Tom Spurgeon's Web site of comics news, reviews, interviews and commentary
















Home > CR Reviews

Minimalism Archives #13: Round-Up
posted December 24, 2004
 

All the Levels In Between: A Round-Up of Reviews
By Tom Spurgeon

The last half of the '90s was an interesting period for mini-comics, particularly in relation to the rest of the alternative comics community. Fading was the DIY 'zine impulse of the first half of the decade -- or rather, the impulse had changed for many in that generation of burgeoning artists and magazine makers as legitimate publishing efforts became available to them. On the other hand, many of the best cartoonists who emerged from the 'zine movement made it clear to comics fans they weren't going anywhere but back to the copier. In other words, for as many who used mini-comics as a career or artistic stepping stone, there existed other for whom the mini-comic was an ends, not a means. Some have since managed to split their time between standard formats and the homemade, handmade mini-comic, all without drawing distinctions between the two formats regarding the quality of the work proffered. That ethos, combined with the fact that alternative comics had enough established talent that breaking in with the bigger arts comics publishers was more difficult than ever before, meant that not only some of the best comics but more and more of the most accomplished ones were found in the realm of minis.

There are other reasons it's increasingly difficult to distinguish where mini-comics ends and "legitimate" comics begins. A major culprit is that established comics companies have toyed with the accessibility of standard mini-comics formats. Issues of Fantagraphics' Poot! and Rollerball looked like mini-comics with better-than-average covers, while the vast majority of Robot Comics' wave of individual efforts were mini-comics with very well-done silk-screened covers. For a generation of artists who enjoy manipulating industry standards in publication size, shelving problems be damned, the mini-comic has an unique aesthetic quality to recommend it beyond its obvious benefits for self-expression and creative control. Gone forever, perhaps, as a result, is an easy loosening of expectations regarding mini-comics, despite the fact that many up-and-comers still use the format to hone their craft.

What hasn't changed with mini-comics is that at any given time there are a lot of them to review, of extremely varying quality. The following comics were received in the Comics Journal office or by staffers in the last six months, and most feature content from the last year and a half. For the sake of re-introducing the Journal readership to the mini-comics scene, the following are reviews of recent offerings from talents both renowned and brand-new.

Artfly #2: Tales from the Big House
FC Brandt, Peter Conrad, Jesse Reklaw, Dylan Williams
FC Brandt

Here's an idea that might have seemed kind of silly at one time: a big-name mini-comic jam title. Creators Brandt and Conrad are all established mini-comics artists with multiple issues of their titles available; Reklaw and Williams are known for minis and efforts marginally more mainstream -- regular comics for Williams, alternative strips for Reklaw. Artfly allows for a sampling of each artist's style.

Issue #2 is an all-prisoner issue, meaning that the scripts come from stories told or dreams related by men serving time. Most make for effective comics. "Hungry Mike" is an entertaining look at the absurdities of violence behind bars: at one point a tiny prisoner is convinced to assault a sleeping hulk of a crack addict with a plastic toilet brush. Reklaw's pencils carry the dream story "What I Want," an amusing look at how one's prisoners fantasy life seems to forego simple pleasures for more symbolically bizarre ones, in this case looking at naughty fan photos with a partying Burt Reynolds. The two formally daring stories have very different effects. "The Poison of Suspicion," which uses overlapping narratives and digressions to portray a prisoner's unique state of mind, confuses more often than not, although virtuoso art may have made it much more interesting. "The Eternal Night," a comics version of a prisoner's tape recorded speech, at least provides a linear descent into the sort of madness and loss of humanity that emanates from someone as they slip further and further down degredatory and self-pitying life paths. It's a compelling story.

Overall, the comics in Artfly are competent but not extraordinary, each artist gamely putting solid linework and heavy blacks on the page in an attempt to capture the somber moode of the material. None of the comics art on display is inspirational. In a healthier market, this kind of solid comics output would have a place on the stands in comic stores, but as it is, Artfly #2 lacks the artistic chops necessary to make a dent on quality alone. Still, it makes for a decent read.

