Two From Devon Marinac : “Mix Yourself A Dead End”

Ryan C.'s Four Color Apocalypse

“No two alike!” is a truism when it comes to all the work of Toronto-based Devon Marinac, but not only in the sense of each successive project being utterly unlike the last. Nope, when we’re talking about his collage ‘zines — as we are here — no two copies of them are the same. No wonder, then, he produced his latest self-published example of such, Mix Yourself A Dead End, in an edition of only 30.

Marinac’s getting to be something of an old hat at making these — I’m pretty sure I’ve reviewed at least one before — but don’t take that to mean there’s anything “old” about them. Featuring hand-done colors in what sure looks to me like magic marker, stickers, and cut-up pieces of newspapers and magazines glued in throughout, these ‘zines feel “worn” and “lived in” even when they’re brand new, lending each the distinct…

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Two From Devon Marinac : “Pussycats, Paperbacks, Pennants, And Penance”

Ryan C.'s Four Color Apocalypse

Say what you will for Canadian artist Devon Marinac — and you can say a lot — but his work consistently refuses to be not just pigeonholed, but even categorized together. I mean, yeah, his new work Pussycats, Paperbacks, Pennants, And Penance is a ‘zine (and one self-published in an edition of just 30 copies, at that!), but beyond that? All bets are off.

And isn’t that what good art is all about at the end of the day — as well as the beginning and all points throughout? As you flip through this, every page promises a unique and inimitable experience, even — self-contradictory as this no doubt sounds — when themes and scenes are repeated, as they often are herein. There are two ways of looking at this, of course — one can choose to say to themselves “this is the third time we’ve seen a black cat…

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It’s Mini Kus! Time Again : “Man Made Lake” By Aidan Koch (Mini Kus! #94)

Ryan C.'s Four Color Apocalypse

While I admit to finding the subject fascinating, I’m by no means on expert on psychotherapy, to say nothing of its more — esoteric offshoots such as hypnotherapy, DBT, so-called “past life regression,” and the like. And while I harbor no doubt that any licensed and educated therapist would be absolutely appalled at me lumping entirely reputable forms of analysis in with stuff that many folks perceive to be sheer quackery, as I just did, for the purpose of discussing the most recent entry (that would be #94, for those keeping score at home) in the Mini Kus! line from our Latvian friends and Kus!, Aidan Koch’s Man Made Lake, it really is necessary to list — or perhaps the right term would be blend — them all together. Rest assured, all will be explained — to the extent I’m capable of doing so.

Which, admittedly, isn’t much, but…

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It’s Mini Kus! Time Again : “Pirate & Parrot” By Lukas Weidinger (Mini Kus! #93)

Ryan C.'s Four Color Apocalypse

I’m always hesitant to quote verbatim from a publisher’s promotional copy, but the tag line used by Kus! to describe cartoonist Lukas Weidinger’s Pirate & Parrot, #93 in their Mini Kus! series, is short, sweet, and to the point — as well as being eminently worth responding to. It simply states : “The pirate stands for desire. The parrot stands for opportunity. The fish stands for freedom. What do you stand for?” Very clever. Very cool. And utter hogwash, even if every word of it is true — which it probably is.

Look, I love a good existential brain-buster as much as anyone, but if you’re pondering over symbolism and deep philosophical meaning, you’re missing out on the point of Weidinger’s comic, which is simply this : it’s fun. Not only is there nothing wrong with that, in today’s cluttered comics world, I would even go so far as…

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It’s Mini Kus! Time Again : “Finnegans Wake” By Nicolas Mahler (Mini Kus! #92)

Ryan C.'s Four Color Apocalypse

I don’t know how many of you fine readers ever managed to make it all the way through James Joyce’s Finnegans Wake, but if you did, congratulations — you’ve got me beat. It’s not that I found it completely impenetrable, mind you — although it certainly came close enough — it’s more a case that what I could understand about it easily enough didn’t sufficiently interest and/or motivate me to invest the time and effort necessary to figure out the rest. I’m not among those who consider Joyce to be an outright fraud, let me be absolutely clear about that, but I do think that this particular novel is one of his more average works, dressed up to make it seem like a weightier and more substantial tome than it really is.

