s literal rude awakening. Grade A.


Umbral #3 [Advance Review]

Umbral #3 (Image): There’s a creative change in this issue from colorist John Rauch to Jordan Boyd, but the forward motion of the narrative and the visual acuity doesn’t skip a beat. Antony Johnston, Chris Mitten, and Thomas Mauer pick up events in motion, as a couple of mysterious travelers enter a den of piracy inhabited by Rascal’s people. There’s a beautiful reveal of their bay that has such nice depth to it, peripheral illumination in the foreground, with darkness receding into the murky distance. Boyd’s colors quickly prove a match to the vibrancy established in the first two issues of the title. Rascal and Dalone are also still on the run with latent magic afoot, and as predicted last review, these two plot threads invariably converge.

The way Johnston has constructed this script is really smart. There’s a point-counterpoint balance to it, with two drastically different shots of that pirate’s bay for example, or with talk of The Mistwalker (and the coveted source of power behind it) being the connective tissue that binds the arrival of the travelers claiming religious persecution with Rascal and Dalone’s arrival. The structure of the script flips back and forth until their trajectories intersect. On the way, Rascal and Dalone continue to feel out their new alliance, both sharp investigators of the occult myths and practices surrounding their world, both more than they seem. It shapes how they navigate their existence, but also provides an opportunity for us to organically learn more about their characters. They pick up on details, like how Dalone knows what it takes to kill an Umbral, or how Rascal has knowledge of blood-pooling post-mortem.

By the third issue, the larger plot machinations become clearer, suggesting that, like Wasteland, Johnston and Mitten are in this for the long haul, building up a long form epic that rewards the patient reader, rewards the observant reader, rewards the reader like me who’ll go back and re-read all three issue in one shot to see the larger threads at work, beyond what’s in any given floppy. I love how Johnston can so casually, yet so deliberately, drop a name like “Black Rojyr,” one which has an air of familiarity to it, perhaps a bastardized amalgam of “Blackbeard” and “Jolly Roger,” a type of literary shorthand, one that overlays our real world knowledge and allows that to inform some of our understanding of what we’re being presented with. I like devices like this from a craft standpoint because they blur the line between literary fiction and genre fiction.

The eventual reveal of The Mistwalker is what an artist like Christopher Mitten excels at. It manages to capture our imagination by combining the creepy with the mysterious, the scary with the intriguing. We’re simultaneously frightened by it, but find ourselves wanting to know more, hitting that horror vibe like good shock film does, the hot girl knowing that the killer is probably behind the closed door, but still wanting to open the door in order to satisfy her own curiosity. There’s that conflicted sense of surprise and certainty in the art, something so difficult to pull off in static print, certainly aided by the lush and foreboding crimsons of Jordan Boyd. The Mistwalker is the best kind of indie tool, a primal alt creation myth, full of paganistic rituals based on things we don’t fully understand, ideas lost to time.

As if the visuals weren’t already strong enough, one of my favorite things in issue two, the thing I unabashedly geeked out about, the best example of this ridiculously strong confluence of all things comic book, of the writing, the art, the color, and the lettering, well, there’s more, so much more, of that in this issue! It’s the magic symbolettering™ that’s sort of an embarrassment of artistic riches. These uttered spells, as we imagine them, burst forth with feigned three dimensional weight, crystalline images of foreign spoken necromancy. There is truly nothing like them. In my 30-some-odd years of reading comics, I don’t remember anything like this, not in Doctor Strange, not in all of Jim Starlin’s Cosmic Stuff, not in The Spectre, not from Dr. Fate, not from the Scarlet Witch, not from Raven of The Teen Titans. Creator Owned Comics, folks.

