Two From Brian Canini : “Across The Diner”

A simple story, well told, is always worth its weight in gold — a sentiment that’s perhaps never been more true than in these troubled and troubling times — and when he’s really hit on a nugget of an idea, when he’s firing on all cylinders creatively, a simple story, well told, is precisely the kind of thing that Columbus, Ohio’s Brian Canini excels at. Guess what? In his latest self-published (under the auspices of his Drunken Cat Comics imprint) mini,  Across The Diner, he’s hit on a nugget of an idea and is firing on all cylinders creatively.

Still here? ‘Cuz, I mean, I just pretty well gave away the game, which — at least according to what passes for conventional “wisdom” — is supposed to be seriously poor form. Even if what you’re saying is true — which, in this case, it absolutely is — you’re expected to wait a bit, build up to it, all that good stuff. Still, since you’ve stuck around, I suppose I will, as well —

Meet Emily, a young-ish, likely professional, woman who’s out for a first date she, one assumes, set up on some app or other. The date doesn’t show. But someone else does — someone who appears to tick every box on her personal “girl of my dreams” list. Things could get interesting — or not — depending on what she does next. A leap of faith is in order, obviously — but you know how these things go : they’re pretty damn daunting. Unless you decide that they’re actually, ya know, not.

Have we been down this road a thousand times before? Of course we have. And are things like text messages as a storytelling crutch done to death in today’s comics? Of course they are. But can a cartoonist in his or her “zone” make even the most tried-and-possibly-tired conceits and concepts work to their advantage if they relax, don’t push too hard, and just follow their best artistic impulses and creative choices? Of course they can.

It occurs to me now that I’ve probably gushed out almost as many superlatives as this modest little comics contains words, but sometimes that’s the way it goes. Things hit you in the right way, ignite that little spark, and you just roll with it. So I’m rolling with it.

That’s precisely what Canini does here — nothing more, certainly nothing less. He rolls with it. His setting — our titular diner, in case you were wondering (I know, I know — you weren’t) — is perfect for his spared-down “classical cartooning” style, his characters belie the sort of intuitively-rendered facial expressions that only come when an artist really puts themselves in their heads, and he eschews trite nonsense like caption boxes for his protagonist’s internal monologue in favor of (yes! Rejoice!) actual thought bubbles. Yes, this is “only” and eight-page B&W number, but nevertheless — there’s a lot here to love.

Self-doubt, insecurity, second-guessing, trepidation, fear — again, these have all been done to death. But there’s a reason for that, isn’t there? I mean, to one degree or another, in one proportion or another, we can all relate to them. Or, rather, we can if conveyed correctly. Honestly. Authentically. Minus any fuss, muss, overkill, or understatement. It’s a tricky balance for such a simple thing, one that any given cartoonist has to get just right both visually and narratively. Brian Canini threads the needle here and crafts exactly what he set out to with this one.

Which was what again? Oh yeah — a simple story, well told. Very well told, in this case.

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Across The Diner is available for $1.99 from the Drunken Cat Comics website at http://drunkencatcomics.storenvy.com/products/29957878-across-the-diner

Also, this review — and all others around these parts — is “brought to you” by my Patreon site, where I serve up exclusive thrice-weekly rants and ramblings on the worlds of comics, films, television, literature, and politics for as little as a dollar a month. Subscribing is the best way to support my continuing work, so I’d be very appreciative indeed if you’d take a moment to check it out by directing your kind attention to https://www.patreon.com/fourcolorapocalypse

 

Two From Brian Canini : “Four Stories”

Apropos of perhaps nothing in terms of the overall scope of this review, but definitely worth a mention : Brian Canini is the most organized cartoonist around. Every few months, like clockwork, I get a nice little package from him containing his latest review submissions, complete with a little letter containing a brief synopsis of each. This is the kind of critical outreach that is very appealing to me and, I would guess, other critics, as it shows he is downright eager to have us check out his stuff, and he’s always been more than magnanimous about any critiques I may have about his work, taking them in the constructive manner in which they’re intended. And if that isn’t a natural segue right there, I don’t know what is.

Cutting to the chase, then, one of the two new minis from his own Drunken Cat Comics imprint that I sat down to read immediately is entitled Four Stories, and it’s exactly what you would think it is given its moniker — a brisk little solo-creator anthology that packs a quartet of punchy yarns into one eight-page package. Which is a bit curious given that his earlier Two Stories had twice the page count, but I digress — I’ve got a briefly-abandoned segue to get back to.

