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


Commander X All-Star Special #1

(Jay Piscopo)

Nemo Publishing




Okay, I'll admit it. I'm a total sucker for Jay Piscopo's comics. When I stumbled across Piscopo's Sea Ghost last August, I fell in love, love, love! Now I've got my hands on Commander X All-Star Special #1 and I am contemplating a ménage a trois. This book is a collection of three short adventure stories featuring the wonderful character Commander X and is about as sexy as comics can get.



Commander X is a throwback to a time when comic book heroes were all heroic and tough and stuff. They weren't so complicated, they were just better than all of us. This book features three of Commander X's adventures: one featuring Nazis and Yetis, one featuring a giant undersea robot, and a final one featuring "An ancient Lemurian Weapon of Mass Destruction." All of them awesome — because it is that kind of comic.

Commander X is a sort of side character in Piscopo's magnum opus and pièce de résistance, The Undersea Adventures of Capt'n Eli, which is based on a soda (don't ask, long story), and is all kinds of wildly wonderful. Here, in this book, the Commander steps up to the fore and flexes his muscles, charms the ladies, and frees the Yeti. Piscopo's art is its usual clean, crisp, and refreshing self. His color palette is, as always, inventive, exciting, and engaging. His use of sound effects is onomatopoeia-tastic, and his dialogue is full of fun. My only complaint about this book is that it isn't long enough. I could have read another ten Commander X stories and still wanted more.

Are you looking for a comic that you can share with your entire family? Are you looking for a book that will entice you to joy? Commander X All-Star Special #1 from Nemo Publishing is that book. 

Find out more at the Capt'n Eli website.

-Daniel Elkin


So Buttons #5

(Jonathan Baylis, Tom Scioli, Paul Westover, Thomas Boatwright, Noah Van Sciver, Lisa Rosalie Eisenberg)


I've been a reader and a fan of Jonathan Baylis's slice-of-life minicomics for a while now, so I'm really excited that a new issue of So Buttons is finally available. The new issue is now available, and while it's a bit shorter than usual, at only 16 pages, Jonathan still delivers four really entertaining stories along with an awesome cover.

As a big Jack Kirby fan, I loved Tom Scioli's really amusing cover that manages to be a tribute to Jack Kirby, a fun teaser of the content inside the issue and a clever piece of artwork all in one. Scioli's work made me chuckle, and even people who don't like the King will still be able to appreciate this silly Marvel tribute.

I really appreciated all four stories inside this issue, too. As a major coffeeholic, my favorite piece in So Buttons #5 was "So… Caffeinated," illustrated by Thomas Boatwright. This story tells readers all about Jonathan's obsession with finding the perfect cup of coffee after his favorite coffee is cruelly taken away from him by a store that stops selling coffee. Illustrated in a casual and charmingly exaggerated style by Boatwright, this story successfully walks the fine line between showing Jonathan's intense emotions and making fun of him.



"So… Escalated," illustrated by Noah Van Sciver of The Hypo fame, tells an almost Harvey Pekar slice of life story, a nearly silent meditation wonderfully drawn by Van Sciver in a way that really conveys the rawness of emotion that Jonathan and his friend feel at seeing Schindler's List. This story is a lovely and simple two-pager that is a wonderful blend of words and pictures. It quietly makes a lot of noise.

"So… Extracted," illustrated in a clean cartoon style and rendered in bright colors by Paul Westover, contains a story that any dog lover can relate to and appreciate. And the fourth story, "So… Brisk," with art by Lisa Rosalie Eisenberg, tells a story of ordinary family drama in a bright, charming, slightly exaggerated style that works well for the story.

I've really enjoyed every issue of So Buttons, and this one is no exception. It's a great little zine full of clever true-to-life moments that we all can relate to. Especially we coffee addicts.

For more information on this comic, visit s="s2">sobuttons.com

- Jason Sacks


With the Earth Above Us

(Lee Milewski, YdAo)


Lee Milewski had me interested from the first few pages, offering a style reminiscent of Mike Mignola doing a spacey sci-fi comic, but my interest waned pretty quickly.

I can't really tell what's going on in With the Earth Above Us. I think Milewski is trying to show us instead of just delivering a chunk of exposition — which is a good thing, I might add — but I think he fell flat a bit, as I feel like I know less than he expects me to about the setting. Maybe we'll get more clarification later on, but this early in the game, it felt like weak storytelling.



I went back and noticed that he's got a section of his website labeled "the story so far" which covers quite a bit of the questions I had. Remember how I said I was a fan of not having a block of exposition telling us what we need to know? I'd rather have that and have it be in with the comic than have to find it elsewhere.

That the art decreases a bit in quality over the course of the issue doesn't really help it either. 

Beyond that, there's not really a whole lot more I can think to say. If you like sci-fi comics, you'll probably be a bit bored, but it could be going somewhere interesting, too. 

Give it a try for yourself; you can read the first issue for free at wteau.com

- David Fairbanks




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.



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





David Fairbanks doesn't get many things right the first time. He studied physics in college, loves science, music, comics, poetry, movies, books and education pertaining to all of the above. He will talk your ear off about Grant Morrison and Ben Folds, has an indie bookshelf larger than his Marvel, DC and Vertigo ones combined and if he ever actually grows up, more than anything else, he wants to still be happy as an "adult," whatever that is.

Mostly self-indulgent ramblings can be found at @bairfanx and untilsomethingbreaks.blogspot.com.

About The Author

Danny Djeljosevic is a comic book creator, award-winning filmmaker (assuming you have absolutely no follow-up questions), film/music critic for Spectrum Culture 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.