Tiny Pages Made of Ashes is Comics Bulletin's roundup of small press comics reviews.
(Maciej Sienczyk; Biedriba Grafiskie stasti/Mini Kus!)
There are odd things occurring in Latvia. Nobody seems to understand this better than the Riga based publishing house Biedriba Grafiskie stasti who publish the anthology kuš! (pronounced koosh!) which they started in 2007. As they say on their website, "The aims of kuš! are to popularize comics in a country where this medium is practically non-existant and spreading Latvian comics abroad." They also publish mini comics, and the focus of this review is one of those, Mini Kus! #12 Historyjki by Polish artist Maciej Sienczyk.
In Historyjki, Sienczyk explores six dream-like vignettes that try to make sense of what may be the stories we tell each other in the midst of our R.E.M. sleep. From "Singing Fluffs," a story about how a man helps himself sweep his floor by imagining the dust singing the sacred tune of his bra-less dead sister, to "The Bread Faun" which explores a "folk tale" about a creature made of bread who roams in the world "to put all the people who don't kiss dropped bread to shame," to "The Boilman" which is about a boy who could only survive in boiling water, these tales and the others in this book comment on our need to make sense of the world and explore the unbelievable layers of nonsense we put on top of experience in order to explain the unexplainable.
At its heart, Historyjki is about storytelling, the creative force, and human behavior.
It is also weird as shit.
If Edward Gorey and Antonin Artaud had a love child, it would be the pages of Historyjki.
At times more illustrated story than comic book, Historyjki challenges you to make sense of its pages as Sienczyk goes hard for the surreal and the absurd. I found myself reading and re-reading his 24 pages as if it were a map to my own subconscious, and I kept getting lost, missing landmarks, having to back-track and start again. After my fourth journey, I found myself really only three steps to my left, my feet throbbing, mildly dehydrated, but all the better for having made this trek.
There's an opening that occurs while reading this book, a blooming, but it requires you to have stamina. This is not a book for a lazy reader, nor is it a book for someone who likes their entertainment light. This is challenging work, but, in this, the rewards are the greatest.
You don't have to travel to Latvia to purchase Historyjki — it's available at kuš! komiksi.
– Daniel Elkin
eVentures with eBabe
(Bri Brown, Ertito Montana)
One of the things I love most about doing this column and running this website is that I never really know what sort of thing will show up in the mail. This week's latest example of that truism is a color comic centered all around a woman who loves to buy and sell on eBay — and it's a comic that doesn't just contain comics stories of all shapes and sizes, but it also has page after page of word games, Sudoku, tips on buying and selling on eBay, and even cookie recipes and exercise tips.
eVentures with eBabe is a wacky and unusual package, but it's also one hell of a lot of fun. As a comics guy, I had fun with Bri Brown and Ertito Montana's stories. The main character in this book, the eBabe, is a cute bundle of energy who lives for her eBay trade, her time with her friends and her battles with her nemesis eVel. My favorite character is probably eBabe's best friend eBud (though wouldn't it be funnier if he was called PayPal? C'mon, that's pretty clever, isn't it?), an overweight and overly excited guy who serves really nicely as the foil for all the women in this comic.
You'll read the stories in these four issues pretty quickly, with a smile on your face. But you'll linger for the games and be happy you bought the book for some eBay tips. Okay, it's a strange sort of SPOILER alert, but let me share a couple of eBabe's eBay hints…
- Declare "combined shipping" on all your auctions
- Never start bidding at 99¢
- Bid high for the things you really want to win
I'm so glad there are real labor of love comics like these out on the small press market these days. This obviously totally reflects Bri Brown's world, and that makes this book a huge amount of fun.
If you want to check out eVentures with the Babe, it actually has its own eBay store.
– Jason Sacks
The Way We Write
I'm this terrifying mixture of apprehensive and excited whenever I hear that there's some musical act that's got a comic coming out that's even vaguely related to it. It helps when I like the music in question, so Coheed and Cambria's stuff didn't do much for me, I was mildly curious about the Fall Out Boy comics, and flat-out lost my shit when Umbrella Academy was announced (which doesn't really count, but I proceeded to lose even more shit when the Killjoys were announced).
So, when The Way We Write came into my inbox from Rachael Smith, I figured I should at least check out the band's music. I thought that Her Name is Calla sounded interesting enough to warrant checking out the comic, and here we are.
I'm not huge on Smith's style, with regard to both art and story, and while the overall story being told is decent, it's a bit of a cliché as well (the band books a house to record in, which is, of course, haunted). There are instances where onomatopoeias are used to convey emotions that really should be visible in the artwork, her facial expressions are not incredibly diverse, and the title card interludes just serve to enhance how awkward the coloring of the book is.
That said, her dialogue was pretty believable and had me laughing a couple of times, so I was at least mildly entertained.
In short, it feels almost like very early strips from Questionable Content, and while Smith's style will surely get legs if she keeps at it, she's got a long way to go.
For more information on The Way We Write, check out Rachael Smith's blog.
– David Fairbanks