But what do I know? Again, I never finished the thing.

It’s likely that cartoonist Nicolas Mahler

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It’s Mini Kus! Time Again : “Sufficient Lucidity” By Tommi Parrish (Mini Kus! #91)

Ryan C.'s Four Color Apocalypse

I assure you, it’s not a contractual obligation — my decision to cover everything that comes out as part of the long-running Mini Kus! series from Latvian art comics publisher Kus! is entirely voluntary. In fact, not to step too far “out of chracter,” but each new foursome of releases is one of the “events” in the comics world that I look forward to most — as a critic, yes, but even more importantly as a reader. I never know what I’ll find between the covers of one of these minis, but I always know it will be something challenging, something unexpected, and something that not only stands up to, but frankly demands multiple close and considered readings.

Their latest “round,” so to speak, exemplifies this standard perhaps more than any other — seriously, there’s not a misfire in the bunch — so if you’ll permit me (and you…

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The Less You Know, The Better : Bryce Martin’s “Shov Show”

Ryan C.'s Four Color Apocalypse

I’ve reviewed a couple of Bryce Martin’s minis in recent weeks and, completist that I am, it seemed like I was being remiss in my duties by not offering at least some brief comment on the third of his 2020 self-published wares to come across my radar, Shov Show, but here’s the rub : I came in to this book with no knowledge of the characters involved, no real context within which to judge it properly, no real vantage point from which to evaluate its success or lack thereof — and I came out of it in very much the same position. Oh, what to do, what to do?

I supposed that reading it a few more times wouldn’t be a bad idea, and so I did that. But I’m still as utterly clueless about, and dumbfounded by, its contents as ever. What I do know, though, weird is…

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The Atrocity Exhibition : Henriette Valium’s “Fist Raid”

Ryan C.'s Four Color Apocalypse

Popular mythology would have you believe that on the morning of September 12th, 2001, America woke up, pulled its boots up, and got to work. Everyone singing from the same songsheet, unified in our purpose and mission, determined to rebuild from the horrific terrorist attacks of the day before and to once again stand tall, stand proud, and stand for everything that’s right, good, honorable, and just. There’s just one little problem : popular mythology is a load of bullshit.

The day after 9/11 wasn’t the greatest time to be an American, it was the scariest time to be an American — not because of what had happened, but because of what was yet to come. If there’s one thing you don’t want a nuclear-armed superpower to experience, it’s a tidal wave of ugly self-righteous nationalism, and that was precisely what America’s “leaders” proceeded to gin up amongst the populace…

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“Haxan Lane” Proves Philadelphia Is Even Scarier Than You Thought

Ryan C.'s Four Color Apocalypse

In between the veritable onslaught of unique and inventive autobio/memoir stuff that cartoonist Thomas Lampion has released over the past year or two, he’s also managed to take a side trip — down a grimy street and into a haunted house, at that — in the pages of his self-published ‘zine Haxan Lane, two issues of which have seen the light of day so far. Although “light of day” is a decidedly poor choice of words on my part —

Why, you ask? Well, this is a humor comic to be sure, but it’s one that goes bump in the night, and has very much a feel of a modern take on the Brothers Grimm to it, complete with “be careful what you wish for” and “if something seems too good to be true, it probably is” moralizing — but please don’t take that to mean it’s not a…

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Who Needs Vegas Or The Caribbean When You Can “Honeymoon In The Afterlife” ?

Ryan C.'s Four Color Apocalypse

Some comics just grab you from the word “go,” and one look at British cartoonist Matt Canning’s Honeymoon In The Afterlife is all it takes for you to know that this is one of them : self-published in newspaper broadsheet format, it’s a sizable thing to behold, no doubt about that, but equally it’s an impressive one, clean and simple black and white linework accentuated by decidedly contemporary shading techniques when and where necessary, with a kind of dusty rose hue deployed as an occasional “spot” color, it’s a triumph as far as production values go. But who are we kidding? While all that is certain to capture your interest, it takes considerably more to retain it.

Which rather sounds like a segue into me cataloging a list of shortcomings, but I promise you it’s not : in fact, if anything, Canning’s ability to keep you glued to the exploits…

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