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Wednesday, July 31, 2019

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: The Ultimate Collection, Vol. 1

by Kevin Eastman and Peter Liard

Publisher: IDW Publishing (November 7, 2017)

Hardcover, 320 pages

Here we are at the indie roots of a multimedia empire that sprang up in the late 80s and dominated the 90s with comics, cartoons, toys, and films. This is the ultimate collection for the ultimate indie success story and it all started as a spoof of Daredevil. The series was merely meant to be a one shot issue, but the sales were so good that they kept printing more and more, then followed it all up with further issues.
This book collects the first seven issues of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles put out by Mirage Studios (so called because it was just a room in Laird’s house, so to say it was a studio was just a mirage) and the Raphael one shot comic. If you think that isn’t much, let me remind you that the early TMNT comics were all essentially double sized issues, averaging about forty pages- so the material is the equivalent of fifteen issues in this volume. Also included are comments and annotations by the authors on each issue.

As the issues are in black and white, you’ll notice that the turtles are only known by their weapons (rather than the different colored masks they wear later on), and when they are colored on the covers, they’re all colored red. The next thing you’ll notice is that the turtles are pretty violent. Not cartoon violent, when they fight, they aim to kill. Not capture, not maim, but to put their enemies in the ground. This was rather refreshing back in the day and it is further punctuated by them killing the Shredder in the first issue. From there it goes a whole lot crazier introducing April O’Neil, the Second Time Around junk shop, nutcase vigilante Casey Jones, the TCRI aliens (Utroms), the Fugitoid - little note, the actual origin issue of the Fugitoid is not in this volume. The authors felt that it wasn’t necessary as a synopsis is given in the TMNT #4.
While the material here is good, you can see that the artists are still developing their skills. The action is sharp, but there are still a few awkward angles and panels, the smoothness of later scenes and stories are not there altogether. What takes me out there the most is the mild attempt at swear words often employed by the turtles and their antagonists. Someone nearly falling off a moving truck and yelling “dung” instead of “shit” just is bizarre. If they didn’t want to use profanities they should’ve gone to the old standby of substituting “X@#%&” instead.

The key to a good spoof or parody is to make sure the story holds on its own. If you removed all of the referential material and inside jokes, is it a solid story that doesn’t require knowledge of the original to enjoy? This example is followed perfectly in the case of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. Their origins are obviously a spoof on that of Daredevil. The radioactive canister that blinded a young Matt Murdock bounced off of him and hit a kid holding a tank of turtles, which fell into the sewer covering the turtles and a rat in mutative goo (we later find this is from the wreckage of an alien craft). The creatures grow to avenge their Master’s late owner. The rest of the parallels are obvious. The ninja clan the Turtles fight is the Foot as opposed to Daredevil’s The Hand. The Turtles are trained by the rat Splinter who hates the Foot, while Daredevil is trained by the blind man Stick who hates the Hand. The Shredder, his armor at least, seems to be partially based on the Daredevil character of Gladiator- thought don’t quote me on that.
For more readings, try books by Rex Hurst. 

Monday, July 29, 2019

The Ultimate Gnatrat (Humor) (Superhero) (Graphic Novel)

by Mark Martin  

Publisher: Fantagraphic Books (January 1, 1990).

Softcover, 167 pages

This is a collection of the three Gnatrat comics, a parody superhero book, which picks mostly on Frank Miller, but not in a bad way. The main character is an anthropomorphic rat who dresses up like a gnat to fight crime. The main action of the story is based around Frank Miller’s The Dark Knight Returns (Batman) and Born Again (Daredevil). Both are solid choices. These Gnatrat issues came out around 1988 and both of the Miller books were some of the best available at the time. The author also rags on the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, their popularity and the host of imitators- ironic as the author went on to work on the series.

The problem with this book is that the action is disjointed, almost stream on consciousness from page to page, and thus you don’t care at all about any of the characters. This is a problem most parody comics have. The story isn’t interesting if you haven’t read the material it’s poking fun at. This is doubly true in Gnatrat where the plot is almost indecipherable unless you've read the previous two books.

The two most successful parody books, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and Cerebus the Aardvark, both dropped the parody aspect in a relatively short time and created their own mythology from the stories. All of the humor eventually gave way to a serious (or at least semi-serious) dramatic work. Not so much here. It does not go beyond the material it is making fun of.