It’s hard to review this book with the precision and attention to detail it demands without venturing into spoilers, but it all leads to a “holy shit!” reveal that explains the mysterious travelers in the bay and the odd crime scene observations by Rascal and Dalone. In the aftermath, there’s many memorable moments, ranging from comedic, to characterization, to narrative plants. There’s the “re”-introduction of cool new character Shayim in a way that ducks and weaves around immediate audience expectations in that moment, an encounter with an Umbral that Dalone may need to White Wizard his way out of, and a clever little moment with Dalone correcting Rascal on the plural of Umbral, the kind of flourish that tickles language connoisseurs like me.
Taking a step back, with a scant two issues out, I placed Umbral on my Best of 2013 list, and this serves as further evidence why I said what I did. We’re witnessing a group of creators as they intersect near the peak of their craft. Umbral is a rich composition of writing craft and visual artistry, it showcases the limitless future of modern creator owned comics. #OcusLuxana Grade A+.


1.15.14 [Weekly Reviews]

"Weekly Reviews" is a column brought to you with generous support from our retail sponsor Yesteryear Comics. Make Yesteryear Comics your first and only destination in San Diego for great customer service and the best discounts possible on a wide selection of mainstream and independent titles. Customers receive an attractive 20% discount on new titles during their first week of release. Yesteryear Comics is located at 9353 Clairemont Mesa Boulevard.

Astro City #8 (DC/Vertigo): Hey, I really like the upgraded cover stock. I continue to be impressed with how consistent Kurt Busiek’s writing is on this title. I’ve enjoyed many of his longer runs before, from Avengers to Conan, and this is right up there. He’s got a way of fleshing out the world so effortlessly, making us care about bit players, and slowly, deliberately, exploring all the different character, class, gender, and genre perspectives in his analogue amalgamation world. Brent Anderson’s art is very graceful, there’s just a classic sense of beauty to it. It was also fun to see a house ad for the DMZ Deluxe Edition Hardcovers! Grade A.

Injustice: Gods Among Us: Year Two #1 (DC): Well, the title is getting to be a mouthful, but this was otherwise very fun. The early pages, especially, have a confectionary quality to them that actually reminded me of Jamie McKelvie’s work in spots. They’re a joy to take in. Tom Taylor continues his bold storytelling choices, taking familiar relationships and sending them down dark paths with plausible projections of what could occur in such a shared universe. It’s bold, beautiful, and fun. It’s really no surprise that the best DCU book exists totally outside the scope of the mediocre New 52. It’s a testament to the fact that, continuity be damned – good storytelling comes first, you can hire talented people and let them run wild to get the most entertaining results. Grade A-.

Harbinger #20 (Valiant): I really enjoyed Joshua Dysart’s writing in this issue. He’s able to finally get away from crossovers and distractions and virtual reality constructs and find a sweet trajectory again for the title. There’s a firm raison d’etre for what The Renegades are trying to do vis-à-vis what Toyo Harada and the Harbinger Foundation are trying to do. Clayton Henry isn’t my first choice of artist for this, that’d be Clayton Crain, but he does offer a nice clean style, and the pencils are super consistent. He’s probably the best artist who has contributed regularly to the series, and I do wish Valiant would pick one solid artist and then just commit. This will sound repetitive in a bit, but that’s the glitch in the system at Valiant – art that doesn’t stand up to, or stand in parity with, the vibe of the writing at times. Grade A-.

Unity #3 (Valiant): Matt Kindt is such a good writer. He weaves together what would be disparate characters in the Valiant Universe and tells an engaging tale of an unlikely team of individuals coming together. The wrinkle in the plan is that Harada’s intended direction for the team takes a radically new turn by the end of the book. It’s like you can feel the “Act 1” of Kindt’s outline snap firmly into place by the last page. I’m a bit on the fence with Braithwaite’s art. There are times it looks slick and polished, then there are times when it looks, uh, “under-rendered,” or as if he’s changing his artistic style mid-issue. It’s been my gripe with Valiant’s entire line from the start: they nabbed some good writers and set them up with interesting directions, but then saddled them with inconsistent or mediocre artists. I’d pay $1 extra per issue if I could get Clayton Crain as the regular interior artist. Grade B+.

