“Nick’s Rainbow Pepsi Blood” : The Wildest, Weirdest Thing You’ll Ever Drink — Or Read

Ryan C.'s Four Color Apocalypse

I don’t even know where to begin. Seriously.

Of all the unusual and/or avant-garde comics I’ve reviewed over the years, this one may be the most unusual and/or avant-garde of the bunch, a 12-page slice of self-published singularity from Pitsburgh’s Samuel Ombiri that, sure, can be described, dissected, and discussed — but is really pushing my critical faculties to their limits in an attempt to do so adequately.

Notice I don’t say accurately, as this is one of those minis that there’s probably no “right” or “wrong” way to read — assuming your eyes can even handle the deliberately-obfuscated printing enough to read it at all. Yup, folks — you’ve gotta come into this one willing to put in some work.

That work is rewarded, fear not, as Ombiri is not only a skilled but a very smart cartoonist, but he’s out to challenge you at every turn with…

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A Quick Field Guide To The Wonders You’ll See In “A Different Sky”

Ryan C.'s Four Color Apocalypse

What happens when a couple of stoner buddies, with an assist from their possibly-visionary older homeless “third wheel” sidekick, stumble across the machinations of an ancient cult devoted to summoning up some supernatural bird-creature or other, and then find themselves unable to stop their not-quite-dastardly plan?

I’ve never asked myself that multi-faceted question, but apparently Iowa City-based cartoonist Samuel D. Benson has, and he answers it over the course of 50 magazine-sized pages in his latest self-published opus, A Different Sky. The answer? Not much. But this one’s much more about the journey than it is the (non-) resolution.

Massive props where they’re due : Benson absolutely draws the living shit out of every panel. Vaguely Joshua Cotter-esque cross-hatching and barely-constrained linework take up every scintilla of real estate — yet nothing either looks or feels over-rendered or otherwise too “busy” for its own good. This is art that…

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Keep Feeling “Soft Fascinations”

Ryan C.'s Four Color Apocalypse

Reasonably hot off the heels of her magnificent, dreamlike Recollection, breathtaking comics poetry auteur Alyssa Berg returns with another self-published collection, Soft Fascinations, once again riso-printed with a varied and deeply sympathetic color palette that accentuates her themes of memory, fluidity, sensory consciousness, and transcendence with a kind of remarkably naturalistic aplomb, while at the same time bathing the book’s expressive illustrations with a soft, ephemeral glow. Calling it “beautiful” doesn’t do it nearly enough justice — trust me.

At just 20 pages, this is a shorter work than Berg’s last, justly-celebrated release, and yet it feels more conceptually “tight” and focused, as if each short “strip” (a term we’ll employ, by dint of sheer necessity, in as broad and expansive a fashion as possible) builds upon the one before it to present, in the end, a holistic journey within that is grounded not so much — okay…

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