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The Strong Baked Defenders #1 by “Red” Fox, Matti V, Zdravko Jandric, Milan Rogulja, El Zorro Rojo, K’Eyi K’Ebero, Rob Thibodeau, and Vincent Marchesano

The Strong Baked Defenders #1 https://buff.ly/3a7OCL7 is a standard size, full color, 28-page comic created by “Red” Fox and Matti V with line art by Zdravko Jandric, colors by Milan Rogulja (Cover) and El Zorro Rojo (Body), lettering by K’Eyi K’Ebero, character development by Rob Thibodeau, and modeling sheets by Vincent Marchesano. Published by Cor Industries.

This is the first issue of a three-issue volume that I’ll be writing about over the next few weeks. In this issue we’re introduced to a group of four friends going about their normal lives. One of the friends is convinced aliens are among us, another is being bullied at work, while another is struggling at university, and the final friend is most interested in staying stoned. Everything seems to be going well as the group make some decisions about the future…then they unexpectedly wander into the middle of what appears to be an unrelated ambush on a bridge!

The writing quickly establishes the setting and characters and provides just enough detail to make you comfortable with the unfolding story, but without overwhelming you with backstory. An effective hook is planted at the end of this issue to make you want to read the next and find out how this peculiar quartet will fare!

You can join the The Strong Baked Defenders at https://buff.ly/3a7OCL7 and find more at https://www.facebook.com/CORIndustries/  

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Poopsheet 5 by Rick Bradford

Poopsheet 5 https://patreon.com/poopsheet is a 5-page/2-sided, black and white mini comic newsletter edited by Rick Bradford with artwork by Hal Mundane, Bob Vojtko, and Mark David Dietz. Published by the Poopsheet Foundation.

In this edition of Poopsheet Rick shines the spotlight on several minis complete with descriptions and ordering information! Featured in this issue are: White Buffalo Gazette (Tom Scarecrow); Mulmig (Marc Myers); Bearqueft Comix (Charlie Haggard); StripburgerInsect Horoscopes (Blair Wilson); The Zine-ology ReportComics Link Spotlight, and Imagination Workshop (Alan Sissom w/others); and King-Cat (John Porcellino). All this PLUS an update on the Poopsheet Foundation Mini-Comic and Fanzine Database and a neat comic by Bob Vojtko and groovy art by Hal Mundane, and Mark David Dietz!

Get your hands dirty with the Poopsheet at https://poopsheetfoundation.com and https://poopsheetshop.com and support the Poopsheet Foundation (and receive goodies like Poopsheet 5) at https://patreon.com/poopsheet

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Dodo Comics No. 6 and Dr. Carl Willendorf: Psychoanalyst of Creatures, Monsters, & Other Beasts by Grant Thomas

Dr. Carl Willendorf: Psychoanalyst of Creatures, Monsters, & Other Beasts https://grantthomasonline.com/shop is a 10-page, black and white mini comic written and illustrated by Grant Thomas. Price $1.

In this mini we pay a visit to the office of Doctor Carl Willendorf. There the good doctor talks to a reclining Minotaur about his unconventional family origins. Great line work, layout, and pacing! There are so many creatures, monsters, and beasts out there that clearly need counseling, I think Dr. Willendorf has a long series of minis ahead of him!

Dodo Comics No. 6 https://grantthomasonline.com/shop is a 20-page, black and white, digest size comic written and illustrated by Grant Thomas. Price $3.

The saga of Medusa continues in this issue of Dodo as the snakes show her a new source of water and a betrayal brings out a darker side! Meanwhile, plans are hatched to defend against a Holy War! The issue concludes with four pieces dedicated to the Everglades titled The Forever Glades. In these four pages we’re treated to both clean, attractive line drawings of scenes from within the Everglades and a brief history of the region. Dodo serves up even more great storytelling and art from the very talented Grant Thomas!

You can get these great comics at https://grantthomasonline.com/shop and you can receive mini comics from Grant every two months by subscribing to https://www.patreon.com/mylifeinrecords

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Catte Belle and Macka and CAB Gets Inked 2019 by Charles Brubaker

Catte Belle and Macka and CAB Gets Inked 2019 https://www.fuzzy-princess.com are each 20-page, black and white, minicomic, comic strip books written and illustrated by Charles Brubaker. Published by Smallbug Press.

These two black and white minis (the color image is a postcard) feature Charles’ 2019 Inktober work through a series of single and multiple panel cartoons. Familiar characters from Charles’ comic books and strips make appearances in short gag-themed strips showcasing Charles’ mastery of inking and storytelling! Each of these are great for a quick chuckle, but can also be viewed as a resource for learning about the anatomy of a cartoon. Charles does an excellent job of laying out multiple panels to set up a gag and then deliver with 100% satisfaction! A lot can be gleaned from these minis as well as any of Charles’ other comics!