Gravel: Combat Magician #0 (Avatar Press): Ok, first off, I don’t really like paying $4.99 for half a comic. There was a proper comic up front, but as soon as I hit staples, it went into some illustrated recap nonsense that was so dry and rote and boring! Oh, but it’s oversized you say! Well, yes, but if you deduct the shoddy rehash pages, you’re still at 22 pages of proper comic for $4.99, so the price point actually gets even more ridiculous. I sort of enjoyed the writing, it does a good Warren Ellis impersonation, but the awkward visuals just don’t stand up to the swagger of the writing. Grade B-.


Station Identification 2014

I decided to do one of these because I’ve seen people like Warren Ellis and Greg Rucka do them, and I think they’re way cool. I’ve also been doing a lot more work away from Thirteen Minutes, so I thought it might be time to run everything down in one place that I can easily point people to.

Hi. I’m Justin Giampaoli. I’m a writer.

Thirteen Minutes has been my home base for conversational comic book reviews since it began in 2005. At the time, I just wasn’t seeing the types of reviews that I wanted to read. For years, you had a choice between the low-brow humor of the mostly mundane mainstream in Wizard Magazine, or the sometimes haughty erudition of the often obscure art comics in The Comics Journal. My reading habits were somewhere in between, and I’m glad there are now intelligent and accessible coverage options in that space. The line between mainstream and indie is ever blurring, both creatively and critically. My weekly coverage at Thirteen Minutes has been nominated four years in a row, winning an award for Best Web-Site in 2011. I also enjoy putting together annual “best of” lists, so look for that in December.

You can follow me @ThirteenMinutes on Twitter.

With very few exceptions, I’m primarily interested in Creator Owned Comics. I capitalized that on purpose. I hope you don’t think that’s pretentious. There’s a Creator Owned Renaissance happening, a distinct movement. I think we’ve reached a tipping point where Creator Owned Comics occupy the majority of the mind share, and are making great strides in capturing market share. I believe in following creators, and not characters, properties, or companies. I no longer financially support Marvel or DC books unless they’re Creator Owned Comics. You can see most of the titles I’m currently reading listed up in the top banner, that’s about as mainstream as I get. I’ve been told by people I trust that I have a thing for dystopian speculative fiction. Maybe this has to do with all of the crisis management experience I’ve had in my career. There’s certainly great dramatic tension created when things break. I like other stuff too, but you can definitely see that post-apocalyptic thread in my diet of Wasteland, The Massive, Danger Club, Lazarus, or East of West.

I also have a strong interest in mini-comics and small press publishing. It is my fervent belief that if you’re into comics at all, then names like Sparkplug Comic Books, Grimalkin Press, Domino Books, Hic & Hoc Publications, or Uncivilized Books should not be foreign to you. In the indie space, I was the Senior Reviewer at Poopsheet Foundation from 2009 to 2014, clocking in 521 reviews at that site alone during that 5-year period. I still love mini-comics and would be happy to review yours if you’d like to send it to me. I prefer print comics over digital comics. I think holding the tangible object in your hands is an endemic part of the reading experience. I self-published a few of my own books, including The Mercy Killing with artist Tim Goodyear, Silicon Valley Blues with artist Tim Goodyear, and Blood Orange with artist Grant Lee.

I’m a Contributing Writer at Comics Bulletin. There’s a talented group of writers operating out of the CB enclave, including Jason Sacks, Keith Silva, and Daniel Elkin. They graciously keep asking me to participate, even though I feel a little bit like Jimi Hendrix trying to jam with The Beatles whenever I do. Writing with them makes me a better writer because it exercises different muscles.

I’m a Guest Contributor at Fanboy Comics, which is headed up by the energetic duo of Barbra Dillon and Bryant Dillon. They’re a dynamic group based in LA who have successfully harnessed a hybrid model which blends multimedia pop culture coverage, a strong con presence, and a small press publishing house with a burgeoning line of impressive original graphic novels.

I’ve done freelance work-for-hire projects at DC Comics/Vertigo and Dark Horse. I wrote the introduction to DMZ Volume 12: The Five Nations of New York by Brian Wood and Riccardo Burchielli. I also edited and re-mastered interviews from my LIVE FROM THE DMZ site to be included in the new Deluxe Edition Hardcovers. DMZ: Book One is out this month, collecting the first 12 issues of the series, an extended behind-the-scenes conversation between me and Brian Wood, and tons of bonus art material. You get all that for $29.99. You should buy it. There will be 5 books in total over the next couple years, collecting all 72 issues of this contemporary classic. Over at Dark Horse, I contributed backmatter to Brian Wood’s socially-aware action-adventure series The Massive. I love doing this kind of work. It’s something I hope to do more of. Call me.

