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01 June 2008

SHIOT CROCK 12 (slight return) edited by Karen Lucas


"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. " - from my review of Shiot Crock 11.


I have reviewed Shiot Crock 11 and 13 here at file under other but Shiot Crock 12 seemed to be destined to exist as the rocket firing Boba Fett of minicomics. It was something many people believed to have existed but very few could show any evidence of. Without getting into the sordid details of the thing I will just say that the original version of Shiot Crock 12 never made it's way into my possession I did not expect to ever see it with my own eyes. Enter Karen Lucas who managed to track down most of the contributors and pull together what copies did exist and order re-prints of missing parts and assemble the whole thing into the great big giant book I'm about to review. Karen Lucas should be given some sort of minicomic editor of the year award for this feat. Just stepping up to the challenge was quite impressive but actually pulling it off is some sort of miracle.

The book looks really great. Lucas had to re-format most of the individual minicomic submissions to make them fit in one book and the way she did it looks really cool. A couple of entries had to be placed in plastic sleeves where you pull the little comics out and that gives it this really neat playfulness like those scrapbook coffee table books you see around the holidays (Elvis, Dylan, that Marvel Vault book, etc. you know you've seen them at Borders and B&N). There is a really nice splash page and clever back cover by contributing creator Michael Klopner and it even came with some very nice postcards, a pack of seeds and a little rubber bunny. It's the poor man's McSweeneys.

This Crock is huge. The biggest I've seen with a lot of really nice comics. Since SC 12 was originally a disaster, some of the comics were re-submitted for SC 13 and have already been reviewed. The comics are reviewed here in the order in which they appear in the book. I apologize for not having the time to scan and post art from every single submission. There is no real reasoning as to which comics I posted art for and which I didn't other than just flipping through the thing in the wee hours and scanning some stuff that caught my eye. If I've left you out, send me your latest mini and I'll review it to make it up to you. (Yeah, that's right, I make up for my laziness my making you send me more comics. And Dave Sim thinks he's the evil genius.) I appologize for the quality of the scans. The book is so big I probably would have had to just rip the spine in half to get any good scans. So, without further doo doo...



The Sketchpile by Danno Baker.
It is what it says it is; a bunch of sketches. Not sure how to review them other than to say he draws well, the sketches are cool and if I still rode my skateboard that I might want a sticker of his Mushroom People on it.

Kurt Beaulie's Crazy Huge Breasted Street Lesbians.
That's not the real title of this entry. I think it is untitled but if it needed a title it may as well be called what it is. I've talked about Kurt's comics in previous Shiot Crock reviews. I love his character design and when the comics make sense they are funny and captivating. This story makes sense and has more plot than some of his other stuff I've seen. If he ever collects all these Crazy Huge Breasted Street Lesbians stories in a book I'll buy it.

Kids These Days by Mark Campos.
Campos displays some really lovely drawing in what seems to be a bit of a tribute to Beatrix Potter with with a pretty funny punchline. I really like Campos' drawing and he pulls off the Potter style with ease. This entry is very nicely formatted. It is a minicomic mounted on an illustrated card stock page for easy assembly with the rest of the book.



We Need to Talk by Adam Casey.
I've mentioned Casey here before when I had him on my best of 2007 list. This entry is a four pager that is part relationship gag and part excuse to make space drawings. I like the relationship gag and I love the space drawings. Casey is very adept at breaking things down to their basic iconic image. I'd love to see him do a Silver Surfer comic. Just page after page of cool poses and wacky space backgrounds.

A Flame Expelled by W. Craghead III.
This is pretty much just an illustrated poem. Neither the poem nor the illustrations do much to get me excited.

Friends by Mike Eager and Dave Bradbury.
Another illustrated poem. Not much there. It's just one page long containing a couple of nicely inked angry faces.

Untitled stuff by Cory Fuka.
This entry is part sketchbook entries, part comics and part altered photos. None of it seems to be finished. The sketches are of a baby faced girl with porn star boobs. There is an almost funny page of comics that seems to be about half drawn. There is a page of t-shirt slogan ideas. The two pages of altered photos are the type of thing I would have thought to use as rock show flyers back when I was in college but looking at them now, as a thirty-four year old geezer, are meaningless to me.

This is Still America by George.
This is probably the most ambitious entry in this Shiot Crock. At twenty pages it is longer than most of the pieces I've seen in a Shiot Crock and the story covers a lot more physical and emotional ground than most indie comics of it's length. George's design style is very minimal but each panel is very full. He is creating a well realized and consistent cartoon world here in much the same way Jon Porcellino does in King Kat. Not to say that the style is simple. He is just using a lot of white space and relying on movement rather than a lot of shading. This kind of drawing is a bit challenging for me to follow at times. I really have to study each panel to understand where I am in the narrative. The story jumps around throughout the character's life and dreams and I had a little trouble following it but the emotions are on the nose. There are some great scenes from the main character's childhood full of fighting and crying. I guess part of what confuses me about it is that the main character looks about the same as an adult as he does as a child. I get the feeling this is part of a larger work (I could probably Google and find out) and I like this enough to want to see the rest.