And on that note, yeah, this is a mixed bag that seems to offer no particular thematic “connective tissue” apart from the fact that all of the strips are, as you’ve no doubt intuited by this point, short. Hollywood Tears is likely the standout of the bunch, a letter home from a would-be starlet in La-La Land that draws stark distinctions between the facade she’s presenting for the folks back in Smalltown,USA and the often-grim reality of, well, reality, and while it still relies upon irony for its impact — spoiler alert, these all do, to one degree or another — it’s utilized effectively here as a consistent through-line as opposed to taking the form of a “twist” ending.

Which, in fairness, isn’t always the end of the world, either, just predictable in its attempts to be anything but. If you can take that much as a given, though, then University Dining is a fun little number even if its observations in regards to the differences between men an women are obvious, but it’s worth keeping in mind that neither re-inventing the wheel nor rocking the boat are necessarily part of Canini’s remit vis a vis this project — he appears to be content with telling a few short tales in his trademark slightly-more-than-minimalist style that make you laugh a little, think a little, maybe even scratch your head a little. That’s a perfectly fine goal, in my opinion, and truth be told I think more cartoonists would benefit from the approach he takes of doing these smaller creative exercises either in conjunction with, or as a break from, longer-form, more ambitious projects — represented, in this case, by his ongoing near-future murder mystery series, Plastic People.

As far as the question of which side of the ledger the other two of our four stories fall on goes, I was reasonably charmed and touched by the (again) obvious ruminations on aging in the unimaginatively-but-accurately-titled Growing Up, but wholly unimpressed by the largely uninspired It’ll Happen To You, a listless strip that’s about exactly what it sounds like and probably should have just stayed an idea in a sketchbook, given it doesn’t do anything to flesh itself out much beyond that other than add some artistic polish.

Which means we’ve got one borderline-standout strip, two middling ones that err more toward the positive, and one clunker. For two bucks, that’s not bad, and marks the project as a worthwhile expenditure of your money and time (all ten minutes of it). I was glad enough to read it, and odds are good you’ll be, as well.

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Four Stories is available for $1.99 from the Drunken Cat Comics website at http://drunkencatcomics.storenvy.com/products/29730397-four-stories

Review wrist check –  I was wearing my Raven “Solitude” gray dial/black bezel model for this one, a favorite everyday beater with a real workhorse Seiko NH35A automatic movement and nice, bright lume on the dial markers, hands, and bezel — which, by the way, has more or less NO play whatsoever, a pretty impressive feature for a sub-$500 watch. It’s riding here on a Hirsch “Birch” strap from their “Performance” series, which means it’s both comfortable as hell and gives any watch it’s attached to a really distinctive look. Plus, it’s got a well-constructed deployant clasp. A great combination that dresses your watch up or down as needed for any situation.

 

Groovy, Spooky, “Spewey”

If there’s one thing you can say for the work of Seattle-based cartoonist Jason T. Miles, it’s that his art is consistently challenging. And surprising. And pretty near indescribable. At times even indecipherable. And, yeah, I realize that’s more than the promised “one thing.”

Still, in my own defense, if I only had one thing to say about it, that wouldn’t really make for much of a review, would it? And I actually have a fair amount to say about the retrospective collection Spewey, a 44-page assemblage of some of Miles’ more idiosyncratic work from the past decade published in late 2019 by “boutique” riso-printing house Cold Cube Press. It’s deciding how to say what you want to say that’s always the trickiest part of reviewing any of Miles’ comics, though, and that’s what makes the prospect of attempting to do so such an exciting proposition.

As a general rule, narrative is threadbare here, a skeleton from which to hang a mercurial expression or artistic intent and not much else, but that doesn’t mean the concept of story itself is absent per se — it’s more a case that it needs to be either actively searched for or, better yet, intuited. Nods abound to the likes of Kirby and Panter, but by and large that’s as close to familiarity as you’re going to get here, and while you may be taken aback on first pass at the sheer bravado of Miles’ journey up, down, and sideways through the entire stylistic continuum, an undercurrent of “figure it out for yourself” pervades throughout, whether we’re talking about strips rendered with scratchy pen and ink, illustrations that veer into the realm of pure abstraction, or even deceptively-unrelated photos that perhaps only a Zen master could discern concrete links between, as shutting out the noise of the outside world — and of your own mind — are prerequisites to really coming to grips with what Miles is doing. How he’s doing it. Where he’s at.

