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


Sunday, April 4, 2010

Becan, Sarah


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via Optical Sloth by Whitey on 3/8/10


The Complete Ouija Interviews

Huzzah for the existence of a complete Ouija Interviews!  In case you have any doubts about my lack of objectivity, there you go: I have none at all.  The odd thing is that I think Ouija as a whole is one of the bigger absurdities of life, and have seen it debunked in enough ways and by enough people not to place any stock in at at all as a real thing.  Still, these stories are a blast, and I'm never going to let a difference of opinion (or, well, fact) get in the way of my enjoyment of a good story.  I'm going to go ahead and assume that everybody reading this has already read the four issues of Ouija Interviews (listed below, and they're also for sale individually) and am instead going to answer the questions of everybody else reading this.  Why, if I've already read the four issues, would I want to get a collection?  Well, for one thing it's gorgeous.  That's always a plus.  There's an introduction by her brother, going into a bit more detail of how these stories came into being.  But the main thing is what all comics readers are after: more comics.  If this was a DVD set this would be the special edition, as each of the four stories (reprinted here in full) has a shorter, unrelated piece after it.  More ouija interviews, but these are short stories, sometimes focusing on a message that the "ghost" wanted to impart, sometimes sticking more with facts about the messenger.  There's also the fact that this is a measly $10, which is cheaper than getting the issues individually, so if you are one of the people who was waiting for an affordable collection before checking this out, now's your chance.  This was all made possible by a grant from the Xeric people, proving once again that they have a very good sense on who should be getting their money.  Now if I could only convince them to pass some around for websites about small press comics… $10

Ouija Interviews #1: Theo Wallis Now Available! $3.50

(To anybody reading these reviews in order, I read #3 first out of these). Sometimes when you go back to the early issues of a series you can see the rough patches that led to greater things. It's a bit unfair to call this one a "rough patch" as it's still entertaining and has a few great lines in it, but it's obvious that this concept for a story grew from here to become the greatness that is #3 (even though, at this moment, I haven't read #2 or 4 yet). There's nothing overtly awful about this issue, it's just that the questions stay pretty simple and there's not a whole lot to latch onto. Guy is killed by jealous wife but regrets nothing, it doesn't dig much deeper than that. Ok overall, and worth a look if you've read the other ones and want a whole set, but go for the later ones first.

Ouija Interviews #2: Chip Now Available! $3.50

It's tough to pick a favorite out of these four issues (and that's after Sarah had to win me over to begin with as I'm not a big fan of the ouija), but this one might take the cake. Am I allowed to have "co-favorites"? No, didn't think so. This is the story of Chip, a sassy dead man who enjoys very much having sex and his current reincarnated life as a strawberry. Yes, both at the same time. He is also very interested in the interviewers asking deeper questions, then seems to take delight in making jokes of the answers. Chip does, however, give us the meaning of life, and it's about as good an answer as I've seen anywhere else. This whole series (assuming that it's over) is a blast and should win awards in the comics world. Hell, maybe it even has, as I don't keep up on that sort of thing. Either way, check them out. These are some of those mythical books that you can show to people who don't read comics and win them over, and we all know how hard those are to come by…

Ouija Interview #3: Naomi Now Available! $3.50

Full disclosure here: I believe in Ouija boards working about as much as I believe in the average alien abduction. That is to say, not even a little unless I see proof of some kind. That being said, it didn't matter one bit because this was a great story. A group of people "called" on the board (sorry, no idea what the term is) and were answered by a dead young girl named Naomi. She died horribly and misses the boy she had a crush on at the time, who either died with her or is still alive, as she hasn't seen him. I have no idea of Sarah's artistic ability from this because it's just images of this dead girl in various poses, but she does a great job with the girl and the backgrounds, for whatever that's worth I don't think I'm adequately conveying what a blast this comic was, but it made me laugh a few times, and that's always a good thing. I have no idea on price, but let's say $3 at a guess, and the outside is creepily gorgeous.

Ouija Interviews #4: Mack, Agatha & Samantha Now Available! $4

I don't know if Sarah takes these "conversations" down verbatim as she has them, uses snippets and turns them into a coherent story or just makes the whole thing up, but it hardly matters when the story is this good. The group finds Mack, who is sad, lost and looking for his mother. While they're talking to him his sister Agatha comes into the conversation, and Mack says that he would be a lot happier if they could just find his mother. Mack asks them to find his sister Samantha, who might know more about the situation, and things get really odd from there. Yes, even more odd. This is a bit bigger than the other issues and it's nothing short of a thoroughly entertaining read. If this was all taken verbatim from a ouija session that must have been one creepy session…

