Comix ‘R’ Us

Here we go again, time for some comics reviews…

Stuff About Comics

Basically a zine about independent comics, pushing for a “professional” style & content. The latest issue (#8) gives us a Tim Vigil cover, interviews with Mike Allred, Teri Wood, Paul Chadwick and Mike Diana, plus editorial comment, a couple of pages of news, and 12 pages of comics reviews. Well worth supporting, and getting better at spelling each issue. Hassle your local comic shop into picking it up and help the cause of independent comics…

$2.95, 48 pages, standard (American) comic format but heading up to magazine size soonish, Published by Blackmore Publishing

Understanding Comics
This is a comic about the art of comics. That’s a bit odd. Even odder is the fact that it works. Scott McCloud has managed to get lots of people into what comics can be, whilst showing his opinion on what comics are & how they “work” [you look at the pictures, you read the words, that’s it… Difficult to explain without sounding extremely silly, so I’ll stop here and just recommend it to anyone interested in comics as a medium rather than just as entertainment…

£13.95, 215 pages, Graphic Novel format, Published by Kitchen Sink Press

Filibusting Comics
A spoof “missing chapter” from Understanding Comics. This is not worth, as they say, the paper it’s printed on… It’s just not funny. No point in telling you the details, as you’re not buying it.

Paradox Press

In an attempt to keep readers who’ve got past the DC Universe, through Vertigo and are heading into independent territory, DC have set up their new Paradox Press imprint. This offers readers frightened of the world of independents a chance to dip their toes into non-mainstream work, whilst still under DC’s watchful eye. Not that I can complain about Paradox so far, as they’re doing fine work…

Big Book Of Urban Legends
This was the first title to come out from DC’s new “Paradox Press” imprint, and is an impressive work, if only for managing to co-ordinate comics professionals into producing a single work. It’s an anthology of about 200 “friend of a friend” stories, done as 1-4 page strips, each using a different artist.

It’s fun – proved by the fact that it can be read in a single sitting (even if you do start feeling that you’ve heard the stories before…). This is the first of the “Factoid Books”, and bodes well for the “Big Book Of Weirdos” (out now!), “Big Book Of Death” and “Big Book Of Conspiracies”

$12.95, 223 pages, A4ish sized, Black & White, Published by DC/Paradox Press

Big Book Of Weirdos
The second “Big Book” looks into the lives of assorted odd people… from Ivan the Terrible, to William Randolph Hearst passing through Nikolas Tesla and Harry Houdini on the way. It covers 67 people (or so the cover says…) and so long as DC/Paradox don’t start bringing these tomes out monthly, they’ve got me hooked. Also announced were “Big Book of Little Criminals” and “Big Book of Freaks”… both of which sound suitably amusing.

$12.95, 223 pages, A4ish sized, Black & White, Published by DC/Paradox Press

Brooklyn Dreams
A four issue series, all of which have now appeared, Brooklyn Dreams is the reminiscences of Carl Vincent Santini… telling of his childhood, his misspent youth and, along the way, giving hints of what he is today. It has a nice feel to it, and the new “digest” format that Paradox are using is great – small enough to carry about, but plenty of pages, so you’ve got something to get stuck into.

$4.95, 94 pages (at a guess, it’s the same sort of size as La Pacifica, but the pages aren’t numbered…),”digest” format, Black & White, Published by DC/Paradox Press

La Pacifica
A three issue series, and again, they’ve all appeared by now, this tells of a mysterious woman, and a trail of violence that follows her around America. After a gunman shoots up his motel, Don Cooper sets to work tracking down the woman… This is the first Paradox Mystery title and is a good start – maybe not outstanding, but I’ve no complaints.

$4.95, 94 pages, “digest” format, Black & White, Published by DC/Paradox Press

The Family Man
This is the second Paradox Mystery, and swaps the wide-ranging road-movieness of La Pacifica for New York… date unspecified, but it looks a bit in the future (well, it definitely ain’t the past). Alonzo and Charles are brothers. They’re a hitman and a priest. Well, sort of…

Charles is a priest cast as spiritual advisor to the NYPD, cleaning up the streets for God and glory. Alonzo used to be a mob hitman… but now the Mafia have been wiped out, apart from a few pet Don’s from the old days. So Alonzo (the Family Man) is confined to his apartment, and watches New York decay outside his windows. Soon it’s getting too much for Alonzo, and he has to get involved… The priest/mobster thing is a bit of a cliche(or at least it seems so to me…) but the setting here works, the story getting more interesting as the first issue goes on. Joe Staton’s art is suitably nitty-gritty (emphasis on the gritty) and the mean streets really look mean. Definitely well worth a look.