The Assassin and the Whiner #10-11
Carrie McNinch
Asswhine

After the flush of autobiographical comics that appeared in the early '90s and the outpouring of writing that followed, it's doubtful there are unexplored facets to comics as autobiography. Still, reading two issues from Carrie McNinch's long-running Assassin and the Whiner series one is reminded of the interesting dichotomy that existed in such comics between confession and self-invention. Unlike the best of that type, which played against self-invention by either deconstructing the main figure or giving in to fictionalizing the stories involved, McNinch seems more than happy to present herself as a plucky comic book alt.-heroine. In her embrace of what has to be, on some level, a false persona, one is reminded of those stories about talk show hosts who as children practiced celebrity interviews with record players and tape recorders. McNinch is right where she wants to be.

There's a strong nostalgic pull to the comic given its subject matter, particularly as the next few years will find popular culture awash in early '90s references. All the standard explications of form are here: the comic essay, the encounter with real-life undesirables, and voice-overs given supporting characters whether or not appropriate (her cat). The period covered in these two issues detail McNinch's move from L.A. to small-town Maryland in order to be with her girlfriend. There are two gross limitations on how this actually makes for effective stories. First, McNinch's reliance on the first-person essay means we get told about the progression in the relationship rather than experience it. Second, things end rather suddenly for the reader, yet not in a way that replicates McNinch's experiences, at least not according to testimony. In many ways, this being left out of the loop becomes the most interesting part of the work, as there is some attempt by the reader to fill in the blanks.

McNinch knows how to put ink on the page -- her art is clear and uncluttered. The best sequences are scene-setting pages, combining slightly more detailed art with writing that's usually evocative rather than explicative. On those pages, one feels like McNinch is trying to communicate rather than convince. Assassin and the Whiner is interesting as one of the few ongoing autobio projects, with all the headaches one remembers from their brief time in the sun. As such, it fulfills the need for self-expression highly valued in certain mini-comics circles, even if that doesn't leave the reader much leeway for an artistic experience of their own.

Burning
Edited by Christopher Forgues
Starving Artist Press/Paper Radio

A mini-comics anthology by the people taking over the catalog aspect of John Porcellino's Spit and a Half company, Burning features a nice line-up, including a couple of talents from which one rarely sees work. Contributors include James Kochalka, Matt Madden, Tom Hart, Mat Brinkman, Brian Chippendale, Leela Corman and P. Shaw. Most of the comics featured here -- from the central role fire plays in the stories from the better-known cartoonists, I would guess it was intended to be all of the comics here -- have something to do with burning. The title page contains a map and a hand-burnt hole.

Burning suffers from featuring pages by good cartoonists that seem as if they were done as a personal favor rather than for the sake of artistic expression. Kochalka contributes one of his perfunctory one-pagers, Tom Hart's comic is as wonky and off-putting as anything he's ever done, while Matt Madden's effort is really attractive but very short -- short in a way that allows it to gain credibility by narrative cheat. The work from cartoonists unknown to me is of a widely varying quality as well. The story from Keith Wates was interesting, particularly how its constant violation of space and perspective brings with it a disjointed, emotionally-perplexing subtext. I liked least of all a story by Magnus Johnstone that reads like the indy film version of a Guy Colwell comic.

The effort which stands out the most is Ron Rege's nicely-done colors on his very design-conscious cover. Rege is quickly becoming a kind of post-alternative Kim Deitch, in that his decorative qualities tend to linger after one leaves any project to which he's contributed. Yet however nice, the same drawing didn't need to be shown on the front and back covers.

Cecelia Crocodile's Really Really Good Day
Greg Cook
Oatmeal Press

Slightly different than a standard comic, Cecelia Crocodile's Really Really Good Day exists in that gray space between comics and children's' books. To use RC Harvey's criterion, Cecelia Crocodile uses words and pictures but not in a way that they are interdependent. To use Scott McCloud's, Greg Cook's mini is a series of double-page spreads with progression between panels implied very loosely.

