Sometimes I’ll be unable to carry out a proper review on a book because I have a horse in the race. That always feels a little bit of a shame as some of these books are great and deserve mentioning.
So rather than an ‘In Review’ headline as you will see elsewhere these will be under the ‘Recommended’ title.
I’ve got a couple coming today and they are both pretty special.
‘Strangers Fanzine – A Celebration of the Forgotten and Overlooked’ issue 4.
Black and White – Magazine Format – $6.
So. First an explanation. My interest for this magazine existed long before the publisher/editor Eddie Raymond reached out and kindly offered to distribute Tribute Press comics (specifically my series with artist Adam Falp ‘Atomic Hercules’). Adam is also now creating an ongoing strip and Atomic Hercules is advertised in this issue for sale through the Strangers shop and they are handling our US distribution. Also. if you look carefully at the cover above you’ll see that there’s a familiar title on the rack! Myself and Falpy were truly humbled and lost our shit more than a little bit when we saw this little Easter Egg.
Strangers Fanzine has a dangerous and underground feel to its existence. It is a mixture of text pieces about comics great and forgotten and some one-off and ongoing comics that would feel at home in Weirdo or some of the more out-there comics published by Tundra or Caliber Press in the eighties. It really has that antiestablishment anarchic coolness busting out of the cover. It’s also not a short read and can be visited a few times with something new each time. it’s the sort of comic that Henry Chinaski would take to a bar rolled up in his back pocket or you’d find ready to read in the downstairs bog at Robyn Hitchcock’s house.
The Cover – I got turned on to the work of Tom Neely by a couple of buddies. I really enjoyed his and Keenan Marshall Keller’s Simian Bike Gang story The Humans. It has the narrative breadth of King Lear or Hamlet but does so with a cool underground vibe. That mood is transplanted onto the cover on issue 4 of Strangers and shows one of the aforementioned greasers (the Grateful Dead/Hippy of the gang) starring at a rack of comics entitled ‘For the Losers, Misfits, and Scumbags!’ Not only is it a frikkin’ great image but it brings back those long-missed days when we could visit Head Shop/Comic Shops and bask in the glory of stacks of original and edgy comics.
The Recommend – Not only do you get a great Keller/Neely interview but included in the comics bag with Strangers issue 4 is a short ashcan sneak peek at the sequel to The Humans entitled ‘Welcome to the Jungle’. Again all in black and white it has a brilliantly realised aggressively transgressive wraparound cover that I’d have paid the $6 just for this!
This fanzine is a great example of how and why I enjoy this format. There’s no shite called ‘Look What My Cat Did’, ‘I Miss My Boyfriend’ or ”I Feel a Bit Sad Today’. This, along with ‘Bubbles Zine’ is at the spearhead of creatively taking chances. It has a great hit rate and I find myself always reading everything!
Another highlight is my artistic brother Adam Falp’s hilariously super-violent grindhouse gangster strip ‘Jungleland’. I got a look at this before it was published and can say that Falpy’s black and white brush heavy inked style looks amazing in the physical version! This story is insanity uncanned. Potent barbarity and gunplay like we haven’t seen since a movie like Bronx warriors or the last Benjain Marra comics issue. Full of hilarious action movie one-liners that work perfectly in the non-stop gunplay destruction.
This issue is full of absolute gold but before I close off this recoomend I had to mention the interview with one of my favourite up and coming creators Matt Lesniewski. I first heard about him through the 11 o’clock Comics Podcast and immediately bought ‘The Freak’. The above reworking of Deathlok which isn’t in the issue but does show his original take. He has a nasty fluidity that subverts character with just supreme confidence in line and shape. People are beginning to take notice to this dude and rightly so. He’s recently been working with Matt Kindt and Dark Horse Comics. Look him up folks!
Along with the above you can find a piece on ‘One Bad Rat’ by Brian Talbot. A bunch of reviews and a fun couple of pages where the aforementioned Benjamin Marra talks about his recent finds in the dollar bin. (I already want a copy of ‘Gunfighters from Hell’!!!)
Here’s a list of what you can find inside this new issue. The first print run has sold out but there are more on the way. You really can’t sleep on anything that Eddie puts out or distributes as they all seem to be heading out the door within their first couple of days on sale.
The Editor’s Brain Dump
Introduction and The Editor’s Brain Dump
In Search of Ragne Naess by John Coats *FIRST ENGLISH INTERVIEW*
Mister Miracle Escapes From Hell by Brian A. McCray
Welcome To The Jungle: A First Look At The Humans Volume 3
Memory Burn By Jake Machen
But Wait…Don’t Forget About: Tale of One Bad Rat
Trash Manifesto By Bryce Martin
My Dumb Life In Hell: Hyena Hell and David Moses
New Haven: Port of Doom by Aude Jomini & Eben Kling
Jungleland Part 2 by Adam Falp
It Came From The Dollar Bin Vol 4 By Benjamin Marra
In Defense of Val & Judy By Cam Del Rosario
Alanzo Sneak by Nate Garcia
Manga I Recommend: Swallowing The Earth By Frank Gidlewski
Mail Call Reviews
Matt Lesniewski: In A World All His Owns
You can also find an interview with the publisher on The Awesome Comics Podcast Episode 282 right here.
Many thanks for reading.