This site will soon get a major overhaul as it’s recently been hacked. Joomla needs to be updated which is probably going to be an ordeal (for me anyway, with my limited abilities).

This may result in the permanent removal of the Community portion of the site (the social networking stuff) and possibly other features. My intent is to keep the blog, articles and the mini-comics database at the least.

If you’ve got any photos, etc. you want to save from the site please do so ASAP. Thanks, everybody.

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Our old pal D. Blake Werts is in the process of starting up a new zine devoted to mini-comics and such. He’d like to know if you’re interested and could use your input to help get it going. Please read the below info and send your questionnaire answers to Blake. Let’s do this thing!

January 18, 2014
Charlotte, NC

Greetings mini comix fan,

It all started when I made a half-joking proclamation to Dan W. Taylor, “We
should start a mini comix news zine!” Dan wasted no time responding, more or
less, with “Blake, that sounds like a great thing for YOU to do..” Fast
forward a few years and I still have the itch. This idea was mentioned in an
email exchange with Richard Krauss, and next thing I know I was getting both
words of encouragement and lots of great suggestions on how we could make it
happen. Would it be possible to recapture some of the “paperNet” of years
past? I won’t be so bold as to say we’ll rebuild the sizable networks that
congregated around Clay Geerdes’ “Comix World/Comix Wave” or Bruce Chrislip
and Steve Willis’ “City Limits Gazette,” but I’m excited to give it a try.
All I need is a little help from you..

Below you’ll find a few questions to gather current information. It will be
compiled and published in our first few issues. Then, as you create new
material, or have updates that you’d like to share with the community, just
let us know and we’ll help spread the word. Also planned are interviews,
biographies, histories, artwork, and maybe a few surprises from Steve
Willis!

Please help us get this started by answering the enclosed questionnaire and
returning it to me as soon as you get a chance. Of course, you can email
your responses to me at bwerts@vnet.net if you’d rather.

Much appreciated!
D. Blake Werts

Please answer and mail/respond to:
D. Blake Werts
12339 Chesley Drive
Charlotte, NC 28277
bwerts@vnet.net

1. What’s happening? Are you currently active in cartooning or any other
creative endeavors?

2. Do you have any new comix or zines available? If so, what are the details
(size, page count, cost)?

3. Do you have any older comix or zines available? If so, what are the
details (size, page count, cost)?

4. Will you consider trades?

5. Best way to contact you? Postal mailing address? Email address?

6. Besides this newsletter, how can readers keep up with your work? Are you
are active online?

7. What would you like to see in a newsletter / zine about mini comix?

8. Any announcements you’d like to make?

9. Would you be willing to contribute a spot cartoon or cover artwork for an
issue?

10. Any other mini comikers we should contact?

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[Dedicated To Dylan Williams]

Post York by James Romberger: Set in a post-apocalyptic New York City that thematically values humanitarianism over sheer survival, Post York seeks to re-examine man’s relationship to the natural world. This was the offering from Uncivilized Books that grabbed me by the throat and made me pay full attention to this bold new publishing house helmed by Tom Kaczynski.

Last Train to Old Town by Kenan Rubenstein: It’s a perfect dichotomy of suburban squalor and urban intrigue, with an identifiable outsider steeped in the mysteries of social isolation. The breakdown of reality gives way to a fantastical escape. Old Town operates with a creative zeal evidenced in the hand-lettering, mounted panels, inserted maps, and assorted accoutrements allowing you to sense the might of the craft on display, to sense the very hand of the artist on every single page. This is the book you want to watch out for as future installments are released.

Eel Mansions by Derek Van Gieson: It’s like David Lynch on paper, flirtatious, mysterious, and dangerous. Van Gieson laces this burgeoning series with so much addictive critical bait, from cinema, to music, to cultural anthropology observations, that it quickly becomes an irresistible entryway to a never-ending conversation between the handful of people who can keep up with what Van Gieson is slinging with so much affection.

Burning Building Comix by Jeff Zwirek: Any “best of” list that doesn’t at least seriously consider Zwirek’s creation for its sheer design ingenuity is questionable. It’s a foldout experience that follows a fire racing its way through an apartment building and the actions of its various inhabitants, one that’s concerned with how format and story (that’s form and function) each impact the other. It’s builds to become quite an experience, which can be read up, down, and all around.

Deep In The Woods by Noah Van Sciver & Nic Breutzman: This is your latest entry in the “Newsprint Revivalist” movement, with modern horror at the hands of Breutzman extrapolated from the breakdown of social units. The other half of this 2D Cloud offering is a modern parable about a girl lost in the woods. Van Sciver uses a dismembered floating cow head(!) to remind us about integrity and doing what’s right, even if it’s not popular, easy, or quick. Noah Van Sciver represents the strength of his generation of creators. His is an uncomfortable realism, unafraid to dwell on the paupers, while most stories only want to acknowledge the princes.

