Dalton Stark's Dinoacolypse Comics Review

  Cover to Dalton Stark's Dinoacalypse comicWhat can I say other than that I laughed my ass off. This is the story of Maxwell, a boy with a crush, and his friend Jeremy, the last dinosaur. Hilarity ensues as Jeremy seeks a metal enough gift that can represent his love for his fiery-haired ladyfriend in a tale that crosses aspects of Henson’s The Labyrinth with an episode of…well, it would ruin the surprise, so just buy the damn book and read it.

Who: Dalton Stark (and it’s not because he’s a former student that I pimp his work, but because it’s good shit).

Online presence: Facebook, Instagram: dolphinsharky, Ink361

Where: Zine Fest Houston 2013 or contact the creator, who is tabling at Zine Fest Houston 2014 also, though he said he’s not bringing old work! Why, damn it?! Let’s make sure he gets himself to Staple 2015 too! Because…Austin.

Cost: Priceless…but contact the creator for a better deal

How: Self-published with the support of Grandma

interior art in Dinoacolypse

Scenes Seen from a Zine Fest

It may be late but I wanted to write a little about some works I bought/traded for at comic and zine fests this summer. One of the best parts about zine fests is being able to meet the creators themselves, who are usually very open to chatting with you about their work and the creative process, even if for such cynical reasons as they are bored or simply hope to make a sale. On a similar note, everyone is pretty open to drawing a sketch for you if you spent as couple of bucks on their works, which is all the more reason I have to urge them not to put out signs saying you will do a drawing for 5, 10 or 15$! I totally understand that art is often how you make your living and you have every right to turn someone down if they just want you to work for them, or to do a half-ass job if they only buy your cheapest item, but I purposefully stayed aways from those tables that charge for doodles. As I'll bring up again, fest are for fun and networking, so be friendly and let's see what I stumbled on. Be aware that these works are not presented in any particular order and I'm not including anything I didn't like. I've known Bill Roundy for a number of years and he is both a nice person and fun comic creator. He tends to make comics that are either D&D or gay oriented (or both) or are part of his on-going series about various bars throughout NYC. I like and admire his work and enjoy talking with him but I must warn that his non-Bar Scrawl work is often short which might turn some people off. Additionally, his Bar Scrawl is great if you find a bar you know or wanting to try, but otherwise you are reading a short comic about a bar, so unless you are really into bar reviews it can get old fast. I bring this up because as popular as it is, what is the long term goal? I rather see some of his effort put into creating more substantial work (i.e., Orientation Police). 

Rachel Burkot had a lovely collection of poems, Think of all the Beauty, but if she wishes to continue with this, she needs to at least invest in a long arm stapler as it just doesn't visually appeal to have some printouts of text folded into booklet form. ...And make it look more like The Ken Chronicles who records observations and thoughts of his travels and life in general, along with pictures (some in color!). This is a great example of what one can do with a zine and Mr. Bausert seems like a very nice guy, so I wish him well and am glad to see he has at least 30 issues of his work!

I picked up Cosmopolis by Z-Man as I was immediately taken by his zanny art (maybe that's what the "Z" stands for). It's a cute collection of strips about a crazy world (i.e., ours), but I think the art is the best part. He may be better served by collaborating with a writer. (PS Everyone should put the phrase "except for the purposes of review" in their copyright to allow me to include pictures)

Monday Saddies! by Steve Seck are various stories usually involving talking things that should not talk like violent park animals and idiotic locker contents. It's fun and I like the large size format of the books, but with a big disclaimer of "NOT FOR KIDS!" I was disappointed by its lack of utter craziness. Talking to him and his wife(?) was more fun--and I mean that as a compliment. 

Marguerite Dabaie has several works on the Sogdians as well as jewelry in its style. What the heck is a Sogdian? She's glad you asked and should check out her work. The very short answer is that they are a "lost" culture from central Asia's silk road (think about all those -stan countries). I'm fascinated by the peoples of central Asia and would like her to produce more comics (vs non-reading material) and hopefully of lesser cost to help hook people. 

That's a general comment I often have about things from zine fest. I realize that so much of your work is painstakingly and lovingly done and producing them is expensive, but I honestly believe that no one is really going to get rich off this forum, so use it a a means of promoting yourself and your work and networking with others (through trades) until you can get that book deal.

Masterpiece Mini-Comics are simpler to my own My Life as Literature only R. Sikoryak uses traditional comic characters to retell classical stories. Hands down he does a great job mimicking the format and capturing the literature's style. I should have bought more. 

