Both of these new anthologies are strong enough to deserve their own Jason’s Zine Club entry, but I thought it’d be interesting to pair them together: Not only do both collections pay tribute to a specific part of D.I.Y. culture (tabling at conventions and going to house shows), they’re also both haunted by the awkwardness and social anxiety that surround these things.
TABLEGEDDON is an anthology about selling comics at conventions, edited by Rob Kirby (and just so everyone knows, I have a 2-page comic in here). It’s a diverse collection that covers every aspect of tabling: shyness, self-doubt, feeling defeated (Carrie McNinch, Kelly Froh, Tony Breed, Aron Nels Steinke), but also those moments of inspiration, overcoming fears, and making new friends (Cara Bean and Sally Carson, Rob Kirby, Tony Breed again). The funniest stories for me were Rick Worley’s short-lived crush on a famous cartoonist, Max Clotfelter’s doomed first time tabling at age 17, Mark Campos’ high-concept mini-comic prank (which is hard to summarize without spoiling the ending), Gabrielle Gamboa’s priceless take on cartoonist gossip, and John Porcellino’s instant-classic strip about the excuses we all make when sales are slow. Justin Hall, Matt Moses, Jess Worby, and Zine Crush are in here too (come on, don’t make me describe every story — just know that they’re all good!).
As You Were is a new punk comics anthology, and the theme of the first issue is house shows. Probably self-explanatory, but just in case: a “house show” is a concert that’s held in someone’s house instead of a more traditional music venue. Having been to a lot of them in my day, I can vouch that they can be so much more powerful and intimate than a show at a bar or club, but also that being in someone’s house can bring up all kinds of awkward emotions and worries that you’re the odd one out. Liz Prince’s comic and the opening comic by Ramsey Everydaypants both explore these fears, before deciding they wouldn’t have it any other way. As Liz concludes, “Once the band starts playing your anxiety melts away / and afterwards you float home / not feeling so alone after all.”
Mitch Clem (who also edits this anthology) does a comic about how his shyness actually kept him from going to a house show, a decision that haunts him now that the band he missed is one of his favorites. Some of the other highlights include a spot-on “House-Show Bingo” game (with squares like “cops bust show” and “dog wearing a bandana”), an uplifting comic from Josh P.M. Frees about a house in Pennsylvania that put on shows and became a positive force for the local scene (“A place where our directionless post-adolescence found peace of mind in punk rock”), and a beautiful closing comic from Emilja Frances about the calm after the show:
I have to admit I’d only read one of these artists before (Liz Prince), so I’m grateful for getting introduced to a whole new world of talent, and I’ve already ordered other work from two of the contributors here.
Both anthologies are highly recommended celebrations of the beauty and awkwardness of indie culture. Even the comics about bad experiences cheered me up in that “I’m glad I’m not the only one” kind of way.
TABLEGEDDON is available for $4 from Rob Kirby’s website. (And while you’re at it, why not help kickstart his forthcoming QU33R anthology?).
As You Were #1 is published by Silver Sprocket and available from their online store. (They also just put out a second issue, which I picked up at APE but haven’t had a chance to read yet).
Real Axe (#1) by Josh Frankel
Extra Time #2 by Jeff Levine
May 2013 – Is It The Future Yet? by Corinne Mucha
April 2013 – SMOO 4, 5, and 6 by Simon Moreton
March 2013 – Painful Vices by Lisa Rosalie Eisenberg
February 2013 – Ochre Ellipse #3 by Jonas Madden-Connor
January 2013 – Not My Small Diary #16
December 2012 – Ramble On #2 by Calvin Wong
November 2012 – Veggie Dog Saturn #6 by Jason Young