The End of The Fucking World by Charles Forsman: Fantagraphics wisely collected Forsman’s series of mini-comics centering on the apathy, longing, and lack of belonging for the new generation. The End of The Fucking World is a book concerned with the misunderstood dynamic of the Millenials, highlighting their inherited cultural attachment disorder in a way that us Gen X’ers, and even our aging-out Baby Boomer parents, might finally comprehend.

New School by Dash Shaw: One of the hallmarks of Contemporary Art is the recontextualization of found objects, and Shaw employs a strong sensory experience using that style of visual and narrative shorthand. Aside from the rich family dynamics and subtle sci-fi exploration of the new, New School is largely a paradigmatic tale about willfully crafting a cultural sense of identity. It’s the best work so far from a daring creator who just gets better and better with each successive project.

Homesick by Jason Walz: Homesick showcases a dual narrative structure, one track following the autobiographical account of Walz dealing with the news of his very sick mother, while the other focuses on a seemingly unrelated lost Russian Cosmonaut, until the two threads invariably converge. Like the great Craig Thompson, Walz uses visual symbology to help convey complex emotional content, suggesting the fleeting nature of happiness in the process, and that we should instead look for the stasis found in true peace in order to be content.

Charles Bukowski’s Post Office by Bart King: The construction technique is pure tactile objet d’art, using that meme’d procedure where you print on a large sheet, fold it in half lengthwise to double it over, and then slice the interior channel atop, fold, fold, fold, and voila, you have yourself a hand assembled mini-comic with zero staples. Post Office operates with a somehow effervescent sense of drudgery, because whether times are up, or times are down, the postman cometh, and it’s a hard realization that *you* are often the source of your own undoing.

All You Need Is Love by Emmi Valve: Kus! Comics delivers their 11th mini, and it’s an emotional knockout. All You Need Is Love is a sequential art lesson in wanting what you’ve got, rather than getting what you want. Valve is in the process of learning to appreciate what she has, to be present and experience it, rather than seeking another arrangement which may never actually materialize. It’s an irresistible autobiographical aesthetic from one of my favorite publishers. Kus! Comics is an international sensation waiting to explode as awareness builds.

The Outliers by Erik T. Johnson: Playing like an alt comics guide to primal fears, the story involves a boy who is a societal outlier in danger of getting lost in the shuffle. Instead, he just gets lost in the woods and makes a startling discovery. The Outliers is a careful exploration of our prejudices and jingoistic attitudes, not to mention the fact that you just never know what’s going on behind the scenes with most people. Johnson is able to effectively evoke mood and place, on the fringe between a sense wonder and a sense of discovery.

An Afternoon In Ueno by Graeme McNee: I joked with McNee that he inadvertently created a Japanese comics version of Ferris Bueller’s Day Off, awakening a young person’s ability to discover the type of truths that can’t be taught by schools or parents, and can only be experienced firsthand. Ueno employs a devastatingly effective use of the minimalist approach, and along with creators like Ryan Cecil Smith, highlights the growing presence of expat comics practitioners living and working in Japan, creating a startling fusion between culture and craft.

Xeno Kaiju by Pat Aulisio: I never met a Hic & Hoc Publication that I didn’t like, and Xeno Kaiju continues this tradition with a brawling, in-your-face, monster jam comic that I cited as “the best sequential art hangover I’ve had in years.” Squarely in the “Newsprint Revivalist” category, Aulisio eschews words in order to fill nearly every crevice of the page with textures, patterns, technology, and ink matter, swirls of the stuff coalescing to form nascent imagery. It’s a dance rife with bizarre death metal calligraphy, the great wallpaper extravaganza of 2013, and I guarantee you that your comics year isn’t complete until you partake in the raw energy that is Xeno Kaiju.

It was a very competitive year, so I have a few honorable mentions that I would feel remiss in not drawing some attention to. These included: a totalitarian regime counterbalanced by Freedom of The Press in Our Library by Amanda Baeza, the dark sensory experience of Out of Hollow Water by Anna Bongiovanni, the sprawling travelogue about young people being allowed to make their own mistakes in Today Is The Last Day of The Rest of Your Life by Ulli Lust, the cumulative effects of marginalization on the psyche in Look Straight Ahead by Elaine M. Will, and the haunting novella about love and isolation found in Sorry Sheets by Eroyn Franklin.

