The mail has been good to me lately — it’s brought me long-awaited, very hefty, very handsome hardcovers of two of my favorite webcomics. I get to enjoy ’em, and that means you get to enjoy ’em, too.
- Okay, it was actually last week, but Los Angeles resident Dave Kellett’s Drive is one of the very best sci-fi stories you’re ever gonna read, and hundreds of pages in he’s still setting up the pieces for his story’s conflict. I’ve spoken of Drive plenty here, so I’ll just mention that what we get in the first volume is roughly the first act of a story (from here to here, interrupted from time to time by things like childbirth and movie production) that will run for years yet, plus a series of his guest-contributed Tales From The Drive shorts.
But what a book! The slipcover pulls back to reveal a design that carries the logo of the story’s imperial family, and the endpapers present an in-continuity map chock full o’ context (not to mention references to key story points¹ as almost afterthoughts, there’s so many of them). The guest stories are by (respectively) Dylan Meconis, Christopher Hastings & Anthony Clark, Ryan North & Tony Cliff, Zach Weinersmith, and Evan Dahm.² They are (respectively) uplifting hilarious, hilarious, hilarious and melancholy/insightful.
In the interests of full disclosure, the book features a blurb on the back cover by a hack webcomics pseudojournalist, who is also mentioned on the thanks page. Apparently the many questions I have pestered him with over the past six or seven years have been more than simple fanboying and convinced LArDK that I would be a good alpha reader for the book³, and he sent me a copy several weeks in advance of the Kickstarter fulfillment. This means that I have a second copy of Drive: Act One, which fact will be relevant a bit further down the page.
- Today’s mail brought the similarly long-awaited and just as impressive first print collection of Abby Howard’s The Last Halloween. The story, which I’ve loved from the beginning, reads even better on the page; the original strips are more than can fit on one page, and Howard has cleverly designed her book to make reveals even better. The best example is this strip, which features one of her best gags; in the book the setup ends at the bottom of a right-hand page and final punchline panel is at the top of the following left-hand page, hiding the payoff and increasing its effectiveness.
To give you an idea how hefty the book is, that gag with Ringley and his dad is the 39th strip in the archives, but the punchline doesn’t appear until page 144; this translates into more than 400 pages of story, with dozens of extras, sketches, and bonus material at the back. If you missed backing the Kickstarter, look for copies in Howard’s TopatoCo store (
NB: Said store is currently undergoing a redesign and may be sporadically available for the next few hours as I write thisWe’re good!) once backer fulfillment is done.
- Back to Drive for a moment; I’d also expect to see the book added to LArDK’s Drive Store shortly, but what if you don’t want to wait? And haven’t I got a spare copy hanging around? Why yes, yes I do. So I’m gonna give that mutha away. Email me at gary who has an account at the name of this here website, which is a dot-com by 30 April, with the subject line GIMME BOOK.
I’ll draw one at random and send it your way (but if you live overseas and it’s gonna cost me like thirty bucks, I’ll ask you chip in on shipping), then you will read it and become as addicted as I am. Oh, and I should mention that the book has one minor print error (two pages stuck together, leading to a very minor tear on separation) which may reduce your reading enjoyment by as much as 0.00378%; if this disturbs you, then don’t try to win a free book. Good luck, and get to emailing.
Spam of the day:
3 Secrets The Mattress Store Don’t Want Out
Mattress store mattresses are made from orphans? That’s one, what are the other two?
¹ Here I’m referring to the disclaimer on the map about the Captain’s Dictate (which was revealed in the strip relatively recently, well after the events in this book). For that matter, there’s back matter including a timeline that likewise features a major spoiler in the form a critical character’s name that was revealed less than a year ago.
So, uh, maybe don’t read the timeline until you’ve binged through the archive?
² Dahm’s story being the absolute best 12 page single story I read in 2016, bee-tee-dubs.
³ Probably because my obsessive tendencies meant I asked him years ago if he realized in two strips that ran five years apart that he’d referred to the same character as “Stephen” and “Steven”. Pedantry! It can be used for good!