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


Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Ullman, Robert


Sent to you by Jack via Google Reader:


via Optical Sloth by admin on 6/30/09



Traffic & Weather

Well, whatever else I can say about running this website for almost 8 years, it has succeeded in one of my more selfish goals: getting free comics from some of my favorite creators.  That's right suckers, you all thought I was promoting small press work, trying to spread the word about all the talent out there, when all I was doing was secretly trying to find a way to stop paying for comics.  Once I break through to the fancypants at Fantagraphics and Drawn & Top Shelf my plan will be a complete success!  Ahem.  This comic reprints a weekly local strip Rob does (which you can find here), and these things should be much more common than they are.  Rob talks about his beloved Pittsburgh teams, his annoyances with traffic, buying crappy Christmas lights, the rising price of food versus the lowering price of gas, getting great seats at a Cub's game, a broken caller I.D., cheap lousy haircuts, getting a bit too much into football games, a perfect day with the family, almost mowing the lawn for a lazy neighbor and finding out that his small child actually travels quite well.  It cheapens the strips to put them all in bullet point form like that, as Rob has always had a keen eye for pointing out the little things in life, and is probably at his best detailing these quiet little moments of family life.  Here's hoping he keeps that weekly strip in an economy where many papers are slashing their comics section (often their cheapest and most viewed section, but nobody ever accused current newspaper executives of being good business people), as there's some great stuff in this little collection.  I'm not seeing this on his website (but if he didn't have any copies available he probably wouldn't have sent one to me), but here's guessing that it's, oh, $2.50


From the Curve #5

Mini comics by the numbers, and if you think I mean that in a bad way, you haven't been reading many of my reviews. This was great. A story about meeting a girl dancing and having nothing to talk about, not being able to draw, open mike night at the cafe, being addicted to coffee… I love stuff like this. Lucky for me there are at least 7 issues out. Look, I rarely make it to Chicago Comics, what with living 2 and a half hours away and not having a car, so when I do go I'm usually kind of limited in what I get, purely due to finances. This is one of those that I wish I had just taken a chance and gotten every issue they had. I guess it's not the most innovative thing in the world, and it probably won't win a ton of awards any time soon, but it's honest and obviously heart felt, and that's plenty good enough for me. Send this guy some money, huh?

From the Curve #6

I'll get to it in a minute, but I've sampled here what I think is what autobiographical comics are supposed to be. That's saying a lot, sure, and I'm not saying that this is the single best page ever, just what other people writing about their lives should aspire to. Got it? This one has a hockey story, Robert getting stood up (sort of) at a bar, the Hulk watching football, and a frustrating situation at work. Predictably (for me), the longer stories worked better than the shorter ones. Not that there weren't a couple of funny moments in the one pagers, but I would have rather seen him develop the "date" story more or just expand a few more stories in general. I can tell that this guy is going to do great things eventually, I'm just impatient waiting for him to get around to it. Put out more comics! By the way, #7 is out. I'm just bitching because #8 isn't out yet… Contact info is all above here, $2 for this one.

Signifying Nothing: The Collected From the Curve 1994-1998

I've been hoping that Robert would put something like this out. As far as I know his earlier work is out of print, so it's great to see the early work of someone who I think is going to be a major voice someday, and he's already pretty damned good right now. He wears his influences on his sleeve in a lot of these strips (sometimes you see Adrian Tomine, sometimes Evan Dorkin, sometimes Dan Clowes, and his art has always reminded me of Jaime Hernandez), but you can see his own voice starting to come through. I sampled one of the more disturbing strips I've ever read from this book and I defy any heterosexual male to not feel like shit after reading it. It's something that we can all relate to, and… well, just read it. The rest of the book is kind of mixed, some good and some bad. More bad than good, and with none of the strips being more than a few pages long, there's not much time to hate anything anyway. There are only 500 copies of this floating around out there, so you'd better send him $5 soon (contact info above) to get your copy.

Grand Gestures

It's about time this guy got published. I should just say that it's $3.95 and you should go buy it, but you probably want to know what it's about or something… Fine. There are three main male characters. One of them is in love with a girl who works at a bookstore and takes some interesting means to get to know her, one of them is an unapologetic womanizer, and one of them is trying to get out of his relationship but just can't work up the nerve to leave. The thing about a book like this is that it has to make you sympathetic to these characters, even when there's not that much to be sympathetic in their characters. Without giving anything away, he pulled that off beautifully with everyone in here. Trust me when I say that if you are now or ever were in your 20's and confused about women in some way or another, you'll get a lot out of this book. Females could probably easily identify with some of the trampled women in this comic too, although probably not in a good way. My only problem with this is that he's calling it a graphic novel on his website and it's only 48 pages long. Call me a stickler for detail if you want, but that's just too little. Graphic novella maybe? How about just "comic book"? I like that one…

Lunch Hour Comix #1

It's been a couple of years since I've seen a book from Robert (not like he hasn't been making them, as he has a few new ones listed at the back of this one, I just missed them), and he's one of those people where I automatically like it when I see it and he has to lose me from there. Sorry to the comics people where I start off neutral, which is most of them, but if you put out enough great books you get up their on that pedestal from me. This is his attempt at a daily diary strip. Yes, it's been done to death, and yes, it usually just shows that the daily life of these people is fairly dull. So what? Anybody out there reading this heading up an expedition to the Antarctic or something? I'm fine with dull daily routine, and it you need more than that, well, you probably stopped reading this when you saw "daily diary strip" anyway. Subjects in here include marriage, buying a house, walking the dog, voting, the day after voting, music, drinking, hockey, and, of course, comics. This is a pretty hefty book at $4.95, and it also has some older diary strips he did back in 2002 and a few strips from his friend Bill Burg. A bit dull at times, granted, but the insights made up for the lack of excitement in some of the strips. Oh, and he also did each of them in less than an hour, if you're interested in that sort of thing. Contact info is up there, or you could just go to the Alternative Comics site and get it there, along with more other great comics than you could shake that stick at…

Old-Timey Hockey Tales #1

Anybody out there miss hockey? I sure do. It's easily my favorite of all the major sports (although it can't really call itself a major sport in the US these days) and this is right around the time of year that the playoffs would be heating up, which really sucks. Anyway, enough about me. If you've read the rest of this page you know that I love Robert's work, and if you just read those last few sentences you know that I love hockey, so how do you think I feel about this book? I'm just thrilled to see that it's "#1″, meaning that there's more on the way. Do a hundred of these Robert! You'll corner the market on hockey comics for when it comes back and has a popularity explosion! My only problem with this is that it was short, but I still learned a lot about Terry Sawchuk, Bill Barilko and Maurice "Rocket" Richard. Actually, I learned more about the 1955 playoffs and the riot than Rocket Richard, but why quibble? Great stuff here, contact info is up there, $2!

That's Just Super

God bless Rob Ullman for always having something new whenever I see him at a convention. That's not true for far too many people, but he sure seems on the ball about these things. This is the silent tale of an unnamed superheroine trying to get the affection of an unnamed superhero. The superhero fights a giant monster (looks sort of like the giant monster from the cover to Fantastic Four #1) and the superheroine comes to the rescue, as a wonderful fight scene ensues. You also have unrequited love, public perceptions and Arrested Development thrown in, all making this one solid mini. I'm going to guess this is $4 because of the serious production value put into this comic, but that's just a guess…


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