$4.95, 94 pages, “digest” format, Black & White, Published by DC/Paradox Press

Old Favourites

From Hell
Gosh. This almost seems to have become a regular series. Issues are managing to come out ‘ frequently, and the story is galloping on apace. Not much more to say than usual here, as it’s still the story of Jack The Ripper… However, rumour has it that Touchstone Pictures have forked out for the film rights so we may see the Disney version of JtR soon… That could be very funny -especially the musical numbers… Basically, go out and buy this, it’s very good… and you can probably find the early issues around somewhere…

$4.95, 64 pages, squarebound, B & W, Published by Kitchen Sink Press

From Hell – The Scripts

This contains the original scriptes for From Hell 1-3, and I haven’t got round to reading it yet.. and I haven’t got the time to read it before TC goes to press. However, given the size of the From Hell appendices each issue, I have no doubt that this will be interesting & informative for all and sundry into From Hell, Alan Moore stuff or just plain old Ripper stories…

So, From Hell features Eddie Campbell artwork, and recently Hellblazer’s been scripted by him… are there no limits to the man’s talents? Good question and one I can’t answer until I’ve actually read the issues in question (hang on a few minutes, and I’ll dash upstairs and read them now…).

Okay, that’s better…. we have lots of urban legends coming true (generally in unpleasantish ways)… we have JC having flown to Australia with a ghost and we have an aboriginal shaman… This is getting odd. JC’s attempting to help the ghost (of Sir Francis Dashwood, founder of the Hellfire Club and general purpose bon viveur) save the world… but isn’t quite as sure as to the ghost’s qualifications anymore… A nice little story to fill the gap between Garth Ennis/Steve Dillon and errrmm… they don’t seem to have mentioned the “new creative team” in the last couple of issues… maybe they’ve been sacrificed in some pagan ceremony… or maybe not Anyway, Hellblazer’s still way up there with the bestest comics about, so keep supporting it fanboys…

$1.95/£1.25, 32 pages, standard format, colour, plopped out by DC/Vertigo

More fun from Paul Grist, now onto a regular schedule as he’s done his stint on Grendel Tales. Cool black & white futuristicish noirish cop story. Issue 5 managed to get away without people speaking, and I only noticed no-one’d said anything after I finished it. Issue 6 is out now and seems to be starting a new era in Kane, plus it’s a UK indie, so support it. Anyway, issue 6, what is there to say… there’s a bust going down with Kate Felix and various others involved… something seems not quite right. This issue sets the scene and the story looks like zoomin’ out into loads of interesting stuff… If you don’t buy Kane, then you won’t know what you’re missing… Imagine an English “Sin City”, and then make it just plain wonderful.

£1.80 ($3.50), 32 pages of pure comic (no adverts, no text – letters page is inside back cover), bimonthly, standard format, B & W, Published by Dancing Elephant Press (which is Paul Grist in disguise… yes, he self-publishes). 6 issue subscriptions available from: Dancing Elephant Press, 207 Marlcliffe Road, Sheffield, S6 4A1-1, England. Cheques/Postal Orders payable to Paul Grist for £10.80 for UK subscribers, dunno how he deals with US subscriptions, but they cost $27.

Ren & 5timpy
I keep buying this, but I have a suspicion the R&S joke has done it’s time with me. Another joke would possibly keep me going, but I guess “that’s all folks” for me and this title… Not that it seems bad, it’s just that it now seems to be repeating what the first two years of issues said… especially when we’re talking a title whose toontime innovation stopped about three years ago… If you don’t know R&S but like weird humour, try it… Otherwise… well… hmmm… it’s up to you…

$1.95, 32 pages, standard format, colour, published M*rvel… damnit! I’ve mentioned the M-word…