Another rather professional publication I got was Sam Henderson's Magic Whistle, which I have purchased issues of before. One of the great things about a fest is that you get to buy a comic that is rather simply drawn, but filled with outrageous and sexually deviant comics, and then to meet the creator who is the most unassuming man you'll ever meet. I guess still waters run deep and I'm glad he makes this comic or he might go on a killing spree. I also bought a piece of his art. 

T. Motley had some interesting fairy tale-esque stories and his art is quite sophisticated, but the small minis may not be the best form for his work; I would rather see it in a larger frame. Better suited to this small medium are some works like the silly Sam Spina's Tarn and Alan King and Jamie Vayda's The Rats Were Bad That Year, which was one of the best  stories I read from a zine fest. 

Speaking of great reads, perhaps the most impressive works I had the pleasure to buy/trade for was by Teylor Smirl. Two issues of Flightless Birds and a stand alone called Wild Turkey are incredibly raw, dealing with her drinking and relationship issues and featuring a very punk rock penguin. As an aside, Ms Smirl was funny, charming, has great tattoos, and is utterly gorgeous, so I can never fully believe that such women have difficulties in relationships, but I'm blinded by delusion. The art is quite strong and the no holds bared subject matter coupled with great humor (ex "I got a palm reading today ... just so someone would hold my hand") shows her major potential. The copying is a little weak and the works are a few years old making me wonder if she has anything else in the pipeline and/or is planning a new run of (clearer) printing. I certainly hope so, as I'm eager to read more--high praise from a curmudgeon. Being obsessed with all things Lovecraftian, I got a kick out of Lara Antal's Cthulhu mythos inspired pictures and cards featuring Yog-Sothothery love proclamations. At one fest I gave her some suggestions as to other eldritch horrors she should turn into terms of endearments, but didn't see any new ones the next time we met, so I guess I have to summon a great old one to destroy her mortal form. 

Caitlin Cass shows talent and creativity in her mockery of ABC books (like my first comic: The ABCs of The USA!), making fun of literature, and producing creative displays of historical cities. Her art is rather cartoony, but I'm not sure if it is styled that way as she does have a problem getting words to fit within panels and balloons, which makes the work look--unfortunately--unprofessional. 

A staple at many a zine fest is the Barnard Zine Library and it is always nice to see the activist and overworked Zine librarian, Jenna Freeman. Dedicated to helping the downtrodden get information as well as promoting zines, my hat goes off to Ms Freeman. She has some cool zines that are truly DIY and I encourage anyone to visit the library despite that the focus is of female issues/created zines rather than all inclusive. I took part in a zine workshop there and I was the only male in the group and am still kind of convinced that I wasn't suppose to be there. Still, everyone was very nice and it was great to be creative around so many zines. I'm telling you, if  could get a job as a zine library at a university, I'd cut and run from this PhD program so fast it would make your head spin (mainly because I had to murder you by breaking your neck to get the job). 

Speaking of activism. There is a group called Research and Destroy New York City (you'll have to figure out if that means they want to destroy NYC or are just based here, but they certainly have it in for cops) and they produce some amazing zines, some heavily researched recounts of events and information and some, equally researched, but much more whimsical, zines that are simply a collection of newspaper articles revolving around a single subject, such as my favorite: Cats Hate Cops that just shows attacks on cops by cats. Being that I have been on the wrong end of an unprovoked butt kicking by cops too many times, I understand where some of the rage comes from. It used to be that police considered communication their best weapon, now they have seminars on how cops can explain why excessive force was used. This group is always very open to trades and I greatly appreciate that. 

Mindy Indy (pretty sure that's not her name) had three little comics (one a year which is a good rhythm) that I thought were cute, especially the one about a dog in a fight with his balloon animal counterpart; likewise I got two from Alisa Harris that were also well worth the pittance I paid for them, giving fun "tips" for living on nothing and a guide to some live music venues that I knew and which no longer exist.