Certainly the gradations of red and black employed in the riso process are deliberate in the extreme, but even their most sudden and pronounced placements don’t “take you out of the story” precisely because you’re never entirely in it — transmogrification and metamorphosis and physical and perceptive fluidity are staples herein, but the artistic process itself and, most crucially, the choices that inform it are part and parcel of that thematic through-line, the act of making these comics holding at least equal weight to what it is that they’re presenting. It’s an ambitious strategem — if it even is a strategem, there’s so much deliriously inventive “winging it” of things going on here that I hesitate to say for certain — but it’s also an elemental one, true to art in all its forms, but laid bare with refreshing honesty here. The medium is the message, sure, but the utilization of that medium is too often thought of as separate to the finished “product” itself, which is an absurd notion given that the two are, quite obviously, inextricably linked.

I mentioned fluidity and transmogrification a moment ago, but I should perhaps be more clear, more precise, despite the fact that resorting to anything resembling precision and/or definition runs counter to what I feel is the spirit, at least, of this particular project — it’s states of being and unbeing that are being explored and tentatively negotiated here; it’s not people and things alone that change, but our understanding of them, full realization most frequently just tantalizingly out of reach no matter how we interpret the scant information we’re provided with. Miles isn’t content to be some cartographer limning the boundaries of his “idea space” — he’s more a tour guide or emcee, a presenter, if you will, emptying the contents of his subconscious onto the page in whatever manner feels right and then letting — hell, trusting — you to determine what it all means to and for yourself.

Noticeable by its absence but in no way missed is the ultimately false notion of certainty — an abstraction in all but definition anyway. If there is progression here, it’s debatable and subjective; if there’s a “point” to it all, ditto. Each strip, each page is involving — sometimes downright inviting — but what it’s inviting you to do is to take your time, make your own decisions, formulate your own reactions. What you think about this book is less important than how you feel about it — and you’re not likely to decide how you do feel about it for days or weeks. If ever. And that’s okay, too — it’s Miles’ comic, but it’s your journey. Make of it whatever you will; I don’t think he’d have it any other way.

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Spewey is available for $15 from Cold Cube Press at http://www.coldcubepress.com/shop/spewey-jason-miles-1

Review wrist check – I was wearing my Spinnaker “Piccard” blue dial/bronze case model as I wrote this one, riding its factory-provided black rubber “ladder-style” strap.  Affectionately know in our home as “The Beast,” this watch is based loosely on the design and specifications of the timepieces Rolex made for the first voyage to the bottom of the Mariana Trench. And about those specs, holy shit : 1000M water resistance with a self-regulating helium release valve, 47mm case diameter, 26 mm lug to lug, and a whopping 25mm thick! That being said, because it’s titanium, it’s surprisingly light for a legit “wrist tank.” I love it, get a ton of compliments on it (hey, it’s hard to miss), but I gotta admit — it’s probably not one you’re gonna wear every day.

One More From Perfectly Acceptable Press : Pablo Delcielo And Shihab Alen’s “Anarchy In The Kingdom Of Heaven”

While Chilean cartoonist Pablo Delcielo and his writing partner Shihab Alen (a nom de plume, apparently, for one Raimundo Gunen) open their 2017 Perfectly Acceptable-published illustrated poetic essay Anarchy In The Kingdom Of Heaven with a reference to Philip K. Dick, in both tone and content their visionary (in the strictest sense of the term) project actually evokes the writings of spiritual anarchist authors ranging from Henry David Thoreau to Peter Lamborn Wilson/Hakim Bey, albeit with a distinctly, and entirely understandable, anti-imperialist streak ever-present in its suggestions and implications. It is, however, no less radical (again, in the strictest sense of that word) for that fact.

Heavily informed by the Latin American experience with colonialism both military and economic, this is a short-form thorough re-thinking of possible futures in the face and aftermath of Western exploitation, and as such is unafraid to call out the American empire as fascist from the outset and go from there, Bullshit, then, being in very short supply in these brightly-hued, amazingly imaginative pages, it’s incumbent upon the authors to posit an alternative to rapacious greed and self-centeredness, and damn if they don’t offer up the most wide-ranging one of all : everything.

