Some heaters from Dylan Todd.  Especially this Ditko joint which features a great drawing of teeth falling out. 

Relying exclusively on my unreliable memory and piecemeal familiarity with all of comic history it would appear that injury and threat of injury to teeth is less common than the same for eyes.  Maybe eyes make for an easier metaphor?  Teeth falling out usually represent stress and anxiety in general or sometimes specifically around growing old.  When I think about it rationally I know that I would rather lose my teeth than my eyes but I recoil in horror when a hammer is held to someone’s teeth and am only slightly nervous when a knife is held to an eye.
- AJ

Some heaters from Dylan Todd.  Especially this Ditko joint which features a great drawing of teeth falling out. 

Relying exclusively on my unreliable memory and piecemeal familiarity with all of comic history it would appear that injury and threat of injury to teeth is less common than the same for eyes.  Maybe eyes make for an easier metaphor?  Teeth falling out usually represent stress and anxiety in general or sometimes specifically around growing old.  When I think about it rationally I know that I would rather lose my teeth than my eyes but I recoil in horror when a hammer is held to someone’s teeth and am only slightly nervous when a knife is held to an eye.

AJ

September’s Outgoing Comics
Both stacks #1 and #2 contained a couple issues of “Copra” by Michele Fiffe, now published in trade format by Bergin Street comics. Supposedly available at SPX but I must have missed it.

Stack #1 went out with a copy of Box Brown’s “Killman”.  I appreciate the clashing of blocky colors in Box Brown’s comics.  I would like to read some critical perspective on his entire comics output.  He has a distinct toolkit from which he pulls different combinations for each comic.  In a broad sense I guess thats what every artist does, but Box Brown is very prolific and it’s interesting to see how he includes different elements that he has used before in a new comic and leaves others on the bench.
-AJ

September’s Outgoing Comics

Both stacks #1 and #2 contained a couple issues of “Copra” by Michele Fiffe, now published in trade format by Bergin Street comics. Supposedly available at SPX but I must have missed it.

Stack #1 went out with a copy of Box Brown’s “Killman”.  I appreciate the clashing of blocky colors in Box Brown’s comics.  I would like to read some critical perspective on his entire comics output.  He has a distinct toolkit from which he pulls different combinations for each comic.  In a broad sense I guess thats what every artist does, but Box Brown is very prolific and it’s interesting to see how he includes different elements that he has used before in a new comic and leaves others on the bench.

-AJ

If this book was a person, it would have cheap tribal tattoos on both arms. The bad guys have names like; Killkrow, Rhazes, Mystacina, Decimator, and Blackspell. It’s like they’re an evil troupe of coca cola marketing designers wandering freely through Saturday morning cartoons.

If this book was a person, it would have cheap tribal tattoos on both arms. The bad guys have names like; Killkrow, Rhazes, Mystacina, Decimator, and Blackspell. It’s like they’re an evil troupe of coca cola marketing designers wandering freely through Saturday morning cartoons.

Finally getting around to writing up the comics which I received for the September shipment. This book comes courtesy of Sean Poppe:

============

I’m not sure I’ve told this anecdote before, except maybe in an old LiveJournal post, but here’s the story I always remember whenever I see an old Slave Labor comic.

This must be about ten years ago, I was trying to get my webcomic Jeremy picked up as an ongoing monthly book. This was well before the digital marketplace, so my only real option was finding a publisher. I put together three complete issues of Jeremy into a package and mailed it off to literally every comics publisher in the US, even companies that were totally thematically inappropriate for my work – Chaos and Viz and such, just utter impossibilities. I wanted to get it out there, get some eyes on the comic.

I also included a stamped, self-addressed feedback card with each packet. It had little checkboxes a publisher could use to give me some feedback, if they didn’t have time to leave a note – reasons why they were passing on it, “the art wasn’t up to snuff,” “the writing wasn’t up to snuff,” “this doesn’t fit with our current catalog,” etc.

What was rewarding – despite having the book universally rejected – was that with two exceptions, every company sent back the card. More than that, everyone sent back notes, and almost every one contained pretty much the same sentiment “I liked Jeremy and would enjoy seeing it published, but it doesn’t fit what we do here. Have you checked with Dan Vado at Slave Labor?”