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www.gingerrabbitstudio.com

$3

Do you guys remember that film Life Is Beautiful, with Roberto Benigni playing a Jewish Italian who shields his son from the horrors of a Nazi Internment Camp by making a surreal elaborate game of it all? Yeah. That’s what Golden Age reminded me of to some degree. My family is from Northern Italy, which made me wonder if Speziani’s family is too, perhaps why she set this story in that region during the waning days of WWII. It’s a nice way to stage adult content, by shrouding it, and making it more palatable, in an all-ages package. Like the protagonist’s mama making her a purple dress out of an old tablecloth, “…she turned something so ugly into something so pretty.” There’s a plucky young girl who finds some Golden Age comics near a fallen American G.I. This inspires her toward heroics in an effort to protect her little village, and the passages which artistically ape the Golden Age comics style function as a love letter to that era. It just struck me what an advocate for women creators Speziani is with her cottage publishing enterprise. Her recent micro-anthology 1 Night On Earth featured a cast of exclusively female writers, artists, letterers, inkers, and colorists. While her co-writer on this project is male, she teams with artist Cecilia Latella, who was the artist on a previous work By The Slice (which I think was the first work from Speziani that I sampled). Golden Age also features a female protagonist (with a male sidekick, upending conventional gender roles), and pushes hard in the Golden Age “flashback” strips to include a female heroine, along with a female sidekick appropriately named “Girl Spirit.” The fact that it took me a couple projects to notice this is a good indication that her pop culture reclamation on behalf of women is happening very organically. Latella’s art is simply gorgeous here, with full color vibrant watercolors (or ink washes?) that really pop, without coming off as garish. The production quality on this book is exquisite, with a heavy cardstock cover and some great design work. There’s no reason that mainstream punters couldn’t be converted to indie comics with a package this strong, I could even see it functioning as a teaser for a more extended length original graphic novel. Grade A+.

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www.birdcagebottombooks.com

$6

Loud Comix is billed as the brainchild of Jamie Vayda, wherein he marries his two passions of illustration and punk band fronting, to infuse the world of comics with the beloved DIY spirit and punk sensibility. He’s asked contributors Sonny Joe Harlan, Frankie Nowhere, Erika Lane, and Alan King to contribute stories for this small anthology. There are a few bouts of missing punctuation and misspellings sprinkled into the work, but the Crumby aesthetic is extremely inviting. The art is full of flying sweat beads, noticeable stretch marks on female bellies, flirtatious bar banter, Southern alcoholic uncles, bleary-eyed stab parties in the woods, and backward-ass potions of sassafras root, that grounds absolutely everything in uncomfortable reality. Alan King has a particularly effective way with language, describing how “the lines on his face looked like they’d been carved in hard and deep, by the palsied hands of a contemptuous god.” Johnny Funhouse was probably my favorite single story, hilariously awful in its depiction of a distorted kid birthed into existence by a moonshine-swilling mom who delivers him with a pair of salad tong forceps lubed up with Windex. Ha! Vayda’s lines are so inky and rich with claustrophobic detail, totally selling this entertaining look into the dark hidden corners of our vile little world. Grade A-.

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www.graememcnee.com

40 pages

I like to think of An Afternoon in Ueno as a Japanese comics version of Ferris Bueller’s Day Off. It’s about a young girl who inadvertently ends up dodging her parents and playing hookie for the day. She visits the titular Ueno Park, buys a cool hat, participates in an impromptu jam session with other musicians, and even leisurely takes in the pieces at the Museum of Western Art. Like Ferris, Cameron, and Sloane, she learns some things about herself that cannot be taught in school and can only be learned through authentic life experience, including standing up to an overbearing father figure. McNee even includes a small pull-out map that can interactively be used by readers to retrace the girl’s steps in the book, and visit many of the happening spots in Ueno Park, like Fragola Ice Cream, which is depicted in a glorious two-page spread right in the middle of the book. There’s a serenity to McNee’s risographed lines that captures our quiet imagination and calms the spirit. He’s continuing to demonstrate, through his growing body of work, the effectiveness of the minimalist approach. He’ll use one-page establishing shots that get the job done crisply, experiment with 4-panel pages that seem to include an “extra” panel allowing for contemplative additional beats, and relies on seamless visual transitions like the protagonist eyeing a hat in a store, then as the reader flips the page, the girl walks out wearing her new hat as the reader provides all of the basic closure needed. It’s the least amount of information required on the page to convey the actions. With people like Ryan Cecil Smith firmly on my radar, there seems to be a burgeoning scene of foreign comics practitioners living in, and working out of, Japan. The results of the cross-pollinized arts and culture have been terrific. Grade A+.

