The Last 10 Comics I've Read

The Customer Is Always Wrong by Mimi Pond

My wife and I read Mimi Pond's Over Easy last year leading up to her guest appearance at Cartoon Crossroads Columbus (CXC) and totally fell in love it.... Even so it took us a while to get around to buying a copy of the follow up and conclusion graphic novel, The Customer Is Always Wrong, My wife pulled the trigger on this purchase on a day trip to Yellow springs, Ohio at Darkstar books. (which seems to be a great store... I wish I could spend more time browsing there, but their store cat really triggers my allergies.)

Both books focus on Pond's post college years and time spent as a waitress at a small Bay Area diner. Having spent a little time as a dishwasher in my post-college myself, I very much identified with the characters and circumstances portrayed.

Customer is longer than Over Easy with more intricate story elements, but is a quicker read. Over Easy had a lot of stylistic elements, like text embedded into the swirls of a recently stirred coffee cup. Neat looking, but a little slower going. The narrative techniques in Customer are more straightforward, less dreamy, making it more of a page turner for me. I would recommend reading both in order..

Sogno #37 and #64

To say that I "read" these comics a stretch. They have been added to my small collection of comics in a foreign language that I own just because I think they're beautiful. Both issues are photo comics made with stills that seem to be taken from either Italian movies or maybe TV soap operas. The comics came out in the 70s, but judging by the dress of the characters, I'm guessing the films were from a few years prior. #37 seems to be a straight up romance while issue #67 has some elements of crime and/or espionage..

I picked these up in Attenson's Books & Antiques on Coventry up in Cleveland. (Thanks to Suzanne from Mac's backs for the tip!)

Cruising with the Hound: the Life And Times of Fred Toote by Spain Rodriguez. Speaking of Mac's... They have one of the best selections of indie comics and zines that I have seen recently. (You can pick up some Nix Comics titles there if you are so inclined!) Reasonably priced too! This only mildly used copy of Spain Rodriguez's was only eight bucks!

This collection of stories focuses on his life as a teenager in 50s Buffalo. Lotsa stories about the local 24 hour diner, bikers, EC Comics, , Local Dee Jays and Doo Wop bands. and general juvenile hijinks... So needless to say, up my alley..

People reading my comics see parallels between Spain's work and what I do at Nix Comics, which is funny (strange) because I came to his work relatively late in the game... I knew who he was but didn't do a deep dive into his work until he passed a few years back.

Lowriders In Space by Cathy Camper and Raul the Third.

Another Pick up from Mac's Backs, I had originally seen this book at Raul The Third's table at SolCon a few years back. Ic really liked it then, but had somehow managed to leave my wallet at home. (For real. not an excuse.)

Primarily a kids book, I think that it has a lot to offer adult readers in terms of enjoying the artwork. I really love the vaguely disney-esque characters drawn in blue, black and red ball point pen, presented on a coffee stained page. I do wish the lettering had been done similarly, instead of using a series of computer fonts, I think that would have taken a really good book into the realm of a great book..

Blammo #10 by Noah Van Sciver.

I picked up the latest issue of Blammo through the recent Kilgore Press kickstarter. It was a nice way to support a fellow micro-press and a local Columbus artist. If I had been a little more flush at the time I would have kicked in for Emi Gennis's new book as well!

Blammo is a collection of somewhat interlocked short stories. (I say somewhat, because they all loosely deal with the hurdles a career cartoonist experiences, like communicating through social media or expectations of recognition/fame.) Noah packs a lot onto every page, often using dense 12-15 panel grid pages oozing with his own brand dry wit, which I really appreciate.

The Savage Journey To The Heart of an Anime Convention by M.S. Harkness.

Earlier this month, a bunch of the Kilgore Press creators hopped into a rent-a-car and did a mini-tour to promote their newly kickstarted books. The Columbus stop of the tour was at Kafe Kerouac and the event was very enjoyable. I bought this book at a return trip to Kerouac last week. (I believe they have more copies, along with her Kilgore release, Tinderella.)

This autobio comic retells a THC edible fueled trauma at an anime convention. Being an old so-and-s0 who never particularly liked weed even when a young so-and-so combined with my knowledge of anime ending at the Battle of the Planets cartoon, you'd think that this comic would be a pass for me... But I really loved it. It's funny, well plotted and well executed. I gotta buy more of Harkness!

Go Fuck Myself by Mike Freiheit Mike was another member of the Kilgore Press kickstarter clan tour, and I picked this book up on the same Kerouac trip that I picked up A Savage Journey and it was the cover that sealed the deal. The risograph thing has been pretty big in recent years and I think this cover is one of the better examples of that kind of art. (A lot of it just looks like poorly executed 3D to me..)

Go Fuck Myself is kind of an auto-bio comic... if you consider personifications acting out stories that explore Mike's existential angst "auto-bio." (I think I do) The self effacing humor that runs rampant in the book more than makes up for the inherent hand-wringing and crippling solemnity that mars most books with this kind of theme. Definitely give it a whirl!

Spinning by Tillie Walden

Picked this up on the previously mentioned trip to Yellow Springs at Super Fly Comics. As some of you know, Tillie is my cousin, but I hadn't gotten around to reading yet. In part because I'm cheap, but also for personal reasons.

You wouldn't know it given this selection, but I'm generally not a big auto-bio comics fan. While I know that making an auto-bio comic is an imolicit invitation to take a peek into the author's life, I often feel like an accidental voyeur while reading them. That "Oh geez... Sorry sir/ma'am... I didn't know this room was occupied..." is particularly acute for me if I know the author..

I got that feeling in spades with Spinning. It's a very well done book.... Great looking pages and a engaging conversation about teenage expectations of acceptance from peers and authority figures alike.. Thing, is, despite not being super close family, Reading spinning felt a little invasive and made me kind of nervy. Like I was reading a little sister's diary or something.... I dunno, maybe if I had an actual kid sister and she did her diary in cartoon form, I wouldn't feel weird about it.

Woman Rebel: The Margaret Sanger Story by Peter Bagge.

I don't know how obvious it is to people who mostly read my horror or western books that Peter Bagge is an artist that I count among my biggest influences. One of the things that was apparent to me when reading Hate and Neat Stuff in College was that any story can be told in comic form. (I know there are plenty of other artists whose work demonstrates this notion, but Peter Bagge was the guy who shined that particular light for me.) That's not to say that all artists can swap their styles to match the stories they want to tell... But those who can have the ability to extend their careers as genres and styles come and go.

Woman Rebel is done in the journalistic style that I associate more with Abrams Books like My Friend Dahmer or Don't Forget That song about Carter Family. (So presented firstly as a graphic novel but with generous back matter about the research done..)

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