At any rate, it's a charming story, the kind that explains a situation in the most upbeat and optimistic way: like the title suggests, not only does nothing bad happens, nothing that's slightly less than perfect happens. Formally, Cook's mini does display one strength that children's books share with comics: the drawings are explanatory. They give the words a context so that the events portrayed seems slightly less ridiculous. The reader is told something happened by the words; the pictures confirm that this improbable thing actually occurred, and gives you an implied, partial explanation as to how.

I'm not a qualified judge of children's literature, but Cecelia Crocodile has the charm adults usually claim belong to the best of that type of book (I'm afraid as a child I may have found it boring). Cook's art is very suited to this kind of pleasant fantasy as well, so it's nice to look at. But you definitely get what's advertised, without any kind of commentary slipped in for adult edification.

China Guy
Greg Cook
Oatmeal Press

Greg Cook is a versatile cartoonist; this recent effort highlights the looser, more stylized portion of his repertoire. The mini follows a single car's travels through various spare landscapes, while a written narrative evolves slowly into a love letter.

The formal touches are what distinguish China Guy. The pictures are lovely, depending on both heavy spot blacks and suggestive white space to isolate the cartoon car at its center. The inside front cover suggests that the pictures are homemade maps, which in turn reflect the long-hand feel of such documents. The tension between depiction and representation becomes an issue as a result -- are we seeing a physical journey, a metaphor for emotional outreach, or merely a series of interrelated pictures?

The text is equally interesting. Cook's words are lettered one character on top of another in an approximation of Chinese script, an element that works only if Cook is wishing to slow the reader down. Much more effective is the way he build his narrative. In having the text evolve into a love letter, Cook begins with a simple one-page, one-thought pattern, and then violates it into a longer and more expressive declaration of love and belonging. This moves the reader through the story, while giving each picture an incomplete feeling, echoing the longing of its increasingly plaintive tone.

Crum Bums Episode One
Brian Ralph
Fort Thunder

The funniest thing in Brian Ralph's latest, Crum Bums Episode One, is not a comic but information on the purple endpapers. Ralph announces that the story in this mini is continued in three small press anthologies: So Sophisticated, Non, and Low Jinx. This is the comics equivalent of showing your new movie in serial form as a reel at Sundance, then 30 minutes on Showtime, and finally as a short on an episode of Saturday Night Live. One admires Ralph's adherence to his small press roots while at the same time hoping for an eventual collection.

This is a fine story, a continuation of his "Monkey Man Lost in Time" serial. Ralph introduces new characters: a plucky every-lad that serves as Crum Bums' protagonist, an elderly man taken care of by the boy, and some angry punk rockers that seek to foil his everyday plans. We also get a brief visit with the simian time traveler, as he beds down for the night in a different part of the abandoned, perhaps post-apocalyptic city. Unfortunately, the story ends just as the two stories look as if they may converge.

Ralph continues to perform at a consistently high artistic level for such a prodigious output, and the general organic and interesting feel of his drawn worlds are always entertaining. There are some nice sequences in Crum Bums Episode One regarding perspective that look new to Ralph's repertoire, such as when the boy is interrupted in some harmonica playing by his mohawked antagonists. But as always, it's Ralph's dreamy and masterful pacing that carries the day. There is nothing that recommends this new mini-comic over other Ralph works, but when one is working in an artistic groove as consistently entertaining as Ralph's, there doesn't really need to be.

The Diplomat #4
Chris Cilla
Chris Cilla

Portland-based cartoonist Chris Cilla's comic is sort of a 'tweener. Most of Cilla's work here is the type that is perfectly charming in this format but might lose something if one brings expectations to reading larger comics. Still, the accomplishment of some of the art leads me to think that Cilla is using that aspect of the mini-comics format to indulge in some looser, more frivolous storytelling. Whether or not that's true, The Diplomat is a fine mini-comics read that doesn't really satisfy artistically.

