NOTE: This is a re-post of my review of Shiot Crock 11 which was originally posted on my main bloggy blog back on 3/12/2006. I post it here now for archival reasons since File Under Other will be devoted to mini-comics and because I just recieved Shiot Crock 13 in the mail yesterday. SC 13 will be my first official review for this site. That should happen sometime next week. Shiot Crock Issue 11 was shipped out last week and I was lucky enough to get a copy. What is Shiot Crock? Basically it is a collection of comics and other items from artists around the planet. The works are collected and distributed to all the contributing artists and a few critics for review and enjoyment. Each contributor is expected to check out all the material in the project and then post reviews at The Comics Journal's message board. This issue of Shiot Crock is collected in an awesome box much like the old rekerd box sets of yester year. Much standing up and clapping for Lou Copeland for putting this thing together. So far, I've made everyone who has been to my house look at it and I plan on taking it to Fluke in Athens (April 1st) and showing it off there.
For my contribution to the box, I made an extra-mini edition of Brush and Pen. It came out pretty good and I think I like the size better than the digest size in which Brush and Pen had been previously printed.
The first thing I noticed when I opened the box was this cool origami frog. It looked so cool that I debated for several days if I would open it or not. Then when I finally got the nerve to unfold it, I could not find it. I asked my wife, "Have you seen that cool frog that came with my Shiot Crock box?". She replied, "It hopped up on the bookcase in the kitchen." I finally unfolded it to find a cool little comic (about a frog) my M. Campos. Its a very well drawn and designed comic in a perfect size and format for this project. Very cool.
Beserkotron by David Robertson is very well produced. I like the art and the cover. The dialog is good and the characters are interesting but the story goes a bit long. Lots and lots of panels but I wouldn't necessarily recommend changing anything. It works and Robertson is obviosly having fun telling the story he wants to tell and drawing the things he wants to draw. This is what mini-comics should be, a story about something you are interested in (in this case, kids making fighting robots) that no one else is creating or publishing, so, you make it yourself and hope it finds its audience.
The Punch 'Ems by Joe Kletz is another well produced mini. It is a superhero parody much like Bob Burden's Flaming Carrot or Mystery Men. I like the characters, especially Donkey Punch and Hendrix-Bot Mark III. The art and story work well in the mini-comic format. The pages are not too busy and the pacing is good. The intro says Kletz considers this a one-shot but I would not mind seeing more.
Approximately 1/5 of 'the Iwerks Commemorative Dinner' is a pretty ambitions mini-comic. It is in a long skinny strip comic format and has very nice hand made binding and (what appears to be) a hand colored cover. This is a nice comic to buy and if I saw it in a store it would jump out at me and I'd want to own it. That being said, I found the comics themselves to be a bit intimidating. And I don't really mean that in a bad way. Its hard to explain. I'll put it this way, I love Chris Ware's comics. I think he is a genius. But if I just wanted to sit down and relax, I'd grab a Daniel Clowes comic before I'd grab the Chris Ware comic. Like Ware, Rodges comics take a bit more participation on the part of the reader. To make a long story short, this is exactly the type of comic, that I read once and don't really 'get' but later get drawn back to and read over and over again. I know, I don't make any sense. Sorry.
Dynamite Dan by D. Morris is a simple one page, four panel comic. There is not a lot too it but the one sheet format is good for this kind of project. I like the post-punchline punchline; "Remember Kids to Scrub Behind Your Ears When you Bath!"
Maynard and Willis by Lou Copeland also uses the one-sheet format but is printed on front and back and is a much more detailed comic. The art has a very nice style and the dialog had me cracking up. This comic would have fit in perfectly in my favoritre issues of Weirdo magazine. I'd love to see more.
That Schmuck by Henry Chamberlain is a very well done mini-comic. Chamberlain understands what works in the format and the art, lettering and pacing are perfect. The story is very good as well. This is the type of mini-comic I most enjoy. Short, self-contained stories that work more like a poem than a long narrative. That Schmuck is "A Special Supplement to Alice in New York". I've never read Alice in New York but now I am curious.
God Wrapped Himself in a Baby by M. Allison is another one-sheet format comic. I like the character designs. The art and lettering are great. But, like the Iwerks comics, this may be over my head. It feels like one page out of something bigger. No real beginning or end. I'm curious to see more though. It makes me want to pull out my Dave Cooper comics.
Toenails by Josh Sullivan is a cool little collection of gag comics. Some of the jokes try a bit hard to break the vulgar meter but they are funny. It's the type of comics you feel ashamed of yourself for laughing at. All of the comics are well drawn and I like his inks.
The Circles of Protestant Heaven, Part 1 by Casey Casein and Cynthia Seagren isn't a comic. I'm not really sure what it is. It may be a parody of the free religious 'tract' pamphlets people give out in malls, airports and door-to-door. Or, it may be a reverse Dante's Inferno. Either way, it is interesting but not convincing or funny. (Well, the Bugs Bunny picture is kind of funny but you can't lose with Bugs.) I'm not sure what the intention is. I actually am a believer of Christ and I try to read the good old B-I-B-L-E (yes that's the book for me) on a regular basis so maybe that makes me a bad judge of this item.
