Tiny Pages Made of Ashes: Small Press Comics Reviews 2/3/2012

A comic review article by: Jason Sacks, Danny Djeljosevic, Daniel Elkin



Tiny Pages Made of Ashes is Comics Bulletin's roundup of small press comics reviews.


Mineshaft #28





Mineshaft is an arts and culture zine that's been around for a bunch of years now, presenting smart, interesting and very creative material in a small, comfortable zine-sized format. What really makes Mineshaft special is that it features work by some of the greatest creators in the world. Editor Gioia Palmieri is friends with many different people, including R. Crumb. Every issue that I've read of Mineshaft contains at least some material created by Crumb and his wife Aline, and this issue is no exception. In this issue we get a generous six pages of the Crumbs talking about yoga and its impact on Aline -- in a section that's far more interesting than it sounds -- plus a gorgeous and totally Crumb style back cover. 

Palmieri also collects a bunch of other really interesting material in a variety of different mediums from a wide diversity of creators.  There are two photo essays in this issue: one from a lazy summer afternoon in San Diego in 1967, the other a collection of some rather desiccated European people. I lingered for a long time over both galleries, enjoying the rare pleasure of enjoying interesting photos on paper rather than on a screen.



In this issue, we also get poems from Andrei Codrescu, J.R. Helton and Adelle Stripe, along with a gallery of drawings by Billy Childish and some terrific short comics by Christoph Mueller, Aleksandar Zograf and Pat Moriarty (a real standout of this issue for me).

Mineshaft is a really under-known treasure that I think would inspire a lot of buzz if people just knew that it existed. Every issue presents a diversity of material as wide and interesting as  this issue, all presented in a friendly and unpretentious manner. This is a terrific, humble and inspiring literary magazine that makes me want to get off my butt and create something interesting, too.


For more information, visit mineshaftmagazine.com

- Jason Sacks



(Michel Fiffe)




Any month when COPRA is a good month, Michel Fiffe is set on keeping his self-published ongoing Suicide Squad riff on a monthly schedule so my dislike of everyone within my hearing range it is at least halved when the newest issue comes in the mail.

He's only three issues into its run, but so far Fiffe has been able to create a complete superhero comics experience in any given issue. Issue #3 could easily be written off as a "middle section" kind of issue setting up for later stuff, but Fiffe not only continues the developments of the previous issue but also introduces new characters (a Punisher guy, a Count Vertigo type guy, a Deadshot guy) and throws in some exciting visual action that should satisfy even the base superhero reader.



The way Fiffe illustrates action in this book is fantastic. He can do regular superhero stuff (robots hitting guys as only robots can do), but he's got a lot of crazy tricks in his toolkit and knows when to use it. Sometimes it's just really cool graphic design-y stuff like the Frank Miller riff below, but there's also a moment in this issue where, in a 2x3 grid, someone plummets out of an alternate dimension (the left column of panels on the page) while another is hurled into it from the right column of panels), and it's not even a "calling attention to itself" meta-moment, it's just a really clever use of panels and layouts. Seeing the weird geometric grid representation of the Strange-type guy's powers actually feels like something out-of-the-ordinary is happening -- it's not just that weird purple psychic goo that most artist 



Which is the amazing thing about COPRA, and why I've taken to it so and insist on writing about it every time it's out -- it straddles the line between pop comics and indie art-comics without any disdain or mockery of its subject matter, which is pretty much the perfect book for Comics Bulletin. It's a cool-looking action comic from a creator whose style would be deemed "unconventional" by the mainstream, which really speaks to me as someone who feels like a fucking idiot for also liking superhero comics when he's around people who are only into Daniel Clowes.

Find out more about COPRA at Michel Fiffe's website, and buy issues from his Etsy shop.

- Danny Djeljosevic


Reptile Museum Volume 1 Issue 1

(Cody Pickrodt, Ray Ray Books)




Reptile Museum Volume 1 Issue 1 is like an thick wooden door, one that as you push up against it slightly cracks open and you suddenly become engulfed in the swoosh of an entirely imaginative world which begins to caress your skin and muss up your hair. It tingles with the excitement of anticipation, that something marvelous is about to happen and all you have to do is swing it wide open and step inside.

Either that, or it's the door to that giant trash compactor room aboard the Death Star. A dianoga slithering about. Full of stink. Full of missed opportunities. 

It's a first issue. It's all set-up. This shit could go anywhere.

Reptile Museum concerns a post-Apocalyptic world on the Island of Seawanhacky whose residents have been isolated for generations. It is also about a mysterious character named Pants. Pants has been away for almost a decade. His return is almost certainly a harbinger of change. After all, that's what happens in these kinds of stories.

There's some sort of veiled threat from an outside "they" who may or may not be a bunch of masked men all "hopped up" and wielding swords -- if they are one and the same, then Pants has all this in hand, as PANTS KICKS ASS (OMG, I may have been waiting all my life to write that).



This is a comic that opens big -- a splash page of the Earth spinning alone in the cosmos. There's the guided panel by panel zoom into our locale and our locals, and then, in a moment of artistic brilliance, one of these gentlemen points back up. It's a very subtle moment. Reversing the zoom, playing with our perspective. Setting up big ideas.

There's all these little touches in this book that make me want to believe that as this series continues, there will be so much of value in its pages.  But for each of these moments, there are also just as many misses. Bad wording. Bad perspective. Odd art choices. It's hard sometimes to tell where Cody Pickrodt is coming from with this book, and it is nigh on impossible to predict where he's going.

Is this a door we want to walk through, or is this a door best left shut?

I want to have faith. I think I want to turn the knob on this book one more time. There's just so much possibility here. There's a lot to want to believe in. I mean, this is PANTS we're talkin' about. You gotta have faith in Pants, right?

You can order Reptile Museum Volume 1 Issue 1 from Ray Ray Books.

- Daniel Elkin



Jason Sacks is Publisher of Comics Bulletin. Follow him at @jasonsacks, email him at jason.sacks@comicsbulletin.com or friend him on Facebook.



Danny Djeljosevic is a comic book creator, award-winning filmmaker (assuming you have absolutely no follow-up questions) and Co-Managing Editor of Comics Bulletin. Follow him on Twitter at @djeljosevic or find him somewhere in San Diego, often wearing a hat. Read his comic with Mike Prezzato, "Sgt. Death and his Metachromatic Men," over at Champion City Comics and check out his other comics at his Tumblr, Sequential Fuckery. His webcomic The Ghost Engine, with artist Eric Zawadzki, updates twice a week.



Daniel Elkin wishes there were more opportunities in his day to day to wear brown corduroy and hang out in lobbies. He has been known to talk animatedly about extended metaphors featuring pigs' heads on sticks over on that Twitter (@DanielElkin). He is  Your Chicken Enemy.


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