The art is good, but not so good as to override the material. As parody’s go, there doesn’t seem much of a point to it. Apart from commenting on the popularity of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and its copycats, the only point seems to make a disjointed rat version of the Dark Knight Returns with Daredevil mixed in. I found it for three bucks, don’t pay anything higher for it.

For more readings, try books by Rex Hurst. 

Thursday, July 25, 2019

Planet of the Apes (Science Fiction)

by Pierre Boulle 

Publisher: Grammercy Books (June 6, 2000)

Hardcover, 191 pages

“Suppose then, the existence in the distant past of a civilization on the planet Soror similar to our own. Is it possible that creatures devoid of intelligence could have perpetuated it by a simple process of imitation? The answer to this question seems risky, but after thinking it over, a host of argument occur to me that gradually lessen its aspect of unreasonableness. That perfected machines may one day succeed us, I remember, is an extremely commonplace notion on Earth. It prevails not only among poets and romantics but in all classes of society. Perhaps because it is so widespread, born spontaneously in popular imagination, that it irritates scientific minds. Perhaps it is for this very reason that it contains a germ of truth. Only a germ. Machines will always be machines; the most perfected robot, always a robot. But what of living creatures possessing a certain degree of intelligence, like apes? And apes, precisely, are endowed with a keen sense of imitation….”
This is of course the original French novel which spawned the rather formidable franchise of films, books, toys, tv shows, cartoons, and comics which is still producing material to this day. Granted, I believe it was the Rod Serling treatment of this material which really made it click, but this book started the ball rolling.
In this surprisingly short text, we see shades of the original, the makings of Battle, Conquest, Escape, Rise, Dawn, and War of the Planet of the Apes films, plus the origins of the ending for that terrible Tim Burton version- which I advocate everyone avoid like the plague. God, that film was terrible. Yet despite this, the book is unique in various ways.
Pierre Boulle,  author of Planet of the Apes
The protagonist is Ulysse Mérou, a journalist. In the year 2500, he was asked by a professor to travel to the planet Soror, one of the planets in the Betelgeuse system. The journey would take close to 800 years earth-time to complete, but as it is further than any human had gone before the protagonist cannot turn it down. The name Soror is Latin for sister, so I’m sure you can see the foreshadowing.
I won’t go into too much detail, but instead  stick to the differences. They are definitely on an alien world, whose evolutionary tract for simians has led along the same lines as Earth’s- producing human, chimpanzee, gorilla, and orangutan equivalents. Ulysee cannot speak their language at first, leading them to think he was doing a babbling imitation and only eventually he begins to communicate.
Original cover and title of the novel
Most of the characters are the same as the original, with only slight variations. The protagonist at first is just as pompous as Charleton Heston portrayed him, only in a more French manner. Dr. Zaius is described almost as a scientific idiot with no original thoughts of his own and incapable of forming new ideas. Nova becomes pregnant with Ulysee’s child and learns to speak. Cornelius is much more competent and forceful in the story, in fact he un-thrones Dr. Zaius and becomes the society’s leading scientist. Zira is the only consistent character.
Certain elements were used in reverse in Escape from the Planet of the Apes. Ulysee reveals his intelligence to Ape society in a televised conference and becomes the toast of Ape society. It isn’t until Nova becomes pregnant with an intelligent child that things turn deadly. The authorities fear the rise of a new race which will overthrow them and thus the new family is forced to flee.
There is some bad science in the book as well. The main scientist which Ulysee accompanies spends too much time (around six months) with the primitive unspeaking humans and reverts to type with them. The claim is that intelligence can drain away. I might accept this over ten or twenty years, but not six months. Also Corneilus conveniently creates a serum which can revert people to past lives, or race memories- it’s difficult to tell which. They use it on Nova and she goes back ten thousand years (though still speaking the language of the time) and give the history of the humans.
Still love this film.
SPOILERS HERE: The race established all of society and trained the apes to be their servants. The apes learned to mimic the actions of society perfectly, too perfectly.  In doing so, the humans became very lazy and became incapable of taking care of themselves, sort of like a slave-making ant society. The apes eventually take over the cities, chasing away the humans, and subsume the roles of their former masters. The family escapes back aboard the spaceship, take another 800 year long trip back to Earth, making it the year 3300, only to discover that a similar Ape uprising has occurred on Earth and the human race is no more. Very similar to season four of Battlestar Galactica.

For more readings, try books by Rex Hurst. 

