Friday, November 14, 2003

From the Reading Pile XXIII

Catfight Part One (September 2003)
A stark contrast to MK Reed's abyssmal attempt at an ashcan with Zombie Hunters in Space, this is a more full-fledged foray into simply drawn storytelling. Featuring a trio of women interested in sports, music, cigarettes, and social interaction, the 36-page comic sports some nice Ariel Schrag-like scripting moments, as well as some absolutely artistic moments (panel seven, p. 10). The directional detour on p. 12 was well "written," as well. While the "hells yeah" got tiring, the Rodney Schroeter-esque badminton bash up on p. 15 is quite funny, as is the lunchtime inquisition. Reed stretches a little with panel four, p. 19 -- in the awkward anatomy plus Jessica Abel allusion sense -- but all in all, the comic is a nice pre-college pretense, particularly given the anti-boyfriend screed on p. 23 and the Syracuse reference in Zombie Hunters in Space. The accelerated relationship sequence on p. 25 and the distant detail of pp. 26-27 show some solid storytelling skills not included elsewhere, and the ending, while open-ended, left me wanting more. For 23, MK's not too bad. I look forward to more. Write MK Reed for more information.

Don't Leave Home
Joining Shawn Cheng at Partyka, Sara Edward-Corbett's 24-page cloth-covered comic is an oddly bound exhibit of a romantic pentangle. Combining the styles of Tony Millionaire, John Hankiewicz, and Greg Cook, the creator leaves a love-lorn look at youthful insolence and pessimism. The second story is a folkloric frolic involving anthropomorphic accoutrements, with the overeager shoe breaking the insecure straw. That shoe's laces are the most expressive I've ever seen! Kudos! Write Sara Edward-Corbett for more information.

Forlorn Funnies #5 ashcan
As a promotion for the 80-page issue due in October, this 16-page pamphlet is a terrible tease. Even the production values -- the paper stock and vivid color -- makes me want the complete edition. Understandable, but unforgivable. Including reviews of previous issues, a description of the upcoming volume, and excerpts from several of the stories, the mini addresses race relations, robots, and rationalization. Paul Hornschemeier is brilliant. More, please. Free from Absence of Ink, P.O. Box 875, Lincoln, CA 95648.

Gabagool! #4-5 (May and September 2003)
Leaving behind the digest-sized photocopied minicomics of last year for 28-page "properly" printed comics, Mike Dawson and Chris Radtke slow down the pace much too much. The comedy is all in the timing, and now that Radtke's writing for the longer form, their humor is half-baked. After Christopher Vigliotti gets laid off from his dead-end dotcom job, he and his roomies heroically take some time off in "Hedonism," Jamaica. Incorporating some interesting Terry Laban-influenced artwork, Dawson pens some pleasant panels involving hair removal, role-playing games, and vacation vocations. I miss the sitcom-smart silliness and whip-witted whackiness of previous issues. Please don't sacrifice the silly bits for the Joe Sacco-inspired seriousness sussed out by tangible travel. $3 from Mike Dawson and Chris Radtke, P.O. Box 1638, Radio City Station, New York, NY 10019.

Where Are You Going (August 2003)
Signed and sealed at the point of purchase, Lark Pien's 44-page book one the Mr. Boombha series is a hand-bound collection of six stories. Mr. Boombha wakes, observes his morning constitutional, and proceeds to visit his friend Flowe. Mixing characteristics of Greg Cook, Bil Keane, and Larry Marder, Pien portrays Boombha's day, which is full of playful math, gentle jealousy, and wanton waiting. Then Boombha goes on a trip to Down Under. With work in eight other published comics, Pien's one to watch. Write Lark Pien, 4016 Opal St. #1, Oakland, CA 94609 for more information.

Zombie Hunters in Space
In addition to an introductory essay outlining the author's seven biases for MK Reed's scribbly comic strip, this eight-page photocopied catchall comprises several examples of the comic. For the most part, it addresses loneliness, robots, technical writing, the creator's artistic process, and card games. Lesson: If you don't have a full-fledged comic to bring to SPX, don't bring a comic to SPX. Who the heck is Matt Finley? Write MK Reed for more information.

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