April 2020 Reading List

Here’s a list of all the comics, graphic novels, comic-related books, zines, and other small press publications that I read in April 2020 with brief descriptions and information on where I found each publication.

Graphic Novels

Caricature @
Daniel Clowes
This graphic novel collects 9 stories about loners, losers, and misanthropes. It’s a mood and masterfully crafted. Reading Daniel’s work is like picking off a scab. You aren’t sure why, but you are compelled by it.

Celebrated Summer *
Charles Forsman
Charles’ follow-up to The End of the Fxxxing World. Published by Fantagraphics in 2014, this graphic novel follows Mike and Wolf as they drop acid and try to make their way to the beach. This Waiting for Godot-style piece does a good job depicting the listless existence of many American teens. On one hand, I dug it because I related to the characters and their melancholic codependency. On the other hand, it’s fun or entertaining to rekindle those feelings these many years later.

Comic Book History of Comics: Birth of a Medium and Comic Book History of Comics: Comics for All @
Fred Van Lente and Ryan Dunlavey
These graphic novels collect two limited series published by IDW that detail the history of comics in America (in Birth of a Medium) and touch on this history in other pats of the world and creators who fall outside this history (in Comics for All). An excellent primer for comics readers who want to learn more about the industry.

Deadly Class, vol. 1 *
Rick Remender & Wesley Craig
More sparse storytelling than some of Rick’s other work (e.g., Seven to Eternity). Deadly Class is a coming-of-age story set in the 1980s. The series follows an orphan named Marcus and his friends as they train to become assassins.

Goodbye, My Havana #
Anna Veltfort
Anna chronicles her life from childhood to her early 20s, much of which took place in Cuba. She documents the shift in Cuba culture post-revolution, and her experiences as a lesbian and an art student. I picked this up on a whim at a local bookstore, and I am glad I did. It’s a well-written and compelling story with a lot of historical information filtered through Anna’s experience, including information about the early gay rights movement in America.

Love is Love: A Comic Book Anthology to Benefit the Survivors of the Orlando Pulse Shooting *
Sarah Gaydos & Jamie S. Rich (eds.)
Published by IDW in 2017, this anthology addresses, defends, and supports LGBTQ Americans in the wake of the Pulse massacre. Some of the contributions made me cry. Others felt superficial at best. One Amazon reviewer describes the collection as “a macaroni picture frame your kid made for you at school. You know the love and effort they put into it and you know it isn’t that great, but you appreciate it for what it is.” I couldn’t describe it more accurately.

Rachel Rising, vols. 1-4 *
Terry Moore
Rachel Rising is a 42-issue horror comic series published by Terry’s own Abstract Studio between August 2011 and May 2016. Set in the fictional town of Manson, Massachusetts, the series follows Rachel as she discovers her past and as she deals with a plot to destroy her town and Manson’s sinister history. The series employs some familiar tropes pertaining to witchcraft, and demons, but does so in an interesting way. Terry’s wonderful artwork, characterizations, and unique approaches to these tropes make the series compelling. You may be familiar with some of Terry’s other series, Strangers in Paradise, Echo, or Motor Girl. Alongside Rachel Rising, these series are set in the same universe, and story lines from Rachel Rising continue in Terry’s current series, Five Years, which brings together characters from all these comics.

Street Angel: Deadliest Girl Alive ^
Brian Maruca & Jim Rugg
This volume collects much, if not all, of the previous Street Angel comics from Image. In this series, Jim’s artwork is dynamic though sparse and angular, and Brian’s writing is cheeky and entertaining. The titular character, Jesse “Street Angel” Sanchez is a homeless orphan ninja. Stories bounce between life on the streets, dealing with the crap we all go through in school, and searching for and doing crazy things for food.

Things Are Meaning Less $
Al Burian
Autobiographical comics created between 1997 and 1998 from the producer of the zine Burn Collector. Al’s comics in this collection document his life scraping by in Rhode Island, NYC, and North Carolina.

Floppies and Minis

Action Girl, 1-5 ^
Sarah Dwyer (ed.)
An anthology series featuring work from women cartoonists, Slave Labor Graphics published 19 issues of Action Girl between 1994 and 2000. The project extended Sarah’s work form the Action Girl Newsletter, which publicized zines by women creators in the early 90s. Stand outs from the first 5 issues include strips by Sarah, Jessica Abel, Patty Leidy, and Jennifer Sorensen.

