zine, [zeen] noun. 1. abbr. of fanzine; 2. any amateurly-published periodical. Oxford Reference


Friday, March 20, 2009

Nelson, Kelli


Sent to you by Jack via Google Reader:


via Optical Sloth by admin on 2/22/09


The Horrifically Complete Non-Winner Now Available! $13

Here it is, the perfect book for anybody who has ever enjoyed a good journal comic. Well, almost anybody, as I guess if you hated Kelli's work for some reason this wouldn't be for you, but what's not to like here? This is the complete (as that cover may suggest) collection of her Non-Winner strip, done from 2001 through 2005. I'd never seen plenty of these, as she did most of these online, and it's taken me weeks to get through the whole thing, as I've been picking it up and reading bits of it at a time. If you've ever read a journal comic and thought "what the hell were they thinking with this one?" or "this week's strip looks like a complete waste of time", well, Kelli is kind/neurotic enough provide commentary for every single one of these, going into details about her fractured family life and other personal details. At times the quality of the strips aren't the best, as these were taken from her computer and some of these were designed with color or odd little tricks, but it's only noticable on a very few of these. Topics in here include pretty much everything in Kelli's life for those 5 years: family, married life, video games, comic conventions, dealing with publishers, hating (then eventually loving) Joss Whedon, and just about everything else you could think of. As for the commentary, I thought it would get on my nerves, but it ended up being completely fascinating. She adds all sorts of tidbits to everything, taking full responsibility when the strips sucked (mostly the "throwaway" type strips that she had to do while under deadline for something else) and adding relevant information to everything, including the awkward fact that her family did read her strip although she really, really wished they wouldn't. For anybody who has ever wondered exactly what goes into making a journal strip, this is the perfect book for you. Hell, even if you aren't even a little bit curious, you can still just ignore the commentary and enoy the strips. It's a thoroughly enjoyable book, and it's a damned shame that she decided to (temporarily?) give these up. $13

When I Was Brave

This is half of a split book with Robyn Chapman, just so it's clear. It's the story of Kelli from her first year of Junior High School, back when she was 12. It's short, sure, but it's incredibly dense for being such a tiny thing. It's basically all about an old teacher of hers, an elderly (and possibly drunk) old black man who had no control of his class and was walked all over consistently. Kelli decides to tell him the truth when the class has him convinced that a test is supposed to be open book, and the rest of the book is about the consequences of her doing the right thing. I liked it. Liked the blocky art and I liked the dilemna of doing the right thing when nobody wanted her to and it might end up getting her punished. This is tiny, sure, but it's worth checking out. Go to the website or send her an e-mail, I think this was $2. Sorry about the crappy scan…

Tomato Now Available! $1

Well, as you should be able to tell from that scan, this is a dream comic and, as such, might not make much sense in any kind of linear fashion. I think it would have been funnier if she had left out the fact that it's a dream comic and let people try to figure it out for themselves, but I'm sadistic that way. This is about a young girl who goes to join a school for girls. Whether she's a teacher or a student isn't exactly clear, but we do know that she's younger than the other girls. Anyway, she hears some scandalous stuff at lunch, then is mistakenly thought to have made a racist comment, and I'm on the verge of telling you the entire comic here so I'll just stop there. Dream comics are always interesting to me because it's a little peek into the subconscious of the author, however unintentional. It's a shortie, sure, but it's a good little book. Contact info is up there, or you could just buy this in the store, if you were so inclined…

Three Questions About Daddy Now Available! $4

This is one of those times where a comic is a tactile experience, or at least the cover is. I really wish there was some way for you guys to feel and smell this cover. Scientists, get on it! The cover is made out of leather (or fake leather, I'm no expert) and this will remind plenty of people immediately of childhood and the wallet that your Dad always carried around. Kelli made this comic from the responses of 16 people to 3 questions: How would you describe your father, how would you describe your relationship with your father, and what's your most outstanding memory of your father. Responses range from relatively flip to gut-wrenchingly honest, both positive and negative. I'll be the first to admit to being prone to hyperbole with my reviews, but this is a fantastic comic about life, really, that's not to be missed. Unless, of course, you're one of those mythical people who has never had a single problem with your father and have no interest in people who have. This is $4 and is in my online store, or you could just click on the contact info up there and head to her website, where you could check that out and all kinds of other things.