The Horrors of Hixville by Ashley Holt and Troy England Evitt III is a neat little folded one-sheet project. I really like the format of it. It is folded into eight squares so you get a cover, a title page and six character pages. Each character page has a very cool color drawing from Holt and a short bio. It's kind of a more mature and detailed adult version of the old Garbage Pail Kids cards. A very neat little item but it feels like a missing part of some bigger project.
Queer Gaspers by K. Thor Jensen is another example of why I love mini-comics. Its the type of story that works better in a mini-comic than any other format. I had to read it twice to really get it. Each page is a full page of art so when you look at two pages side-by-side it looks like there are two of these Gasper things reacting to each other. Nope, I figured out on the second read that it is just one Gasper having an adventure. From what I get out of it, this Queer Gasper, decides to leave the ground and go hang out in the clouds but this does not work so well and he gets sick or dies and ends up back on the ground. I don't know. It's an art comic. (It looks really nice and makes you think. It makes me think about how he did the tones. That's a lot of work if he cut tone paper for all those lines.) I don't know. It made me happy when the little guy made it to the top of the cloud and sad when he fell back down. I liked it. I want more.
Super Iffy by Yuri Duncan reminds me of an old 70's Hulk book I had. The book I had was a little junior chapterbook but every few pages it would have a full page illustration of the Hulk smashing something with a caption saying something like, "The Hulk is angry." Very simple. Very cool. Very fun.
Wrong Answer by Owen Harris is a music CD with a neat illustration and essay attatched. The cd is great. It's like DJ Shadow and Radiohead got sucked into the Tron movie. Computer music isn't really my thing but I enjoyed this CD and will probably make copies for some friends. The artwork is well done and I like the essay as well. Reminiscent of James Kochalka's Cute Manifesto.
This Comic Book Must be Destroyed by Richard DeWylfin shows a lot of talent, range and a twisted sense of humor. I'd like to be able to say I cant' relate to these characters but unfortunately, I've known a lot of these type of geeks and have imagined a lot of these 'what if' situations. This is an absurd comic and I'm not sure how to review it. At first I thought it was sloppy but the guy seems to be able to nail multiple art styles and the storytelling is polished. There is really no way I can describe or explain the thing but the type of folks that read The Comics Journal and submit comics to Shiot Crock (like myself) will probably find it hilarious.
Scenes From Gay Bars by Shane Patrick Boyle is a collection of sketches of what I must assume are scenes from gay bars. Some of it appears to be a comic story but there is no dialog and some of the sketches do not reproduce well at the mini-comic size so it is hard to follow. Several of the sketches are pretty good though. Some of them make me think of Bukowski stories and poems.
Panda & Jess: Jeopardy by Paul O'Keefe is probably my favorite project in the box. The art is very nice. It has a simple self-contained story. The characters are believable and the dialog feels real. It's just a good comic. O'Keefe knows how to use the comics page to stir emotions. I could really see how the two characters felt so separate and alone even though they were sitting side-by-side. My only complaint would be that it is short and that I want more.
Just a Story for a Box by Karen Lucas is a traditional auto-bio mini-comic. Almost too traditional though. It's about a 'first-time' mini-comic creator making their Shiot Crock submission. The thing is so dead-on and true to the first-time mini-comic that I did not think for one second that it was a first-time mini comic. It's too good. I thought it was either a mini-comic veteran doing a study in the art of mini-comic making itself, or a clever attempt from a mini-comic veteran to see if they could trick the Shiot Crock gang. (Right down to the side stapling as opposed to using a long stapler.) However, according to her posts in the review thread, Karen Lucas is a real-life first-time mini-comic creator. All that being said, pretending I don't know anything about mini-comics and pretending I never saw her posts on the message board... I like this comic a lot. It;s one of my favorite comics in the box. I'd like to see more comics from Karen Lucas. (If that is her/his real name.)
This untitled comic from Kurt Beaulieu is in the foldy format that I like to use a lot. One page folded into eight pages of comics. The art is good but the comics did not make a lot of sense to me. Unloved sock hell is kind of funny though. Pete and Earl by Klopner is another superhero parody but more obscene than most. I like the art a lot and some of the jokes are funny but its hard to push the sex jokes farther and farther on each page. It gets repetitive. I'd like to see something else from Klopner though.
Little Cenobites (feat' Little Pinny), and Other Tales by K.D.R McKie is a family made mini-comic. I love this idea. A dad and his two kids put a comic together and all three are very good. This is a great little mini-comic. It really sums up everything I love about the medium. Great little stories in a nice pocket sized package. What more can you ask for? I hope dad and the kids make more of these.
So... that's the box. It's hard to review this many projects at once. I'm sure my opinion will change about several of them as I read them again over the next days, weeks, years. All in all it is an awesome box. It's a shame everyone can't go out and buy them.
Click here to see the review thread and find out what the other artists thought.
Your best pal ever,