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www.lailamilevski.com

56 pages

$15

I was a little startled to discover the price point of $15, which I think might be cost prohibitive for a self-published black and white comic, but on the positive side it does contain a whopping 56 pages and plays like a feature length graphic novella or a short film. I’m not sure what Milevski’s influences might be, but I detected some sort of kinship with a creator like the wonderful Julia Gfrorer in the way The Wild One melds together pagan spiritual elements with modern day people navigating their little corner of the world. The protagonist in The Wild One encounters a mysterious old woman in what would otherwise be a tropical paradise and is quickly pulled into a shamanic world of totems and sacrifices and a jungle-bound Jaguar Goddess. Milevski’s line is very assured, deliberately pushing and pulling on line weights so that her figures can fill in an entire panel or page, or alternately appear sparse and desolate. Milevski also uses a certain effect with, well, it isn’t an ink wash, and it appears like what we would have done with sponges or copy machine chicanery back in the analog days, but I’m not quite sure how she achieves the textured gray effect, yet I was constantly drawn to it on the page. It adds a level of uncertainty to the proceedings, in a world where nothing is portrayed as simple black and white, but literally stuck in the gray. After this introductory experience, I’m anxious to see more work from Milevski, who, judging by her web presence, is fairly prolific. Grade A.

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www.brockart.storenvy.com

www.brockart.net

12 pages

$4

Creator Drew Brockington debuted this book recently at SPX, and it also serves as further evidence that there’s a thriving mini-comics and small press scene in Minneapolis, with fellow publishers like Jordan Shiveley’s Grimalkin Press and the folks over at 2D Cloud. Brockington’s all-ages tale works with very substantial line weights, looks great in full color, and generally has very attractive production quality. The story is very straightforward, the Cat-Stronauts are called into action for urgent repairs on “the most important satellite ever!” There’s some cat-tastic humor like the playful difference between “prepare for launch” and “prepare for lunch,” but also gravitas in the drama. For example, the full page shot of the shuttle launch is stirring and just gorgeous. The story is over super fast, they successfully repair the damage and return to Earth… The End. While it might feel like it’s over too soon, if nothing else, it serves as proof of concept that Brockington can produce all-ages material that we’d happily like to see more of, especially at feature length. Grade A-.

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www.robkirbycomics.com

24 pages

$5

Snack Pak is a digest-sized collection of black and white diary comics which all function quite well. What I like about Rob Kirby’s approach is that he’s never afraid to reveal personal details, even if they aren’t very flattering. There’s also a lot of visual detail provided in the small figure scale he works in, which is remarkable since he’ll sometimes squeeze in 8 or 9 panels per page. I spotted one little typo on “incongrous,” which maybe surprised me in that I thought I’d find more(?) Not because Kirby can’t spell or makes mistakes often by any means, but he’s so generous with words in the panels that I thought they might just come with the volume. It’s easy for me to zone out on too many diary comics because they frequently get repetitive, boring, or just lack any sort of readily identifiable theme that might emerge. Kirby doesn’t fall prey to this trap. From fainting on trips to Iceland, to enjoying flights of beer on vacation, to being able to identify with that “familiar mixture of discomfort, irritation, and guilt” when faced with a panhandler begging for change, Kirby’s comics have more to offer than typical autobio work usually does. His stray observations when biking through the neighborhood and finding overgrown abandoned cars or the mysterious “stairs to nowhere” are good examples of this dynamic. They’re not egotistical navel-gazing, but offer an interesting social anthropology perspective that suggests he’s aware that there are others in the world, other people, other stories, and other places all intersecting with his own story, with a sense that he’s eager for continued exploration. Of course, the following doesn’t reach that level of high art or anything, it’s more of a guilty pleasure for me, but I always enjoy any type of commentary about the con circuit, and Kirby does include some of his experiences tabling at SPX and CAKE. He also intentionally drops references to things like John Porcellino’s King Cat or Charles Forsman’s TEOTFW, and I dig that type of creator solidarity, mentioning strong works you’re passionate about when there’s absolutely no reason you have to. Grade A.

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www.ansispurins.tumblr.com

16 pages

Magic Forest takes place in the world of Purins’ Zombre series, and it’s even suggested that this could function as Zombre #2.5, with the further adventures of Ranger Martin Elvis and a familiar magic forest. The pieces range from contending with sea sirens, to battling creepy spiders, and the pitfalls of the various forest hunters. There are times when one or two of the strips feels non-sequitur by the end, or the color palette changes drastically for reasons that aren’t entirely clear, but Purins’ still has an attractive colorful line and has created an affable world that can essentially be mined limitlessly for further tales. Grade B.

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