Sunday, May 19, 2019

Review: BIG NATE SILENT BUT DEADLY by Lincoln Peirce

Nate Wright is back again in another collection of “Big Nate” comics. In BIG NATE SILENT BUT DEADLY, Nate gets into lots of different shenanigans and comes up with several different schemes. Nate has an uncanny sense of smell and hires himself out as the Great Nose-ini to make a few extra dollars, he becomes the movie reviewer for the school newspaper, he once again wins Monopoly on New Year’s Eve against his friends, and he plays on his school’s basketball team. Personally, I think my favorite comics in the book are the ones at the very end when Nate visits the local comic book shop and runs into a guy in a Yoda mask and an old man sitting on a bench that talks to a puppet. BIG NATE SILENT BUD DEADLY includes a pull-out poster of the book’s cover.


The second collection of “Zen Pencils” comics, ZEN PENCILS, VOLUME 2:  DREAM THE IMPOSSIBLE DREAM continues the same format as the first volume. Cartoonist Gavin Aung Than takes quotes from all kinds of famous people and then uses those quotes as written word for a series of different inspiring comics.  Some of the people quoted in this volume include Isaac Asimov, Maya Angelou, Robert Kennedy, William Shakespeare, Amy Poehler, Jim Henson, and Kevin Smith. Some of the comics continue adventures and stories from the first volume: the young boy who instead of playing sports wants to be a great dancer, the young woman who wants to be a wrestler, the boy who becomes a courageous knight, and the ancient philosopher.  Some of the comics fit quite well with the quotes that inspired the illustrations and story. Meanwhile, others just don’t seem like a very good match. Overall, I enjoyed DREAM THE IMPOSSIBLE DREAM. I look forward to other books of “Zen Pencils” in the future.

Sunday, February 10, 2019

#SAD! by G.B. Trudeau

Although I have more libertarian political views that tend to skew conservative, I have usually enjoyed reading the comic strip “Doonesbury.” Sometimes the satire in the strip is really funny and right on, other times it seems to be edgy for the sake of being edgy. #SAD! is supposed to be a collection of comics reflecting “Doonesbury” in the age of Trump. I say supposed to be because there are several comics (especially in the first section of the book) that really have nothing to do with Trump at all and I’m not sure why they were even included with this collection. The first section of the book also jumps around: there are comics next to each other that were published months and in a few cases, years apart from each other.  While it might be argued that they are included in this first section (entitled “The Gathering Storm”) because they foreshadow what is to come, many of them seem out of place to me and only used because they needed some filler.  The rest of the book, once most of the strips are published in chronological order, is better than the first section. With that said, towards the end of the book there are again gaps. I’m not sure why the gaps are there; maybe the strips that seem to be missing didn’t seem to fit with the tone of the book or maybe they were another one of Trudeau’s notorious sabbaticals (Trudeau has taken more sabbaticals from cartooning than any educator or college professor ever has). Anyway, while there were parts of #SAD! I enjoyed, I felt that the tone was not consistent. The book claims to be a lifeline for those living through the time of Trump.  However, to me, it seemed to be highly inconsistent and only dealing with Trump on occasion. Those who purchase the book new also receive a pull-out poster of the updated Doonesbury Trump Board Game.


DANCE LIKE EVERYBODY’S WATCHING is the latest treasury of “Zits” comics. It collects “Zits” comics that ran in newspapers from Jan. 3, 2016 – Dec . 31, 2016. There isn’t anything all that new here, just the typical (although sometimes surreal) behavior of teenage Jeremy and his life with his parents.  “Zits” has become more of a throw-back comic, but one that’s still comforting to read.


In THE ONLY LIVING BOY #1: PRISONER OF THE PATCHWORK PLANET, a boy named Erik runs away from his home and falls asleep in a park. When he awakes, he discovers he is no longer home and he is now on a world that has some resemblance of his home, but one that has changed drastically. For instance, the moon has shattered and there are all kinds of creatures out to kill, eat, or capture Erik. The inhabitants of this world are amazed at Erik because he is a human boy and they have never seen one before. Initially, Erik isn’t as fast or fearsome of some of his opponents and he has to rely upon his intellect and wit to survive some unusual circumstances. I really enjoyed this first installment of THE ONLY LIVING BOY and look forward to reading further adventures of Erik. The story is different, but it reminded me of a more colorful and exciting version of the old Saturday morning series, LAND OF THE LOST.

SUPER CHILL by Adam Ellis

SUPER CHILL is a collection of comics by Adam Ellis. Ellis used to work for Buzzfeed but apparently quit his job so he could draw full time. The comics collected in SUPER CHILL are reflections upon his day-to-day life: one comic illustrates the pain of having a hangnail while another reflects on the pain of being at the dentist’s office. Apparently Ellis spent some time in Japan, so several of the comics reflect upon his time there. What I liked most about the comics in SUPER CHILL are the illustrations themselves. I realize it’s a somewhat common style of many online comics, but it’s also one that appeals to me. As for the comics themselves, I really didn’t find any of them to be that funny. There were one or two that gave me a little chuckle, but that was it.  Although I read a lot of comics and graphic novels, I don’t think I’m in the wheelhouse for SUPER CHILL, but perhaps the books greatest flaws is that I’m really not sure what the target audience for this collection is