I’m an advocate for strong retailing. It can make or break the process of generating sustainable readership. The retailer is the true customer in the direct market, so please fill out your Previews Order Form in order to ensure that you’re voting with your wallet where it’s actually being counted. I work signings and events at my retail sponsor Yesteryear Comics. They won the San Diego A-List Award for Best Comics Shop in 2013. Their customer service is unparalleled in the region. I believe in the symbiotic relationship that can be fostered between retailers, creators, and critics. I like getting to know creators at in-store signings (shout out to Joshua Dysart, Ed Brisson, Johnnie Christmas, and Ken Kristensen, to name a few). If you’re a creator interested in doing an in-store signing in Southern California, I hope to talk to you soon. Call me.

As for the day job, when I got out of college, I worked in law enforcement at the Federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms (ATF). After that, I worked at a Fortune 100 company called Cisco, the high tech giant headquartered in Silicon Valley, for 11 years in a variety of management roles in the corporate security department, including Corporate Investigations, Executive Protection, Security Operations, Environmental Health & Safety, and Emergency Response & Crisis Management. I have a BS in Criminal Justice Administration from San Jose State University, and an MS in Emergency Management from Boston University. I’m currently the Director of Security at the Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego.

I grew up on an almond farm in California’s San Joaquin Valley, but spent the majority of my adult life in the San Francisco Bay Area. I’ve travelled all over the world, but now live in San Diego. My politics lean toward the liberal left. I enjoy commentary about media criticism and social justice, so I pay attention to coverage from people like Bill Maher, Jeremy Scahill, and Rania Khalek, usually following whatever links they point me to. I speak a lot of Spanish, a little Italian, and I’m into food, travel, and old BMWs. When I’m not reading comics, I’m hanging out with my wife and kids at the beach.

A Voice In The Dark #3 [Advance Review]

A Voice In The Dark #3 (Image): The artistry of Larime Taylor is growing stronger and stronger, and the cover alone is a good visual representation of his ability to challenge our straight, white, privileged, cisgen, heteronormative (as I exhaust my quota of yupster terminology for the day) assumptions about leads, female leads, off-type female leads, and what that all means culturally in the modern fiction landscape, perhaps even blurring the line between literary fiction and genre fiction, but alas, that’s a whole separate debate, and one rambling run-on sentence in, I’m already digressing off topic and using far too many commas. Pause. Breath. Restart. For example, visually, Taylor’s penchant for realistic body types rather than the fetish finish of superhero style art only bolsters these thematic excursions. 

A Voice In The Dark has a lot to offer as a work of fiction infused with some relevant social hooks, and can appeal to a wide swath of audiences. There’s the coming-of-age bildungsroman that could attract the attention of YA readers, bits of what the aborted Minx line at DC was trying to accomplish with works like Brian Wood and Ryan Kelly’s The New York Four, there’s the dark procedural and psychological aspects present for crime aficionados (like me) who had to study all those John Douglas books, and there’s the way it deals with modern social mores. It’s a glimpse into the complex worldview of disaffected millennials, wherein the paradigm seems to be in a state of perpetual shift. As I heard one lecturer recently quip, Baby Boomers resist change, Gen X embraces change, but Gen Y demands change.

Zoey is the emotional anchor for all of this. She’s just a college kid, but she’s also a killer. Her newfound job as a radio call-in host is something that she hopes will keep her dark desires in check, as she lives somewhat vicariously through the dark musings of her callers. Zoey is already an interesting character construct because of her conflicted psyche. She knows that what she’s capable of doing is wrong, she’s conscious of her actions, and she exhibits some remorse over them, yet she still feels compelled to act out these fantasies and carry them out again. I remember Martin Scorsese discussing his mobsters, all the way from Mean Streets to Goodfellas, and saying that for these individuals, the sin is not in the actual commission of the sin, the real sin is ultimately in acknowledging all of the wrongdoing, but then still wanting to do it all over again anyway. That’s the sin. This is the situation Zoey finds herself in, one that I’ve got to believe would make a fantastic HBO series, as the scramble continues to have “the next Walking Dead” style phenomenon translate to television.

