It’s been way too long since I wrote about comics here on the site, so let’s jump back in. Between library borrows, my existing To-Read boxes (roughly two long boxes at current count) and the recent discovery of a store that sells super cheap trades, I’ve got a lot to read. Let’s get into it!
THREE FINGERS (Top Shelf)
Written and drawn by Rich Koslowski
Collects nothing, this is a legit OGN!!!
After espousing the awesomeness of Rich Koslowski’s 3 Geeks comic and being pleasantly and violently surprised by his mostly prose The List, I was honestly a little worried that I wouldn’t like his original graphic novel Three Fingers. It’s not that I didn’t think the book would be good, just that it might be a little out of the geeky wheelhouse I had build for him in my head. Thankfully, my worries were unfounded and this book turned out to be highly enjoyable, even though it wasn’t really what I thought it would be. I assumed the book would be about a hard-luck Mickey type character, but I didn’t really think beyond that part. I was sort of right, but mostly completely off base.
The book is written and drawn like a documentary, which is actually pretty fun. See, the idea is that cartoon characters or Toons, as they’re dubbed in the book, are actual living creatures. They’re used as a metaphor for minorities, which is kind of interesting and potentially off putting. The movie still jumps off from the Mickey Mouse and Walt Disney archetypes, but this time the Disney character discovered Mickey instead of inventing him. There are plenty of other Toon analogs for characters like Bugs Bunny, Foghorn Leghorn, Porky Pig, Sylvester and plenty of others, but the main thrust of the story is a conspiracy that said many Toons were having a surgery done to remove a finger on each hand so they’d be more like Mickey (in this case Rickey the Rat). It goes from being a race/cartoon mash-up to being something of a mystery-thriller still told through the documentary format.
It might seem like mixing the static nature of comics with the flowing nature of documentaries wouldn’t work so well but I was surprised at how much I got into this story. It’s like watching a particularly interesting episode of a History Channel show you know nothing about. How will it end? Will the criminals be tried? What the hell is really going on? Those questions get asked and some get answered between the book’s 134+ pages. This makes me even more excited to check the recently released BB Wolf & The 3 LPs which he drew and also helped make a CD for! Sounds like lots of fun.
I mentioned last week how much I like Rich Koslowski‘s 3 Geeks comic which got me thinking that I should read the two trades I have here in New York and give you guys a review. Unfortunately, I have a much bigger 3 Geeks collection back home which, I think, includes all 11 issues from the self-published 3 Finger Prints run and most-if-not-all of the 3 Finger Prints/Image Geeksville issues. As far as I know, I haven’t read any of the one-shots and I had no idea there was a three issue miniseries this year called Slab Madness, so I’m hoping for another trade with all of that stuff in it at some point, but I’ll work with what I’ve got here.
3 Geeks follows three comic-loving friends and their misadventures when it comes to that love. You’ve got Allen, the chubby completist who insists on talking like Thor, Jim the squinty Punisher fan and Keith the most normal and democratic of the bunch. You get all their thoughts on collecting and whatnot, but Koslowski doesn’t use actual names, which can be a little annoying, like called Stan “The Man” Lee, “The Man” Stan.
THE 3 GEEKS: GOING TO THE CON (3 Finger Press)
Written & drawn by Rich Koslowski
Like I mentioned in my previous post I actually read these three issues in issue form on my way home from a comic convention in my younger days. I’m sure it hit home then, as I distinctly remember taking a box of comics to get signed by John Byrne only to discover that his line was huge, he had a limit of 3 or 5 books and he charged (I think). That’s when the illusion started to break as you can see it doing in this comic. It’s the guys’ first trip to a big con. Each issue corresponds to one of the days of the show, with the first focusing on getting comics signed, the second on thrifty buying and the third for a costume contest and art auction.
If you’ve ever been to a convention anywhere other than a church basement or Holiday Inn conference room, then there has to be something you can relate to here. The disdain between Trekkies and comic fans? Yup. Stupid questions/pointless gushing at a Q&A. Paying way too much for a comic you REALLY want. Realizing it’s not as easy to break into comics as you might have expected. All of them and others are in there. Reading it again, there were plenty of experiences I could relate to on a whole different level after working at Wizard for as long as I did. The trade comes with a letter from Koslowski in the beginning and some extra pages at the very end that poke fun at trades that include a few extra pages to sucker people into buying material they already have. Heck, I even got a chuckle out of that.
THE 3 GEEKS: AN ECLECTIC POTPOURRI OF READING PLEASURE (3 Finger Prints)
Written & drawn by Rich Koslowski
The next trade covers issues 4-7 which opens up the 3 Geeks’ world a little bit more, something that Koslowski would keep doing through the rest of the series. #4 offers up a potpourri in and of itself with a Jim vs. Superheroes dream sequence, a tip to collectors on how to avoid getting your good comics thrown out by your parents and Allen dealing with the ramifications of Batman & Robin. There’s also an issue where Keith and the guys go to a party at his cousin’s house, a look at their comic book club and Jim and Keith teaming up to get a confiscated comic back from a vengeful teacher.