Tuesday, July 23, 2019

The Cosmic Computer (Science Fiction)

by H. Beam Piper 

Publisher: Aegyptian (March 1, 2007) (originally published Ace, 1956)

Hardcover, 160 pages

“Conn would have like to stay outside; he could not. Too many things were happening in too many places, and it was all coming in by screen. Rioting had broken out in Storisende and in a dozen other places. He saw, on a newsscreen, a mob raging in front of the Executive Palace; yellow-shirted Cybernarchists were battling with city police and Planetary troops, Armageddonists, and Human Supremacy Leaguers were fighting both and one another. Above all the confused noise of shouting and shooting, an amplified was braying: ‘It’s a lie! It’s a lie! Merlin has been found!’”
This is a further book set in H. Beam Piper’s Terro-Human Future History where humanity colonized the stars. It has been expanded from his short story “Junkyard Planet” which was published in the Federation book of Piper’s short pieces. It is 40 years after a massive civil war, called the System-States War, on a planet Poictesme which had been used as a forward planning and attack position for the Federation forces. As a result, the planet is littered with leftover military installations and equipment. The planet is suffering from an economic depression.
 The main character has been tasked to learn the location of the rumored supercomputer, known as Merlin, which won the war for Federation and whose existence is denied by everyone involved, except the hardliners on the planet who feel that it will be the solution to all of their problem. The protagonist sees an opportunity to trick the people of Poictesme into bettering themselves while pretending to search for the computer. Things go wrong and the hunt for Merlin becomes political, then quasi-religious, and ends with something violent and wonderful.
Often Piper’s stories are described as workmanlike- derisively so- because he approaches the subject of colonization of space in the same manner the men of old took to colonization of parts of Earth: Exploration for profit, control of resources, and the need for intense practicality while doing so. This is not a world cosmic weirdness and wonder, but about practical men surviving and thriving through their own guts and ingenuity.
 For me half the fun of reading these old sci-fi stories is picking out the anachronisms or “future technology” that we have already surpassed in the current century. There are surprisingly few in this book. The biggest one is that the computers are described as large and they plus the robots are fed their instructions through magnetic tape, which was state of the art material in the 1950s when this story was written. I got a few chuckled out of that. The only other ridiculousness is the means of contragravity which gave men flight through the stars and hover technology is a metal plating substance called collaspium. The specifics are not gone into, but it seems a constant effect, which begs the question- how do they ever land the ships?
While you can buy the hardcover copy above, this book is also available for free from Project Guttenburg.
Copy of Project Guttenburg’s books-
For more readings, try books by Rex Hurst. 

Wednesday, July 17, 2019

Uller Uprising (Science Fiction)

By H. Beam Piper 

Publisher: Ace, 1st printing (June 1, 1983).