Well, of course I did, but Slave Labor was one of the companies that never sent back the card, or any notice at all. I wrote it off, even though I agreed with all the notes – Jeremy seemed right up Slave Labor’s alley.

Months passed and San Diego Comic Con rolled around. At one point, a friend and I were at the Slave Labor booth and got chatting to Dan Vado. It was a nice conversation, we talked about comics in general and the comics we specifically were working on. Vado suggested we send him copies of our comics, said he’d love to see ‘em, and that seemed like a perfect segue to me. I mentioned that I had sent a packet several months back, reintroduced myself, mentioned the name of the book, and for a moment his face was crossed with a searching look. “Jeremy … Jeremy …” he said to himself, and then “Oh, Jeremy!”

Edited to add: Keep in mind, at this point, I was feeling pretty confident. We’d had a nice conversation, everyone who’d seen the book had felt it was a natural fit for Slave Labor, and I was expecting good things from that “Oh, Jeremy!

Now. In my memory, what follows is exactly what Dan Vado said to me about my comic submission, but I’m willing to accept that I might be misphrasing it, capturing the essence and the effect of the moment more than the actual word-for-word quote. I feel this is what he said to me, but it might have been something different – similar, but not exactly this. I can promise you, though, the sentiment is about right, even if I’m misremembering it. Here’s what he said. He said “Oh yeah, Jeremy … I hated that book!

Keeping all of those previous qualifiers in mind, I will promise you that these are the actual words he said to me next, because I remember thinking they were cruel to an almost bizarre level. He went on to add “You know how there are some books you can’t put down? Well, Jeremy was a book I couldn’t pick up. I kept trying and,” he shook his head, “Nope.”

So, that was that for Jeremy as a comic book. It was a gutting experience. As a coda, here’s this: Later that same night, I saw Erik Larsen at a party. Now, Image had been the other company that hadn’t returned the card or otherwise contacted me about my submission, but I had talked to Erik and shown him pages from the book at APE, and he’d gushed about it. I decided to corner Erik and see if he’d had any time to consider the packet. He was, again, very complimentary, had some nice things to say, then passed on the book but added “Hey, you know who you should show this to? Dan Vado at Slave Labor!”

============

I ended up working for Slave Labor a little further down the road, on their licensed stuff, but I have to admit I half-assed it. Like, deliberately half-assed it. I couldn’t imagine a decent reason to full-ass it, frankly.

============

Anyway, I told this story so I could say this: Whenever I see an old Slave Labor comic, I always ask myself “So is THIS something Vado couldn’t put down?” Which, hey, there were lots of books far better than Jeremy, trust me, I’m under no illusions – Slave Labor published Dorkin and Saavedra, at the very least, two of my favorite black-and-whites from the 80s. This thing, though, is utterly confusing. One of those autobio comics written by a fellow who, right from the first panel on page one, admits that his life is boring and nothing ever happens, then sets about proving it by documenting it. Likeable lineart though, if otherwise uninspired. Aw well, what am I gonna say, at least he got published, right?

================

While I’m here, it appears Slave Labor is running a GoFundMe to recover from recent losses and downturns. The publisher does good work, it’d be a shame to see it disappear. You can contribute here.

