Reviews - Illustrated Fiction 21

 

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Reviews on this page:

Candy or Medicine #8

Comic Fan #5*

Kodamalara

Lost Kisses #11

Marked #1

MYX #1-3*

Redskin Rashy

Secret Weirdo

TFTSG3*

Weltschmerz #2

*MF.com Favorite

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MYX #1-3 covers

MYX #1-3 edited by Jamie Chase

MYX (pronounced "mix") is a terrific new series featuring tales of the supernatural with elements of science fiction and mystery. Inspired by predecessors like Creepy magazine and House of Mystery, editor Jamie Chase has produced a worthy follow-up with solid storytelling and bold illustrations.

Each issue features a collection of strange stories of varying page lengths. Publisher Chase supplies the artwork for all of them. He's clearly having fun with the material, experimenting with varied techniques, layouts, and storytelling. His panels are filled with action and dynamic perspectives that push each story to the edge of the pages. His bold brushstrokes create a permeating darkness that complements the subject matter perfectly. If you're a fan of dark fiction, MYX should be on your reading list. Here's the contents of the first three issues:

Panel from MYX #1

MYX #1 (32 pages, plus cover) The debut issue is all Chase—story and art. It starts off with Tourist Trap a 19-page story about a diver who disappears under mysterious circumstances in Playa Del Sueno, Mexico. The authorities aren't making much progress, so the girl's brother arrives and begins his own investigation. What he finds may be better left alone. Next, we take a brief jaunt from the tropics to Blizzard. Chase's illustrations of whiteout conditions in this short three-pager are one of the book's highlights. It's followed by Forest, a five page walk in the woods that quickly turns into a nightmare. The issue concludes with Collision about a super collider and an attempt to create the elusive Higgs boson effect.

Panels from MYX #2

MYX #2 (36 pages, plus cover) Chase gets an assist by his long-time collaborator Bram Meehan, in his second issue. Attraction is a modern day fable about a woman whose beauty is all in the mind of the beholder. Ten pages with story and art by Chase. Unearthed by Meehan and Chase reveals the deadly backstory, buried just beneath the surface of the perfect marriage and its progeny (12 pages). The final story, Demon Maitre is loosely based on H.P. Lovecraft's The Music of Erich Zahn. Chase handled story and art in this eleven pager about a mysterious fiddler and a meddling house guest.

Panels from MYX #3

MYX #3 (36 pages, plus cover) The third issue of MYX opens with Return, a six page space opera by Meehan and Chase with a twisted ending. Aftermyth is all Chase. It's a perfect marrage of good girl art and insectivores (fifteen creepy pages). Planet Memory is written by Darryl Wellington and drawn by Chase. The fourteen page story explores themes of technology, isolation and meaning on a desolate planet lost in space.

Each issue of MYX is 6.5" x 10.25", saddle stitched with machine trim. They're intended for mature readers. Issue #3 credits South Island print services for printing, but issues #1 & 2 appear to be of the same quality of print on demand reproduction. Each issue is available for $2.95 each. I'm hard-pressed to single out one issue to recommend. They're really all fun to read and work best when you get to read all three. You can watch a promotional video for MYX on YouTube. For more artwork and contact info visit Jamie Chase Arts. Chase was interviewed by Patti Martinson earlier this year about MYX and his work on Muse and Death, Cold as Steel on Sequential Tart. Chase is an active member of the comic collective 7000 BC. A Midnight Fiction Favorite

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Comic Fan #5 coverComic Fan #5
edited by Jim Main

Weighing in at 156 pages, this is the biggest fanzine I've ever seen. The issue is editor Jim Main's tribute to the Silver Age of comics; and that explains why even 100 pages just wouldn't have been enough. For many, the Silver Age was the most exciting, most creative period in the history of comics. The contributors' enthusiasm for the era comes through quite clearly as they write about and illustrate some of their personal favorites.

The issue opens with a tribute to the late John C. Carbonaro by Robert Sodaro. Carbonaro was the owner—or caretaker as Sodaro puts it—of the Thunder Agents. (The famous Tower Comics and their small army of superheroes were explored in depth in the last issue of Comic Fan.)

The Low Down is Comic Fan's letters column and this issue features three pages of LOCs. Letters from readers were a critical element of the great fanzines of the Silver Age, so it's great to see this type of support continued with Main's readers. The letters offer personal stories as well as comments about past issues.