Sandman Mystery Theatre
Wow! This goes from strength to strength… I’m a detective story fan, so SMT twitches into a personal fave literary genre. If you want dark detective fiction (like Andrew Vacchs but set 50 years ago) then this is wonderful. Each story digs into another personal tale, and shows people out of control and not necessarily to blame for their actions… Good guys & bad guys are fairly obvious, but this has a bad habit of showing you their reasons. I guess this is what Batman & co seemed like to their original audiences… Recommended to be bought as a whole storyline before reading it – that approach really screws you up…

$1.95, 32 pages, standard format, colour (or maybe “color”), published DCNertigo


This is from the new “Equinox Manga” line, published by Mandarin paperbacks. It’s about Gon, a dinosaur unlike any other you’ve seen. The eight stories in this book tell of Gon meeting bear, lions, beavers, eagles, sharks, ticks (well, a tick actually), squirrels, and penguins. This title is amazingly good fun and hugely recommended. There’s no words (animals really don’t talk, no matter what some people think) just page after page of silly-dinosaur-meets-modem-day-type-animals tales. Gon seems to have a bit of a problem with his self-image, as most of the time he seems to try and copy what other animals do, but he always manages to go completely OTT with it, and he isn’t a patient little dinosaur, not our Gon…

£8.99, about 160 pages, paperback, Black & White, Published by Mandarin paperbacks

A serious dinosaur comic. Again somewhat short on words, but this time it is actually narrated… This is an attempt to tell the story of a T-Rex from it’s birth to it’s death… with about 20 pages per issue covering Tyrant the story, and the rest giving info on the time-period in which it’s set, historical (in)accuracies etc. etc… An interesting project, but as a long-running series I don’t know whether it’ll manage to keep my attention… however, at the moment, a bimonthly dose of prehistory is quite enjoyable thankyou. Well worth a look.

$2.95, 32 pages, normal comic format, b&w, Published by Spiderbaby Graphix


Action Girl Comics
Featuring an all-girl crew, this is an anthology of random “cool indie stuff by women”… Issue 2 featured stuff by Kris Dresen, Elizabeth Watasin, Leanne Franson (see “Liliane” below…), Chantale Doyle, Patty Leidy, Carolyn Ridsdale, Sarah Dyer and Jennifer Sorenson… Sadly missing from 2 was Jessica “Artbabe” Abel… but she’s back in issue 3, and her stuff in number 1 was great…It’s good, well worth a try, even for blokes… “Stuff” covers slice-of-life (wonder at how women behave when no men are to be seen, dicover the truth behind all those arcane bottles in the bathroom… their secret is out hahahhahahaaa), plain old indie weirdness and just plain cool-stuff.

$2.50, 24 pages, normal comic format, b&w, Published by Slave Labor Graphics

Agents of Law
This isn’t quite the usual sort of thing we review here, but I grovelled a freeby review copy of the first two issues all the way from the U.S. of A. (black & white, pre-release style) and it’s pretty decent. Not what I’d choose to read day-to-day personally, but an interesting take on eutopian / dystopian / superhero stuff. Seems like it’s a title that’s going to be as political as it is violent (story-wise… as in that the story seems to involve politicking rather than just the usual “hey, lets go zap some bad-guys today, make the world right and expect the government to agree with us” type of stuff…). In black & white, the art’s a bit flat, but it’ll probably overcome that when Lovern Kindzierski covers it in colour and brings it to life. I guess it’s nitty-gritty super-anti-hero time at Dark Horse. Good, but not odd enough for me personally… Then again, supertypes never did too much for me… Oh yes, Keith Giffen’s on “plot” so it’s probably going to be pretty odd… If I wasn’t getting too many comics already, I’d definitely be tempted to give it a proper looking at…

Dunno anything about the final version for sure, but I guess it’ll be a standard format type thing… oh yeah, it’s published by Dark Horse (part of their revamping of their “universe” [hack, spit, vomit])

Attitude Lad
From Paul Tobin, the man who gave us “Fringe”, we now have this. And it’s odd. With “Zena, White Princess Of The Jungle” and “Keela, Queen Of The Jaguar Tribe” cut-out & dress dolls, a couple of tales of the titular lad, “Flemmy the Cat in: Do The Hawka Hawka”, “Torch Singer” (a somewhat more serious tale), and assorted random oddities, this is an insight into the workings of deranged minds everywhere (Hi Jim!)… Oh yes, and it also has some Phil Hester scribbles for any of his fans out there.

