It’s no secret that Chicago’s Alex Nall is one of my favorite cartoonists on the face of the goddamn planet. I’ve previously reviewed his long-form works Teaching Comics Volume One, Let Some Word That Is Heard Be Yours, and Lawns on this site, but for this week’s Round-Up column we’re going to look at four of his mins, not least because two of ’em are brand new and you should get your hands on them by whatever means possible! Or, ya know, just head over to his Storenvy site and see what he’s got, or bug him for what he doesn’t until he does. Here’s a link for that :http://alexnallcomics.storenvy.com/products
The Rain Is Slow Coming is one of his brand new ones, a wistful and lyrical “love letter” from a farmer to his daughter about the land they’re barely hanging onto by the skin of their teeth, the loss they’ve endured, and the magic (often dangerous magic) of her youthful imagination. Downright poetic at times (not least because a significant chunk of the text is, in fact, a Carl Sandburg poem), exquisitely simple in its illustration, this is very nearly a perfect comic — hell, the perfect comic — barring the curious placement of a few blank pages that interrupt the otherwise-rhythmic flow. That being said, it’s a small gripe, and this is definitely a “must-buy” item well worth the six dollar price tag.
School Approved is the other newbie, a pocket-sizer that sells, I believe, for a buck — and even has some color to boot! — this follows very much in the Teaching Comics tradition and recounts an afternoon Nall spent with his students in the school computer lab, where he reminisces about the early days of the internet and ponders how its development will affect their future; or, vice-versa, how their development will affect its future. As always, Nall has a way of making even the most “been there, done that” subject matter seem fresh, new, and exciting simply because he listens to and understands kids, rather than merely employing them as props in his stories. Great stuff that you will also want to own.
Juan & John Comics is another one you can get your hands on for the bargain price of a dollar that collects a series of short strips about two armless pals that Nall made in collaboration with a student of his named Clinton who appears to have a hell of a keen sense of humor for an elementary school kid. Our pair of protagonists do fairly everyday things like going to see zombie movies at the drive-in or flying kites in the park, but there’s always some unexpected or even innovative twist you didn’t see coming that makes their deceptively simple misadventures stick in the memory. More wonderful cartooning, this time from a master and his very promising pupil.
Morbid Dork #1 is one right outta the “way-back machine” that I seriously doubt you can even score a copy of in this day and age and that shows a very different Nall at a very different stage in his artistic development telling very different types of stories — namely, the age-old “roommates from hell” type of yarns that were positively ubiquitous in the 1990s “indie” scene. Three roomies who refer to each other as “Psycho,” “Pussy,” and “Asshole” navigate shit jobs and a shittier living situation with far more humor than you’d expect given, again, how “played-out” this entire concept was by the time Nall got around to it, what? Six or seven years ago? Some rather curious “wide-open” spaces on certain pages again sort of muck up the flow, but this comic is still about ten times better than it’s got any right to be. Sells for three bucks, assuming you can find it anywhere. I think he did a second issue at some point, as well, although I’ve yet to procure a copy myself.
Another week, another column, and at the end, another pitch for the Patreon, where you can get exclusive thrice-weekly rants and ramblings from yours truly on the worlds of comics, films, television, literature, and politics. I recently lowered the minimum tier to a dollar, and that’ll still get you two posts a week plus access to most of the older stuff — and frankly there’s already quite a lot of it on there. I’ve been at this for three or four months, I think, and there’s already over 50 reviews, articles, opinion pieces, and whatnot on offer, so seriously — join up! It’s the best value going on that entire site. Here’s your link, I won’t take “no” for an answer :https://www.patreon.com/fourcolorapocalypse