Softcover, 157 pages

“As planets went, Uller was no bargain, he thought sourly. At times, he wished he had never followed the lure of rapid promotion and fantastically high pay and left the Federation Regulars for the ranks of the Uller Company. If he hadn’t, he probably be a colonel, at five thousand sols a year, but maybe it be better to be a middle-aged colonel on a decent planet - Odin with its two moons, Hugin and Munin, and its wide grasslands and evergreen forests that looked and even smelled like the pinewoods of Terra, or Baldur with snowcapped mountains and clear, cold lakes, and rocky rivers dashing under vine hung trees, or Freya, where the people were human to the last degree and the women were so breathtakingly beautiful- than a Company army general at twenty-five thousand on this combination icebox, furnace, wind-tunnel and stone-pile, where the water tasted like soap suds and left a crackly film when it dried...where nothing that ran or swan or grew was fit for a human to eat….”
Thus began the origin of H. Beam Piper’s Federation series, which later morphed into Empire. A universe (now in public domain) that comprises at least a dozen short stories, and eight novels (possibly nine depending on who you’re arguing with)- Most notably Little Fuzzy (a series of three books) and Space Viking.
After he died, his worlds were taken up and expanded into a dozen further books set in the Terro-Human Future History- all of which takes place over the next six thousand years. It rises, has a series of civil wars, falls, a chaotic time of no central authority occurs, then collapses into a series of despotic empires. And it all begins in this novel.
The background of the novel is that in 1942, the year the first fission reactor was constructed, is defined as the year 1 A.E. (Atomic Era). In 1973, a nuclear war devastates the planet, eventually laying the groundwork for the emergence of a Terran Federation,  after which humanity goes into space and develops antigravity technology (called contragravity). Most of the new power now lay in Earth’s southern hemisphere in formerly third world countries. Explorers have continued the tradition of naming planets after creatures from mythology, but have run out of Greek and Roman names, hence the names of the planets in this book all come from the Norse tradition.
Earth has expanded and is exploiting the resources of other planets. On Uller, where the lifeforms have a naturally higher silica rate, leading to accelerated petrification, the Uller Company rules in a Roman-esque colonization over the native population. The Ullers (or geeks as the humans on planet call them) are four armed, bipedal, lizard-like creatures with dense silca infused skin. Their technology before the human’s landed was rooted in the Iron Age, and are ruled by a collection of warring kings, who seem to care little for the welfare of their own people. The Uller company, there to gain natural resources, does little to help and are often an easy target for power hungry kings and prophets to blame all of their problems on.
As you might have guessed, there is an uprising. It is on par with the Sepoy Mutiny of 1857, where the native Indian population attacked British forces after a lie was spread about them by various insurgent elements. The main focus of the book focuses on the surviving humans trying to stay alive on a hostile planet where millions of aliens are howling for their deaths. Only superior technology is on their side, but then they get a nasty shock.
There is an interesting introduction to this novel giving detailed scientific descriptions of the two planets involved in the story: Uller, the silicone world, and Niflheim, the flourtine world where no life could evolve. Later on in the timeline the name Niflheim becomes a stand in for Hell. What is also interesting is that the introduction is written by Dr. John D. Clark, a prominent scientist of the 40s and 50s and one of the key discoverers of sulfa drugs- which were the “miracle drug” and near cure-alls before discovery of antibiotics. According to the note, the essay was written first as a hypothetical and then given to Piper to work off of.
As this is a first novel, it is not an example of the author’s (one of my favorites) best work. The cons are that it is bogged down by top heavy detail and a ton of characters who are mostly incidental to the plot. The author wants to demonstrate that the human races have mixed together and does so by swapping traditional names- such as Carlos von Schlichten and Chaim O’Leary. The amount of names slows everything down. Also, the novel is a bit talky and demonstrates the author’s literary upbringing. In the old style, very often the action of a piece was shown after the fact by people talking. We are never really in the thick of it as it is told from the perspective of the General directing the action.
 Pros, it is very intelligent and direct, with no wishy-washiness, no hand-wringing, or fake moral indignation. These are men here to do a job and stay alive, the ethics with how they do so can be discussed later.
While I’m supposed to be pimping Piper’s books, I cannot in all conscience do so without mentioning that all of his material has now lapsed into public domain and has been archived at Project Guttenburg. Everything thing he wrote is available free for download at this website. If you’re like me, you prefer actual books and thus would order the material above.

Copy of Project Guttenburg’s books-

For more readings, try books by Rex Hurst. 

Monday, July 15, 2019

The Burning of the World: A Memoir of 1914 (History) (Autobiography)

by Bela Zombory-Moldovan; Peter Zombory-Moldovan (Translation, Introduction)

Publisher: New York Review Books Classics (August 5, 2014).

Softcover, 184 pages

‘What are you up to, Drafi?’
He was about to jump to his feet to report, when the mate spoke up.
‘Sir, he’s found a potato. He wants to plant it in the ground.’
‘It’s got such good shoots. It wants to live. I’m going to plant it. It might live longer than me.’
Poor Drafi.
The potato did indeed outlive Drummer Janos Drafi of the Royal Hungarian Army.”
A brief moment of time with deals with the immediacy of death in World War I, though the author did not realize it at the time. In fact, in 1914 every side assumed the whole thing would be over in a few months with their glorious nation as the absolute victors. With hindsight, we all know that to be nonsense. The tactics of the time, somewhat left over from the 18th century, could not overcome advancements in technology. The machine gun overruled everything.
We see that idiocy in certain parts of the narrative. Hungarian soldiers were ordered by their generals not to dig foxholes to hide from incoming shell fire, because it “smacked of cowardice” and would destroy the discipline of the men. After a General is killed by a direct shell hit, it seems that the order was hastily reversed, but not enough entrenching tools were issued. The author recounts having to hastily dig a foxhole with the top of a biscuit tin. During this campaign, 80 percent of Hungarian officers were killed.
The author in his uniform