And maybe the kitchen sink, too, come to think of it. Freedom, self-determination, voluntary co-operation as the glue of social cohesion, this is strikingly Utopian stuff on the one hand, but also utterly practical provided one is capable of discarding the cynicism that this corrupt and evil system has inculcated in all of us for at least the time it takes to read this gorgeously-produced example of riso-printed artistry. An examination of the here and now from a radical leftist (or maybe that should be post-leftist) perspective is always welcome, of course, but when it goes the extra mile and shows us where we can go once that here and now is over? Well, shoot, that’s just plain ambitious, and probably exactly the tonic we need to these ludicrously troubled times.

Ultimately, though, words are used here as a gateway to what is a visual response to capitalism’s violent death throes — after all, when what’s taken as a given is dispensed with (especially when that’s a mercy killing), then all imitations on possibility are discarded, as well, and the scope of our imaginations, individually and collectively, becomes our only metaphorical prison cell. To say that Delcielo has cast off his artistic shackles and fully embraced his own liberation is, as the images included with this review clearly demonstrate, a mighty understatement indeed, and while this is illustration that broadly falls into the pseudo-category of “kaleidoscopic,” that’s just as true in the conceptual sense as it is the physical one. There might be a hint of John Pham influence on the margins here — both in terms of some of the “bubbly” figure drawings as well as the color palette, rife as it is with fluorescent pinks and yellows and more muted blues, along with hints of metallic gold — but apart from that, Delcielo’s art exists in a category of one : its own.

It’s cosmic stuff, to be sure, but so are the concepts at play herein : playfulness, the liberation of desire, the shedding of competition as the basis of human interaction in favor of co-operation and voluntary association, these only seem daunting — in truth, they’re fun, they’re healthy, and they’re limitless. Delcielo not only understands this, he understands how to communicate it via his art, and how to make sure his message lands with a kind of tremendously heartfelt impact. Go ahead, give a detailed, intricate examination to each page, or each double-page spread — the more you take it all in, the more you’ll enjoy it.

And it’s no coincidence that enjoyment on a mass scale — each individual leading a truly happy and fulfilled life — is what Delcielo and Alen want for all of us. And while their remarkable, gorgeous book may not be enough in and of itself to usher in the era of pure ecstasy they envision, it offers ecstatsies aplenty to all readers in the time that they spend with it.

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Anarchy In The Kingdom Of Heaven is available for $10.00 from Perfectly Acceptable press at http://perfectly-acceptable.com/item/anarchy-in-the-kingdom/

Review wrist check – I was wearing my Farer Universal “Stanhope” for this one, riding on a Hirsch “James” strap from their “Performance” series. This is the only non-automatic timepiece in my modest little collection — no, it’s not a quartz movement watch, it’s got a hand-wound mechanical movement. Wind it 20, maybe 30 times in the morning and it’s good to go for about two days, with maybe a total loss of three seconds or so in that time. A fun, slim little number that dresses up nicely on a strap like this but can look remarkable casual on others. “Versatile as hell,” I believe, is the term that we’re looking for.

Two From Perfectly Acceptable Press : Hiller Goodspeed’s “Simple Things”

Credit where it’s due : cartoonist Hiller Goodspeed’s 2018 Perfectly Acceptable release Simple Things makes perfectly clear what it is going in — from its title to its pared-down cover aesthetics, you know what you’re getting into with this one before you ever even open it up. Here’s the thing, though — as any seasoned reader of small press and self-published comics knows, there’s a whole lot out there that’s deceptive in its simplicity. Or, perhaps more accurately, complex in its simplicity.

John Porcellino is the first name that leaps to mind, of course, his legendary King-Cat Comix utilizing the most basic line art to communicate conceptual, emotional, and even physical depth with a wistful touch and wry sense of humor — but the distinguished Mr. Porcellino himself would be the fist to admit that there are those who preceded him on this particular path, the most notable probably being Jenny Zervakis of Strange Growths renown.  And at first glance, Goodspeed’s work seems to follow in the noble tradition of these artists, and others.

Goodspeed also has the same affinity for nature’s simple gifts as the two cartoonists aforementioned —rocks being a recurring theme, for instance — but that’s about the point at which the similarities end. That’s because there’s an intriguing frisson of absurdity running though this series of drawings, giving them a sense of playfulness and even an occasional note of gentle self-mockery, as if to remind readers that, hey, at the end of the day, these are still “just” comics.

Which is undoubtedly true, of course — but they’re also fundamentally solid comics, and utterly unpretentious, which is something of a rarity when a cartoonist is clearly aiming to produce “charming” work. But charm is one of those entirely subjective things that’s difficult to quantify above and beyond the old “you know it when you see it” standard — fortunately, Goodspeed makes sure you see plenty of it in the banana- yellow pages of this aesthetically-pleasing little book.