The Uncanny Duckbear by Ian Harker.
This comic looks and reads just like the title would make you imagine it would. It's packed with jokes and violence. Rabbits beating up emo kids. A robot snow man. Drunk dinosaurs and zombies. And did I mention the violence. I like this comic a lot. It's the exact kind of oddball thing that every anthology should have at least one of. It looks like it was a lot of fun to draw.

MoNo 2099 by Cheese Hasselberger.
Speaking of dinosaurs. Hasselberger provides six well drawn pages of random absurdity. A naked couple deliver their baby in the desert and are promptly attacked by a flying shark which is promptly attacked by a talking dinosaur. What's not to love about that? I mean, really, what more could you ask from six pages of comics?
Note 2 Self by J.M. Hunter.
This item was already reviewed as a part of Shiot Crock 13.
Red Eye, Black Eye by K. Thor Jensen
This is an excerpt from Jensen's graphic novel of the same title published by Alternative. If the original editor had successfully delivered the original Shiot Crock 12 to me within a reasonable time frame I this would have been a preview of the graphic novel and might have encouraged me to buy it. None of that happened. The pages sampled here look pretty good. The drawing and panel composition have the feel of a good newspaper strip and the beats are pretty funny. Each three panel group almost works as it's own gag. I've enjoyed every book I've ever bought from Alternative so I'm sure this book is worth a read.

Lonely by Jess Johnson.
Three pages of interesting psychedelia. If there is a story or a point to it I can't make it out. Nice looking pop art though. Several panels would look great on velvet in the black light room of your friendly neighborhood head shop.

Triomphe L'Oeli by Gavan Kiazawa.
This is sort of an illustrated poetic thingamajig about Kim Jong-Il's eyelash. I can't figure out if it is supposed to be a serious commentary on war and/or consumerism or if it's just supposed to be a joke. In short. I don't' get it.

Super-Heroes in Their Underpants by Joe Kletz.
This is an example of the neat kind of things you will find in a Shiot Crock that you are unlikely to find anywhere else. Kletz provided five index sized printed cards with illustrations of super-heroes in their underpants. It's exactly what it sounds like. One would think that I would be old enough to have outgrown the impulse to laugh at a drawing of Spider-Man in boxers but apparently, I am not.

True Candy by Klopner.
I really, really like these comics but I already reviewed them as a part of Shiot Crock 13.

Hauser and Hawking in Attack of the Space Pope by Rich Koller.
If hastily drawn obscene Terrence and Phillip level humor is what you want in your comics then Koller is your man. The idea of a Space Pope is funny to me but this comic isn't.

The Twins by Chris Kuriata.

This is a longer piece and would be a nice standalone minicomic. Kuriata's drawing and storytelling remind me a bit of Lynda Barry. In the story the main character, Sandra, has ill feelings after her friend has sex with her brother. The friend, named Sara McVowell, is an actress with just enough success to show up on television and haunt Sandra. It's a really interesting story and I like Kuriata's matter of fact style of handling the dialog and situations. McVowell is such an odd name that I can't help but wonder about a link to Sarah Vowell. This story has stuck with me more than any other in the book. I'd love to see more.

I Was Orwell's Dentist by Dan Lester.
I like Dan Lester's oddball comics but this two page story left me confused. I'm not sure if it is supposed to be a serious slice of life bit or a comedy piece. It feels like it may just be two pages from an unfinished work.

Curl Up & Dye by Karen Lucas.
I think I already covered these same pages in my review of Shiot Crock 13. If not, everything I said about the SC 13 entry is mutual for this one.

Fleet Headquarters by Dave McKenna.
This also was already covered in my Shiot Crock 13 review.

Squat Thrust by Mostyn.
I almost think these pages might have some sort of story or point to them. If I stayed up all night and smoked a pound of weed I could probably figure it out. I'm not going to do that. I have children to think about and a job to keep.

It's Delhi Belly by Robertson.
My thoughts on this are almost the same as my thoughts on Dan Lester's story. I'm positive the parts with the doctor and Mr. Hanky are supposed to be funny but the thing is about Crohn's disease so it's not a real laugh riot. I like the economy of Robertson's storytelling. He covers a trip to India and the discovery of the illness in just two pages without it seeming rushed or forced.