Alligator Milk +
Max Clotfelter
Pinto Bean and Woody go through it, but they are reunited in the end. Brutal, and I love the artwork.

Big Planet Comics Blue Edition +
Anthology
This anthology features work by DC, Virginia, and Maryland cartoonists, including Box Brown, Robin Ha, and Superwaxx, among others. It was nice to see work by folks I had heard of but hadn’t read anything from, but nothing stood out to me.

Buster +
Max Clotfelter
Telling Buster’s story through the dysfunction of one family. Max puts characters through the ringer.

Elflord, vol. 1, 1-6, vol. 2, 1-15 <
Barry Blair
What can I say about Elflord? I grew up reading it, and I still love it, warts and all. If you dig cartooning influence by manga way before comic shops were selling it in the states and if you dig fantasy-adventure, you might dig it. If you are an Aircel/Barry Blair fan, be sure to check out my creator profile on him in May.

Giant Size Mini-Comics, 1-4 ^
Cat Yronwode (ed.)
A bi-monthly series from 1986 and published by Eclipse; it only lasted 4 issues. Some of the strips included are great, but many of them are…not. Stand out strips in the first three issues include work by Steve Willis, Tim Corrigan, and Bill McKearn. Issue 4 is most worth checking out.

Milo & Sam +
Andy Brown and Joe Ollmann
This minicomic addresses the challenges of fatherhood. It’s cute and sentimental, and it made me tear up a bit.

Momento +
Matías San Juan
This comic showcases 6 of Matías’ stories about drug use, cannibalism, and other fun stuff. Hailing from Argentina, this may be Matías’ first issue published in the US. Check out his site to see some of his work: www.matiassj.com/.

Trollords, vol. 1, 1-5 ^
Scott Beaderstadt & Paul Fricke
Trollords may be best described as a quintessential 80s comic in that it offers up fantasy/adventure, slapstick comedy, and suicidal depression in equal measure and features b+w artwork. The comic was published by Tru Studios beginning in 1986, then picked up by Comico for a couple years, and resurrected by Tapestry—a subsidiary of Caliber—in 1996. Trollords may have emerged in the wake of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles’ success as there are some parallels between the series, but it’s a good series that gets overlooked nevertheless.

Winged Tiger Comics & Stories, 10 ^
Phil Yeh
My first foray into Winged Tiger, this issue features Patrick the bunny traveling around the world to talk to various artists and creators about what inspires their work and how they keep going. Patrick speaks with Henry Winkler, George Lucas, and Jason Lee, among others.

Books & Zines

Faster Than a Speeding Bullet: The Rise of the Graphic Novel @
Stephen Weiner
A short read that provides an overview of how graphic novels emerged as a medium in the US and how they have become the dominant comics medium: nowadays, graphic novels outsell “floppy” comics by a huge margin.

The Tiny Report Micro-Press Yearbook 2013 +
Robyn Chapman
Robyn creates and distributes minicomics on her website https://thetinyreport.com/. From 2013-2018 she published annual reports on the state of micro-presses around the world. This is the first issue. Her work is incredibly inspiring. The report defines micro-presses, lists micro-press publishers and what they published that year, addresses issues that micro-presses face, and includes interviews with creators. Most annual reports are available from her store, but a couple (including the 2013 report) are sold out.

Stores & Distros Supported

April Distro Logos

! Birdcage Bottom Books
https://www.birdcagebottombooks.com/
A small-press comic publisher and distributor located in NYC.

* Comixology: I’m trying to divest from Amazon, but during shelter-in-place orders, I’ve been reading voraciously, so I tried the 60-day Comixology Unlimited service.

< Fat Cat Books
http://www.fatcatcomics.net/
My local comic shop while I was growing up in Binghamton, NY. These readings are from my collection. The shop has been around since 1976. Support it if you are nearby!

$ Microcosm Publishing
https://microcosmpublishing.com/
A zine, comic, and book publisher in Portland, OR. It used to be a lot cooler back in the day.

^ MyComicShop.com
https://www.mycomicshop.com/
An online-only comic shop that used to have a number of brick-and-mortor shops throughout Texas under the name Lone Star Comics.

+ Spit and a Half
https://www.spitandahalf.com/
A small-press publisher and distro run by John Porcellino, creator of King Cat Comics.

@ Thriftbooks
https://www.thriftbooks.com/
Used book distro.

# Violet Valley Bookstore
https://www.violetvalley.org/
The only LGBTQ+ bookstore in Mississippi.

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