The riso-printed color palette utilized on this ‘zine is deliberately limited but entirely effective, oranges and greens and blacks deployed with a kind of intuitive precision that makes it look easy when it’s anything but — and therefore entirely in keeping with the book’s overall sensibility. The scope of this project is admittedly limited in its scale, yeah, but the extent to which Goodspeed consistently “nails it” is nevertheless damn impressive.

And there’s something to be said for that, isn’t there? I’ve always thought so, at least — in fact, it’s not even about a “return to basics” when those basics are done with such exemplary skill.  Rather, I think it’s about throwing those basics into sharp and stark relief and showing how much more inherently expansive they are than we’d previously, or consciously, realized. You can communicate universes with a handful of clean, simple lines — with those titular “simple things” — and the fact that Goodspeed manages to do so while making you chuckle at his humor, scratch your head at his sense of the absurd, and quietly marvel at his sheer technical expertise , marks this as a wildly successful, and entirely unassuming, little art ‘zine. Put your cynicism in a lock box for a little while and give this one a go.

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Simple Things is available for $10.00 from Perfectly Acceptable Press at https://www.perfectly-acceptable.com/item/simple-things/

Also, this review — and all others around these parts — is “brought to you” by my Patreon site, where I serve up exclusive thrice-weekly rants and ramblings on the worlds of comics, films, television, literature, and politics for as little as a dollar a month. Subscribing is the best way to support my continuing work, so I’d be very appreciative if you’d take a moment to check it out by directing your kind attention to https://www.patreon.com/fourcolorapocalypse

 

Two From Perfectly Acceptable Press : Brianna Rose Brooks’ “Oh My (Bri)”

Sketchbooks always reveal something about an artist’s process — but Brianna Rose Brooks’ 2018 Perfectly Acceptable release, Oh My (Bri), goes a step further by revealing much of its author’s psyche. It’s an intimate glimpse at a remarkable talent — disarmingly intimate, in fact — but it’s also not necessarily for those who don’t appreciate a challenge when they’re “only” expecting to look at some amazing drawings.

Described by its publisher as dealing with “topics of intimacy, identity, and blackness” — truth in advertising, I assure you — it’s nevertheless a safe bet that readers will be at least occasionally taken aback by how far she goes in exploring these themes, visually and literally. And while the sketches and essay collected herein span a roughly three-year gamut, the cumulative effect of the work as a whole bears the conceptual weight of a liftetime having been spent not just exploring, but living, issues stemming forth, both directly and indirectly, from these subjects.

You needn’t worry about the production values on this slim-but-sturdy volume, of course, Perfectly Acceptable being the “gold standard” of boutique riso printing houses, but the expansive color palette and aesthetic approximation of an “actual” sketchbook utilized here are the dictionary definition of “above and beyond” — and also absolutely necessary for this book to have the communicative power it needs to be fully effective. When it comes to faithful reproductions of original pages this is second-to-none, yes, but considering that the nature of the project itself demands no less, well — let’s just say it’s pretty obvious that Matt Davis must have realized the potency of what he had on his hands with this one and duly “upped his game” to match that of Brooks.

If this is a game, though, it’s one that being played for keeps — page after page of vibrant and expressive illustration communicate more with a glance, a gesture, a choice of body language or physical posturing, than a million words could hope to (that’s it, my one-cliche limit has been reached), but when those words do come into play in her eight-page, “redacted” autobiographical essay, the stakes are raised significantly higher. Which brings us back to that whole thing about “intimacy, identity, and blackness” —

Intimacy? Brooks asks meaningful questions about not only intimacy with others, but with oneself. Identity? She goes beyond examining sexual, gender, and racial identity and trains her considerable talents on a stark-but-subtle analysis of the very phenomenon of discrete identity itself. Blackness? She’s not just grappling with her own blackness, but the suppression of blackness on a mass scale, translated down to the personal, in a culture based on the destructive myth of white supremacy. If you’re wondering if such lofty explorations can be undertaken with pens and markers on cheap sketch paper (ruled and unruled), this book answers that in the affirmative — and does so affirmatvely.

Which isn’t to say that Brooks doesn’t have an eye for beauty and its necessity, as the sketch above (which also shows off the impressive inlaid bookmark this volume comes complete with) clearly shows — indeed, while this is a complex and in many ways difficult work, it’s also a beautiful one from start to finish that celebrates not so much the struggle, but the irreducible kernel of self that persists within the face of it. Unforgettable, I believe, is the word we’re looking for here.