Richard Limacher explores Harvey Thrillers, Harvey Comic's attempt at action hero comics. With contributors like Will Eisner, Wally Wood, Jim Steranko, Gil Kane, Jack Kirby, Joe Orlando, and many other big names it's surprising the line was rather short-lived. Limacher's coverage shines a light on a part of Silver Age comics history that's worth re-discovering. The articles is illustrated by Rick and Al Limacher.

Inter-Fan Chairperson Lance "Doc" Boucher provides a profile of Don Newton. Newton, who died in 1984 was a long-time artist who contributed to many of the better known fanzines of the Silver Age and began working in comics professionally in 1974. During his ten year professional career he worked for Charlton, Marvel, and DC. The article includes an interview with Barry Keller, who maintains the Don Newton website.

Writer and editor Steve Skeates contributes a memoir of his days working on an obscure title called Charlton Premiere. It was a noble idea to create a title to introduce new characters and concepts into the market to see which ones would gain a following. Unfortunately none of them did and the title only lasted for four issues. Skeates' behind-the-scenes report is fascinating and easily as incredible as the stories that ran in the comic.

Marc Haines provides a report on Mighty Comics with illustrations by Haines, John Lambert, Dan W. Taylor, Kevin Duncan, and Rick Limacher, Mighty Comics is one of those series I'd rather read about than actually read the comics themselves. Haines does a good job of reporting the high points without sugar coating the line's failings.

Dennis Kininger takes a look at the career of Ramona Fradon, a wonderful artist who produced a long run of Aquaman comics, along with many other stories, mostly for DC. This was probably my favorite article from Comic Fan #5.

Steve Keeter contributes an article on Ant-man, one of the lesser known of the Marvel Silver Age heroes. The article is illustrated by George Lane & Nate Corrigan and Al Limacher. Ant-man was one of those goofy second-string characters who was re-invented to keep up with his cronies. He went from super tiny to super big when he transformed into Giant-Man, eventually able to attain a height of 50 feet.

Comic Fan's Associate Editor, Sam Gafford highlights the career of Nick Cardy. His tribute is adorned with art by Terry Pavlet and a pencil sketch by Cardy himself. Gafford article explores Cardy's career at DC along with insights into the artist's struggles to find work and acceptance in a tough industry. Gafford's research on Cardy's personal story makes his article shine.

What Silver Age tribute would be complete without coverage of Spider-man? Nic Carcieri supplies background on the character and his creators, focusing primarily on Spider-man's early years. The article is loaded with cover and select page reproductions.

Next up is a portfolio of Silver Age greats as drawn by Larry Blake in full-page illustrations. Characters include Batman & Robin, the Black Panther, Green Lantern, early Avengers, Fantastic Four, the Flash, Thunder Agents, and the early X-Men. Blake's portfolio is a wonderful bonus to an already excellent fanzine.

One of my favorite comic chroniclers is Rob Imes, who edits Diktomania. Here he contributes an in-depth review of the Silver Age Superboy. Imes' article provides a thorough history of the character and his own title from its launch in 1949 until he eventually shared his own book with The Legion of Super-Heroes.

Michael Tuz provides a fine report on the twisted path of Marvel's Captain Marvel as he careened from one creative team to the next until he was finally re-invented by Roy Thomas and Gil Kane in Captain Marvel#17. The article is illustrated by Alan & Rick Limacher, Carl Taylor, and Dave Farley.

Larry Tisch sketches dozens of Silver Age heroes in his Comic Memories feature in the space of only two pages.

This time out Sam Gafford's Sez Me! column is a tribute to the Silver Age and an examination of the cultural and creative forces that contributed to its rise. It was truly a once-in-a-lifetime event that in many ways Marvel and DC are still leveraging today.

Even regular features like The Spinner Rack gained extra pages in this edition of Comic Fan. Spanning 33 pages the usual band of reviewers include Mark Allen, Dennis Kininger, Barry Southworth, Matt Levin, myself, and Production Manager Richard Sullivan; covering every type of illustrated fiction you can imagine.

Convention coverage is next and includes photo reports on the Stumptown Comics Fest and Allen Freeman's SPACE Adventure with extra photos by Lance "Doc" Boucher and Wade Busby.

