Monday, November 25, 2002

From the Reading Pile XII
Before I can tackle the accumulated zines and comics stacked in the milk crate on the floor by the big blue couch, I need to catch up on some unpublished reviews. Apologies to all involved, but these were penned back in March.

Get Bent! #9
Interesting! A year between issues of Get Bent! (this edition came out in spring 2002) in order to concentrate on Unshaven Chi, and still Ben delivers an uneven effort. I wish he'd written a better introduction to "A Fay Zone Leah" instead of describing the premise afterward, because the story, characterization, and phonetic speech don't carry the impact they might otherwise. "The Waterhead Man" is a much better and more explicit treatment of the subject, working in some solid Family Circus references (and Little Nemo, he says) as he explores his reactions to this person who so affected his life and memory. Ben was a 2001 Ignatz nominee, but because the 2001 SPX was canceled, we might never know how great he really is. Just kidding; he's great, although this 28-page comic isn't quite what he could've been. $3 to Ben T. Steckler, P.O. Box 7273, York, PA 17404.

My Life in Family Vacations
This more than matchbook-sized photocopied mini recounts several family vacations taken by Kim Paglia. Her family goes to DC in a mail truck; wear waterproof clothing at Niagara Falls (I did this!); camp in Pittsburgh; abandon several trips to Herhey, Pennsylvania; and eventually go to Georgia instead. This 36-page mini-mini is excellent in its scaled-back presentation, and the holiday travel stories border on the universal. Dude: 50 cents. Get this. I'd like to see some bigger and longer work from Paglia. Kimberly Paglia, 1935 Highway 106 North, Danielsville, GA 30633.

Feh. A well-printed eight-page comic -- screen printing on heavy stock -- but a disappointing premise. Why detourn old romance comics to babble on about pornography? The detourned art has promise, but the writing and lettering falls flat, as does the content of the copy. Shat Platz and Beau Buck.

Typewriter #4
Bound as an old book complete with cloth covers, this wonderfully produced 64-page edition of David Youngblood's comics anthology is dedicated to "old books" everywhere. Featuring nine pieces, the collection features Chris Wright's Tom Hart-like anthropomorphic untitled piece, Jonathan T. Russell's Jessica Abel-inspired drama comic about shopping and self-esteem, Michael Hall's prose-driven space opera, and Youngblood's own surprising blend of Megan Kelso and Greg Cook (love the tree on p. 40, as well as the cloud on p. 45). Youngblood's piece runs eight pages too long -- editor, edit thyself -- but otherwise, this is an awesome assortment of almost unknowns. $5 to David Youngblood.

Unshaven Chi #4
The complement to Ben's fictional Get Bent!, this is "pure autobio." Despite the similar cover stock and screen printing, Ben pays less attention to the artwork, opting for a Dennis Eichler-meets-Big Boy style that's not as solid as his work in Get Bent! Regardless, in this 32-page comic from fall 2001, Ben tracks his genealogy, discusses the value of buying from friends on account, appreciates his grandmother, fondly recalls Joey Ramone, worries about melanoma, and reprints some old -- three years old -- comics. My concerns about the art aside, I find this to be a slightly stronger effort, more ably capturing Ben's life and loves than Get Bent!, which seems more self-aware and -apologetic. $2 to Ben T. Steckler, P.O. Box 7273, York, PA 17404.

As always, materials for possible review in Media Diet are welcome. My mailing address is on the left.

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