$2.50, 24 pages, normal comic format, b&w, Published by Slave Labor Graphics

The Biologic Show
Weirdness from Al Columbia… Dark, weird, depressing and generally wonderful. If you appreciate misery and suffering, then this comic contains something for you.

Issue 0… $2.95, 32 pages, big, like about A4 size, b&w, Published by Fantagraphics Books

Billy Joe Van Helsing: Redneck Vampire Hunter
Not surprisingly, this is somewhat tongue-in-cheek in style… BJ goes after the undead in his own inimitable style – “Billy Beer” instead of holy water, the “southern cross” rather than a crucifix (actually the “stars and bars”, but, hey, BJ didn’t know that…)… ‘Tis fun, different, and shows those goddamned vampires a thing or two into the bargain. Heh.

$2.50, 32 pages, normal size, b&w, published by Alpha Productions

J.R. William’s Crap isn’t… crap that is. In fact it’s very good. An ongoing tale of a buncha folks that share a house (somehow reminds me of chez TC in places…) and the doings they get involved in. Weird, crude, and trashy with cool b & w art.

$2.75, 32 pages, normal size, b&w, published by Fantagraphics Books

Drawn & Quarterly
This anthology is published in Canada and has a nice slightly European slant to it – guess it’s that good old Canadian multi-lingual-ness. The quality of the thing is wonderful, but the quarterly schedule makes it necessary to take it very much an issue at a time – the nearest to an ongoing series in it is Tardi’s series of individual war stories. Assorted indie type comics-stuff appears in this – generally erring on the “arty” side. Two issues of volume 2 have now come out, number 2 has a David Mazzucchelli “fictional autobio” piece, Loustal & Fromental’s “The Ghost Of Whitechapel” and “It Was The War Of The Trenches” by Jacques Tardi. For readers so mature they may smoke pipes. Well worth trying, even at the price of…

$5.95, 48 pages, uniquely it’s own format, but glossy & possessing “high production values”, Published by Drawn & Quarterly

Jamie Delano & Richard Case offer this tale of native American rituals and rock music… Dropped out hippies who failed miserably first time around get inspired to try again seems to be the plot so far… It’s a six issue series, and I’ll stick with it, as it’s bound to get more interesting as JD hits his stride.

Okay then, so I’ve now read issue 2, and it’s definitely getting more paranoid. There’s whole institutions of bad guys, the good guy’s meant to be dead, the lead female’s a smack-head, and the young guy trapped in the middle’s just done a runner.

$1.95/£1.25, 32 pages, standard format, colour, from DCNertigo.

Grendel Tales
The tales continue, and continue to be good. The latest tale (“Homecoming”) gives us Susan from “War Devil” returning to her roots after becoming disillusioned with her career as a Grendel. As usual, she proves herself to be a true Grendel rather than just a career-based wannabe-Grendel. Plus Matt Wagner’s “Devil Quest” continues (hopefully this’ll be published as a single volume soon…). Very good, this is a really strong series. Next up is “Devil’s Choices”, set ten years after “Devils & Deaths” and featuring the adult Goran.

$2.95, 32 pages, standard format, glossy colour painted artwork, Published by Dark Horse

Jonah Hex: Riders of the Worm and Such
More supernatural Western stuff here. Having had Western-meets-voodoo-zombies with their previous outing, Joe R. Lansdale & Tim Truman now get tenticular with weird cthulhoid beasts living beneath the earth. I like it, but then again, I like westerns, horror, JRL’s writing, TT’s art and so that’s not at all surprising. ‘Ds 5 issues in length, and a couple of issues in so far…

$2.95/$2.00, 32 pages, standard format, colour, from DCNertigo.

Bisexual comic character alert! “Liliane” is a mini-comic published by Leanne Franson, out of Canada, but recently in the UK… Hence a UK version of the mini-comics (each containing 2 issues of the original series). The mini’s cover the adventures of Liliane as she discovers her bisexuality, meets lesbians, and generally comes out. Amusing to TC readers in the same manner that Girljock is, but cheaper and easier to get hold of.

£1, 28 pages, black & white, A5, published by Leanne Franson, available from… “Leanne Franson do 61 Abbeyfields Close, Park Royal, London NW10 7EG”, so add some postage to the cost. Also available are the original mini-comics, of which there are now 27, the exact price for these I don’t know, but I suspect you’re looking at £1 again (as the Canadian/American version’s are $1.50…).