That dichotomy in Zoey’s personality is present even in the naming convention of this arc. With the first two issues gone by (which were originally the result of a successful Kickstarter Campaign), issue three kicks off the “new” material with the five-part arc entitled “The Killing Game.” We suspect that this game isn’t just about the predatory nature of the killer stalking its prey, but it’s also one Zoey’s actually playing with herself. This duality is also present in the very title of the book when you think about it. A Voice In The Dark. The dual meaning is the combination of the fact that Zoey herself can be a force for good in this odd community, she’s the voice in the dark on the radio, one that others can latch onto for help, but it can also refer to the voice compelling her to do bad things, pulling at her from the abyss. I like that level of nuance from Taylor’s writing.

On one hand, Zoey’s running diary entries are an easy expositional tool that allows for voiceover narration pointed directly at the audience. If I was going to point a standard critical assault at Taylor, I could say that I’d like to see that type of character development come more naturally through interactions with other characters and whatever adversity is thrown her way. But, the diary entries are actually written so well, that we hardly recognize it as the tool it is. I think some critics (myself included) might also be tempted to say that Taylor emphasizes his foreground figures and renders them in a strong fashion, but that his backgrounds are relatively simplistic. It’s probably easy to think that these representational outlines in the background don’t feel as thoroughly cared for, but I sort of like that hard distinction between the fore and aft, it makes the objects pop like 3D, with a gray scale differential offsetting the parts we’re supposed to be focusing on.

Buying that this town is the serial murder capital of the world does require some suspension of disbelief, but Larime Taylor seems to reward that act of faith with other writing strengths. “Slaughter Scholar” alone is probably one of my new favorite terms, and there’s a subdued wry sense of confessional humor running throughout. “I’m feeling really bad about fantasy-strangling her now” is downright Whedon-esque, and definitely made me chuckle. I also really liked the simplicity of Zoey responding with “…okay” as she digests the plethora of new broadcast guidelines laid out by her boss Jill. It’s the “…” that precedes the “okay” which makes all the difference. That’s such a smart pause, indicating that she’s working to process how she’ll continue. That level of detail might be inconsequential to most, but it’s the kind of thing I like to pick up on.

It’s also interesting that her new anonymity for “work” also now gives Zoey great additional cover for her other activities. In addition to her boss, her therapist is now even adamant about protecting her identity. So, we have boss, therapist, friends, and Detective Uncle all working to shield her from the light of day, proving that integrity is really about doing what’s right when nobody else is looking. This is Zoey's test. The psychological aspects of this book are so well written that they’re either from good research, good training and experience in the field, or first hand knowledge. At the end, there’s a pretty dope Ben Templesmith pin-up and a “Poor Luna” sequence that I won’t spoil further. I’m willing to bet that this is the best new comic you’re not reading yet. Grade A.


Kus! Comics @ Comics Bulletin

I reviewed the impressive new wave of Mini Kus! from Kus! Comics in Latvia over at Comics Bulletin.


1.08.14 [Weekly Reviews]

"Weekly Reviews" is a column brought to you with generous support from our retail sponsor Yesteryear Comics. Make Yesteryear Comics your first and only destination in San Diego for great customer service and the best discounts possible on a wide selection of mainstream and independent titles. Customers receive an attractive 20% discount on new titles during their first week of release. Yesteryear Comics is located at 9353 Clairemont Mesa Boulevard.

