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Monday Miscellany Returns, Sales, And The Fleen Book Corner

I see from the permanlink generator in WordPress that this would have been the third time I’ve used the same title, so time for a rewording!

  • Today marks the long-awaited return of Spacetrawler, and Christopher Baldwin’s off to a great start, mixing some tragedy, some backstory, and a pefectly-paced payoff gag. Welcome back, crew of the IA Starbanger GOB Spacetrawler, we’ve missed you. And in a related note, the run on Anna Galactic was miscalculated and runs another three strips, hooray! Even better, the Kickstart to print Anna Galactic has cleared the 50% mark with more than three weeks to go.
  • [C] Spike [Trotman] has a problem — a mishap over the weekend resulted in a busted Cintiq, depriving her of the very lifesblood of a modern cartoonist’s career. When unexpected expenses come your way, there’s only one thing to do: sell your employee’s organs declare a sudden sale, and Spike’s opted to do so by putting slightly knocked-around copies of Iron Circus books on discount and offer up the savings to you.

    Held off on getting a copy of Smut Peddler and worried you’d missed your shot? If you’re willing to put up with some flaws that don’t affect the reading experience at all, now’s your chance to remedy your oversight and get Spike back to comickin’.

  • I missed a couple of books when I was talking about the excellent fall release season last week: 13 September has another must-read book dropping, The Creepy Case Files Of Margo Maloo, a collection of the first 100 or so pages of the Drew Weing webcomic of the same name. And 6 September sees the latest from Ben Hatke, Mighty Jack; both are from :01 Books, with review copies kindly provided by Gina Gagliano.

    What I found interesting about them is they’re both stories about young boys discovering a world of monsters and creepy things, both partnering up with a more competent girl of about the same age. In Margo Maloo’s case, it’s played more for laughs and the occasional lighthearted creepiness, as evidenced by the fact that the titular heroine isn’t a monster fighter or monster slayer — she’s a monster mediator.

    She knows what’s under the bed is a person (granted, a ten foot tall person with enormous teeth and horns, but a person nonetheless) with just as much right to the closet as the kid who lives in the room. She finds the compromises and solutions without too much drama — possibly because in the past she brought the drama hard. The monsters are terrified of her, as are kids with sense.

    In Jack’s case, he just wants to enjoy his summer, but a rare burst of responsiveness from his autistic sister Maddy drags him into a protector role — the garden they planted is full of magic — or maybe alien¹ — vegetation and there’s a dragon wandering about full of cryptic warnings and doubting that he’s a real Jack. Because he’s the one from all the stories: Jack and his beanstalk, Jack the giant-killer, Jack the house-builder, Jack who rules winter and Jack who is nimble.

    An early teens kid in the borderlands between the suburbs and the farms, with an overworked mom and withdrawn sister isn’t a hero — until Lilly from down the block (who swordfights in medieval recreations with her brothers) takes and interest in his challenges and adopts the role of teacher/coach. There’s some alien magic involved, but a lot of it comes simply of caring: Jack wants to impress Lilly (he likes her), take care of his sister (he doesn’t want to spend the summer taking care of her while Mom’s at work, but he still loves her), and not disappoint his mother (and also, if she finds out he grew a dragon she’s going to kill him).

    It’s a potent metaphor for growing up, particularly in the first Hatke male protagonist²; girls face different challenges navigating the throes of maturity (indeed, Lilly presents as the same physical age as Jack, but seems older, wiser, and more capable). The first of a series (but no word yet on when we can expect the next one; given that :01 announced it’s upping its output from 20 books/year to 40, I’d imagine not too far in the future), Mighty Jack ends on a cliffhanger and a promise as Jack gears up to defend his home and family. Darn beanstalk creatures didn’t think he was a Jack? He’ll show you a Jack.

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¹ Cameos from some lovable rogues out of Hatke’s Zita The Spacegirl series pretty much cement the alien interpretation.

² Per the dedication page, Hatke and his wife have five daughters, so it’s no surprise he’s spent so much of his career drawing kick-ass girls.

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