The two best comics in The Diplomat are "Ring" (that may not be the name of the story) and "Pink Blazer." In the first, Cilla uses overlapping narratives to tell a story that at follows a interesting story rhythm. We get a single perspective, break from it, converge into a meeting of characters, and then leave with another character and receive their view. Most comics follow a very standard act structure that builds its plot like a movie, so this makes Cilla's piece at least formally noteworthy.

"Pink Blazer" features the best drawn pages in the comic, from the heavy inks used on the expressive figures to the bizarre transitions in its surreal story movement. Cilla also uses panel size, differences in borders, and placement in a highly-effective manner, some that don't even register on a first reading. Overall, The Diplomat has its charms, although it falls short of the humorously self-inflating claims made on the cover and by at least one reviewer.

Four Play Issue #1
Steve Black
Mini Schmini

Hailing from the largest city in American you never hear about, Columbus, Ohio, Steve Black cops to his modest intentions at the beginning of the issue. "Four Play represents a start and a promise to myself to start building a few small machines and practice my craft. It's a place where the high wires [are] not so high yet and I can navigate it slowly and purposely learning along the way." In other words, Four Play is Black trying his hand with the comics form please, let's not hurt him, okay?

It comes as no surprise that this is a crude effort; Black's stories stop and start, and the quality of the art varies wildly from panel to panel, particularly in the first story (first of four, thus the title), "Capn Kipper." Black is trying to make his figures work as objects in space, rather than going after an easier two-dimensional flatness, and there's some life to his line. The charm of the storytelling is in its stops and starts; the things that work best are the story elements that make very little sense. The aforementioned "Capn Kipper" ends with a rousing punch in the mouth of a female character that serves a Johnny Craig-type surprise. "Mr. Lipschitz," four pages of stupidity as a character dances around and shoots people to music, is much more entertaining than the nominally realistic "Butchy Bird." But in general, the first issue of Four Play lacks the kind of artistic accomplishment that makes for decent evaluation of work or talent.

Funtime Comics Titles
Various
Funtime Comics

Funtime Comics looks to be a New Zealand small press collective that does comics in sharp-looking mini-comics formats. An editor, Darren Schroeder, is credited (complete with pull-out business cards), while exchange notices and rates for advertising join editorials in the inside front covers of two of the three books I received from the publisher.

The solo title, Avatar, is the most promising of the three. It's a collection of a 1994 "Aotearoa Sudent Press Association award-winning comic strip" by Jason Brice and Jared Lane. It ran as a half-page square, and had 11 installments. The strip engages the violent acts that surround a central violent act, a sexual assault. Brice's story captures the chaos of the incidents and the guilt that follows, even if he does end up resolving them melodramatically. The art is crude, but rough in a way that shows an effort to play with layout and complicated storytelling techniques. It can't be recommended, but may one day be the rarely-seen student effort of a couple of working pros.

The anthologies, Cult-$ure #12 and Inner Jest #13, are less interesting. Many of the same cartoonists appear in each mini-comic. A series of one-pages called "The Glass City" by D.J. Wrigley are slightly more involved in terms of art and narrative approach than the rather bland humor and genre pieces that make up the rest of the book, although the most accomplished artist is probably one named "Skanz," who does a Tim Kreider-looking piece in Cult-$ure and a hilariously brusque caveman story in Inner Jest. The writing for both of those pieces, and in the book in general, need some serious work. But anyone for a hankering to know what ground-level fan comics look like in New Zealand, either anthology will do.

King-Cat Comics and Stories #56
John Porcellino
Spit and a Half

The 56th issue of Porcellino's long-running classic of the mini-comic form can serve as either a cheaper substitute for, or appetizer to, the more ambitious Perfect Example collection. In "Punt No Tell," we follow an 11-year-old Porcellino through a few typical elementary school days at the end of October 1979. Like Lynda Barry, Porcellino has the sort of memory that makes you remember details as if they were own whether or not you personally experienced them: an odd man in a street football game playing "all-time quarterback," or burning the end of a cork to help make a bum costume for Halloween. It's a slight story, more memory play than compelling narrative.