Manifest Destiny #3 (Image): I joked on Twitter that it’s probably way too soon to be calling out Best of 2014 books, but if this title keeps charging ahead at this pace, with this level of quality, then it’s truly going to be a strong contender. It’s a heaping dose of historical speculative fiction that never forgets to be a bold brazen action-adventure story in the process. Chris Dingess and Matthew Roberts are the new team to watch, and with Owen Gieni coming up as one of the hot next-gen colorists, the effects are brilliant. There’s a realism to the crazy events in the book that I really appreciate, the details of the weaponry are on point, and the expedition’s bold decisive pragmatism in the face of 1804 veg zombies(!) was just so terrific. It’s so smartly written, there’s a gender type-cast assault on the last page, and by now the book really feels like it’s settled into the core essence of what it set out to be. I can’t wait for more. I love this book. Grade A+.

Letter 44 #3 (Oni Press): Not a  lot to say beyond what I said on Twitter actually. The pitch for Letter 44 is just so tight and crisp, and I enjoy both sides of it. You have the Aaron Sorkin West Wing-style behind-the-scenes political maneuvers, in conjunction with the mounting sci-fi summer blockbuster waiting to break off. The shipboard space scenes and social complications are given equal screen time with the Earth-bound Presidential concerns. It all builds to a WTF cliffhanger involving the Chief of Staff, which you just cannot see coming. Grade A.

Star Wars #13 (Dark Horse): So, Dark Horse is losing the Star Wars property to Disney’s in-house publishing arm, Marvel Comics, and it’s a shame because while I really only enjoy this title, most critics are saying that this holistic current crop of DH SW books are the best they’ve been in years. I’d selfishly like to see Brian Wood stay on the title at Marvel, but there will no doubt be a creative shuffle looming with all of the Marvel writers available, not to mention LucasFilm’s reported “Writers Group” meetings, wherein they’re determining what’s canonical and what’s not, and how that might shape future licensing products. Anyway. This is a dark brutal story, and I fear the worst is yet to come. Wood shifts our POV away from the rebels, to a young Imperial Officer named Ensign Nanda for “5 Days of The Sith.” It’s a dark descent down to the atrocities that Vader and his elite squad of black-dot insignia’d Stormtroopers are willing to commit in the name of Vader’s Imperial vengeance. Nanda’s a quick-learner, and she goes beyond learning to survive service to Lord Vader, to questioning the realities of plausible deniability and the efficacy of “just following orders,” in the tradition of Calley at My Lai and the Nazis at Nuremberg. Facundo Percio’s art isn't quite as polished or detailed as the impeccable Carlos D’Anda, but Gabe Eltaeb’s colors certainly help it become a nice aesthetic fit regardless. Wood’s writing was cracking me up, having pored over 72 issues of his DMZ again recently, catch phrases like “boots on the ground” and “collective punishment” (the title of DMZ Vol. 10!) jumped out at me in the way he plays around with their real-world relevance. Star Wars remains a shining star on the licensed landscape, and I’ll be sad to see it go, but with 7 issues left there’s still plenty of space to enjoy. Grade A.

Sheltered #6 (Image): There’s some beautifully handled back story here that explains what led up to the outsiders arriving at Safe Haven. It’s a good indicator of the lengths that writer Ed Brisson is willing to go to in order to flesh out the world he’s created through strong characterization. There’s a burst of violence toward the end that has beautiful choreography. It’s an unanticipated shooting that cracks and pops with the chaos of unpredictability, the way it usually does in real life, not the clean precision you usually see in movies and TV. It’s sloppy and panicked, lit so well by Shari Chankhamma. Johnnie Christmas’ pencils sing under her coloring, delivering emotive shrugs and focus on character reactions in paused beats. I always dig the Ryan K. Lindsay backmatter too, here there’s a playful way with the language, and lines like “Swiss chard is going to become your new comfort food” really stick with you and sell their basic point. Thanks to Ed, Johnnie, Shari, and the whole team at Image Comics for doing up another variant cover for my retail sponsor Yesteryear Comics, which actually interlocks with our variant for #1. It’s super cool. #TeamVictoria Grade A.

