Here are some pocket reviews of the comics I picked up at Stumptown Comics Fest 2009.
Onion Head Monster: Attacks by Paul Friedrich ($10, b&w, at onionheadmonster.com).
Onion Head Monster should be syndicated in the daily comics. Stylistically rendered in black and white, each page has action and a laugh, which is more than most people ask of Dagwood, Ziggy and Mutts.
This volume tells the story of Onion Head Monster's vacation in Ant City, his path of destruction, and the happy resolution. It also includes a reprinting of an unauthorized parody "Onion Head Monster Gin Drinker," which has to be read to be understood.
PolyNothing by Joshua Kemble ($2, b&w, at www.joshuakemble.com)
I spoke to Josh while he was at his booth. He had a couple other interesting books, but with so many comics to choose from, I was targeting items $5 and under.
I chose PolyNothing for $2, which is the beginning of a semi-autobiographical story about losing his father to cancer and "confronting the ghosts of one's past."
The way he renders the "ghosts" is really cool, and the sparse dialog gives impact to the story.
Neon Girl #1 by Dennis Pacheco ($3, b&w, at www.pigeonholepress.net)
Neon Girl has no hidden agenda, except perhaps the color of Atom Girl's underwear. Oh, wait... that's clearly shown on the cover.
This comic revels in a slam-bang, no holds barred cat fight between Neon Girl and a jealous Atom Girl who suspects the other of stealing her boyfriend Red-eye.
Pacheco does a great job of both capturing and spoofing super hero women in action. The art is clean and exciting (heh).
Emily & the Intergalactic Lemonade Stand by Ian Smith and Tyson Smith ($12.95, color, at www.slavelabor.com)
Lemonade Stand is a nicely-printed slick book marketed toward kids or adults who watch the Nickelodeon channel. It portrays a love triangle between Emily, who loves her robot Juicer and wants to buy a pony, a boy named Jace, who also loves robots, but cares nothing for ponies, and Daisy who wants to steal Juicer so she can have Jace's affections.
I had some problems with the story in that they didn't explain how Emily got Juicer, but maybe that was in an earlier volume. Overall, the art is really great, and the story was entertaining enough.
Maintenance #2 written by Jim Massey, art by Robbi Rodriguez ($9.95, b&w, at www.onipress.com)
At Stumptown 2008 I purchased a copy of Maintenance #1, and both my son and I ate it up. So, when I spotted the Oni Press table this year, I knew I had to get the next volume.
Part "Red Dwarf," and part "Men in Black," Massey & Rodriguez document the troubles and antics of Doug and Manny, two maintenance men who work in a super secret evil scientist facility called Terromax.
The art has the occasional hint of Wally Wood at EC comics.
Zeek ..the Martian Geek Full Color Special by Brian Cattapan ($5, color, at cattapancomics.com)
I asked the artist how he published the full color special of Zeek...the Martian and he admitted he ran it off on a color printer, which must have been expensive!
Zeek was sent to Earth to find women, but is now just trying to have a good time. There were some laffs, and the art was amusing, if not polished.
I picked up some Free! strips by Nick DeAngelo (Free! leochicken.deviantart.com).
Free is always a good price!
Herman the Manatee Volume 1 by Jason Vialo ($3? b&w, at www.manateepower.com)
This small volume has a series of strips about Herman, a manatee who has been hit by speedboats 257 times. The art was nice, although the jokes were a little repetitive.