Non-Winner #1 Now Available! $1

Blurb! That's one problem I have with the fact that the online store shows a sentence or two, as now I'm apparently supposed to keep that in mind when I'm rambling and try to sum it all up in a brief soundbite, and I'm completely unable to do that. Sorry. I could just say "I loved this comic!", which I did, by the way, and then go down from there, but that would indicate order of some kind, and I'm completely against that. Anyway, review, oh yeah. This is a dense collection of tales from Kelli's life. The first half is about a summer vacation she took with her husband, then you have facts about her personal art history and going to art school, losing the Xeric Grant, being ugly (her words), and still being ashamed today of somethiing she said more than 12 years ago. Look, all I really want out of a mini that only costs a buck is that is be entertaining, and this has that, plus it takes a while to read (she uses a lot of text), PLUS it has a cover made out of what looks like coffee holder materials. Great stuff all around and cheap too, I only hope that the other issues of this are as good as the first one. Like I said, it's $1, contact info is up there, or you can head on over to the store, where you can also buy it. You do get that I'd be saying all these nice things even if it wasn't in the store, right? OK, good…

Non-Winner #2 Now Available! $1

Has everybody out there read Happy #2 by Josh Simmons? If not, you may be a bit lost on this one. In it, Josh has an extended rant about the state of autobiographical comics, from the quality of the art to the depth of the stories, to everything about them, really. I'd say check it out for yourself, even if you don't agree with it there's still the rest of an issue by Josh Simmons to enjoy. Anyway, this is mostly Kelli's response to that rant, with all of her insecurities and fears about her own self-worth taking over. After that is a short story about the best response that I've ever heard to those annoying singing wall fish that were so popular a few years back. Great stuff again, although a much quicker read than the last one, not like that's a big deal in any way. Contact info is up there, it's $1, you can also find this in my online store…

Non-Winner #3 Now Available! $1

What do you like better out of a mini, one big story or a bunch of tiny, relatively random ones? Well, if it's the latter, you're in luck! And if it's the former, well, expand your horizons a bit! This one is all over the place, and there are no handy little titles to let you know when the story is changing, so pay attention! In here she talks about her main memory of a dead Uncle, getting laid at least in part because of a dream involving Dragonball Z, her immediate reaction to the divorce of her parents, supporting the troops at Lowe's, and still having regrets for tattling in the sixth grade. Oh, and more insecurity about having all of her good stories come from when she was in grade school and how her best years are behind her. I liked this one too, although probably not as much as the other two, if that means anything to you. Still very much worth a look, contact info is up there, this is $1 and it's also available in the online store…

Invisible Momma Now Available! $1

Not sure how this one slipped through the cracks, as it was in the box of comics that Kelli sent me for the store months ago. it was kind of buried, I guess, but I think it means I'm just stupid for not seeing it. Oh well, now that I have seen it, how is it? Shockingly, as I seem to like most of her work, I like this one a whole lot too. This is the short story of the life of her mother, a life that Kelli hadn't thought all that much about until she was out of college. This is set up like the sample, a panel per page with one drawing above it. If she hasn't yet she should write some stories; she has a real gift for prose. This one is mostly a tale of regret about not getting to know her mother and confusion as to how to tell her about it, and at least a little bit of a sense of loss on what her mother had to give up to raise a family. Great stuff, probably her most powerful book outside of Three Questions For Daddy, and that's other people giving quotes. $1

The Dream Project Now Available! $2.95

And here I was thinking that my trolling the store to find comics that were never reviewed might have been a waste of time.  If I hadn't, when would I have ever finally read some of these comics that slipped through the cracks?  The last of Kelli's book I had to review (the phenomenal Horrifically Complete Non-Winner) was done over a year ago, and here this one sat.  This is, as you might have been able to tell from the title, a dream comic, with brief bits at the end about the nature of dreams and a bit at the end about the best way to lower dream recall, which is an interesting change from people who want to remember absolutely everything about their dreams.  This is damned near a pitch perfect representation of a dream.  Kelli's focus will shift to a light, which leads seamlessly to her staring at a clock.  Figures will remain throughout the dream (but they'll age several years through the course of the dream), Kelli knows instinctively who is evil and who she likes, regular events of the time will get thrown in along with absurdities that seem perfectly normal, like Kelli asking for the rest of the water from the pool of the INXS singer who killed himself.  It's silly to summarize the story, as it's a dream comic, but this does manage to maintain the bizarre consistency of a dream, the sense that everything comes together at the end even though there's no logical reason for it to do so.  For those of you who may have forgotten about Kelli on this page, or for you new folks who have never seen her stuff, take a closer look.  At this issue, sure, but there's a whole pile of goodness on this page.  $2.95


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