Wednesday, April 14, 2004

My Take On ICON

Who fucking cares?

That is all.

Tuesday, April 13, 2004

Mini-Comic Madness!

Ahhh…minis. In many ways, they are the real soul of comics. Whether it’s an ashcan of a coming full-size book, or the output of someone who just really wants to make a comic, even if they have no money, there’s a real thrill in finding good minis and spreading the word. At the recent Phoenix Cactus Con I brought home three different books to take a look at.

  • Bikini Automatic issues 1-3, written by Ken and Maggie Wright and drawn by Ken Wright. Available through his website Ken Wright Online.

    This was a surprisingly amusing little trifle. Wright was selling a number of prints along with his comics at the con, and they were all in sort of an animated T&A style. With a book with this title, I was assuming that very little effort would be put into making an interesting story to go along with the breasts. I assumed wrong. Now don’t get me wrong; the Wrights aren’t making Watchmen with tits. But the title character (her name is Bikini Automatic) has been hired to protect her beach by a very rich man who has given her a pair of techo-gloves that allow her to retrieve any weapon she wants from thin air in order to discharge that duty, so she actually does have a purpose beyond looking hot. She doesn’t take any shit from surf dudes trying to pick her up, either.

    There’s a nice dose of humor to these books, at least showing that there’s some knowing irony to the character’s name and her thong. Bikini Automatic isn’t brilliant, but it is fun. Grade: B

  • Go Forth And Conquer/1000 Steps To World Domination 1-4, written and drawn by Rob Osborne. Published by Kaboom Comics.

    1000 Steps won the 2003 Isotope Award For Excellence In Mini-Comics. That award was not undeserved.

    Osborne’s quirky book features (basically) himself as he begins his quest to take over the world. Of course, that’s a pretty daunting task, and there are plenty of other people out there who have similar goals as well (including aliens, God, and the Devil), so he has his work cut out for him. Fortunately, he has 1000 pages to work with, and he’s only 78 pages in by the end of issue four. He might just have a chance.

    Steps has a strangely unique narrative that is difficult to describe. It’s almost as if Osborne has a case of ADHD and it floods over into his storytelling. One minute you’ll be with the lead character as he ruminates on the nature of world takeover. The next page might be a recitation of God’s divine plan for the universe, and then the next might be a full page panel of a beautiful woman describing why she hates comic books. And yet for some reason, this stream of consciousness approach really works. It should feel disjointed and pointless, like Osborne is just making shit up as he goes along, and it does; however, it’s so damned odd and entertaining that you just don’t care.

    Go Forth is subtitled “Wisdom and wit for the would be World Dominator” and features an eye-patched Abe Lincoln ushering around the reader as he explains to you the nature of villainy and evil, eventually dueling the alien Lord Zingo to the death in Lincoln’s own graveyard. And if you think that sounds absurd, you’re correct. It’s also pretty damned funny. This is Osborne’s most recent work, and it demonstrates a much stronger grasp of story and narrative than 1000 Steps has shown. It feels like this is the last middle step between the middle comic and shifting 1000 Steps over to full-size. Together, these are five really entertaining books. Grade: A-

  • Blind Mice 8, written and drawn by Eric Mengel. Available through the author by writing

    Blind Mice is the story of an alien missionary named Ocho who was sent to Earth to make it a better place but instead is stuck working as late night security in Tempe, Arizona in the club district on Mill Avenue.

    As a resident of Tempe myself, I can tell you that death would be preferable.

    Ocho spends the bulk of this issue breaking up a fight between to much smaller guys who are pissing and moaning over a girl. He then gets home to his apartment and discovers his friend Pitbull taking pictures for no apparent reason. Pretty normal stuff for a mini-comic. But then the story shifts to what I think is a dream/flashback, and it gets kind of confusing.

    When the shift occurs, the reader could really use a transitional caption, particularly if this is something that has been covered in previous issues. (Mengel has produced a trade paperback of the first seven issues, which I will review in my MoviePoopShoot column sometime in the next couple of weeks.) Every comic is someone’s first, and I needed help there.

    But the rest of the book is a pretty genial effort, surprisingly light in tone, and it isn’t bad. Mengel is on his eighth issue here, so there’s actually a hint of polish beginning to creep in to his work, and the book uses all the tricks in shading and light that Kinko’s printing will allow. Blind Mice doesn’t try and be anything more than what it is, which is smart; putting out a trade of the previous seven issues shows that Mengel has a solid plan and he’s sticking to it. Should be interesting to see how it plays out. Grade: B

Write me at: Review materials may be sent to: Marc Mason, P.O.Box 26732, Tempe, AZ, 85285