Comics Club mailings went out for September! I read a lot this month! Here’s some brief thoughts: 
Godland #1 (Image) - Godland #1 (Image) - Scioli does Jack Kirby-as-genre, and buddy he does it well. Stellar art, pacing, and layouts, yet brought down a bit for me in the writing department. I’m not familiar with Kirby’s body of work, so maybe this over existential and self-reflection prose is par-for-the-course. The lack of sound effects is also unusual. It felt like everything was happened in a vacuum. I guess with so many dots, streaks, and shines panel real-estate for Scioli is at a premium.
Darker Image #1 (Image) - Collection of three Image stories I assume from the darker (darkest??) side of Image comics. Enjoyed the MAXX because it’s the MAXX. Blood Wulf; Liefeld being Liefeld; it looked absurd, read absurd, and was terrible and great all at once. His floating motor-jet-bike was actually a big gun! Just aces. Finally, Jim Lee’s story was well drafted but good god the story is … I could see the gravel pouring out of all the square jaws as they talked. It’s just the pits. Typical sampling of what Image put out at the time, and a good vision of how our chests would look if our small hearts grew three times that day (with murder).
Ultraverse Hard Case (Malibu Comics) - So god damn gory. I missed this over-the-top gore in super-hero comics trend that saturated the market in the 90’s, so this was a treat to read*. With hit characters like DJ Blast eating it before we even learn their name (though I bet it did wonders for his publicist’s career. Oh did I mention the heroes have publicists?). The whole book has a weird secondary color scheme going on which I sort of dig. Overall dumb, trite, and everyone looks absurd.
*Please note this was not a treat to read
Greylore #1 (Sirius Comics) - Greylore is our anti-hero swashbuckler, and a terrible unlikable shit. Woman only exist in this world to bone Greylore, apparently, and he’s pounding so many of them that he’s the twin worlds to shift out of balance. So a wizard says “Um hey… you gotta slow your roll and take up a life of adventure or whatever to undo what damage you did”. Art charmed me a first but the coloring is terrible and over-saturated. Kudos to the book for squeezing in a bar right, a coach robbery, and a chandelier swing into 32 pages, but I guess at the expense of cohesive plot. Also shout out to the brigands riding ostriches.
Nightmask #1 (Marvel) - More New Universe super serious business. This stuff is so serious! The “white event” let’s this kid jump into dreams. He fights an enemy called “the Gnome” who, design wise, I thought was great, but it was a bearded monster with potions and shit on his belt so they clearly got my number. Art and writing were basic ho-hum passable house style for the time art and writing, I guess. A lot of telling and not a lot of showing, though. Overall just heaping helpings from Marvel’s no-fun-allowed New Universe.
Runner Runner #2 (Tugboat Press(@TugboatPress)) - Free sampler from Tugboat Press, based out of Portland, OR. Stylish mix of black and white comics. Mostly journal/bio style comics, which judging by my reactions to the stories I might be getting over? I guess I don’t relate to them much anymore. Highlights were three one page stories; Sam Sharpe’s “Perspective”, Drew Weing’s “The Hunt”, and Sam Alden’s “Cave Kids.” Overall great little freebie.
Wild C.A.T.S. #1 (Image) - The second Jim Lee joint I read this month. All the woman are introduced with full page pin-up format spreads, and described in a Sin City style dame-to-kill-for language. Everyone is a ridiculous shape. Grifter was especially irritating; like a Gambit with guns or something; just terrible. I did like the scene of the down-on-his-luck would be leader guy going big-time, but then over the weekend ending up in an ally drunk anyway. Drafted well, again, but everyone just looks absurd gritting their teeth and yelling all the time.
The H.A.R.D. Corps (Valient) - I think the concept is (I’m not looking it up dammit!) some dudes have special powers, but this company has developed a way to insert a chip or some shit into people and then switch their powers on and off on command via number designation, which the heroes yell out mid battle. And they are battling other heroes/corportations with the same situation for some reason? The art is solid, but everyone looks like the god damn same person in this book so I don’t know what’s going on.
Icarus (Hardia Comics) - The art in this one was interesting; Mark McHaley’s technical drawing style shows compliments the choice of layouts and pacing. Some of the panels got a little lost in the details, but over all the art was un-ironically fresh for a comic. The story, however, was not. At all. Similar to the Marvel New Universe, it’s about a super hero guy ground into the dirt of reality. What WOULD happen if a guy got super powers? How would he “come out to the world.” Would he be charged for violating air-space laws? Otherwise he’s spent his time punching purse-robbers and beat-em-uppers.
Bloodstrike #8 (Image) - I’m noticing that unforgiving smart-ass is a quality that 90’s Image comic gun-muscle-men have in spades. And gosh all these terrible people, forced to work together, love letting everyone know how much they hate each other. Terrible plotting at a pace that makes it even less interesting than it already is. Also these characters are just Xmen; I mean it’s clearly just Cable and Wolverine with a palette swap. No more of these Sean; NO MORE!
Royal Canadian Mounted Police (Trajectory Classics Illustrated) - A good example of winner’s write history. I’d love to believe that some of these stories truly did end without blood-shed, but as they go on it’s still hard not to make the RCMP look like anything but bullies. Typical adventure style layouts, poses, and pacing common to the adventure-serials of the era. Take away lesson learned in how many hat styles the RCMP cycled through the years. 
The Age of Heroes WEX (Image) - James Hudnall’s Age of Heroes story struck me as typical b/w sword and sorcery, but I was totally okay with this. Any way our wizard hero is taking back the mystic triangle the orc-adjacent race man-eating awfuls stole from his temple and it pretty much wraps up in this issue thanks to the mysterious appearance of some army we’ve never heard of. Part of a larger series that I will keep eyes peeled for thanks to nice and cluttered, no-space-wasted b/w art (my cat-nip).
Runner Runner #1 (Tugboat Press(@TugboatPress)) - Another curated and successful Free Comic Book Day book of shorts by Tugboat press. Most were one-page stories, which I really dig. Surprise multi-page story about a cute old-man-dog written by Minty Lewis, too! Also features nice Kazimir Strzepek one-pager, too, but he’ll never know I read it I don’t think he actually exists. Alec Longstreth has a bio comic in here, too. Really all around great stuff, no stinkers.
Spider-Woman #40 (1980) (Marvel) - I actually had some fun with this comic. Villain Rupert Dockery was very upfront about his motives, but he just wanted them dollar bills. And so does Spider-Woman! She’s just cracking skulls for the bounty money. Imagine if her and Rupert got in cahoots. What a world! Anyway it was pretty silly, all around, but it didn’t take itself to seriously and wrapped up pretty nice for an issue 40.

