goes to a convention like WonderCon with different desires
and hopes. Some go to see the stars and maybe get to ask
some questions. Some go to buy comics and complete the collections
they’ve been working on for decades. Still others
go to be seen in costume.
Our Man Trolling For The Best In Small Press
do I go? I go to buy small press comics and the like. This
year, the Artist Alley where the small press stuff goes
was smaller and more tucked away than usual. That was a
shame for someone like me, but as I gather it, there are
few folks in my category that go to WonderCon to find those
little treasures. Still, it would be nice if they at least
played along and let those few of us believe that we matters.
This year, there were some fine books. In fact, the variety
of kinds of books that I bought was higher than any year
before. I found a half-dozen great pieces that I’ll
talk about here, and another few that were strong as well.
In previous years, I’ve found the works of Ryan Clayton
to be some of the best to be found on the Artist's Alley.
His works are comic, often autobiographical, very funny,
and cartoony. His strips are some of the most entertaining
and enlightening. The work of his I bought this year, And
Then One Day, was an autobiographical documentary,
as he puts it, in comic form. It’s interesting as
it’s really a third person autobiography and it’s
got a certain third person point of view being pushed as
the first person narative. The idea is that Ryan gave several
of his friends and family a box of cards with questions
about himself and he had them answer into a tape recorder.
The art is very interesting. Most of the images are close-ups
on the faces of the various answerers of the questions that
Ryan put towards them, This technique reminded me a lot
of Theodore Dresser’s The Passion of Joan of Arc.
There are break-outs, to separate the chapters and to illustrate
a few of the stories, and they’re nice, but the power
of the book is the examination of the author using the words
and reactions of other people in his life. It’s a
fun comic to read and it’s an even better comic to
think about. Class stuff from a class artist/writer.
The peak of the whole Zine Thing was 1995. There were tons
of great zines coming out from around the world and the
folks at Fact Sheet Five were there recounting everything
that went into them. One of the most important zines of
that time was something called Murder Can Be
Fun by John Marr.
that it was one of the best things a zine editor has ever
done would be underestimating his work. MCBF was
brilliantly written with incredible articles. The last few
issues haven’t been as regular as I’d like,
but they’ve come out and the one I bought at Last
Gasp this weekend was wonderful. It reprinted the most famous
Murder Can Be Fun article: Waiting in Line to Die.
This was the best article ever written about death at Disneyland.
I was glad to see it reprinted, along with a number of other
articles that Marr had done for various zines and websites.
For two dollars, it can’t be beat. Murder Can
Be Fun is probably the most important zine to ever
come out of the Bay Area.
Erbes may be my new hero. He put out a number of copies
of The World’s Stupidest Comic
(that’s the name, not an editorial comment) on the
Freebie table and I picked it up and read it. Yes, it was
one joke over and over, but it was far from the stupidest
comic I’ve ever read. In fact, it was far less stupid
than some of the mainstream comics I’ve read over
the last year. It was a well-drawn comic and I thought that
it was pretty entertaining.
right now. Just open up another Tab and come back after
you’re done looking around. Go ahead, it’ll
help out our average view length. You’re back? Good.
You can see why I think they’re one of the best finds
for me this year. The comic I bought, Brad Prays
to God, is a lovely little piece that is short,
has a couple of short vignettes and is simply smart and
real. The kind of thing you never see these days. I was
so impressed that I instantly went and spent some time at
TwoFineChaps.com. They’re a fine pair putting out
is a company that makes pens. They invented the Sumogrip
pen which is a very comfortable grip indeed. They also help
promote various Sumo Basho around the world. The booth they
had this year showed off the pens and they had a standee
of a Ozeki who is very popular in the world of today’s
also offered what I’m saying is the best educational
piece I saw at the con this year. It was a piece that explained
the rules and traditions of Sumo. They used text, photos
and manga-style drawings to get across the main points and
I thought that it was fantastic. I’ve given it to
Evelyn so she can try and learn about the traditions. Kids,
you gotta get ‘em started young. Yes, this was a corporate
comic and yes, that goes against my typical thought as for
what I’d read, but it was also entertaining and enlightening.
year’s best piece had to be a drawn essay by Miriam
Libicki called Towards A Hot Jew: The Israeli
Soldier as Fetish Object. It is a complex
and layered piece of writing and art that examines sexuality
and Jewish identiy and the ways in which soldiers are represented.
I will also admit that it was the extreme cuteness of Miss
Libicki herself that drew me to her booth and got me reading,
but I’m a terrible human.
was drawn from her time as a soldier in the Israeli army
and her take on the subject is both powerful, influenced
and personal. This is not an open condemnation of the Israeli
soldier as a class, but an examination of what their image
means and how it reflects the rest of Judaism. That’s
not to say that it’s not a condemnation of the use
of that image for political means; in fact, towards the
end of the piece, it is just that, but it is also an important
document on the image of what is considered sexy and how
it can easily be used to cover-up many sins. A beautifully