The Yellows by Barry Rodges.
Without looking at my own reviews of Barry Rodges in Shiot Crock 11 and 13 I think I probably said that his cartooning and character design are strong. This applies to this submission as well. I think this is my favorite thing I've seen from Rodges. The drawing is really great and there is a lot of motion in the comics. The storytelling is straightforward and easy to follow. Most of all, the gags work. Good old fashioned cartoon physical comedy. Well, the ending is kind of morbid but still, comedy. The piece was originally submitted as a minicomic but Lucas had to re-format. I'd bet the minicomic looked pretty great. I really think Rodges is going to make some really great comics sometime soon. The chops are there. I just want to see him to cut loose on a longer character driven story. (I could say that same thing about most of my favorite minicomics creators.)

Bitchin' Zodiac by Julie Sadler.
This is a neat color collage piece depicting the signs of the zodiac. Not really comics. I don't know enough about this sort of thing to say much more than that I like it.

The Cold Season by Adrian Sanders and Fabio Moon.
This five page story looks reads and feels very polished and comfortable. It has the look of Craig Thompson paying homage to Wil Eisner. It is not so much a story as it is just a moment. A slice of life about two strangers passing on a snowy night but the drawing is very strong and captures the characters thoughts in an effective and not over sentimental way. I would like this a lot more if the balloon lettering had been done in the same style as the author credits.

Untitled by Adrian Sanders and Nancy Ahn.
With Cold Season and this twelve page piece, Sanders proves that at the very least he has a talent for picking good artists. If I had to pick a favorite piece from this Shiot Crock it is probably this one. The story is a commentary on politics and war from the viewpoint of a ten year old emperor. The story is clever but nothing significantly original but the storytelling and the drawing are really nice. I like everything about every page. The pacing, the page layout, the lettering, the drawing, the character design, the inking... I would really like to see more comics from Nancy Ahn. She invokes a lot of what I like about Marjane Satrapi and Joann Sfarr.

The Nine Scratch n' Sniff Circles of Protestant Heaven by Cynthia Seagren and Casey Casein.
If there is anything different about this and their entry in Shiot Crock 11, I can't seem to find it.

The Lonely Felllows by Stephanie Silver.
This twelve page entry exhibits some really lovely drawing and neat characters. The story is about a bird befriending a whale. The drawing and story have the feel of a children's book but the dialog is just edgy enough to give mom and pop a chuckle. It reminds me a lot of James Kochalka's kids stuff like Peanutbutter and Jeremy. It's a really neat idea and I would love to see more of these characters.

A-Symmetricl O-Possum by Shannon Smith.
This was my entry. I made it specifically for Shiot Crock but by the time SC 12 finally happened I had already printed it in various ways and places so it's old news to me now. You can read what other folks thought about it here. Thanks to Karen Lucas for re-formatting my tiny foldie mini to fit this nice big book.

The Cloud by Dan Taylor.
I discovered Dan Taylor's comics a year or two ago through Comicspace and really like his stuff. Any anthology would be better for having his work in it. This story is a neat little play on old fashioned morality tales. It has the feel of a series of standalone newspaper gags linked together to tell a story. Taylor's craft is really top notch. The drawing, the inking, the tones, the lettering... it's all it's all really dead on. I really should just drop everything and go buy some of his comics right now.

Stamp Thing by Vertov.
I'm really not sure what to make of this. I read it and re-read it. There is some drawing, a lot of stamping, some cut out text and other things. (Maybe it is all stamps. I can't tell for sure. The little bodies look like they were drawn.) I guess this is collage comics. A lot of different elements creating a fairly unified vibe. I got a guess at what the message is but I'm not entirely sure. There should be some sort of Fort Thunder hotline number where a counselor can explain art comics to confused readers.

Training Facilitator by the unknown minicomic submitter.
I think it is perfect for the spirit of Shiot Crock that the last comic in the book would be from someone who did not put their name in the comic. Maybe the original editor knew the name of the creator but I prefer to imagine the thing just showed up in the mail with no credits or return address. The story is really just a begining to a story. Several characters are introducing themselves at the beginning of some weird "re-integration" training. There are some really cool character designs here. Each character gets their own panel to introduce themselves and the panels would work nicely as weirdo trading cards. I wish there was more to it than just the introductions. Unknown minicomic submitter where are you?

So... in conclusion, I think it is a really solid anthology. There are several misses but the hits are pretty awesome. I expect to see several of these foks make some great comics somewhere in futureland.

Click here to see what some of the other contributors thought about this Crock.

I think the deadline for the next Crock is sometime soon. You can find out more here.

Your best pal ever,
Shannon Smith

p.s. I can't for the life of me figure out how to get a paragraph break to look right on blogger. The paragraphs look prefect in "preview" and then when I post the thing some are squished together and some are wayyyy apart. If you know what the heck is wrong with blogger then let me know. Thanks.

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