The massive zine concludes with eight pages of a medley of Silver Age original artwork reproduced in glorious black & white. What an issue! While it's not possible to cover the history of the Silver Age completely even in a book this size, Comic Fan #5 does a wonderful job exploring a great collection of some of the titles and characters that played a role in the period. Besides all the contributors already noted, the book includes additional artwork by Jim Mooney, Noor Hafizah, Michael Grassia, Dick Ayes, Tim Temmel, Hal Jones, Laurence DuCheney, Tony Lorenz, and Rob Imes. (Sorry, if I left anyone out!) Lastly, I should mention the book also includes dozens of Silver Age comic cover images illustrating the articles. Comic Fan #5 is 156 b&w pages, plus color covers, 8.5" x 11", with perfect binding. I understand the issue is almost sold out so hurry if you want one. They're $17.60 (postage paid) from Main Enterprises.
A Midnight Fiction Favorite

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Marked #1 coverMarked #1
by Brian John Mitchell and Jeremy Johnson

Although the story in the first issue of Marked is relatively self-contained there's little doubt it's just the opening salvo of a much longer saga.

The hero in Marked is a demon fighter. He's drawn out of retirement when he learns the sister of his girlfriend was violently murdered. He goes to the scene of the crime to avenge her death.

Mitchell is a great storyman and he uses the format of his micro minis to great advantage, slowly revealing information and building tension with every turn of the tiny pages.

The artwork by Johnson is a nice match to the story. It's great to see artist and writer working together like this to make the overall package stronger and more dramatic.

Pages from Marked #1

Marked is 56 b&w pages, which includes the self-cover. Approximately 2" x 2.25", handmade, untrimmed, with saddle stitch binding. It's available for $1, like Mitchell's other micro minis through the Silber Media website.

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Weltschmerz #2 coverWeltschmerz #2
by Clark Dissmeyer

The second issue of Clark Dissmeyer's (aka CAD) Weltshmerz is another great collection of assorted gags, comix, and sketches made late last year. Dissmeyer has an irreverent sense of humor that he applies to sarcastic quips, slapstick gags, and social commentary.

As you can tell from the title, Dissmeyer is fond of German. He even includes a couple of comix and captions in Deutsche, so I had to give google translate a spin. The two episodes of Lad and Cara are jam comix between CAD and Lara M-R. Lad speaks in German and Cara switches between German and French. Thankfully 95% of the book is in Englisch.

Most of the pages are comix. A couple are full page gag cartoons and CAD includes a few sketches made while communing with nature in the forest. They're nice pieces and serve as a useful pause between all the frenetic humor.

Panels from Weltschmerz #2

Welschmerz #2 is 36 b&w pages, including the self-cover. 5.5" x 8.5", handmade, with saddle stitch binding. It's available from the artist through his page on Poopsheet Foundation. He'll take money, but prefers trades.

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Secret Weirdo coverSecret Weirdo
by Lauren Barnett

This recent comic zine by Barnett could be classified as autobiographical. But you could also make a case for labeling it a perzine. Besides the humorous recollections of events from her life, she also shares glimpses of more intimate feelings. Her confessions are quickly discounted with dismissive quips or sarcasm, but nevertheless she drops her guard long enough to disclose a little of the secret portion of the book's title, and why she thinks she's weird.

Aside from the abstract cover and realistic sketch on the back cover, the zine's artwork is all comics. Barnett's artwork is engaging, simple, and basic. She doesn't seem to be overly influenced by other comic artists. In fact, one of the qualities I like about her art are the moments of sheer inventiveness and spontaneity. She seems to be largely making up her panels and pages as she goes along.

Some of the comics clearly begin a new idea but others are loosely connected to each other in a free-flowing narrative that blithefully transitions from one topic or adventure to the next.

The issue opens with a rant about sexist commentary, but turn the page and we find ourselves launched into a TV news take-off with a gag about ice cream. This morphs into Barnett confessing directly to her readers that she is secretly weird, building her case with childhood recollections that grow progressively more, well, weird.

There's more adventures featuring the cat police, Master Driver and Navigirl on a trip back from Jersey, a whimsical experiment about freezing an egg, and several others. Some of the antics are funnier than others, but they're all amusing and the fun Barnett has putting them down on paper is apparent.