******************************************************************************Oh My (Bri) is available for $20 from Perfectly Acceptable Press at https://www.perfectly-acceptable.com/item/oh-my/

Review wrist check – I was wearing my Zodiac “Super Sea Wolf 53” while I wrote this one. This is the so-called “Blackout” edition, riding the PVC-coated stainless steel bracelet it came on in the box. It looks great on black, orange, and blue NATOs as well, but hey — I was in a hurry this morning.

Of Myths And Morons : David King’s “Hercules And The Orbs Of Woad”

After knocking it out of the park with his flawless all-ages comic Yellow Flag Intelligence Squadron, cartoonist and self-publisher David King came back in the latter part of last year with a decidedly more — mature, I guess? — offering in the form of the magazine-sized Hercules And The Orbs Of Woad, a smartly contemporary take on the hero of ancient Greek mythology that takes what we know about the character to logical, if extreme, conclusions in service of something of an old-school illogical romp.

If that seems a bit vague, I apologize, and since I’d hate to be accused of tiptoeing around the issue, I’ll just lay it out in plain English : we all know that, like his daddy Zeus, Herc would pretty much fuck anything that moved, but what would happen if he got “blueballed”? If you’ve always wondered, here’s the answer you’ve been waiting for. And if you haven’t, well — here’s a damn funny, and exceptionally well-drawn, comic regardless.

The earth will shake, the skies will crack open, and the other gods will get really worried as the prototypical strongman seeks to slake his carnal thirst, but what really seals the deal here is King’s brisk rendering of action, his Kirby-esque foreshortening, his imaginatively-realized monstrosities, his impeccable sense of comic timing, and his mastery of tin-eared mythological dialogue. This is one of those comics that quietly knocks your socks off by doing all the basics really well and concerns itself far more with quality craftsmanship than it does being flashy for its own sake.

Now, I freely admit that such praise may sound like I’m covering up for King’s book not being terribly original, but “originality” is a flexible term in my book. In point of fact no comic about some character that’s been around for thousands of fucking years is going to be wholly original, but there’s a very definite air of originality in King’s take on him, even if all these flaws and foibles have been right there hiding in plain site since time immemorial. Sometimes all it takes is a slightly askew POV to reveal what’s been there all along — and King, as it turns out, is just the person for that job.

That being said, the classical flair and sensibility that King brings to all his work is arguably its greatest “selling point,” this being no exception. His cartooning follows a stylistic tradition that goes back to the earliest days of the medium, and he’s not only done his homework, he’s internalized all of what makes humor comics, when done correctly, so undeniably great. In fact, this is such a clinic on how to do it that you’ll be able to enjoy it over and over again even after you know which jokes are coming and when. If you like comics, you’ll like this comic, and in the final analysis, what higher praise for it could possibly be offered than that? If you answered “none,” then you have my heartfelt congratulations for answering correctly.

Taking my word for it alone would be a big mistake, however. I can’t encourage you strongly enough to pick up Hercules And The Orbs Of Woad for yourself — as well as Yellow Flag Intelligence Squadron, pictured above — and enjoy discovering one of the most genuinely talented new voices in comics to come down the pike in a hell of a long time. Austin English’s Domino Books distro is the place to go to grab ’em both : http://www.dominobooks.org/store.html

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Review wrist check – I was wearing my Hamilton “Jazzmaster Viewmatic” while I wrote this one, riding a handmade ostrich leg strap in safari blue from an outfit called Lone Star Treasures that I found on Etsy. This is a really well-made strap that, sure, doesn’t match the quality of some of the exotic leather straps made by Hirsch, but is certainly comparable to, if not better than, similar straps from Hadley-Roma or some of the other big manufacturers, and at roughly half the price. This one ran me $39.99 and makes an admittedly already-snazzy timepiece look like a million bucks. Check these guys out at https://www.etsy.com/shop/LoneStarTreasure

Also, this review — and all others around these parts — is “brought to you” by my Patreon site, where I serve up exclusive thrice-weekly rants and ramblings on the worlds of comics, films, television, literature, and politics for as little as a dollar a month. Subscribing is the best way to support my ongoing work, so I’d be very appreciative if you’d take a moment to check it out by directing your kind attention to https://www.patreon.com/fourcolorapocalypse