What always makes Porcellino worth reading is the continual surprise one feels at the utility of his highly-minimalistic approach. Porcellino's art forces the reader to pay attention to very spare visual clues while at the same engendering an informal just-friends dialogue between artist and reader. One may think that John P.'s creative choices make for less-than-excellent comics, but to dismiss his work outright speaks against the medium's capacity for informal self-expression. Porcellino is the rare artist who makes good work out of what might be lousy working methods for anyone else.

Snapshot #5
Jeff LeVine
Jeff LeVine

Once, while visiting Lancaster, Pennsylvania, I heard about a selection of alternative comics that had been purchased with multiple opening and closing of local record stores and never replenished. Therefore any lucky customer would not be faced with 1999's current crop, but those same exact comics that were being published from 1992 to 1994 when the shop five owners ago thought it would be a good idea to supplement its CD sales. Upon visiting that shop, I knew with one glance that this was true: staring back at me were several comics by Jeff LeVine. Because LeVine has slipped out of sight in comics market in recent years, it's hard to remember there was a time when he seemed ubiquitous in alternative comics racks.

Snapshot is LeVine's current project, and reflects his well-noted passion for confessional 1990s 'zine writing, as perhaps exemplified by Aaron Cometbus. The major portion of the mini is typewritten journal-style entries detailing the emotional ups and down of LeVine's life as an Los Angeles office drone. It's excruciating material at times, but the despair, the feeling of one's life slipping away, is accurately and effectively portrayed. He supplements his writing with probably his best comics work to date: moody, evocative pictures of places with spare commentary as accompaniment. Issue #5's longest comic is a four-page essay about a bus ride called "Sardines." LeVine's art has never looked better, and the writing is evocative in a way the entirety of his early comics were not. A second comics piece, "Victory," is a mundane lists of everyday items that works as a reinforcement to the tone of monotony he achieves in the written portions of the mini.

Snapshot is a conceptually slight but interesting work, and could end up being an important shift in approach for a still-young cartoonist.

So Sophisticated
Edited by Andrew Jeffrey Wright
Andrew Jeffrey Wright
Before I talk about this being a nice sampler of material assembled by a Rhode Island School of Design graduate from classmates and alumni, I have to point out that this book features more dog comics by Keith McCulloch. From what little I know of McCulloch, he used to be a neighbor of the Fort Thunder gang at their Providence headquarters. My only exposure to his work was his contribution to an untitled mini-comic he shared with Grits Gries. His work in that comic was extremely amusing, and is happily more than matched by the sequence in So Sophisticated.

McCulloch draws simple dogs that engage in annoyed, deadpan banter. In the So Sophisticated strips, we see two dog clerks complaining about a customer, and then follow a big-headed dog as he purchases a tiny hat and rushes home to see himself in the mirror. The tiny touches are key. At one point, the clerk-dog in the hat store tells the big-headed dog, "Sir, that hat is too small for that head of yours," to which the protagonist replies, "Keep quiet, smarty." That's silly enough on its own, but in admonishing the clerk the dog does a little hand flip that kicks the whole thing into some happy, stupid, comedy heaven. I like the drawings, I like the dialogue, and I like the drawings and dialogue together. I hope rumors McCulloch has recently quit comics aren't true.

There are some other gems in this rather large collection. Contributions by Fort Thunder regulars Ralph, Brinkman, and Radeo are up to their usual quality. That leaves 28 stories of varying accomplishment. I like the editor's work, although it's crudely drawn and his largest contribution is in a classic "comic essay" form very, very familiar to an alternative comics reader. A story called "The Long Story of the Platonic Relations of Louise, Boots and Mittens" fails to do for cats what McCulloch does for dogs, but the absurdity of cartoonist Kate Malone's ending is rather amusing. Another reasonably strong effort is the play on perspectives story "Old Burg" by Leif Goldberg. Most of the rest is extremely mediocre, although it's nice to see this many doggedly expressive talents in one place. In some ways, reading a comic like So Sophisticated is like being invited to a party of like-minded misfits, and as such, this can be marginally recommended.