Panels from Secret Weirdo

Secret Weirdo is 18 b&w pages, with a full color self-cover that brings the page count up to 20. It's 5.5" x 8.5", handmade, untrimmed, with saddle stitch binding. Barnett runs a blog called Me Likes You Comics that she updates frequently with cartoons and quips. Secret Weirdo is available for $5 there, along with several other comics she's self-published.

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Redskin Rashy coverRedskin Rashy
by Josh Latta

Josh Latta is a terrific cartoonist. It was his beautiful artwork that first caught my eye. His Rashy cartoons capture the look-and-feel of the best classic funny animal comic books I read as a kid. His characters are drawn with animated postures and lively expressions. They're so engaged with each other you can't help but be pulled into their stories.

At first glance Rashy and his co-conspirators look like they walked out of a funny animal comic from the good old days, their stories are much more gritty and contemporary. Rashy's world is a little south of middle-class. He's realizes he needs to work for a living, but he'd rather be drinking, doping, or shagging one of the plump, nubile females rabbits he tries to hook-up with.

Redskin Rashy is a full-length adventure that nearly fills the entire 32-page issue. The book opens with a recap of his past exploits and provides background on each of the key characters. As the story opens Rashy is confronted by a punk with a knife in the alley behind the Mal-Mart where he works. He escapes with the help of his friend Jimmy, who soon convinces him to drop off the grid and live free in the natural world. They wind up captured by a tribe of wild hare indians who've already attained the same low-impact existence Rashy and his pal are seeking.

Panels from Redskin Rashy

Latta is already nearly finished with Rashy's next adventure, A Rabbit in King Arthur's Food Court. He's been posting previews on his website Lattaland.

Redskin Rashy is 32 b&w pages, plus a color cover. 7" x 8", handmade with saddle stitch binding. It's available for $4, along with several other Rashy comix from Lattaland. Mature readers.

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Tales From the Seventh Galaxy #3 coverTFTSG3
by James Rubino

TFTSG3, aka Tales from the Seventh Galaxy #3, is a pleasure to read. It's a wonderful indie comic full of surprises. The lead feature is the story of Yumishira, Oriental Space Lily. There's so much narration it's more like a heavily illustrated story than a comic. Rubino can certainly turn a phrase. His sentences are steeped in atmosphere and texture as the story of Yumishira's origin unfolds. Here's the opening salvo:

The world revolves in an endless carousel of day and night—a whirling dervish of light and darkness. History is like that. There are eras of moral clarity and epochs of unthinkable evil. It was during a period of great struggle for the very soul of the universe in which Yumishira had been born. Only fools and demagogues pretend to understand the mystery of life—why the good must suffer while the wicked prosper. Life is neither moral nor just but sometimes, incredibly, individuals are.

I've always been a big fan of Rick McCollum's work in titles like Horde and Ashley Dust. This story by Rubino reminded me of McCollum's work. Both cartoonists feature imaginative, fantastical worlds with enough depth they almost seem real. Rubino gets his new character off to a great start and he's promised there's more tales to tell in future comics. Perhaps with her own title.

His next tale, The Boyhood of Cactor, really took me by surprise. It's a complete change of direction in tone and approach. I'm a soft touch for classic horror film send-ups like The Lost Skeleton of Cadavra, so I found this tale by Rubino an absolute hoot. This origin story apparently preceeds the Cactor yarn in issue #1.

TFTSG3 continues the laughs with an update on Dave & Stariana, a Message from Space Received by Professor Semaj Onibur, and Spoil-Sports from Space. These comics are followed by a one-page letters column and a return to a more traditional science fiction comic, The Face of Evv. The issue concludes with a one-page gag comic.

Panel from TFTSG3

TFTSG3 is 32 b&w pages, plus a color cover. 7" x 10", print on demand (?), with machine trim and saddle stitch binding. It's available for $4.00 (postage paid), along with an assortment of other titles from James Rubino.
A Midnight Fiction Favorite

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Lost Kisses #11 coverLost Kisses #11
by Brian John Mitchell and Dave Sim

While previous issues of Mitchell's Lost Kisses have been humorous, issue eleven dubbed Ultimate Lost Kisses, takes a decidedly dark turn. This one's about a mother who gave her son up for adoption while she was in high school. Years later he's tracked her down. The letter she receives from him begins a journey of revelation that gets worse with every step.