Not Qute Dead
NQD are a band. A good band. But they’ve never done an album, just an eternal round of gigs. Their fans love them, and this comic’s all about the fun they have on tour. Done by Gilbert Shelton & “Pic”, issue 2 features a fan club & a dog. It’s fun, it’s stupid, it’s worth a read.

£1.99, 32 pages, standard size, black & white, from Knockabout, 10 Acklam Road, London W10 5QZ (free catalogue available!)

Palmolive Square
A UK mini produced in Hove, this is the sadness that all soap operas aspire to. But it does manage to be funny… See the sad geeks try and go out at new year, gawp at the extremely tacky christmas present leather jackets… Silly, and, unfortunately not cheap… Probably because of the wonderful purple & pink printing and extremely glossy paper… Tacky, tacky, tacky… But fun…

£1.20, 16 pages, A5, purple&pink&white, from Cool Cheese, c/o Girl Frenzy, P.O. Box 148, Hove BN3 3DQ (that’s England in case you hadn’t guessed).

NEW! From Vertigo! You’ve heard the hype, now read the series. No comics fan is complete without this title. Well, it’s actually another Garth Ennis/Steve Dillon tale (see recent Hellblazer’s…) and seems to be branching off from one of the Hellblazer plotlines. Vaguely interesting first issue, with an assortment of interesting characters. I guess I’ll keep on with it until I figure out what it’s up to… Has “potential”.

$2.95/$2.00, 44 pages, standard format, colour, from DC/Vertigo.

5cemes From The Inside
UK indie anthology, with lots of weird indie strips… like really weird… but it gives you a weirdness-yardstick with which to compare other things, and its British, so what are you waiting for ??? Well, probably for the next issue, as it seems to be about as regular as TC (no insult intended…) Variable, but with a high “hit-rate”.

£2.75, 60 pages, same sort of size as “Drawn and Quarterly”, but a bit wider, b&w, published by Drat’N’Blast Books, 5 Borough Road, lsleworth, Middlesex. TW7 5DY

Seth Throb Underground Artist
Sequel/Follow On/Renamed Version Of Oblivion City. Cool shit. Featuring denizens of Oblivion City “make that five denizens and one demon”, snowbound in their apartment building, issue 4 covers art, death, love, sex, and supernatural visitors… If I’d realized earlier that this was “Oblivion City continued” I’d’ve got the first three… Ah well, the “complete” Oblivion City’s out soon, so that’ll be something to get the pennies out for.

$2.95, 24 pages, standard size, b&w, from those nice people at Slave Labor graphics

Strange Attractors
Science fiction on the silly edge, with a touch of that “slice of life” stuff rubbish thrown in for good measure. You know, real(ish) characters, spongeing sympathy off the readers and all that.. not that it isn’t good, but there seem to be huge numbers of this sort of good black & white stuff in this list. Try ’em all, and settle on whatever suits you best…

$2.50, 32 pages, the usual, b&w, from RetroGrafix, 67Emerald St., Suite 623 Keene, New Hampshire 03431-3626

Stranger’s in Paradise
Like, wow! This is fun, funny and generally hugely recommendable. Not surprisingly, given how much folks recommended it last year… Terry Moore’s first comic and it’s stunning. Katchoo & Francine are friends that stick up for each other, Francine’s got bad taste in boyfriends, Kat’s got a taste for Francine and straightens out the dastardly blaggards that upset Francine.

  • Volume 1 collection: Collects the initial three issues, plus assorted bits’n’bobs. $6.95, 96 pages, usual size & shape, b&w, from Abstract Studios.
  • Volume 2: Three issues out so far.

Tale Of One Bad Rat
Four issue mini-series from Dark Horse, hopefully finding it’s way into a trade paperback soon. Very good… mixes Beatrix Potter, pet rats and child abuse and manages to work. Some of Brian Talbot’s finest stuff…

$2.95, 32 pages, normal size, colour, published by Dark Horse Comics

More cool shit… this time from Paul Pope. This title’s a slab of science-fiction weirdness… Well, it’s futuristic weirdness anyway. Odd robots, bouncy balls that turn into giant demony-looking beasts, a (human) school-girl and it’s all set on Mars. This isn’t as quick read (for one thing the art isn’t very skimmable, you need to study each pic as you go along…) but is well worth the effort.

