Friday, August 01, 2003

From the Reading Pile XX

The Big Mess
Produced for Free Comic Book Day this year, this is a 16-page prelude to T.J.G./Rocket Nova's fully fledged first issue, which was scheduled to be published in June. With an Andy Ristaino-meets-Bruce Orr artistic flair, the digest describes a roundup of robots' reactions to new comic day, the weekly point at which new comics are sold. Meanwhile, the Yezzah Nozzuh Brothers duke it out, characters' tongues tell tall tales, robots go to the flea market, Frankenstein eats spaghetti, and Nippy McGee gives readers advice. I get the sense that this is some sort of ADD-addled sampler, but Rocket Nova's work shows promise, and I hope to see some proper comics soon. Write 107 Conwell Ave., Somerville, MA 02145 for more information.

Published in honor of Free Comic Book Day, this 24-page mini by Jeffrey Brown contains excerpts of Sulk #1, the forthcoming book "Any Easy Intimacy," and previously unpublished work. Brown's my new favorite autobiographical comics maker. His art is less clean than the usual cute brut school I appreciate but gentle enough to worm its way under my skin. And his writing -- John Porcellino meets Ben Snakepit -- is pleasantly revelatory yet self-effacing. The mostly brief vignettes featured in this mini address making comics, supermodels, childhood birthday parties and embarrassment, crushes, the safety of friends, making love, and dishonesty. My favorite pieces include "My Pathetic Day," the four-panel piece on p. 21, and the page-long foldout "(So He Says.)" I think we have a hot new talent in our midst. Write Jeffrey Brown, P.O. Box 120, Deerfield, IL 60015 for more information.

Misfit Toy
A cartoon skeleton gives a princess his heart. Meanwhile, Vix shares stories about stuffed animals, reviews a book about a transsexual, appreciates the Muppets, counts down 10 scary toys and analyzes a poll's results, considers "creatures I wish were real," and reviews related movies in this 28-page digest. While slightly disorganized and disjointed, this zine is an interesting look at morbid pop culture. Vix has unexpected insights, enjoys folk singer Richard Shindell (who recently played in Cambridge), and dabbles in photocopy collage. Best of luck with the next issue! Write Vix Spooky, 125 Earl Pl. #234, Toronto, ON, Canada M4Y 1M4 for more information.

True Confessions of a Big Geek
Starting with the premise that "Gays are geeks, too," editrix Sarah helped form the organization Action Grrrlz, and this 16-page "zinelette" was launched. The mini includes "Geek Confessions 101," a top 10 list of gay geek identifiers; Michele Collins' "Just 5 of the Reasons I'm a Big Geek" (hankies!); Siue's explanation of what it's like having trouble talking to strangers; Jonathan Culp's appreciation of Robert Christgau; and Steven Bereznai's writing about Bangkok, the Oriental city. While I don't think this zine is overly confessional or contextual, it's a nice almost-manifesto. Extra credit for the "alternate geek titles" for the zine and the snapshot on p. 14. Write Sarah, 57 Aziel St., Toronto, ON, Canada M6P 2N8 for more information.

Underground Surrealist #11
This 36-page standard-sized comic reminds me a lot of Rodney Schroeter's Bat Comix out of Random Lake, Wisconsin, c. 1982. I wonder if I still have my issues stowed somewhere. Published in 1999, this edition leads with some Steve Jackson Games-like cards featuring the Ambassador's Daughter, Russell Rooster, and Phil I. Stine, the comic's characters. Ramses gets his. Augustus is defrocked. India and Pakistan get it on. People fall down the stairs. (P. 7 is awesome!) A London raver spills some brain cells and changes his life. The Loch Ness Monster swallow Excalibur. Mike Cusimano misspells "renowned." Phil pollutes a river. And the rooster runs away. Then there's a photography spread by Alik Olisevich from the Ukraine before a solid comic by R.J. Pentzell and some ads. It's no Rodney Schroeter, but it's not bad in its silly surrealism. $3 to Mike Cusimano, P.O. Box 382565, Cambridge, MA 02238.

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