» Full Dark, No Stars - Stephen King's new novella questions mankind's ability to trust others.
[02.21.2011 by Bridget Doyle]


 » The Top 30 Albums of 2010 - Fashionably, fabulously late, our favorite music (and believe me, there was a LOT) of 2010, the year that some have called the best year for music ever. And only some of those fools work here. Plenty of usual suspects, lots of ties and a few surprises that I won't spoil, including our unexpected #1.
[12.24.2010 by The LAS Staff]


 » Live: Surfer Blood/The Drums at Lincoln Hall, Chicago, IL - Remember when Weezer used to put together records that you could sing along to and rock out to? That's what Surfer Blood's show was like!
[11.04.2010 by Cory Tendering]

Music Reviews

Screaming Females - Castle Talk
»Screaming Females
Castle Talk
Don Giovanni
Trent Reznor & Atticus Ross - The Social Network [Original Soundtrack]
»Trent Reznor & Atticus Ross
The Social Network [Original Soundtrack]
The Null Corporation
Deerhunter - Halcyon Digest
Halcyon Digest
No Age - Everything in Between
»No Age
Everything in Between
Sub Pop
Robyn - Body Talk Pt. 1/ Body Talk Pt. 2
Body Talk Pt. 1/ Body Talk Pt. 2
The Walkmen - Lisbon
»The Walkmen
Fat Possum

April 27, 2006
It's never been a tougher time to be a comic book reader. The print form is still in a fatal fight with Internet-reading converts, and new hobbies and freetime pursuits are becoming increasingly technologically reliant - playing video games, listening to iPods, watching DVDs, the afore-mentioned Internet and of course the ubiquitous television. For those with an independent mindset and die-hard attitude, only the face of these comic rivals have changed, not the cause behind them.

Recently, I was able to get my hands on three comic zines from the independent boutique/label Shortpants Press. The print collective is made up of two artist - Sarah Becan of Chicago and Jason Robards of St. Louis. The individuals have two different styles and complement each other in their growing list of releases, of which Bucket & Dog is one of the more well-recognized.

The three most recent issues of Shortpants Press - the first two editions of "Shuteye" and the debut of "Sucker Punch" - all proved enjoyable. Together, Becan and Robards have a diverse catalog in development and some intriguing artistic ideas to put forth. Hopefully this is only the start of all the good things to come. -illustration by Jason Robards-

Shuteye #1: Vea
The first comic on the heels of Becan's Bucket & Dog series, Shuteye has a similar soft appeal as the first collection but with a completely different storyline. Whereas Bucket & Dog was humorous and cartoon-like, Vea borders on ideas of history-suggestive fiction and suspense. Throughout the course of the mini-zine a central character persona, Vea, is lead through different lives of ethnic travelers, switching between many different lifelines in an unexplained fashion. Near the end of the story we find out that the tale of the character Vea is actually based in a more broad idea of storytelling.

Without giving away too much more, Shuteye #1 is a quick read, and a cliffhanger at that. This is a story that makes you want to read more, to get to the next point that is lying right around the corner. Although details are sometimes purposely spared to keep the idea moving forward, at the end you wish it wasn't a short.

Shuteye #2: The Liar
The second in the Shuteye series relies on the suggestive thoughts of the reader. For the most part the story's setting is based in a small town bar on a cold winter night. However we first see the main character, Joseph, waking from a dream inside his pickup truck, alcohol containers piled on the passenger seat next to him. He alludes to a strange dream he had and then stumbles into the nearly empty watering hole. Before long, a string of lies and hazy visions leads him into an eerie situation, and leaves the reader wondering, What is the REAL story?

The Liar is more concrete and harder-edged than Vea. Becan manages to make the narrator/main character a character of pity and also nearly synonymous with the reader. You actually feel like you are in the struggle with him as you look at certain stills. Both powerful and foreshadowing, this is a quick read and not your typical comic.

Sucker Punch
The first official Shortpants release from Jason Robards, from the cover of Suckerpunch it is clear that this comic is a bit more racey than Becan's work. In artwork that looks somewhat like that which is seen in the original American Splendor series from Harvey Pekar or Archie, the cover is a scene of a homily individual being punched in the face while simultaneously farting green gas onto the head of someone coming out of the sewer.

Robards topics are a bit like Archie meets American Splendor as well: over-exaggerated, goofy fictional characters based on a pathetic real-life existence. The mood becomes set within the first few frames as we are shown the main character, Clarence Bathwater, walking in a public park, pondering the meaning of an apathetic life. Before long, Bathwater catches a homeless man pissing in public, to which the hobo replies, "'Ey you lookin' at my balls?" Two frames later a central voice-somewhat sane, somewhat tactless-sums it up, "But like I said, this isn't about that shit. This is about CHEAP laffs."

The remainder of the comic is a series of short stories, each one somewhat real or vulgar in their own way, and each also hysterical in their own way too. The main plot follows a lazy 20-something writer who drinks and smokes too much and doesn't know why he has the friends that he does but he manages somehow anyways.

SEE ALSO: www.shortpantspress.com
SEE ALSO: www.jakze.com

Josh Zanger
Joshua Ian Zanger, a native of rural Chicago, rocks many a world with his writing, style, and generally sweet aroma.

See other articles by Josh Zanger.



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