I like all the stories herein, but I personally love getting a look at Allen’s comic book man cave in #6 (it truly is a glorious thing) and watching the action-packed shenanigans go down as Jim shows Keith his secret headquarters inside the school in order to get the comic book back. Again, I can’t recommend this trade or the other one more than I do. You will not be disappointed. I was lucky enough to get these two trades off of SequentialSwap and I think they’re sold out on Koslowski’s website, but I think you can still get them on Amazon. I’m looking to add the other two existing trades to my collection, like When The Hammer Falls (which collects 7-11) and The Geeksville Years (collects the 3 Finger Prints/Image stuff). So if you’re looking for a Christmas present for me, those would be great.
JIM’S JERKY (3 Finger Prints)
Written & drawn by Rich Koslowski
I guess I misspoke a bit earlier when I said I hadn’t read any of the one-shots because I have indeed read this mini-comic that Rickey picked up for me in one of his many trips to cons. This roughly 3×3 comic from 2006 actually came with a little bagged piece of jerky that I ate about a year later and wasn’t so good. Unlike the jerky, though, this comic is great. It picks up pretty soon after Geeksville, which ended in 2001. Luckily, since I had forgotten a lot of stuff, there’s a pretty great catch-up page on the inside cover that gave me everything I needed to know to follow this story about Keith assisting Jim in his endeavor to beef up (heh) the butcher shop’s menu. It reminded me of the last story from the previous trade with all of Jim’s wheeling and dealings, but in a good way. Like I said, I hope Koslowski collects this along with the one-shots like the original 3 Geeks story How To Pick Up Girls If You’re A Comic Geek, Full Circle, the Swimsuit Special and the three issue Slab Madness series. I need those in my life!
In closing, here’s a rad sketch that Rich Koslowski did for me at, I believe, the 2000 Mid Ohio Co. I’m not sure why I had him do Allen as he annoys me (like he does the guys in the book). I probably just freaked out and named the first Geek that came to mind. Maybe next time I’ll get him to add one of the Geeks to my fledgling Green Lantern sketchbook.
I am a gigantic Rich Koslowski fan. I first discovered his work as a youngin at the Mid Ohio Con back when it was still at the Adam’s Mark hotel, before they moved it to the always awkward Hilton (rich folks staring at comic fans like animals at the zoo is always a good ego boost). Back in the day I would try and buy at least one thing from some random dude in artists alley. Previous cons introduced me to great books like Lethargic Lad and Him. Anyway, I was walking around and this dude grabbed my attention and the next thing I know, I’m buying a package of comics called 3 Geeks and a tape recording of the next issue. I instantly fell in love with these three weirdo comic fans and could immediately relate to their tales of comic con troubles (I actually read that arc on the car ride home). From there I started buying 3 Geeks whenever I could and then later Geeksville when it moved to Image. I also borrowed Rickey’s copy of The King and really dug it, so when I saw this Christmas-themed book by him on the old Wizard free table I jumped at the chance to pick it up. However it took me a while to actually get around to reading it. I was looking at my bookshelf yesterday and saw The List sitting there, waiting to be read and figured it would be a great time to check it out for a Christmas Stories entry. I didn’t expect to read the whole thing in one night, but that’s just a testament to how good it is. As a quick side note, I was actually going o pass this book to my younger cousin a few times thinking it would be a good thing for him to check out and boy I couldn’t have been more wrong. Thank goodness I didn’t.
So, what’s The List about? A huge company called Halcyon wants to get Santa’s naughty and nice list, so almost 40 years ago they launched an attack to capture Santa and then take over his castle on the North Pole. Now a small group of Santa sympathizers have freed him and he’s ready to take his house back with the help of his reindeer, elves, Abominable Snowman and a group of others who most fans of Christmas specials will find very familiar.
I LOVED this book. I am a big fan of stories that take a familiar mythos and play with it. In this case, Koslowski not only takes myths about Santa and uses them in his story, but he also takes familiar characters from the Rankin/Bass stable of characters like Rudolph (Rendor The Red-Rider), Clarice (Klaaretteta), Hermie (Norbie), Frosty The Snowman (IceCap) and Yukon Cornelius (Klondike Saskatchewan) and spins an action/sci-fi/fantasy story that truly feels epic. Koslowski bounces back and forth between the present and the past to tell a story that kept me flipping the pages for two hours straight. He keeps the story short and sweet and the action tight, moving things along at a hell of a clip. Also, his occasional illustrations like this badass Santa are all incredibly solid. I’d actually love to see this book turned into a full on comic and/or an animated feature in Koslowski’s style.
So, there you have it, the first and probably only book review I’ll be doing for Christmas Stories as I’m usually a very slow reader, but I’m glad this was the one I read. I’m also glad that I didn’t pass this to my young cousin as it involves more death than I expected, but that’s on me because there’s clearly blood drops on the cover. Do yourself a favor and rustle up a copy of The List and read as much Rich Koslowski as you can find. Also check out his site, where I grabbed these two pics from.