Monday, January 06, 2003

From the Reading Pile XV

Bucket Loader #5
Bruce Orr's packing up and heading to the west coast, and it seems that his last couple of comics are housecleaning catch-alls before he relocates. This 72-page comic collects pieces Orr did for his old minicomic anthology by the same name, as well as stories submitted to other anthology projects. I haven't seen most of these pieces before, but if you've read the previous issues of Bucket Loader, this collection might be ground already covered. Standouts include "Vandal," a futuristic look at the politics of graffiti; "Obsolete," a wonderful commentary on the illustration portfolio submission -- and flier-making -- process; and a couple of additions to Orr's "Linka" series, including a cute critique of environmentalism and pet ownership. Complete with his characteristic inking and innovative lettering, this is less abstract than the recently published Props, but as a collection, it's much less centered. It'll be interesting to see what Orr produces after his move. $5 to Bruce Orr, 232 NE Monroe Street, Portland, OR 97212.

Chrome Fetus Comics #5
Hot off the heels of Hans Rockheit's Xeric reprint Chloe, this 36-page collection of shorter pieces continues to expand on Rickheit's darkly surreal world of biological experiments and organic machinery. "Meander" is a dream-like linear narrative that involves inflatables, trains, and sex education. "Please Don't Do This" is a surprisingly shocking cartoon. "Cochlea and Eustachia" introduces two characters I hope Rickheit returns to. Two masked nymphets explore their environment while eluding a pursure. And "Folly" continues the cartooniness of "Please Don't Do This" in an almost Dean Haspiel manner. Another delightful surprise of an ending. Rickheit's artwork continues to improve, and even though I prefer his longer pieces, the shorter bits of punctuation -- like the bearhead sequences -- all add up to create the disturbing world that Rickheit's visions thrive in. $2.95 to Hans Rickheit, 81 Moreland St., Somerville, MA 02145.

Produced in June 2002, this 20-page silk-screened short piece by Bruce Orr is a quick look at love and the threat of loss. A man walks into a bar and falls in love with the bartender. His overtures are almost thwarted by a police officer who soon finds a love of his own. The artwork, though still heavily inked, is more abstract that Orr's previous work, but it's good to see him experimenting with some new character designs and panel layouts. Interesting, but not really worth the money. $4 to Bruce Orr, 232 NE Monroe Street, Portland, OR 97212.

Studygroup 12 #1-2
Zack Soto's minicomics anthology is a wonderful addition to the ranks of self-publishing. These 68- and 84-page collections from 2001 and 2002 comprise unpublished material as well as pieces previously published as standalone minis. While each works well as an anthology, several creators stand out as noteworthy: Erik Van Buuren's "Progresshun;" the monthly Montreal Comix Jam reprints featuring Salgood Sam, Rupert Bottenberg, and Bernie Mireault; Souther Salazar's contributions to #2; David Lasky's "#28 Bus;" Ben Claassen's "Kit Kat;" Marc Bell's sketchbook reprints; and Soto's "Cloud Kids." The second edition reflects a more mature selection of comics outside of Victor Cayro's offensive and insensitive "The Beard and Baby Brother" story, and it'll be neat to see what Soto does next year. He's already come a long way. $5 or $10 to Zack Soto, 4212 Oxford Ave. #3, Baton Rouge, LA 70808.

Yut #1
This 52-page hodgepodge barrage of a comic-cum-zine combines the comic art of Daniel Morgan Landolt-Hoene with poems by several friends and what appear to be comics and zines that might have been printed previously as standalones. Of the comics, the one-page Jupiter strips are existential throwaways, while "Pro-Nun-See-A-Shun" and "Daydream No. 1" are interesting bits of autobiography. Adam Gray's poems are the best of the bunch, and Fletcher Johnson's conceptual short story begs notice. But all in all, Zut is an uneven effort. The 10-page "Book of Friends" by Zimminy Picket would've worked better as a one-off pamphlet, and the photocopier collages have the feel of an unfinished zine project. $2 to Daniel Morgan Landolt-Hoene, P.O. Box 43, Bristol, VT 05443.

Soundtrack: Dirt Bike Annie, "Hit the Rock!"

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