December 20, 2011

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Magic Bullet #3

Written and Illustrated by Various Creators, including Carolyn Belefski, Andrew Cohen, Danielle Corsetto, Matt Dembicki, Troy Jeffrey-Allen, Jeff McClelland, and Rafer Roberts
Self-Published (DC Conspiracy)

The group that brought you the first two issues of the newspaper Magic Bullet are back again with this third issue, the final one edited by Plastic Farm's Rafer Roberts.  Watch as they terrify ordinary free newspaper readers and delight comic fans with one-page antics about everything from tooth-seeking rats to dinosaurs to life on Mars to a few last Sarah Palin jokes!  It's all here--and if you find it locally, it's all free--in the form of a Magic Bullet.

I'm criminally late in reviewing this, as it came out during SPX this year, but better late than never.  As with the prior issues, this is an eclectic grouping of short stories who work hard to tell a complete story in a small space that's roughly as big as a typical New York Times book review--except that it's a heck of a lot more interesting to read.

The stories which I enjoy the most tend to be those who take advantage over the oversize page space to try something new with the narrative.  Matt Dembicki blends his panels together in the story of a Native American who views with horror the changes to America over time, The Island.  There's a traditional flow to the panels, but it's blurred by how Dembicki structures it.  Combined with his intricate working style, this is a great start to the tabloid.  Mega Turg goes even further with the concept, drawing a huge robot across the entire page and allowing the story to flow through the robot itself and adding little touches based on where the story is taking place across the "page."  Eric Gordon's work here is excellent, and I think it might be my favorite in Magic Bullet 3 because of the way he plays with the format.

While the majority of the stories in this anthology use a more traditional paneling that could be reproduced in other forms, it doesn't make them boring.  Far from it!  Dominic Vivona shows off some serious drawing chops in a battle of wills between a man and his raptor.  Rafer Roberts continues his demented riff on Mickey Mouse, Nightmare the Rat, with a set of narrations that are probably the best of the bunch so far.  I laughed out loud at the ending line, and I think you will, too.

If cankerous T-Rexes are more your speed, you'll love Art Hondros' Montana Rex Survives, where the last dinosaur matches wits with a reporter who thinks he's smarter than the King of the Lizards Birds.  As with Roberts, Hondros does a great job of using the format for a big punchline at the end.

There are two stories that relate back to the industry, as Carolyn Belefski and partner Joe Carabeo use their Black Magic Tales to comment on artistic contracts, while Jonathan Case talks about being a cartoonist.  This is a bit of a change for Magic Bullet, as most stories up to this time have all been purely fictional.  I'll be curious to see if we get more personal stories in the future.  I also noticed the political jokes were down a bit this time, with only Palin's outragous parody and Dale Rawlings' Obamaman fitting neatly into that genre.  The Palin joke is a bit played, honestly, as the writer admits by the end, but Rawlings nails the entire problem of the Obama Administration in only 10 panels.  He should keep it to pitch as the introduction to a history book, as I think it's a fitting commentary.

If Gordon's robot has a challenger for Rob's Favorite, it's Jeff McClelland and Jeff McComsey's The League of Obscure Historical Figures (two of whom I knew, just sayin').  Riffing on the many historical protagonists as heroes comics we see, the League fights another obscure figure, but tragedy strikes as one member is (gasp!) recognized!  Of course, I also really liked Speed Dating of the Damned by Michel Brace, who points out the many romantic flaws of Frankenstein and his pals.  Your favorite might be different.

Magic Bullet 3 closes with the poignant We Have All the Time in the World by Michael May and Jason Copland.  A pair of robots show that love is not confined only to humans.  It's such a great ending piece and Roberts places it in just the right location for it to have the most impact.

I admit that I am a bit biased, as I am friends with several of the people who work on Magic Bullet, but I still think it's one of the best anthologies of people working in the mini-comics field in the Washington, DC area (and a few outsiders).  Every issue, I find a new creator to enjoy, and I look forward to that trend continuing with the next issue.  If you can find a copy of Magic Bullet around (try a local comic shop on the East Coast), definitely grab one.  It's worth every penny you'll pay for it--and more!