On the high end of comics (price-wise due to (semi-)uniqueness and hand crafted excellence), my obsession with mollusk forced--forced I say!--me to buy The Cambrian by Estrella Vega and Pulpo by Alexandra Beguez. The former traces the, well, Cambrian age through beautiful illustrations and the latter is a delightful story about a boy and an octopus that is similar to one of my own encounters that I've presented in an "Aquatic Adventures" comic. I spent more on these two works than on everything else on this post put together, and while I do not regret it, as I love the work, I have to bring up a bone of contention hinted at earlier. Hard Traveling Hero and I both bought works from these ladies and asked for sketches as well, and the illustrations they did for HTH were much bigger and intricate than they did for me. Now I spent easily ten times what HTH did and I'm at least ten times as good looking and charming as him so WTF!? A little commensurate behavior is all I'm asking. Not that I'm bitter--F you HTH!

Going back to zines, Katie Haegele has some short ones on fashion that are nicely done, if not what I'm personally interested in. Joseph Carlough is doing some creative work by taking old (circa a hundred years old) literary stories and texts and bringing them to contemporary attention to hilarious/intriguing results. Both these individuals were extremely friendly and open to trade, and seem to be doing their work--at least in large part--for love not profit. Points to them! 

I'll end--mainly because this is taking a lot longer than I thought--on two little (size and length) comics that make all of us who say we can't draw or don't have the time etc complaint look like dorks. Alden Viguilla has a delightful and simply drawn work, Lesson #1, about a cat and dog fight, and Kriota Willberg has an even simplerly (?) drawn work called Phagocytosis about bacteria. Unfortunately, I already filed away some of the other works I collected this summer and I apologize for inadvertently missing any works/creators I enjoyed. If any of these things here do sound interesting to you, please look for them online or at a comic/zine fest. As always, if you are interested in trading some of your work for those of the ArmzRace, let us know!

Zine and Comic Fests

Summer time is for comics and zines. I know this because I just made it up. I went to the Grand Comic fest and Pete's Mini Zine fest and wanted to show some pictures of the events, even if I don't get around to reviewing everything I read from them. As a bit of a personal evaluation (other than the fact that Pete's was so much cooler last year (mainly because AR was representing), Grand was better for comics, but the crowd at Pete's was much more friendly and open for trading). I have a bunch more pictures of art people made for me, but you'll have to go to the AR twitter account to see them.












ZineFest is Hanging Over Your Head Like the Sword of Damacles! (Oct. 12)

Just what is Mark!s strange obsession with fish? Join the ArmzRace gang at the Houston Zine Fest and ask him yourself. Or maybe go the safer route and just pick up a copy of Tales of a Fish Whisperer by Mark!  

Autobiography and humor. Color and B&W interior.

October 12, 2013

3-8 pm (Free Admission)

Museum of Printing History 1324 W Clay St Houston, TX.

Cej and Mark!'s Excellent NYC Zine Fest Adventure

August 18: Cej flew to NYC, Cory drove Cej to Mark!’s place on Long Island; played Cthulhu Fluxx (Cej's B-Day present to Mark!)

August 19: Hung out at Mark!'s; short beach time in the grey weather; hung out in basement organizing comics (why did we read so much garbage?); prep for zine fest.

August 20: Went to beach; did Etsy update; worked on ArmzRace Facebook and Twitter (Mark! is the official AR twit--I mean, tweeter); walked around Westhampton; Mark! helped edit Bell's (and this phrase as it was all misspelled). 

August 21: Day at the beach; paddle boarded at Moriches Bay (remember where TWA flight 800 went down?); worked on AR Google +; chose the comics for podcast, which took longer than it will take to make it; applied to WHAM. 

August 22: Worked on AR, went for a bike ride and saw some deer. Wandered around Westhampton. Mailed a package for a book sold via Panel-2-Panel (check it out on Amazon!) and headed off to NYC (delayed due to major accident (stop tailgating you maniacs!)).

August 23: Hit up four awesome comic shops and bought far too many books. Worked on AR stuff in preparation for the zine fest. Ended the day by going to Teacher's College to game in their Game Theory lab with Sonam, Kym, Christian, Mack, Ed (spent far too long playing Sentinels, a great game but The Chairman is a crappy villain, and got home very late).

August 24: The Zine Fest had arrived! Got the various books we wanted to showcase together, but then went for a stroll around Central Park. Finally went to the fest which was definitely interesting, but there were some issues. The number of people peddling wares was greater than the number of attendees. Wares tended to be very small and shoddy for a buck or two, or very detailed and even more expensive. Honestly, our stuff was cheaper and of better quality than most (a one page, poorly folded comic for a dollar?! I'm giving you over ten times that with color! And you can buy all our over a dozen products for less than many of the midrange works that others sold.). Mark! knew a trio of people and it was nice to catch up with them and D came with her husband L. We found an empty table and decided to set up shop rather than walk around attempting to trade comics. This might have worked better if one of the organizers wasn't sitting right next to us and wondering what we were doing. Hey, you just filled a table that was canceled at the last minute, be happy, we paid our way. 