Shuteye #1: Vea Now Available! $4

This is the last of Sarah's current list of books that I'm getting around to reviewing (just in case anybody comes here wondering how this all works chronologically, and it's a horrible mess that way, so please don't bother), and it's another impressive effort. It's about a man named Vea who deserts from a company of explorers in the Banda Oriental and his eventual time in an Indian camp. Vea spends a day with the Indians, only to wake up the next day to find that everybody has either vanished or changed significantly from the night before. This happens every day, no matter if he takes a wife the night before, fights in a battle, anything that happens is forgotten on a daily basis, to the point where Vea can't even remember the life he had before the village. His story becomes a legend around his old group of explorers, although no one knows how much of it is real, if any of it, or what really happened to Vea. This is based on a story from David Becan and it's a fascinating concept, although used in various forms in various other stories. It's done extremely well here and this one, along with pretty much any of her other books, is well worth checking out. $4

Shuteye #2: The Liar Now Available! $4

OK, I'm officially impressed. Look, I've been doing this site for almost five years now and reading minis for twice as long as that (or so), so seeing something that's genuinely different from the usual is always a thrill. This one is about a boy who's always travelling (and drunk, apparently) and his desire to fit in somewhere, anywhere… but also his inability to be honest to those around him or even to himself. In the end we're left wondering what of what we've just read is real and what isn't, but she manages to pull that off without ever seeming like a cliche hollywoodish twist ending. And if you think I'm telling you too much you may be right, but she says it right on the back of the comic so it can't be too much of a secret. It's probably still a bit too early to say for sure, but so far Sarah seems like a new, unique voice in the world of small press comics, and another one of those is always a good thing in my book.

Shuteye #3: Night and Day Now Available! $4

I've known about Sarah's work for right around a year now, and it already makes my day when I get a new comic from her in the mail. This is the story of a young couple who seem to completely love each other, but have to deal with roommates and their families not approving of their relationship for different reasons. They decide to take a long camping trip to get away from it all, and end up stumbling across a house in the middle of nowhere, and any more than that gives the whole thing away. This may (emphasis on the "may" here, as I like most of her stuff) be the best comic that Sarah has done yet. She sets up the difficulties of the relationship beautifully and deals with the awful truth of that house as honestly as possible. She also points out in the letter that came with this something I hadn't picked up on, that the end of every Shuteye focuses in on one person dreaming and that person carries on over to the next issue. Missed that one completely, probably because I've been reading these things months apart. Anyway, it looks gorgeous and has a great story. What more do you need? And I'm going to guess that this one is $4 too…

Shuteye #4: Carrefour Now Available! $4

Huzzah, this time around I was able to instantly catch the connection from the last issue to #4! It only took me 4 issues to figure all that out, I must be the smartest man alive. This is another solid issue in this series, a bit different this time out because the tone has changed to one of constant terror. The man from the last issue, J.P, wakes up to start things off this time around, happy that at least his last dream (issue #3) at least wasn't the recurring nightmare he's been having. In his nightmare he's being pursued by a creepy, bearded cajun guy (or maybe just a french guy) who seems to be out to do him harm. J.P. starts losing his grip on reality almost instantly, confusing his waking life with his images of the nightmare cajun, seeing him in his record shop, on the street, and accompanying J.P.'s girlfriend. Paranoia rarely leads to happy endings, but I'll say no more to avoid spoilers. Like I said, another solid issue and I'm looking forward to one day putting these all together and making sense of the whole thing. $4

The Monkeynauts Now Available! $3

OK, so monkeys as a theme for comics (or almost anything, really) is about as played out as it can get. Even I have to admit to being sick of seeing monkeys all over the place. That being said, reading this reminds me of why I liked monkeys so much to begin with: their adorable propensity to act like people. This is a brief history of monkeys in the various space programs, but mostly the ones here in the USA. Frankly, I thought it would be a lot more grim than what I saw; turns out most of the monkeys made it back safe and sound after all. This is a great overview of the whole time period seen in a completely different light, and she even manages to make the story entertaining when it could have easily been a cold collection of historical data. Fascinating stuff, and this is sure to restore your love of monkeys if it's been lessened by the recent barrage of monkeys…

Why We Call Them Robots Now Available! $3

First monkeys in space, then the origin of robots. It looks like these were the only two comics Sarah did in this format (these were done in 2002) but she could have kept this up forever as far as I'm concerned. This tells the story of the man (Karel Capek) who wrote a play about robots (after his brother Josef coined the term) in 1921 called Rossum's Universal Robots. The robots in this were organic and meant more as drones to do physical work. The message of the play was lost in the novelty of the concept of robots, and we all know where it went from here, as we sit at least a decade or so away from the inevitable robot armageddon. The rest of the comic is about the life of Karel Capek and how the Nobel Prize committee lacked the courage to give him the Prize for literature but they were afraid of offending Hitler. Odd thing to see written these days, huh? Anyway, it's a fascinating story and mostly new to me. If she ever wants to return to this format I'm all for it, but regardless if you check out this book you have an instant conversation starter for any occasion… $3


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