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07 November 2007

SHIOT CROCK 13


(*Fat kitty not included.)

Maintaining a thirty-four year streak of doing things that do not make sense, I have decided that the first new review for this new mini-comic review blog will be dedicated to a project that may not be a mini-comic. I'll start off with the inevitable question: what is a Shiot Crock? To answer, I'll just quote myself:

"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."


So, Shiot Crock is more of a collection of mini-comics than a mini-comic itself. It is a pretty exclusionary project. You can't buy one unless you buy one of the contributor's copies. So, why review a project that you the reader can't go out and buy? Well, most of the contributors do make mini-comics that they would be happy to sell you and I hope this review will provide a tiny glimpse into their work. Another great thing about Shiot Crock is that many contributors submit works they would not put anywhere else. Not to say that these are tossed off failed projects they had laying around (which may be the case for some) but that because these contributions are not intended for a large audience, the creators are free to try things they may not do for an anthology or even their own mini-comics. In short, Shiot Crocks can be filled with lots of weird stuff you wont see in other places.

This current volume includes 17 contributions from 15 different creators. I could have quickly populated this blog with a lot of reviews by giving each story its own entry but I feel it is more appropriate to look at the project as a whole. My copy of SC 13 arrived in a large white envelope containing two attractive packages. One a splatter painted manilla envelope and the other a gift wrapped book.
I let my daughter tear open the gift wrapping. She was very excited. I was excited too. Getting presents in the mail is just about as much fun for one day as anyone deserves to have.



Inside the manila envelope is a very nice collage of art from all the contributors that Karen Lucas put together, a smaller splatter painted envelope containing a cool Shiot Crock magnet and a mini-comic which I assume was a carryover from the failed Shiot Crock 12. Inside the gift wrapping is Shiot Crock 13 itself.
This edition is edited by Klopner and he did a fantastic job taking all the home made elements and putting it together in a very attractive and fun presentation. Every anthology should come with this many cool things to check out and read through. Klopner did more than just bind together all the submissions. He created nice little title pages for each story using the contributor's art and created a very nice cover depicting a cute comic girl appropriately reading her Shiot Crock on the toilet. Huge complimentary declarations to Klopner for making this thing a pleasure to look through and own.

I will now touch on each contribution in the same alphabetical order in which they are presented. I apologize for the poor quality and selection of scans but I did not want to break the spine and it takes a while to scan that many images so, actually, I take my apology back. It was hard work.

Kurt Beaulieu

Kurt Beaulieu presents four pages of crazy street lesbians with giant boobs. I really like his drawing style and the comics are funny. His art and narrative style are a bit abstract so I always have to re-read each panel but the comics have so much personality that the re-read is a pleasure and not a challenge. I really like Beaulieu's comics and if someone re-launched Weirdo and asked me to edit the thing he would be one of the first people I would think of.

M. Campos

Campos contributed six pages of what he calls "near misses and never happens". There are two really nice pages from a WWII biographical comic he apparently gave up on but show a lot of promise. There is a nice psychedelic page and the page sampled above that would both make a great posters or t-shirts if colored. There is a funny one page comic strip in which the jokes deliver but art looks a bit unfinished. I really like Campos drawing style and subject choices and would love to see some longer books so I will keep my eye out.

Lou Copeland

Copeland profiles the "Great American" Davy Crocket in the style of educational comics but with the cyborg bears, astronauts and robots that school materials of yesteryear were afraid to document. Copeland's art is very good and the comic is funny. I'm dying to see the next episode of Great Americans which promises a profile of KC & The Sunshine Band.

J. M. Hunter

Here we have two submissions from J.M. Hunter but they are a part of a series. One is a full mini-comic called Not 2 Self and the other is in the Crock book itself and is substantial enough to be a second mini-comic and I assume it will be. Hunter's art is very aggressive with thick blacks and angry young characters jumping out from the panels. At first look I thought it was a bit over-the-top and bordering on sloppy but the more I thought about it I realized that the art is well suited for the story as well as it's target audience. Hunter's character design is strong. I really like the "goth pixie". The dialog seems to bank on profanity but it was not that long ago that I was an angry young man and was a part of plenty of conversations that sounded like this. Stylistically, this is not the type of comic I would make or maybe even the type I would buy but I don't suggest Hunter make any drastic changes. The continued existence of Oni and SLG publishing proves that there is an audience for this type of art and storytelling. My only advice would be the same advice a publisher gave me a while back, that there is nothing wrong with his craft that drawing 100 pages of comics wont fix. Good advice for anyone.

