May 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 May 2020 with brief descriptions and information on where I found each publication.

Graphic Novels

Graphic novels I read in May

Afrodisiac !
Brian Maruca & Jim Rugg
Afrodisiac is a send up and homage to both 70s Blaxploitation film heroes and comic book superheroes. The titular character, also known as Alan Diesler, has a superhuman ability to woo women. The graphic novel includes a number of individual stories, each of which offers a slightly different origin story for the titular hero. Alongside these stories, the book includes a number of pin ups and fake comic book covers. These added extras help ground the character in 70s comic culture. A fun read.

Bone: The Great Cow Race (vol. 2) #
Jeff Smith
I’m finally dipping my toes into this well-reputed series. I am not sure I am the target audience. It’s a fine saga, but after reading two of nine volumes in the graphic novels version of the series, I am still not sure what all the hubbub is about. The art and the characters are strong, but the overarching plot builds incredibly slowly.   

Bottoms Up! True Tales of Hitting Rock-Bottom *
J.T. Yost (ed.)
Bottoms Up! deals with addiction. It offers over 40 stories, often if not exclusively submitted anonymously, illustrated by as many different artists. Artists include some personal favorites like Max Coltefelter, Noah Von Sciver, Haleigh Buck, J.T. Yost, and John Porcellino, among many others. Some stories are funny; many are depressing. They’re all enlightening and offer personal perspectives on and accounts of addiction.

Boy’s Club $
Matt Furie
I don’t get it. If a comic was a straight, white, American boy, this would be it.

Fante Bukowski, vol. 1 $
Noah Van Sciver
The tale of a wannabe writer in his mid to late twenties. Fante has more pretense than skill. I think we can all relate to that or look back on our lives and see some of that at play.

Minor Miracles #
Will Eisner
Impeccable art, morality plays, and NYC. If Humans of New York was a comic, it would be a Will Eisner comic. This graphic novel fits in nicely with Eisner’s other work like Contract With God, Dropsie Avenue, etc. 

Monsters #
Ken Dahl
A graphic novel about herpes. One of the most compelling comics I read in May. Artist Ken Dahl balances personal narrative with technical content well, helping the reader understand what it’s like to have the STD from multiple angels. 

The Portable Not My Small Diary (Collection) +
Delaine Derry Green (ed.)
This volume collects some of Green’s favorite strips from the first 17 issues of Not My Small Diary. If you want to get an idea what the anthology is about, start here.

Pussey! #
Daniel Clowes
Pussey! is a satire about an American comic book artist named Dan Pussey who skyrockets to fame and fizzles out. It’s standard Clowes’ fare in the sense that the art is impeccable, the character-driven story builds up feelings of disdain and melancholy for the entire human race.

Sacred Heart $
Liz Suburbia
A post-apocalyptic story about a town where all the grown ups disappear and a murderer is on the loose. It’s the first thing I’ve picked up by Liz, and I’ll definitely be checking out her other work like her series Cyanide Milkshake.

Trashed #
Derf Backderf
Based in part on his experience working as a trash collector after dropping out of college, Derf’s graphic novel gives the reader incite into the garbage these workers put up with. In between scenes on the job, he adds information about America’s trash problem. A truly disturbing read, and one of my favorites from May.

Why Are You Doing This? $
A anthropomorphic tale of murder and mistaken identity from Norweigian artist Jason. 

Wilson #
Daniel Clowes
Another Clowes’ work about a whiny, obtuse man-child. As with much of Clowes’ work, the title character is compelling in all the worst, if somewhat relatable, ways. Wilson follows the titular character throughout his adult life as he searches for something meaningful, or maybe more accurately as he avoids searching for anything terribly meaningful.  

Wizzywig: Portrait of a Serial Hacker !
Ed Piskor
Wizzywig follows the life of Kevin “Boingthump” Phenicle, from his earliest activities hacking payphones to his imprisonment for hacking a phone company’s billing systems. Piskor created Boingthump as a composite character with elements of his story drawn from various hackers of the 1970s and 1980s. It’s an entertaining introduction into the world and cultures of hacking. 

Wuvable Oaf & Wuvable Oaf: Blood & Metal $
Ed Luce
I’m not much of a fan of metal, wrestling, or cats, but I love Wuvable Oaf.

X-Men: Grand Design $
Ed Piskor
An abbreviated retelling of decades of X-Men history. Piskor’s graphic novel goes a long way in trying to make the disparate zigs and zags of a corporate superhero comic into one coherent narrative.

