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05 September 2008

S#!T BEAMS ON THE LOOSE from Tender Living Empire..

Shitbeams on the Loose by Mike Beretino, Rusty Jordan, Drew Beckmeyer, Luke Ramsey, Dave Nuss, Ron Rege Jr., Hector Sernarjr, Brent Harada, Thomas Crawford, Matt Furie, Grant Reynolds and Robyn Jordan.
60 pages.  Perfect bound. Color cover with a hand screen printed cover wrap.  Black and white interiors.  Limited to 300 copies.  On sale here for $12.

This is a fantastic looking small press book.  I say this all the time but, the scan does not do the cover justice.  It's a great looking color cover with a wicked hand screen printed cover wrap.  I have no idea what purpose cover wraps serve.  When I worked in a bookstore I hated them because they always got torn up but as an owner of cool little books I love them.  It's just plain cool looking.  This is the second book I've seen from Tender Loving Empire and they both look really great.  I recommend you visit their site and check their stuff out if art comics are your thing.  I've only become aware of art comics in the past few years so my ability gauge how Tender Loving Empire's books stack up compared to other publishers and creators is a bit limited.  As far as the content of this specific book goes, I'm not sure I'm even qualified to review it.  It is part art comics, part auto-bio comics and part sketchbook collecting a bunch of talented folks.  I don't really see any kind of theme to the book but all the pieces do seem to fit in with whatever the heck the title means.  Other than one auto-bio piece (I assume it is auto-bio) all of the work is unrestrained and a bit absurd.

The book starts off with a six page story from Mike Beretino.  The story is pretty simple but the storytelling is unorthodox .  It's nothing groundbreaking but it is neat to look at.  Some of the beats seem incoherent but it has a nice resolution and everything works as a whole.  
Rusty Jordan contributes an insane but beautifully drawn six pager about a monster faced guy and his life-raft beer buddy.  It's absurd and again, I just don't think I'm qualified to review it other than to say that it does not make any sense to me but I still think it is funny.
There is what is explained to be an "excerpt" from a larger work by Drew Beckmeyer.  This piece does some neat things with the page layouts but there is not enough there to pull me in and make me want to understand what is going on.  
The book then continues with some short strips and sketch pages by it's many contributors including a Ron Rege Jr. page.  These sketches are very interesting and worth repeated examination.  Brent Harada delivers another creepy monster episode that feels like psychedelic rock posters come to life.  Some of this stuff is both funny and terrifying.  If you are the type of person that has some time on their hands and needs some cool things to stare at while sitting in a smoke filled room then this book is for you.

The last piece is the auto-bio bit from Robyn Jordan.  It is nicely drawn, well paced and engaging.  The storytelling is straightforward but it deals will oddball characters that fit in with the rest of this book.
This book is not for everyone but if you like art comics then you might give it a look.  Tender Loving Empire have a lot of neat looking books, t-shirts and music for sale on their website.  If you find any of the images posted here appealing then you might pay them a visit.  If you are in the Portland area, they have a retail operation you can visit in person.  Warning:  Visiting their site might make you a little sad that you don't live in Portland.  (Unless you live in Portland.)

Your best pal ever,
Shannon Smith
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