August 25: Cej returns to the land that progress and open mindedness hates without promising to find a way to meet up with Mark! in DC in two months. 

Jason - Bonesteel

That's probably not his real name, but he's a nice enough guy for a person who writes and draws a rather cutesy comic about movie homicidal maniacs and the drudgery of their lives (having to clock in to work, fill out forms of how many people you murdered, blah, blah, the usual). I liked it lots. Check it here

Sweet Graffiti and Our Lady of Sweet Revenge: An Indie Comic Review

Synopsis: Reluctantly married to a royal envoy, a princess fights off marauding hags and gives her new marriage a chance.

Review: This comic approaches viewers with an interesting presentation that doesn't indicate what the interior is like. It may create some mystery, but the splotched on red paint is somewhat difficult to read and whatever symbol appears in the center of the cover is indecipherable, as is the symbol on the back cover (not shown). Hopefully the mystery is enough to get readers to pick up this comic and delve into the interior, which has a sort of graffiti-esqe style with thick black lines that I normally dislike because my brain doesn't seem to decipher it well, but in this book I manage to enjoy and appreciate the style despite my comprehension issue.

Hopefully Taney is cool with me featuring the final art page of the comic here, borrowed from her Tumblr (if not, let me know and I will take it down immediately):

[click the artwork to enlarge]

This is one of the more readable pages and it makes me curious what the back story is and why this "hag" wants revenge and entices me to read a second issue, hoping for some unique storytelling and something to connect us to the characters. The princess fighting hard, not only for her life, but that of her husband and her apparent attitude change toward him seemed to come out of nowhere, so perhaps we're jumping into the situation a little too fast or this first installment would be more satisfactory if a later issues addresses the arranged marriage and their interactions.

I enjoy the icey blue tones, the character designs, and very much the backgrounds that include distant scenery, and most of the page layouts, but the action pages can be difficult to read, despite the addition of red gradients to indicate the passion and excitement of the battle scene. The "blue pages" remind me of the Jotenheim scenes in the Thor movie, which were visually attractive, yet made it difficult for me to follow the movie's action in this world of eternal twilight, so it might be a contrast issue. Perhaps simpler coloring with less gradients would be easier on the eye. The artwork may only improve with "simpler", solid coloring, even if it takes away from the appearance of shadows and light.

This comic is the first of a series and you can read Taney's description of what is intended, borrowed from the author's Tumblr:

Descent of Holy Mountain is the first of a series of self-contained minicomics by Joy Taney in a format inspired by Ray Bradbury’s The Martian Chronicles, with a series of short, self-contained stories that feature an ensemble of protagonists while following an overarcing plotline. The series, titled Our Lady of Sweet Revenge, tells the story of of Fala, the arctic hag who attacked the travelers Lorelei and Hart Capra,  in her pursuit of revenge aganst the moon elf she blames for the deaths of her mother and her clan. As Fala’s plans come together, she must ask herself just much she is willing to sacrifice to achieve her bloody goal.

Cost: Uncertain as this was part of my massive Adhouse Books buy from the 2011 Richmind Zine Fest, which you can read about by clicking the link.

Publication: 2011 for the 2nd edition and I seem to have #18 of 24 printed.

Contact: Joy Taney can be found via Tumblr and Facebook.

Recommendation: I'm truly curious to see more of this creator's work as the coloring and style are engaging, even if the color tones make it somewhat difficult to decipher what's going on. Hopefully future printed issues will feature covers with the artists' line work and coloring abilities, something bright and flashy.

The entire comic can be read online, for which I found a link through a post on Spandexless. Check it out and enjoy the art and let the creator know what you think!

Despite fair use, permission for interior art granted by its creator.

Ria: Cyber-Smasher: There's Potential

Alex Avery's Ria: Cyber-Smasher "Episode Zero" introduces readers to a young girl who loves kung-fu movies, but whose asshole father moved her and her mother to Qwellton because it's "one of the most peaceful places around", apparently so peaceful that she might be ostracized for enjoying martial arts. This makes me think this comic was either created by a young teenager or is created for younger kids, given the story and the art.