  • Issue 1: $5.50, 100+ pages
  • Later issues: $2.50, 48 pages…
  • All standard size (if a bit chunkier than usual…), black and white, all from Horse Press, PO Box 3112, Columbus. Ohio.

They Call Me PussPuss
Hunt Emerson tales about a crude cat. Funnier than “Firkin”! Actually somewhere between “Firkin” & “Tom and Jerry”… deadpan crudity… Funny, funny, funny… Read it, and smirk.

£1.99, 32 pages, standard size, black & white, from Knockabout, 10 Acklam Road, London W10 5QZ (free catalogue available!)

Too Much Coffee Man
Shannon Wheeler’s TMCM is a cautionary tale about caffeine addiction and the slippery slope on which coffee drinking lies… Well, sort of. TMCM requires caffeine to function, and has reached the stage of one-ness with coffee in which he bears the mark of the coffee-cup on his head.

Standard size, black & white, from the author, wish I could remember the details, as I can’t find it at the moment

Also seen in Dark Horse Presents #92+, as the “TMCM Meets His Coffee Maker” storyline. DHP still comes recommended, even if I don’t seem to have seen a copy for months… Maybe it fell off the standing order… maybe I’d better get it put back on.

Chester Brown’s new title has managed to confuse people even more than Yummy Fur did! In the first issue, there are about three intelligible words in the story… It’s got something to do with a pair of twins – best guess on the gibberish language is that it’s language filtered through the kids (who, currently being new-born, don’t really understand a word of what’s going on). It’s cool, it’s odd, it’s impressive… It’s Chester Brown’s Underwater. Unfortunately, only 14 of the 28 pages are actually “Underwater”, the others being given over to more of “Matthew” (you know, the one from the bible)… However, if you read Chester Brown, you get Matthew, so you’ve gotta either like it or, as they say, lump it.

$2.95, 28 pages, standard size, white & black, from Drawn & Quarterly

It’s a UK independent! And it’s good. The best comparison I’ve managed is that it’s like a Hunt Emerson science-fiction tale. Starring Astro-Punk & Katika – a skeletal chap & a somewhat feline female – the two of them zap around the universe (or whatever) doing silly things, enjoying themselves, and defeating the bad guys by judicious use of APs “magic pipe”… Also contains little stories from other folks in the back (including one from Neil Gaiman & Bryan Talbot in issue 20 (issue 1 “New Format”), so all you NG/BT completists’ll have to give Vogarth a try, won’t you ?). Currently having problems getting the latest issue lettered (sniff!), but earlier stuff is being reprinted (yippee!)

  • First 19 issues £1, 28 pages, A5, photocopy style b&w, assorted of them currently unavailable…
  • Issue 20 onwards… £1.95, 32 pages, normal comic format, b&w, Published by Vogarth Comix, P.O. Box 260, Preston PR1 8JU

Wolff & Byrck Counsellors of the Macabre
Issue 4 is compulsory reading for all TC readers that think video is the only medium to suffer at the hands of the censors from hell… W&B is about two solicitors (okay, so I’m biased, I can like solicitors…) whose cases have a habit of being “from beyond”… This issue it’s the “Bier-Meister”, and ex-host of horror comics, and the whole issue revolves around the comics code authority and censorship… Filled with bad puns, this is fun personified (or should that be comixified ?) and well worth possessing (even if only for the spoof “Vertigo” back cover…)…

$2.50, 32 pages, normal comic format, b&w, Published by Exhibit A Press


Hmmm… maybe I’m maturing… there seems to be a huge amount of black and white stuff here…

Other bits worthy of mention, but that somehow missed the nearly-but-not-quite-ever expanding deadline…

  • Triple-XXX: Dystopian thingy, set in a corporate-ruled future from the Pander Bros via Dark Horse. So far, so interesting.
  • Sandman: Dashing on towards the conclusion of “The Kindly Ones”, and the end of the current Sandman series. It’s been fun, but it makes a pleasant change for a series to remember to quit while the going’s good.
  • Sin City: Continues to impress, more for the interpretation & execution than from any pure originality.