Obviously the artwork by an accomplished storyteller like Dave Sim adds to the impact of the story. He adapted quickly to the micro-mini's one-panel-per-page pacing. Past editions have kept the reader at a distance as the characters deliver sarcastic quips and jabs. Here, it's all drama. Sim switches from long shots to close-ups—even extreme close-ups—to drive the story forward.

A spread from Lost Kisses #11

There's a terrific spread typical of Sim's contribution to the book, that shows only the hands of the son and his mother—the physical space between the pages separating them. The posture of each, in the context of the story, shows their raw emotions quite effectively.

This drama is a real departure for the series. It could've easily been published as a one-shot. Either way, it's a special issue, well worth the price of admission.

Lost Kisses #11 is 64 b&w pages, including a self-cover. Approximately 2" x 2.25", handmade, stapled, and packaged in a tiny plastic bag. It's available for $1 from Silber Records.

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Candy or Medicine #8 edited by Josh Blair

Josh Blair returns with a another solid issue of his nicely produced mini-comic anthology. As usual the print quality, paper stock, and bindery are top notch. This issue's contents include:

Front and back covers of Candy or Medicine #8
Back and Front cover of Candy or Medicine #8

Front cover by JB Saplenza of a goofy-looking character who's trying to decide if this mini-comics thing is contagious or not. You be the judge.

Ray N. from Candy or Medicine #8

Editor Josh Blair (writer) teams with Ray N. (artist) for an untitled one-page gag about misguided washroominations. Somewhat ironically, Mr. N. blogs at Ray N's Soapbox.

Kevin Richard panels from Candy or Medicine #8

Kevin Richardson, who contributed a nice story to issue #4, provides a beautifully drawn three-page entry called Shattered. It's about dreams, fantasies, relationships, and recollections. Richardson blogs at Analog Comics.

Jessica Seck Marquis' panels from Candy or Medicine #8

Jessica Seck Marquis provides two episodes of Linear Thinking. It's a stick figure comic strip about office mates who trade quips and observations about popular culture and office life. Marquis posts comics on her Linear Thinking blog.

Cliff Lipp panels from Candy or Medicine #8

Scotlander Cliff Lipp ponders a few of the big questions through philosopher Epicurus and a group of off-panel challengers, who love to reach in and stir the pot.

Pat Aulisio panels from Candy or Medicine #8

Pat Aulisio follows a humanoid as he escapes a glowing city by running along entwined tendrils that lead him to a cosmic path of blocks and pyramids in this free-flowing visual adventure. Wonderful stuff by a master of surreal comic storytelling. See more of his art on the Pat Makes Drawings blog.

Mr. Ben panels from Candy or Medicine #8

Mister Ben explores the impact of neighbors on isolation in a one-pager called, Obtuse Toons. Ben published a working-class art-damage zine called FreezerBurn.

The inside back cover provides short bios on each of the contributors including Brad W. Foster, who provides the back cover artwork.

Candy or Medicine #8 is 16 b&w pages, including the self-cover. 5.5" x 4.25" with saddle stitch binding. It's available for $1.50 (including postage) from Candy of Medicine.

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Kodamalara coverKodamalara
by Clark Dissmeyer

Clark Dissmeyer, aka CAD, was one or the original newave cartoonists and he's been self-publishing his comix for decades. A few of his titles include Plague Humor and Propaganda War. He's contributed to Clay Geerdes' mini comix, Not My Small Diary, and Giant Size Mini Comics #2.

Kodamalara is a digest-sized zine that runs 16 pages, counting the cover sheet. It's black-and-white and hand-stapled. Inside, Dissmeyer is true to the comix tradition. His gags poke fun at corporate America and corporate government. His stories alternate between edgy satire and goofy slapsick. The book's longest comix at four pages, is called Uncle Sam's on Mars. A comix tribute to Hawkwind's song.

The balance of the book is one-pagers like Cadzilla Vs. Rodin, Theater of Cruelty, Turn, Turn, Turn, To Live is to Serve, Arty Facts, and several others. It's a great collection of Dissmeyer's comix.

Panels from Kodamalara

It's available from the artist—you can contact him through his page on Poopsheet Foundation. He'll take cash, but prefers trades for other comix.

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Original content Copyright © 2009 and 2010 Richard Krauss.
All other copyrights belong to their respective owners.