by Billups Allen / various
I didn't realize how much I missed Cramhole until this second issue came in (here's hoping Billups increases his frequency). This is the sort of comic/zine that used to be common at punk record stores but has, sadly, largely vanished (sort of like record stores). As a result, Cramhole feels downright refreshing as the main character Frank shows how he is difficult to live with, talks about old jobs, struggles with his resume, and generally, grumpily goes about life. The art is tackled by several people, including Amy Shapiro and Dorothy Gambrell (Cat And Girl), and it's all deft. But you don't read these sorts of comics for the art alone - the real charm of Cramhole is the character of Frank, the aging punk, and his life.
by Karl Stevens
This is a collection of comics that were originally published in Boston's alt-weekly, The Phoenix. The subject matter focuses on a group of city-dwelling twentysomethings as they complain about mass transit, drink, smoke dope, hook up, play in bands, deal with roommate issues, etc. While not presented in a traditional straightforward narrative, these stories repeat characters and themes enough that Karl constructs a very real small community of Bostonians whom we easily get to know and either like or allow ourselves to be amused by. And reinforcing the realism of the stories in Whatever is the hyper-realistic artwork done in extravagant and intricate linework. For a sucker of crosshatching like me, Karl's Whatever isn't just a modern collection of realistic twentysomething slacker stories, it's a visual feast.
Paper Wasp #3
Thought Cloud Shrines
by Theo Ellsworth
It's a rare comic that I see and just stare and stare and stare at the art and wonder, "How the hell does he do that?" Theo Ellsworth's comics, a mix of fantasy and obsessively constructed (almost architectural) artwork, has me looking at his pages over and over again, wondering just that. There is a Moebius vibe to some of the work here, but, more importantly, there is a sharp sense of humor that is frequently missing from this type of comic. Ellsworth makes minis that are intensely, obsessively drawn - with punch lines.