You can find all sorts of comics and art by Charles Brubaker at http://smallbug.storenvy.com/ and enjoy even more at https://www.fuzzy-princess.com

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Sombria by Kiko Garcia

Sombria http://kikomics.com.br/ is a 96-page, full color, horror comic written and illustrated by Kiko Garcia and published by Kikomics.

Kiko puts pen and brush to paper in Sombria and delivers a psychological drama that witnesses an artist’s slow decent into madness as he agonizes over which tool to use, the right line weight, page compositions, and everything else that fills his cluttered mind! But that’s not where this artist’s troubles end, oh no. His downward spiral into a mental breakdown extends to his hand. His hand that has taken to thinking for itself and deciding what the artist must do to attract readers and win over editors! This hand has its own thoughts on how things should be done and with it in charge things begin to change…but the change isn’t good for all involved!

Kiko does a great job of communicating the agony of the artist as he tries to please others while dealing with distractions, publishers, and overwhelming self-doubt. As the artist slips into insanity he goes to extremes for his art and to appease his sinister hand. Through it all Kiko uses vibrant colors with dramatic contrasts that really bring a feeling of dread and anguish to the pages. He also incorporates a series of black and white pages that adds even more drama to the overall story!

There are so many great things about this comic! On the surface you have an artist struggling with the art of making comics. The sketching, drawing, inking, and then you have the self-doubt and self-criticism. Then Kiko has even thrown the “Reader” in as a character that interacts directly with the artist, complaining about the art! Just great stuff with fantastic, bold artwork!

You can go crazy in the mind of an artist with Sombria at http://kikomics.com.br/ and have a sneak peek at https://youtu.be/-rMBEmiKRqA and find more from Kikomics at https://www.facebook.com/kikomicsquadrinhos/

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Blubber #5 by Gilbert Hernandez

Blubber #5 http://www.fantagraphics.com/blubber5/ is a 24-page, standard size, Black and White, ADULTS ONLY comic with color covers. Written and illustrated by Gilbert Hernandez, published by Fantagraphics. un

Men, women, transsexuals, mutants, and cryptids all cum together to explore the many ways they can satisfy their carnal desires in this fetish filled funny book! The stories and art are full of physically enhanced characters determined to fill every orifice or warm fold of flesh they can find! The underlying plot suggest all the humans are somehow caught in an alternate world of cryptoid creatures and copulation is the only way to escape. I admit, I couldn’t completely follow everything that was going on in this comic. Maybe if I went back and read the previous issues it would have helped, but I didn’t. Anyhow, the art is clean and delightful (just as you’d expect from Gilbert Hernandez).  The storytelling was a little jumbled, but I think the bizarreness of the situations added to the disjointedness (and made me feel like I was missing out on an inside joke that others “in the know” were privy to). 

You can get your fingers all sticky with Blubber at http://www.fantagraphics.com/blubber5/ and find more from Fantagraphics at  http://www.fantagraphics.com/

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The Man in the Black Cloak by Kiko Garcia

The Man in the Black Cloak http://kikomics.com.br/ is an 82-page, black and white, horror comic written and illustrated by Kiko Garcia and published by Kikomics.

An old storyteller starts this collection of tales off with a piece titled “Sleeping with the Deceased.” In it he remembers a not so pleasant time when he became trapped with an angry corpse! Next the storyteller’s rival “Hank” spins a yarn in “Quarrels and Prowess,” a tale about himself and his father taking matters into their own hands to settle things with a pesky werewolf! The storyteller and Hank compete with each other attempting to demonstrate which of them is the bravest by the events they describe in their stories. To finally determine which is the bravest they decide the title will go to the one that kills the “Saci,” an annoying, one-legged, magical prankster that lives in the marsh! Things don’t go as planned when the two men come face-to-face in the overgrown vegetation of the marsh. After the encounter the storyteller closes this comic with “Not Even a Patch Could Save Me” and “A Very Scary Bet,” both of which lead to an unforeseen and completely satisfying twist ending!

Kiko weaves an entertaining narrative full of twists through four horror stories within a larger, all-encompassing story! His bold black lines with heavy shadows contrast great against the white spaces and injects drama into the stories at a perfect pace. His characters are drawn with lots of attention paid to individual details, and his writing keeps the action moving with unpredictable outcomes! The Man in the Black Cloak is storytelling and art at its best!