While firsthand accounts of life at the front of World War I (or the Great War as they called it at the time) are somewhat commonplace, ones about the Galician campaign are rare. In the course of the battle, the Austro-Hungarian armies were severely defeated and forced out of Galicia, while the Russians captured Lemberg and, for approximately nine months, ruled Eastern Galicia until their later defeat.
This was meant to be an autobiography covering the author’s entire life, but only the part dealing with 1914 was ever finished. The author died in the late 1940s when communism had claimed Hungary. The author, an artist, was ousted from having his work ever displayed again and retreated into solitude to paint by himself and write this unfinished memoir. It was finally published in 2014- one hundred years after the events of this book take place.
Hungarian soldiers at the front

However the actual events of battle is only covered in one chapter of the book, accounting for a total of 21 pages, where he suffers a near fatal head wound and spends the rest of the year recovering. The following six chapters show him traveling about the country, noting how even at the beginning of the war thing had notably changed, mostly for the worst.

For more readings, try books by Rex Hurst. 

Wednesday, July 10, 2019

Freaks: We Who Are Not As Others (History)

by Daniel P. Mannix 

Publisher: Juno Books, revised 2nd edition (February, 2000)

Paperback, 124 pages

“If you regard yourself as a normal, healthy-minded person, almost certainly the very idea of a freak is repugnant to you. Although you probably wouldn’t go as far as Hitler did and suggest they be killed in gas chambers, still you might very well feel they be shut up in institutions where no one could see them. After all, think of effect of seeing a freak could have on a child. Yet children are raised on stories of dwarfs, giants, and fairies (all of whom have counterparts and probably their origins in human freaks). It is also true that children, far from feeling an instinctive horror of freaks, are delighted with them.”
This is a banned book from the 1970s. It was first published in a small edition format then withdrawn by the publisher and destroyed, after only being out a month. Thus was done under pressure from blue-nosed authoritarian types sticking their noses up about the subject matter. It was out of print for twenty years, until RE-search press, a publisher who specializes in such subject matters, turned out a new edition in 1990.
The author is a long time is a former sword-swallower and fire-eater turned journalist who mostly wrote books on historical events, but is probably best known for The Fox and the Hound which was adapted into the Disney film. Another major contributor, one that the actual author interviewed for his opinion, was Anton La Vey, a long time circus performer and lion tamer who infamously created The Church of Satan and wrote the equally infamous Satanic Bible.

This book is a wonderful collection of material on various sideshow freak events from the lost days of carnivals and circuses. As the author rightly points out, back in the day, a good freak would be the highlight of a show and could pay the running costs of everything by themselves. Before they were shut down by do-gooders in Congress, the sideshow was the best way for a person deemed a “freak” to make a living. Many made fortunes well beyond what they would have made as normal people. Now because of “caring people” who just wanted to help, their livelihoods were destroyed.
I’ve always detested the word freaks, I prefer the one used by Robert Ripley (of Ripley's Believe It or Not fame), that of human oddities. There are a few other terms which may trigger people in this sensitive age, but back in the 70s, the carnival scene wasn’t a font of education or cultural sensitivity- Believe it or not!

The book is divided into chapters based on the various types of oddity: Dwarves and midgets (the difference between the two is that dwarves have short arms and legs, while their trunks and head are normal sized, and midgets are proportionally short all over); giants; those with extra limbs or parasite twins (usually one of the best attractions); hermaphrodites (strangely the author says female impersonators with some fake prosthetics were better than actual hermaphrodites, as they knew how to make a show out of it); fat people; human skeletons; rubber-skinned people; people born without arms or legs; the wild man act- this is broken into several parts- one being the pinheads or microcephalus, like the famous Schlitze-  people who have an overabundance of hair covering their whole body like a wookie- and straight up fake acts of men growling. The author rejects all of the old stories of children being found wild and raised by various animals. He states that in all such cases it usually comes down to the child have some sort of mental retardation and being abandoned by its parents. And on and on and on, there are many many unique acts- far too many to mention here.

The last chapter deals with man-made oddities, people who deliberately turned themselves into a sideshow attraction to make money. Examples include Omi the Great, a tattooed man- while these were common, Omi had zebra stripes tattoos all over him. Block heads, people who pounded nails into their heads to lay on beds of razors. Koo Koo the Bird Girl, whom Anton la Vey claimed was a normal woman, who just dressed weird and made odd bird noises. It ends with Mortado- The Crucified Man, who had holes drilled into his hands and feet. He would place blood capsules in the holes and then be crucified, or hit in a chair and have water hoses run up through them, become a human water fountain.
The book is filled with pictures, some disturbing, some fascinating, and lots of commentary from the author and La Vey about historical people deemed to be freaks and the life of an attraction in the modern (modern for 1974) sideshow. Mentioned quite often is Gibsonton which was formed and has unique zoning laws for carnies and sideshow folk. It boasts the only post office with a desk sized just for little people.
For more readings, try books by Rex Hurst. 