Comics Club mailings went out for September! I read a lot this month! Here’s some brief thoughts: 

Godland #1 (Image) - Godland #1 (Image) - Scioli does Jack Kirby-as-genre, and buddy he does it well. Stellar art, pacing, and layouts, yet brought down a bit for me in the writing department. I’m not familiar with Kirby’s body of work, so maybe this over existential and self-reflection prose is par-for-the-course. The lack of sound effects is also unusual. It felt like everything was happened in a vacuum. I guess with so many dots, streaks, and shines panel real-estate for Scioli is at a premium.

Darker Image #1 (Image) - Collection of three Image stories I assume from the darker (darkest??) side of Image comics. Enjoyed the MAXX because it’s the MAXX. Blood Wulf; Liefeld being Liefeld; it looked absurd, read absurd, and was terrible and great all at once. His floating motor-jet-bike was actually a big gun! Just aces. Finally, Jim Lee’s story was well drafted but good god the story is … I could see the gravel pouring out of all the square jaws as they talked. It’s just the pits. Typical sampling of what Image put out at the time, and a good vision of how our chests would look if our small hearts grew three times that day (with murder).

Ultraverse Hard Case (Malibu Comics) - So god damn gory. I missed this over-the-top gore in super-hero comics trend that saturated the market in the 90’s, so this was a treat to read*. With hit characters like DJ Blast eating it before we even learn their name (though I bet it did wonders for his publicist’s career. Oh did I mention the heroes have publicists?). The whole book has a weird secondary color scheme going on which I sort of dig. Overall dumb, trite, and everyone looks absurd.

*Please note this was not a treat to read

Greylore #1 (Sirius Comics) - Greylore is our anti-hero swashbuckler, and a terrible unlikable shit. Woman only exist in this world to bone Greylore, apparently, and he’s pounding so many of them that he’s the twin worlds to shift out of balance. So a wizard says “Um hey… you gotta slow your roll and take up a life of adventure or whatever to undo what damage you did”. Art charmed me a first but the coloring is terrible and over-saturated. Kudos to the book for squeezing in a bar right, a coach robbery, and a chandelier swing into 32 pages, but I guess at the expense of cohesive plot. Also shout out to the brigands riding ostriches.

Nightmask #1 (Marvel) - More New Universe super serious business. This stuff is so serious! The “white event” let’s this kid jump into dreams. He fights an enemy called “the Gnome” who, design wise, I thought was great, but it was a bearded monster with potions and shit on his belt so they clearly got my number. Art and writing were basic ho-hum passable house style for the time art and writing, I guess. A lot of telling and not a lot of showing, though. Overall just heaping helpings from Marvel’s no-fun-allowed New Universe.