Southern Fried #4-5
Jerry Smith
Jerry Smith

Jerry Smith is one of the arguments for mini-comics that stands slightly apart from usual definitions of art. Southern Fried is a autobiographical comic notable first for the uniqueness of the artist's perspective and hindered only slightly by any roughness in presentation. Like Joe Chiappetta upon the release of his initial mini-comics, Smith is married and a father, which gives his comics that same bracing step away from the intense careerist interests and self-involvement of most other mini-comics treading autobiographical ground. Unlike the Chicago-area artist Chiappetta, Smith hails from the small-town South, giving Southern Fried an extra sociological kick.

Smith's more entertaining work is found in his short, observational stories. "Man in the Box" in issue #5, is a charming look at the capriciousness of depression, while "Charlotte Comic Con '98" gives perhaps the least jaded perspective on a comic convention ever. Even better are those which look at a slice of southern living, such as #4's "Hillcrest" about the goings-on at a store his grandparents used to own, and that same issues "Joe Gulley," a profile of the house where neighbors used to congregate and its laid-back owner. These profiles give Smith a platform in which to do clear, expository writing, while the length means that his shortcomings as a figure artist don't have a great impact on the story.

The longer works have their charm. Issue #4's lead-off story "Baby Pigeons" is a well-observed story about a dying relative that captures the inadequacies of comfort after a loved one has passed as well as the strange rhythms through which grief is expressed. "Bout," in the fifth issue, is longer but less effective, although a similar theme is expressed in how events in life often play against expectations. Although Smith is becoming a more expressive artist, he lacks the ability to portray a range of believable physical encounters.

Southern Fried is in some ways a perfectly-realized mini-comic: self-expression of a point of view and place in the world, where artistic impact is less important than the artist's struggle to be heard.

Strange Offerings
Scott Johnson
Scott Johnson

As a sub-class of humor comics, super-aggressive minimalism is a school on the wane right now. These are the kind of comics drawn in the back rows of a thousand study halls, quick, crude lampoons of teachers and TV shows. If you buy this as a type of cartooning, their all-time best talent was probably Dennis Worden with Stickboy. More elaborately-drawn variations of that kind of aggressive sarcasm can be found in such disparate cartoonists as Johnny Ryan, John Kerschbaum, and Chris Eliaopolus.

Scott Johnson's mini-comic -- which he says was "lovingly re-produced by the master craftsman Andrew Robertson" so I don't know if Johnson was only the writer -- goes after a number of really broad subjects. The awfulness of the Star Wars prequel, salesmen versus Mormons, and barbarian fiction are amongst those Johnson attack here. Within his chosen parameters, Johnson admirably uses a number of comedic approaches: sarcastic ranting, absurd characters in genre settings, and even visual one-liners.

Without any great effectiveness derived from application of visual craft, Johnson's writing has to carry the majority of the weight here. And while it's fine, and if Johnson is young there's promise, it simply has a far, far way to go to become sharp enough or even mean enough for a recommendation. He would have made a fine companion in study hall, though.

Tepid
John Hankiewciz
John Hankiewciz

The more I read of Arkansas cartoonist John Hankiewicz' comic, the more convinced I am of his book's quality and the more confused I become regarding its stature. Hankiewicz works in surrealism. He uses the limitless visual palette of the comics page to establish a firm control over a working reality and then viciously toys with it. He utilizes a full range of comics' formal properties to get his effects: jarring changes between panels, dialogue that doesn't match the picture, and manipulating the reader's viewpoint so that they only receive a partial picture.