Cover from the original banned printing. 

Wednesday, July 3, 2019

Soft City (Experimental Fiction) (Graphic Novel)

by Hariton Pushwagoner, with Care Ware (introduction) & Martin Herbert (afterword)

Publisher: New York Review Comics (October 4, 2016)

Hardcover, 160 pages.

Apparently it is a miracle that this book even exists. Considered lost for thirty years, it was then wrapped up in legal disputes for at least fifteen more, and now has finally been published to less than commercial fanfare, but to the joy of graphic artists and comic connoisseurs across the globe. The joy some of these guys displayed at getting their hands on this volume was similar to my own when the Mircleman legal disputes were finished and they reprinted all the old issues – which I never had a chance to learn. You know a book is rare when the trade paperback of collected issues go for over $100.
This is the city high-rise, middle manager, version of Solzhenitsyn’s “One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich”. We see the actions of one family as they go through their regular day of wake up, commute to work, do their job, shop, TV, sleep. This is reflected by thousands of people about them doing the same actions. The commuting parts I appreciate, as they go on for pages and pages, accurately reflecting the tediousness of going to and from work, and just how much of your valuable life is eaten up in this activity.

          One might discuss the action (or perhaps non-action) of this book in terms of the banality of existence, the dehumanization of the individual in corporate society, the purposelessness of modern Western first world life, but it is more than that. The people here aren’t mindless drones. We see snatches of their dreams and fantasies popping up in the urban landscape. These are of the escapist sort: desert islands, beautiful women and men, flying aces in an old war. These are people with dreams not just drones.
The people here do not live in a bubble. Their job is not the world. Images of TV and the newspapers (this was drawn in the 60s when people still read such things) depict the horrible life in third world countries, making the people of Soft City feel grateful for the security of their lives, the banality becomes a virtue. At least they are guaranteed to live another day.
As for the artistic style, I think Chris Ware from his introduction sums it up better than I could. “It is more Schopenhauer than Schultz, more Kubrick than Kirby. In fact my mental abbreviation for Soft City, when I’d first only glanced at it and then couldn’t stop thinking about it, was ‘The Stanley Kubrick Comic Book,’ and it does share some common ground: a near-tyrannical symmetry, a Cinerama sot of scope, alternations between seemingly limitless vistas and close-ups of the human face, and a lack of any real central character, as in 2001: A Space Odyssey.”
For more readings, try books by Rex Hurst. 

Monday, July 1, 2019

Make Me a Woman (Autobiography) (Graphic Novel)

by Vanessa Davis

Publisher: Drawn and Quarterly (September 28, 2010)

Hardcover, 176 pages.

There seems to be a plague of autobiographical graphic novels by Jewish women writing about the “exciting” events of their everyday life, but all they truly do is describe themselves as being banal and tedious. Why are so many of these types incapable of drawing any sort of strip that doesn’t involve their narcissistic self? This group of half-finished shorts is the most tedious yet. While Crumb pretty much popularized the autobiographical comic, at least he drew a lot of other things and wasn’t only masturbating over the minutia of his life like a bland Seinfeld episode.
Clocking in in over a hundred and fifty pages this book offers published work by the author in various magazines, and is padded out with black and white half-finished strips from her sketchbook and full page watercolor paintings of some random character in a dance pose.

Don’t get me wrong. I have read many autobiographical graphic novels by men and women which were great, but this one was simply did not have anything of interest. She grew up in a Jewish dominated community and does not seem to have left that community. In various parts of the United States some of the Jewish customs and foibles are different. The End. There isn’t anything else going on in this book. 

The art style is childish, similar to what a bored twelve year old would doodle in their science textbook. While I suppose this is a stylistic choice and, I’m assuming, that the author is capable of more sophisticated art, it becomes somewhat tedious. No matter what the price, give this book a miss. If you really want to read an autobiographical graphic novel by a female artist, there are so many other good choices to make.
For more readings, try books by Rex Hurst.