Three #4 (Image): This is the first issue of Three I’ve felt I could really get behind. I’ve always enjoyed the killer combination of Ryan Kelly’s pencils and Jordie Bellaire’s color, really some of the best work they've done, but the writing has been nagging at me in past issues. Up until now, it seems like Gillen’s writing has been sacrificing an engaging story to showcase some of his research to some degree. This time out, I felt like he really kept that in check and it settled down nicely, it was narrative first and backmatter exposition second. The writing was super sharp, with lines like “I’m a butcher” being used as delicious double entendres. Grade A.

Sex Criminals #4 (Image): What can you say about Sex Criminals? It’s irreverent fun, the sex is fun, the heists are meaningful, there’s a slow exploration of this weird world being established, but more than anything, I just really enjoy the modern relationship dynamics and it’s frank ability to address sexuality from a female perspective. I don’t think this is one of the best books of the year, and like Saga, I don’t think it’s as good as everyone else says it is because its virtues are easily overshadowed by the popularity contest of its creators, that’s the bandwagon that can drives sales, but I’ll keep reading for the mild entertainment it is. Grade A-.

Minimum Wage #1 (Image): I don’t necessarily feel like there’s a lot of there there with these types of autobio comics anymore, and because of that I don’t know how long I'll be able to stick with Minimum Wage. On the positive side, there’s certainly no doubt that Fingerman has a masterful command of language and cadence, and churns out some extremely realistic dialogue. It’s not often you see speech patterns flow so effortlessly. As a sort of NYC geek, I also enjoyed all the subtle background drops to Long Island, Brooklyn, and Manhattan going on. It’s a solidly rendered book, but I’m not sure it’s essential “must-reading” for me in floppies. This is one of those books I’ll gleefully pick up for 50% off in trades at SDCC. #LawnGuyland Grade B+.


Skyway Sleepless [Small Press]

Skyway Sleepless (Uncivilized Books): This is an easy book to like. Tom Kaczynski examines man’s desire to live in the future, something of a counterpoint to the hipster doofus smart-ass who attempts to decry their present with “Where is my flying car?!” in a state of feigned indignation, ironically doing so from their consumer-priced handheld microcomputer, which is connected to a global information network. Kaczynski clangs together a bunch of influences, his fascination with structure, his tendency toward perspective emphasis (both literal vanishing points on the page and more figurative notions for our society), and a sense of offbeat speculative sci-fi, all converging in comics. This short originally appeared in Twin Cities Noir, and is about the titular “Skyways” as urban people movers, the endless human superhighway that fuels the cities of the future. With the introduction of Professor Ecke, there’s the hint of class system division between the upper and lower levels of the Skyway. As we discover the protagonist’s role as Skyway Security, it’s easy to extend one of the themes to the balance between personal freedoms and security, all overlaid with aesthetic concerns of the would-be artists involved in the project. I’ve often had a kind of corollary thought as a security guy. For example, most of today’s airports were built pre-9/11. It would be interesting to design a new airport from the ground up, with security in mind as a core philosophical tenet, but to actually make it aesthetically appealing. Anyway, for me, there were a couple very minor visual glitches in the art (the arms of the prof seem inconsistent, and I didn’t care for a text heavy blob he exposited), but those gripes aside, I really enjoyed this as an exercise in predictive crimes as art. Kaczynski’s lines are beautiful at this figure scale. They’re very expressive, but also quite realistic. When the armed Feds arrive, I had this rush of desire to see all-out action comic from Kaczynski, like a cop noir book, he may have a hidden knack for that genre(!). There’s an undercurrent of mystery in Skyway Sleepless, a sense of the unforeseen foreboding complications that can arise with any social project. It’s safe to say that I liked Skyway Sleepless the moment I glanced at it (and ultimately it seems to ask the worthy question of whether there can ever be an end state to innovation), but I grew to love it by the time there’s a shared kiss in the spaces between things, a stolen moment of messy intimacy amid all the clean sterility of the future. Kaczynski cleverly captures the weightlessness of the emotional state and the literal weightless status on the skyway; it’s a sharp visual expression of the erotic freneticism of the moment. Grade A.