Kletz
Kletz provides a well crafted fight between Lockjaw from the Inhumans and Ace the Bathound. An idea so simple and genius I can't believe I've never seen it before. Very nice.
Klopner

Not only did Klopner do a very good job editing this Crock but he also provided my favorite comics of the project. His first contribution is called Sapphire Bullets. The first time I read one of Klopner's minis (a year or so ago in SC 11) I really liked the look of the book but thought the sexuality was a bit over the top. In Sapphire Bullets there is still a lot of sexual content but it feels more natural. The sexual content is consistent with the characters and, as unbelievable as the actions may be, they do seem to work in this world where these characters live. The dialog is sharp and I love the art style. Klopner's second submission is a collection of newspaper styled strips called True Candy. This second set of comics is my favorite of the book. I love the premise of a painter and a cartoonist living together as lovers and the comedy that follows. I love the characters and, there is no better way I can think of to say this but, I love the way Klopner draws the ladies. Sexuality is a big part of these strips as well but is handles in a clever enough way for these strips to work in an alternative paper format. I just wish there were more papers out there that would take a chance on this type of strip instead of running the same nationally syndicated strips all the other alternative papers run. (I'm pointing at you Creative Loafing!)

Dan Lester

Dan Lester presents a comic strip adaptation of the Turkish film The Man Who Saved the World aka Turkish Star Wars. I'm a pretty big Star Wars fan but I had never heard of this movie. At first I thought that Lester had invented the thing. If that were the case, this comic would have to be one of the oddest things ever. I did some googleing and found out that the film is real. Therefore, Lester's comic is no the oddest thing ever, but rather an adaptation of the oddest thing ever. Adapting this work to comics is a great exercise and results in a fun read.

Lucas


Karen Lucas offers up a few slice-of-life moments from a beauty shop. "Curl Up and Dye" is a clever title for the collection. The moments and dialog are funny and accessible. Her flat drawing style is charming and works well for this style of story telling. She uses thick blacks to give the pages a little punch and even uses black balloons and white lettering which makes the balloons a neat part of the panel composition. I can't guess if that was her intention but it works.

Dave McKenna


This is an erotic space comedy romp in the Star Trek universe that would fit well in any better issues of Heavy Metal. McKenna's art is fantastic. Perfect tone on the ladies leggings and shine on their boots. If there is one thing I wont deny my inner nerd it is fun sci-fi like this. I could read pages and pages of this sort of thing and I was sad when it ended.

Dominique McKie


I really like this comic about the Scottish Legend of the Selkie. McKie's drawing is simple but efficient and has a lot of charm. It made me want to have my own Selkie. So cute! The comic is well executed with a few nice splashes of color.

Kim McKie


Kim McKie presents "The Adventures of Staple Boy" which is exactly what it sounds like. A cute exercise in minimalism.

Rod McKie

I had to read Rod McKie's silent comic "Dia De Los Muertos" a couple of times to make sure I understood the story. This is not bad thing. McKie's art is strong enough to merit a second or third reading. The truth is, I always have this problem with silent comics. I like the dreamy effects of the tones and the odd appearance of the grown-ups.

David Robertson

If Wes Anderson wrote a two page comic about a wildlife film sound recordist it would be exactly like this two page story by David Robertson. (And I mean that with zero percent snark. I like Wes Anderson.) Robertson's drawing seems rushed but he manages to tell an elaborate story packed with laughs in just two pages. Impressive.

Barry Rodges

Barry Rodges' "The Life and Times of Edward Nooney" is a well crafted four page study of the comic form. Each page shows Nooney in progressive ages of his life with each of the four seasons providing the background. At each age Rodges used thought balloons to show the character visualizing snapshots of random memories. The idea is very clever and well executed. Each page is a nice stand alone piece but I believe it would work even better if all four pages were presented together as four panels on one page. It would have to be a pretty big page to do it justice so it probably would not work for a Shiot Crock submission. Rodges drawing and character design are very strong.

Shannon Smith

The final contribution is three pages of self-obsessed auto-bio nonsense from some jerk named Shannon Smith.


Your best pal ever,
Shannon Smith
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