It helps matters immensely that Hankiewciz is a more than competent artist and a very good writer. His art brings to mind P. Revess' strip work, but whereas the intense linework and competing shades underlines the lunacy of Revess' concepts, it intensifies Hankiewicz' dramatic scenework. And he can write, too. Lines as creepy as "You felt the callous touch of the baker's boy... and gagged on the bits of cherry in his teeth" would work in any number of stories.

That line comes from "Next Door," the best story Hankiewicz has done to date. "Next Door" concerns an obsessive-compulsive as he moves about the neighborhood and then has an encounter with a woman he describes as "a creature of my imagination." The whole strip is intensely bizarre in the way that makes one memory suspect. Two panels, one where the narrator and Beatrice almost touch (although she is obscured by a door) and one where the narrator finally places his hand on her stomach, are as odd and affecting as anything I've read in comics in years. There are also two capable back-ups, "Hanshaw Development," where Hankiewicz plays with startling differences in style, and a back cover one-pager partly based on a Wallace Stevens biography.

Hankiewicz is in that exciting place where one reads his comics seeing the potential for even greater ones. Certainly his mini-comics are perfect creatures now, but the ephemeral nature of the spell he's casting leaves one convinced that he it could all be a practical joke. One hopes that Hankiewicz isn't laughing at us.

Addresses for individual titles are below, and the Paper Radio/Starving Artist Press group listed has taken over Spit and a Half's mini-comics catalog business and may be worth writing for that reason alone. In addition, Highwater Books (PO Box 1956, Cambridge, MA 022238) can sell you Crum Bums, Burning, So Sophisticated, China Guy, and Cecilia Crocodile. If you want to buy from individuals, please remember that unless the listing specifically mentions a comic can be ordered for a certain price it may be nice to include a little extra for postage.

· Artfly #2 cost two dollars. Extra copies can be obtained by sending that amount to FC Brandt, 39 Hinckley Street, The Second Floor, Florence, MA 01062.

· Both issues of The Assassin and the Whiner reviewed cost $1. Write McNinch at PO Box 481051, Los Angeles, CA 90048. If ordering direct, it may be prudent to send an extra fifty cents for postage.

· Cecelia Crocodile's Really Really Good Day can be purchased from Highwater Books. Cook can also be reached directly at the address provided in the comic, 79 Riggs Street, Gloucester, MA 01930.

· Paper Radio/Starving Artist Press released Burning. They're at Box 254, Allston, MA 02134. The anthology cost $3.

· China Guy can be purchased from Highwater Books or from Cook directly.

· Crum Bums Episode One is available from Ralph, PO Box 2328, Providence RI 02906 for $X. The same amount will get you one from Highwater Books as well.

· The Diplomat #4 cost $2.50. You can write Cilla at 542 NE San Rafael, Portland, OR 97212.

· Write to Steve Black of Four Play at 518 E. Town Street, Apartment #311, Columbus, OH 43215. Four Play #1 sports a $1 price tag on its cover.

· My contact address for Funtime Comics is 12 Hoani Street, Papanui, Chrischurch, New Zealand. I have an e-mail address as well: darrens@es.co.nz. Avatar's cover price is $2, while the anthologies run $3.

· For King-Cat #56, send $2 and some change to John Porcellino at Spit and a Half, PO Box 881, Elgin IL, 60121. Remember to ask for a catalog, which now only features Porcellino's work.

· Snapshot #5 is $2, and you can write Jeff at 4956 Kester Avenue, Apt. #6, Sherman Oaks, CA 91403.

· So Sophisticated Editor Andrew Jeffrey Wright may be reached at 1026 Arch Street, 2nd Floor, Philadelphia, PA 19107. It costs $4.

· Southern Frieds are a dollar apiece. Jerry Smith can be reached at 3344 Horner Drive, Morristown, TN 37814, or at sfried@lcs.net.

· Strange Offerings has a cover price of $3. The contact information is PO Box 211 Panania N-S-W 2213.

· The Spring 2000 issue of Tepid may be had at $2.50 a copy ppd. Write 867 Fendley Drive, Apartment K-10, Conway, AR 72032