Don't let the cover fool you; the interior art is actually better. The distraction of the ugly coloring--is that colored pencils--or cheap markers?--on the cover isn't an issue with the black & white interiors, which sport a character design style reminiscent of 8-bit video games and amateur manga. Unlike some of the other books I've read from the Avery clan, the line work and inking in this comic is actually fair quality, as are some of the layouts and action.

One area that's truly lacking is pacing as it feels like the comic jumps between ideas, actions, or settings without fluid transition and giving the reader everything they expect. Avery asks the reader to imagine way too much in the gutters between panels. Additionally, one page features three male characters playing video games, which have nothing to do with the remainder of the story, making me wonder if they were intended to show up in the next issue.

Avery's out-dated resume is available on his website and indicates he was attending the School of Visual Arts in New York City. I believe I have some of his later work I'll be reviewing and we can see if his education is paying off...

Cost: Not sure, but the entire comic can be read for free on the Capsule Comics website. This was another part of the Adhouse Comics box buy at the 2011 Richmond Zine Fest. Click the link for my review of the event.

Publication: 2009

Contact: Alex Avery can be found via the Capsule Comics website where readers can peruse some of the creator's other work, often co-created with his brother and cousin.

Recommendation: If someone gave me the next installment free or if it was a dollar (which I doubt), I would read it, but I don't plan on making any effort to continue the series. From what I've seen on Avery's site, there is no continuation despite the mystery conclusion.

Send me money for postage and it’s yours, otherwise it’ll sit in my unofficial minicomics and zine lending library.

Monster Mash on the Monster Isle: A Minicomic Review

If you like Godzilla, Power Rangers (whichever version), Superhuman Samurai Syber Squad, or Gammorah, this comic might be one you'll enjoy. Monster Isle: Big Monster Stuff is an all-ages comic for fans of the "human in costume" playing giant-monster or monster fighter movies and TV shows. It's not terribly profound or deep, but does cutely poke fun at the genre, with allusions to Godzilla and Star Trek for the geeks.

Strip-style comics rarely appeal strongly to me and this one fares no better. This is one of my biases, other than losing interest in the "giant monster" genre in my early teens. On the other hand, maybe you're the core audience for this book?

Cost: As you can see below, $4.00 for this 24-page (including covers) minicomic, though I got it as part of my Adhouse Books box buy at the 2011 Richmond Zine Fest.

Contact: Joey Weiser can be reached via his Tragic-Planet website.

Recommendation: I realize printing in color is costly and that this comic wouldn't be nearly as appealing in black and white, but it's a quick read and it seems many or all of the comics are archived on the Monster Isle page of Wieser's website, where you can read them for free and subscribe using an RSS reader.

I could imagine the printing costs might make it more worthwhile if he were to print larger collection of his work, similar to some of the collections I've seen from Microcosm and other small press publishers and distros, and then it might be worth shelling out for, not that this costs more than most comics from Marvel or DC.

Send me money for postage and it's yours, otherwise it'll sit in my unofficial minicomics and zine lending library.

The rear cover.

Dino Docs: ER and Jurassic Park: A Crichton Marriage

Michael Crichton has some awesome ideas when he came up with both the groundbreaking CGI extravaganza that made us believe dinosaurs could walk the earth, Jurassic Park, and the long-running hospital drama that introduced us to the swoon-worthy George Clooney (for those who missed him as Booker on Roseanne), ER.

Creator Rusty (Rowley) marries the two concepts in this high-comedy, high-drama 8-page minicomic. This seems like a marriage for the ages and I hope to see more Dino Docs comics in the future, especially since this issue ends with a cliffhanger and hints at the catastrophe to come in the next issue.

Cost: uncertain, though I somehow obtained a second copy for one of my dinosaur-loving friends.

Publication: date unknown

Contact: Rusty Rowley is one of the people behind Full Sanction, which I will review a few issues of later. Read his bio here. Just because you weren't at the awesome 2011 Richmond Zine Fest (click the link for my review of the event) doesn't mean you can't write the auteur and buy a copy online! -- Update! It's come back to me that Rusty and his friend and co-creator Joe were hilariously entertaining when I visited their table. This is the sort of detail that gets forgotten after seven months. Oy!

Recommendation: While short, I don't think this comic costs more than a dollar or two, therefore I suggestively suggest you buy a copy for each person you know who likes dinos, drama, and comedy. This is a dino-dramedy and worth every penny.

And what does this mystery phrase in this nearly dead language mean?