Panel Patter's October Small Press Picks

Hi All and welcome to the October 2014 edition of our Small Press Picks, which is the slightly changed name of our column where we sit down as a group and tell you about books we think you'd like to read, but either did not get time to do a full review or are just excited about the comic and waiting for our own chance to read it!

After starting this last month, we're still tweaking the format a bit. Unfortunately, unlike major publisher that can use lead time of months, small presses often are a bit closer to the vest, and that goes double for the folks who are out there publishing mini-comics, often between their paying jobs.

So instead of being used to preview stuff that's coming out soon, we're going to instead make this more about picking books that are new(ish) that we want to highlight.

We hope you like this slight shift, which may be the format going forward, we'll have to wait and see. What you don't have to wait for are this month's selections. As we did last month, these are in alphabetical order. Lining up for the column this month are James Kaplan (JK), Rob Kirby (RK), Rob McMonigal (RBM), and Guy Thomas (GT). Let's get started!

Heart Farts by Cara Bean, Rebecca Viola, and Jason Viola. The back cover of this 36-page mini identifies this as a “Collection of comics about dreams, teaching, creativity, and pets.” Bean’s contributions include two very funny comics detailing her mother’s dreams about football star Tom Brady, a piece on meditation and classroom dynamics, and “Ashes,” a touching vignette about deceased pets and letting go. Meanwhile, Viola contributes “Bento: Beyond Sandwiches,” which will make that Lean Cuisine you’re lunching on seem even more banal, and the adorable “The Greatest Cat of All Time.” It’s all really charming, entertaining, and relatable. Self-published, available here. $4. (RK)

Legend of Bold Riley #3 by Leia Weathington and Joanna Estep. We all know how I feel about this series that takes the best of the pulp adventures and removes all the racist, sexist shit. Bold Riley continues her journey of recovery, this time with a renewed sense of purpose, in the first part of a two-part tale that is available for order but isn't quite ready yet, so that gives you time to catch up first. Weathington finds amazing collaborators and Estep is one of the best. This is a series I recommend to everyone, and having a queer protagonist just adds to the enjoyment. Northwest Press. $4.99. (RBM)

Puppyteeth 4 by Paula Almeida, Jon Gott, Laura Knetzger, Jenn Lisa, and Jess Wheelock. Anytime there's an anthology with people I like (in this case, Knetzger) put out by someone who's got a great reputation in comics (Kevin Czap), it's going to put me on notice as something worth seeking out. Five stories spread out across 56 full color pages, ranging from re-imagining yourself in an anime to Applebee's decorations trying to free themselves from being stuck forever near mediocre food and beer. If that sounds interesting to you, then make sure you look for this at your local store, at a show, or online. Czap Books. $12. (RBM)

RIP Meghan by Meghan Turbitt. In this world of increasingly slick, chrome-colored art and digital fonts, I find Meghan Turbitt’s scrawly, wildly expressionistic drawings and comics a refreshing, in-your-face change of pace. Wacky, ribald, and sometimes gross (yay for gross!), Turbitt strikes me as a sort of newfangled, millennial Aline Kominsky-Crumb. I look forward to watching as she further develops. Self-published, available here. $5. (RK)

Strong Female Protagonist by Brennan Lee Mulligan and Molly Ostertag. Originally a successful webcomic, Strong Female Protagonist has been well-received as a funny, entertaining, insightful superhero comedy series from the perspective of a teenaged girl with super powers. The collected edition should make for a terrific read. Top Shelf. $19.95

SubCultures edited by Whit Taylor. This often fascinating anthology examines a variety of subcultures, ranging from cosplayers to cryptozoologists, ham radio enthusiasts to home schoolers, and real doll enthusiasts to Reborners. There are 36 different stories here (full disclosure: I contributed a 3-pager), and while not everything works, the batting average is well above average; among the alt-cartoonists featured: Cara Bean, cover artist Box Brown, Jesse Lonergan, Dan Mazur, Hazel Newlevant, Liz Prince, and Daryl Seitchik. Kudos to editor Whit Taylor for a killer theme in the first place; I learned a lot reading this. Ninth Art Press. $15. (RK)

Tales of Good Ol' Snoop Doggy Dog by J.T. Yost. Haven't we all had dreams about Snoop Dogg? The second printing of J. T. Yost's mini, collecting his recollections of a few dreams he had featuring the rapper, as well as a fictional story about him as well, just came out. No more excuses, it's worth your time. Birdcage Bottom Books. $3. (GT)

Tiny Pencil IV by Various Artists. I don't know any of the artists involved in this one, but the idea of an anthology series that's themed not around the stories or the artists, but the medium they use to create their drawings. That's a dedication to the craft of making a comic, and I wholeheartedly approve. The medium in question is graphite, and here are 72 pages of folks using graphite to create things, which actually does have a theme--death and resurrection. Grey toned gothic work? Yup, that's something I'd definitely like to call attention to! Tiny Pencil. £11. (RBM)