Wednesday, December 18, 2013

ZINE REVIEW: The DIY Guide to Fighting the Big Motherfucking Sad

Adam Gnade [Pioneers Press]

Writer Adam Gnade offers us a guide for how he deals with what he calls "The Big Motherfucking Sad" aka depression.

As soon as I opened up Adam's fight guide, I instantly recognized something in myself. In the book's introduction, Adam tell us that he dreams of dissecting his life—listing how tired or sick he felt on a certain day, what foods he ate and how he felt when he got up in the morning—all in an effort to detect the patterns of his life. Three years ago, I started to keep a journal for these very same reasons. I was inspired at the time by Jesse Reklaw's daily comics journal, Ten Thousand Things to Do. I kept a daily record of what I ate, drank and the basics of what went down that particular day and what my mood was (good, bad, pissed, bummed). I wanted to see if I could recognize patterns. Was I depressed because I drank too much that particular week or did I drink because I was depressed? Did slipping into a lazy junk food diet cause my depression or did I turn to these comfort foods as a result of it? I am not someone who suffers from clinical depression, but I get bummed out like everyone else and if being in mental pain is comparable to being in physical pain, then it's important to know the cause of the affliction so that it can be corrected.

Gnade doesn't deal with the root causes of the Big Motherfucking Sad, recognizing that they vary by individual, but he does offer tips to school depression's ass. With suggestions (commands, really) on how to not let the buggers get you down. There's a "Guide to Not Freaking Out All the Time," advice on how to deal with the critics and the haters and other assorted maxims you can use to pump yourself up when you're feeling deflated. That's the purpose of this book, which undoubtedly provided the same comfort to its author.

This zine is not a cure-all for anything, it's just a tool you can use to help you continue to kick ass on a daily basis. A few months ago I stopped keeping my daily journal. Not out of laziness, but after three years I became pretty adept at recognizing the patterns I had been recording. When you know what's coming you can prepare yourself for it. So if you suffer from chronic depression, seasonal depression or stress-related sadness, you would do well to have this pocket-sized pep talk close by. Don't let it creep up on you and don't let the bastards get you downChris Auman []

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

COMICS REVIEW: Treasury of Mini Comics

Treasury of Mini Comics
by Michael Dowers (Editor) Fantagraphics

This is the second collection of mini comics compiled by editor Michael Dowers and published by Fantagraphics Books. Like its predecessor, Newave! Underground Mini Comix of the 1980s, Treasury of Mini Comics is filled to bursting with dozens of the best mini comics ever produced. It was Dowers' goal with Newave! to demonstrate the direct influence of 60s underground comics on the artists behind the mini explosion of the 1980s. With the Treasury of Mini Comics volumes, Dower continues to demonstrate this progression, bringing the series from 1969 up to present day. Also like the book's predecessor, Treasury features interviews with these comics creators about the what, when, where and why of their work in minis.

While there's still room for absurd story lines and subject matter, the work presented in this volume seems to be more focused and, dare it be said, sophisticated than in the previous volume. This is perhaps due to the growing respect minis have gained despite their small stature (typically four and a quarter by five and a half inches). The mini has enjoyed recognition and respect as a legitimate comics format rather than just a cheap way to self publish (which it certainly still is). Towards that end, there has been a little help from graphics editing software in cleaning up images and of course copier technology has vastly improved in the last forty years as well.

Some of the artists featured in this volume include Roberta Gregory, John Porcellino, Noah Van Sciver, Andy Singer, Blair Wilson, Matt Feazell, Jim Blanchard and Carrie McNinch, to name but a few. Bound in an arresting, fire engine red hardcover, this squat and sturdy book will have appeal to fans of underground comics, mini-sized or otherwise. If you're a complete-ist (so rare in comic book fans), be sure to save enough room on your shelf for Volume Two—Chris Auman

This review was originally published on Sound on Sight.

Tuesday, December 03, 2013

BOOK REVIEWS: The Bobby Joe Ebola Songbook

Dan Abbott & Corbett Redford
Edited by Jason Chandler
[Microcosm][Horrible Comics]

Those living in the Bay Area may be familiar with the various antics, shenanigans and miscellaneous malarky instigated by the duo of Dan Abbott & Corbett Redford. In the guise of their alter ego band, Bobby Joe Ebola & The Children MacNuggits, this folk punk comedy band has been entertaining grown-up kids for over 15 years. The Bobby Joe Ebola Songbook is a big fat song book collection of over 80 BJE tunes. While the book comes complete with chords and lyrics, it's not necessarily intended for the serious musician. It serves more as a  memento for fans to remember the band by and also features trivia, pop quizzes, band pin-ups and assorted tips and treats. The book has been lovingly illustrated by a host of artists including Winston Smith,  Mitch Clem, Cristy Road, Andy Warner, Keeli McCarthy, Petr Sorfa and many others. This is a great accompaniment to the actual BJE recordings for newbies and old fans alikeChris Auman


Monday, December 02, 2013

BOOK REVIEW: Meal Deal with the Devil

Bobby Joe Ebola & The Children MacNuggits
Pictures by Jason Chandler [Microcosm] [Horrible Comics]

Meal Deal with the Devil is a children’s sing-along book that is in no way intended for children— my favorite kind! Modeled on the "Little Golden Books" we all grew up with as little nuggits, the book is a product of Dan Abbott and Corbett Redford, the musical comedy duo known as Bobby Joe Ebola & The Children MacNuggits. These two satirizing punks have been skewering icons and slaughtering sacred cows for a  decade and a half.  

Meal Deal comes with a CD which features five tunes. "Naked Beach Party (On the White House Lawn)" is a surf rock rave-up D.C. style.  "Broken Bottles," is an accordion jam that seems to be about cooking broken glass. "Punk, You Let Me Down," is an old school rap-style admonishment of present day punks who just can't let go of a dated fashion trend.  The book itself is to be read while listening to tracks four and five on the CD. "Down at the Jamboree" advocates partying with furry and four-legged friends and "The Town with No Beer," is a harrowing story about a town that has run out of hops.  The book is illustrated by Jason Chandler in comical fashion. Meal Deal is suitable for adult children of all agesChris Auman