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


Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Josh Latta's Redskin Rashy


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via file under other by shannon.smith@cgi.com (Shannon Smith) on 6/15/09

Josh Latta's Redskin Rashy: A Rashy Rabbit Adventure No. 5
7 x 8" minicomic. 32 pages. Black and white with color cover. $4.00.

Redskin Rashy is the fifth Rashy Rabbit book by Josh Latta. I covered the first four issues here and I loved them. Josh's comics have been in my fuo best of list the past two years. So, I'm just going to cut to the chase and say I love this book too. From cover to cover, the story, the storytelling, the art, the layouts, the dialog, the paper, the cover stock, the cover print, the book design, the size, the shape etc. etc. - this is an ideal minicomic. It has and does everything I want a minicomic to have and do.

The story picks up where the previous issues left off with Rashy drowning in relationship and retail angst. I relate to this kind of stuff and Josh's delivery is always hilarious but he really ups the pace and action with this issue. By page three we have fisticuffs, blades and guns. From then on there is no looking back as Rashy is off on a wild cartoon adventure.
Rashy decides to escape it all by going "off the grid" with his pal Jimmy but ends up in another mess where they find them selves taken captive by "Wild Hare Indians". This takes Rashy in a much more traditional cartoon adventure direction than any of the previous comics. And by traditional, I mean good. As in old fashioned kids adventure comics where things happened on every page. It reminds me a lot of a specific Uncle Scrooge comic where Scrooge moves onto some swamp land to get away from it all but finds out it is populated by "Injuns". Hilarity ensued for Scrooge and the gang and hilarity ensues for Rashy as well. I think stepping up to that kind of adventure storytelling has focused Josh's game. The physical comedy in this issue is perfectly executed and mixed with Josh's already strong dialog it makes each panel a great laugh. And while the book is decidedly more like a kid's cartoon comic the subject mater and gags are still pure underground comics gold. All the drugs, booze and boobs you want from your adult comics are there but with all the fun of the best kid's comics. Like I said, it has and does everything I want a minicomic to have and do.

This is a book you are going to want to read and re-read. The pacing is so fast and efficient that it is easy to miss some great jokes. There is a hilarious panel where Rashy's co-workers are just going about their business while they can clearly hear Rashy begging for his life on the other side of the wall. I also find myself re-examining each panel for facial expressions. Each character displays their own individual level of intensity and Josh does a great job of playing around with how Rashy fails to understand or relate to any of them. Rashy has evolved from being Josh's own stand-in to being a perfect slacker everyman reacting to his insane world. I hope Josh keeps making these things forever. (For yet another Rashy variation, check out Josh's story in the WAP FCBD download The Ancient Age.)
I also have to talk about how well made this book is. This is the first Rashy book published by Wide Awake Press. I assume J. Chris Campbell handled the book design and printing because like all of his books, it looks fantastic. The above image is the back cover. So simple and classic. Everything about the books is really sharp. WAP books are always a pleasure to hold and read. The covers, the title pages, the print... if only mainstream floppy comics could look and feel this good.

So, to my minicomic reading brethren, you gotta get this comic. And to my minicomic making brethren, the bar for 2009 has been raised pretty high. Between Patrick Dean's giant issue of Big Deal and this issue of Rashy Rabbit, room on my 2009 best of list is running out quick.

Special Note: Josh dedicated this book to Jim Royal. Jim was an artist known mostly for his inks on a lot of DC and Dark Horse books. He passed away earlier this year. I did not know Jim but I met him a few times in passing at comics shows. I almost worked with him for about a day at the Borders in midtown Atlanta. I was the music supervisor there at the time and I had just started making minicomics. I remember going into work one day and a co-worker was excited to tell me they had just hired another "comics guy". The name rang a bell so I walked over to the comics spinner rack in Borders' magazine section and sure enough, there was an issue of Detective Comics on the rack that Jim had inked. It was kind of a surreal moment which I guess is why I have always remembered it. Upon later further investigation it turned out that I had a lot of Jim's books in my collection. Transmetropolitan, some Star Wars stuff, Birds of Prey and some awesome 80 Page Giants that I really loved. Jim had a clean but bold line. His inks were really fluid and alive. He was really good. Comics lost a gem. But more than that, a lot of my comics pals lost one of their best pals. Jim's stay at Borders was short and I don't think I ever got to work with him. I always just assumed that he picked up a comics gig and did the same thing I would have done if I had a comics gig. Like I said, I didn't know Jim but I think it is pretty sweet that Josh dedicated this quality comic to him.

Your best pal ever,
Shannon Smith


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