LIVE FROM THE DMZ Goes To Print -> DMZ BOOK ONE (Deluxe Edition Hardcover)

Well, the big news is that I’ve been doing some additional freelance work for DC Comics/Vertigo. If you’re reading this, then there’s probably a very good chance you were already aware of our LIVE FROM THE DMZ web-site, which was created as a dedicated venue to analyze Brian Wood and Riccardo Burchielli’s contemporary classic as it was collected and published in 12 softcover trades. DMZ centered on would-be journalist Matthew Roth and his tumultuous time in war torn New York City during the Second American Civil War. The site itself offered extensive behind-the-scenes interviews with the creators, along with critical analysis, and heaps of never-before-seen concept art, sketches, thumbnails, and raw penciled pages. For the last several months, I’ve been in the process of re-editing and “re-mastering” the web content for a new print venue, and curating the best pieces of art to accompany the new editions of this cornerstone in the Brian Wood library, which ran for an impressive 72 issues from 2005 to 2011.

DMZ: Book One (Deluxe Edition Hardcover) is in stores February 5th. You should buy it. This volume will collect the first 12 issues of the series, house 304+ story pages, feature an original cover designed by Brian Wood, and run only $29.99, which is a steal when you break it down. This comes out to only $2.50 per issue, plus it’s in a swanky oversized hardcover, and you get about 30 pages of definitive bonus content, including an extended conversation between me and Brian Wood via an in-depth interview, character designs, early cover and logo mock-ups, etc. There will be 5 hardcover books in total, and the plan is to publish an additional book every 6 months or so, with the second already scheduled for release in June of 2014. Each book will contain a set of interviews and bonus material from the LIVE FROM THE DMZ web-site. For existing fans, this is the definitive format you’ll want to own the book in. We’re throwing everything we have at it. For curious fans, this is the perfect time to jump in with the benefit of “director’s commentary” and own the ultimate edition.

Farewell Poopsheet Foundation


Well, after 5 years (2009 to 2014) and clocking out with a whopping 521 reviews at that site alone, I’m no longer serving as the Senior Reviewer at Poopsheet Foundation. I know, I know, some of you are probably gasping in horror thinking that I’m turning my back on the indie scene forever, while some of you whose typos I liked to judiciously correct, in an effort to remind you that professionalism and mini-comics are not mutually exclusive, are probably secretly celebrating. I really want to thank Rick Bradford for this great opportunity. Back in ‘09, I self-published a new mini-comic and sent it in for review. The next thing I knew, we struck up a conversation, and I was reviewing comics for Rick’s cottage enterprise at a weekly clip. Rick has shown me tremendous generosity and flexibility over the years. Rick was the best kind of boss to have, for me anyway, totally hands-off and always appreciative.

There isn’t any drama behind the scenes or anything like that. We part as friends. Rick has created something important, a place to highlight the vibrant world of mini-comics and small press publishing. I believe in what he’s trying to do and hope it continues, that other reviewers will step in to fill the void. For me, it was just time for a change. With the amount of comics related work I’m doing at my own site, contributing to at other sites, and at freelance work-for-hire assignments, I needed to re-evaluate and put the majority of my time and energy behind the projects with the most visibility or compensation, and start to phase out the low/no pay gigs, as much fun as they might be. For those of you that have my mailing address and a relationship already built, you can certainly still send me your minis and small press work directly for review here at Thirteen Minutes, with the understanding that the kind of turnaround time I was once able to commit to might be pushed out a bit.

I’ve always had an interest in mini-comics and small press, having lived in the San Francisco Bay Area, where there was a strong indie scene. 20 years ago, I had friends who brought me into that world when all I was reading were mainstream titles. Working at Poopsheet Foundation exposed me to an even greater number of creators, some who became friends, whose work I might not have had the opportunity to sample otherwise. I’ll be a fan of their work for the long haul. Their names are far too numerous to mention. In fact, I struggled with which image(s) to run with this post. That’s a good example of the way I can worry over small details. I decided to just Google my reviews at PF and these are the first three screen shots that came up. If nothing else, they’re literal snapshots of the sheer diversity of work being produced today, some of the books I’ve enjoyed immensely during my time there, and some of the creators I’ll continue to follow as long as they keep making comics.

Thanks for reading.