Floppies & Minicomics

Half the Comics I read in May

3 New Stories $
Dash Shaw
Three stories about dystopian scenarios. The indictment of academic institutions as essentially a hierarchical pyramid scheme didn’t fall on deaf ears with this reader.

Dayglo Ayhole #1 ^
Ben Passmore
Follows a few dudes wandering a post-apocalyptic wasteland. Equal parts social commentary and LSD-inspired desert hellscape.

Eating Raoul <
Kim Deitch
A faithful and funny adaptation of the 1982 Paul Bartel film.

Free Money #6 +
Daniel Patrick McCloskey
I could not understand what was going on in this cmic. However, I enjoyed the highly stylized art.

Gay Heart Throbs #3 <
Larry Fuller
Basically porn, but well draw muscley gay porn comics from the early 1980s. 

Goodbye ^
Ben Passmore
A perfect bound minicomic featuring three stories about aging, punkisms, and relationships.

Happy Hour In America #1 $
Tim Lane
Great art with heavy inking, Happy Hour in America does a good job forwarding hard boiled, noire tropes. 

I Feel Weird #1-3 *
Haleigh Buck
Autobiographic comics about Haleigh’s battle with depression. I Feel Weird puts it all
out there. If you’ve ever struggled with depression and/or anxiety, you will find this relatable. 

Not My Small Diary #19 * 
Delaine Derry Green (ed.)
NMSD’s premise is that the comics are true or truthy. It’s the mac daddy of memoir comics anthologies. Green organizes each issue around a theme. The theme for #19 was “unexplainable.” Stories range from weird happenings to encounters with ghosts. A fun read.

Now: The New Comics Anthology #1 $
Eric Reynolds (ed.)
Another Fantagraphics anthology that features emerging artists. This volume includes work by Eleanor Davis, Dash Shaw, and Noah Von Sciver, among others

The other half of the comics that I read in May

Oak & Linden #4-6 ^ +
Pat Barrett
(#5 is a split with Petrified Girlfriend #3)
Surrealist tales that vary each issue as do the size and design of the comics themselves. Awesome artwork.

A Pantomime Horse #1-3 ^
Ben Passmore
A minicomic series about living in a children’s home or detention center in a dystopian society.

So Buttons #5 *
Jonathan Bayliss (w) & Various Artists
Bayliss writes autobiographical comics that others illustrate. 

Viewotron #1 ^
Sam Sharpe & Peach S. Goodrich
Contains 7 different short pieces that deal with a vast array of unrelated topics–from naming boy bands to stating religions. Great artwork.

Viewotron  #2 ^
Sam Sharpe
A very personal and heart-wrenching story about Sharpe’s relationship with his mother, who has schizophrenia. 

What Is This? ^
Neil Brideau
A minicomic about an alien that crash lands in a little boy’s bedroom and how they become friends.

Write Now! ^
Neil Brideau
Remember in elementary school when folks would ask you what you wanted to be when you grew up? Neil raises the question about why it’s assumed that kids can’t be that right now.


Zines I read in May

Demystifying Comics ^
Neil Brideau
A short zine about making comics, Neil gives the reader just enough information to spur them on without trying to teach them about an entire industry before they can get started. 

Strangers #1 & 2 @
A wonderful fanzine focused on niche comics–often outlaw titles/artists. Each issue includes interviews with creators as well as recurring features such as “It Came From the Dollar Bins.” Alongside Bubbles, Strangers is the new zine that I most look forward to. 

The Tiny Report Micro-Press Yearbook 2014-2017
Robyn Chapman
If you are interested in small- or micro-presses, then you have to check out these reports. Each year Robyn addresses which presses are functioning, what they published, and what their concerns are. She also features interviews with micro-press publishers and creators. 

Stores & Distros Supported

! Amazon
I try to avoid them as much as possible, but got a gift card for my birthday.

* Birdcage Bottom Books
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.

< Last Gasp
OG San Francisco bookstore and former comic distributor.

^ Radiator Comics
Cartoonist Neil Brideau’s distro, located in Miami.

+ Spit and a Half
A comic/book publisher and distro run by John Porcellino, creator of King Cat Comics

@ Strangers Fanzine
You can order the zine directly or pick it up from stores like Floating World Comics in Portland.

# Thriftbooks
Used book distro.

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