You can walk with The Man in the Black Cloak at http://kikomics.com.br/ and find more from Kikomics at https://www.facebook.com/kikomicsquadrinhos/

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Rooftop Stew by Max Clotfelter

Rooftop Stew https://birdcage-bottom-books.myshopify.com/products/rooftop-stew is a 120-page, fictional and autobiographical, black and white, perfect bound, standard size comic written and illustrated by Max Clotfelter. Published by Birdcage Bottom Books.

A while back I gave a short pre-review of Rooftop Stew while it was still in development. Back then I praised Max Clotfelter’s art and storytelling after seeing just a small piece of this 120-page monster of a comic. Well, now I’ve had the pleasure of reading the whole thing and all I can say is wow! What a great collection of bizarre stories and wonderfully weird art! In the pages of Rooftop Stew Max takes the reader on a comically curious trip through a world of clods, creeps, and cretins all beautifully illustrated in bold black ink!

Max’s cast of misfit characters stumble through a neglected plane of existence littered with drugs and filth set against a greasy stained background dripping with sex and open sores. Unique characters such as the much maligned “Redeye” find themselves in the midst of violence, schemes, and abandonment while dealing with less than ideal parental role models. Other characters, to include Max himself, wander through corrupting and salacious scenarios involving stealing porn from the underprivileged, smoking PCP, shooting explosives, hunting tail with dad, and getting into bar fights! Plus a bunch of other stuff that completes this portrait of working class pain and suffering in the seedy south as well as other squalid settings!

Max Clotfelter’s old-school, underground art style perfectly captures the grimy gist of his tortured tales. His penchant for delicious detail fills each panel of every page with entertaining elements of a soiled life that begs to be consumed by the curious and examined with eyes wide open!

Get you spoon ready for a big helping of Rooftop Stew at https://birdcage-bottom-books.myshopify.com/products/rooftop-stew and find more from Birdcage Bottom Books at https://birdcage-bottom-books.myshopify.com/

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Blood and Drugs by Lance Ward

Blood and Drugs https://birdcage-bottom-books.myshopify.com/products/blood-and-drugs is a 176-page, black and white interior with full color cover, standard size comic written and illustrated by Lance Ward. Published by Birdcage Bottom Books.

Lance Ward tells a tragic story about real life struggles with addiction and all the unforeseen consequences of one man’s fateful decision. Through the pages we’re introduced to an assortment of interesting characters living on the fringes of society. We’re brought into their worlds through the eyes of the main character as he rubs shoulders and exchanges grasps at happiness with each of them. Through it all the gravitational force of defeat continues to pull everyone down into the shadows of addiction and despair with only the saving grace of friendship, comics, and music providing a glimmer of something more worth reaching for.

Lance brings a raw realness to the self-loathing and disillusionment of the story with his rough and bold artwork. The heavy lines, sparse backgrounds, and subtle character details combine to establish a believable world in which this tale takes place. It quickly becomes easy to relate to the main character, Buster, and all of his acquaintances as the people you see every day walking the streets of your own city. The people you may not talk to, or even make eye contact with, but you know they are there and you wonder what their story is. Within the pages of Blood and Drugs Lance Ward offers you a chance to find out, and what a fascinating and gripping story it is!

You can walk the streets and visit the halfway houses with Buster in Blood and Drugs at https://birdcage-bottom-books.myshopify.com/products/blood-and-drugs and find more from Birdcage Bottom Books at https://birdcage-bottom-books.myshopify.com/

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Future Corpse by Eva Muller

Future Corpse https://buff.ly/2rWvyOO is a 20-page, digest size, full color cover with black and white interior, anthology covering themes of feminism, anxiety, punk rock, immortality, labor, and robotic vacuums! Written and illustrated by Eva Muller. Published by Birdcage Bottom Books.

So here I am reading Future Corpse by Eva Muller and in occurs to me we’re all really different yet connected. I mean, sure the paths we follow through life define us, but the circumstances that put us on those paths is often beyond our control. In Future Corpse Eva illustrates a piece about growing up as a feminist in ‘90s Germany. She relates vignettes on bullying and music and general acceptance. Although I assume I’m a bit older than Eva, I too lived in Germany in the ‘90s, as an artist and an American soldier. I remember the punks, skinheads, and mopeds she writes about and here I am decades later reading her comic! Kinda neat.

Anyway, in addition to her recollection about coming of age in Germany, Eva goes on to share other interesting pieces such as the roamings of a Roomba, words of wisdom from a yoga posing Karl Marx, the sweet, sweet feeling of buying new clothes when you should really be buying food, and a silent piece about a Japanese demon anxiety snake!

You can dig up Future Corpse at https://buff.ly/2rWvyOO and find more from Birdcage Bottom Books at https://birdcage-bottom-books.myshopify.com/