Runner Runner #2 (Tugboat Press(@TugboatPress)) - Free sampler from Tugboat Press, based out of Portland, OR. Stylish mix of black and white comics. Mostly journal/bio style comics, which judging by my reactions to the stories I might be getting over? I guess I don’t relate to them much anymore. Highlights were three one page stories; Sam Sharpe’s “Perspective”, Drew Weing’s “The Hunt”, and Sam Alden’s “Cave Kids.” Overall great little freebie.

Wild C.A.T.S. #1 (Image) - The second Jim Lee joint I read this month. All the woman are introduced with full page pin-up format spreads, and described in a Sin City style dame-to-kill-for language. Everyone is a ridiculous shape. Grifter was especially irritating; like a Gambit with guns or something; just terrible. I did like the scene of the down-on-his-luck would be leader guy going big-time, but then over the weekend ending up in an ally drunk anyway. Drafted well, again, but everyone just looks absurd gritting their teeth and yelling all the time.

The H.A.R.D. Corps (Valient) - I think the concept is (I’m not looking it up dammit!) some dudes have special powers, but this company has developed a way to insert a chip or some shit into people and then switch their powers on and off on command via number designation, which the heroes yell out mid battle. And they are battling other heroes/corportations with the same situation for some reason? The art is solid, but everyone looks like the god damn same person in this book so I don’t know what’s going on.

Icarus (Hardia Comics) - The art in this one was interesting; Mark McHaley’s technical drawing style shows compliments the choice of layouts and pacing. Some of the panels got a little lost in the details, but over all the art was un-ironically fresh for a comic. The story, however, was not. At all. Similar to the Marvel New Universe, it’s about a super hero guy ground into the dirt of reality. What WOULD happen if a guy got super powers? How would he “come out to the world.” Would he be charged for violating air-space laws? Otherwise he’s spent his time punching purse-robbers and beat-em-uppers.

Bloodstrike #8 (Image) - I’m noticing that unforgiving smart-ass is a quality that 90’s Image comic gun-muscle-men have in spades. And gosh all these terrible people, forced to work together, love letting everyone know how much they hate each other. Terrible plotting at a pace that makes it even less interesting than it already is. Also these characters are just Xmen; I mean it’s clearly just Cable and Wolverine with a palette swap. No more of these Sean; NO MORE!

Royal Canadian Mounted Police (Trajectory Classics Illustrated) - A good example of winner’s write history. I’d love to believe that some of these stories truly did end without blood-shed, but as they go on it’s still hard not to make the RCMP look like anything but bullies. Typical adventure style layouts, poses, and pacing common to the adventure-serials of the era. Take away lesson learned in how many hat styles the RCMP cycled through the years. 

The Age of Heroes WEX (Image) - James Hudnall’s Age of Heroes story struck me as typical b/w sword and sorcery, but I was totally okay with this. Any way our wizard hero is taking back the mystic triangle the orc-adjacent race man-eating awfuls stole from his temple and it pretty much wraps up in this issue thanks to the mysterious appearance of some army we’ve never heard of. Part of a larger series that I will keep eyes peeled for thanks to nice and cluttered, no-space-wasted b/w art (my cat-nip).

Runner Runner #1 (Tugboat Press(@TugboatPress)) - Another curated and successful Free Comic Book Day book of shorts by Tugboat press. Most were one-page stories, which I really dig. Surprise multi-page story about a cute old-man-dog written by Minty Lewis, too! Also features nice Kazimir Strzepek one-pager, too, but he’ll never know I read it I don’t think he actually exists. Alec Longstreth has a bio comic in here, too. Really all around great stuff, no stinkers.

Spider-Woman #40 (1980) (Marvel) - I actually had some fun with this comic. Villain Rupert Dockery was very upfront about his motives, but he just wanted them dollar bills. And so does Spider-Woman! She’s just cracking skulls for the bounty money. Imagine if her and Rupert got in cahoots. What a world! Anyway it was pretty silly, all around, but it didn’t take itself to seriously and wrapped up pretty nice for an issue 40.