alchemyjmb's So Buttons #9 review

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From Rob Clough's High-Low Blog

I can never resist reading minis from old favorites right after SPX. Here are some examples...

So Buttons #9, by Jonathan Baylis, et al. Baylis writes with increasing confidence and a Harvey Pekar-like ability to pick the right artists for the right kind of stories. That's not a coincidence, as Pekar is one of his major influences. Baylis and long-time collaborator Noah Van Sciver in "So...Carl" play on the structure of the famous Pekar/R.Crumb story "The Harvey Pekar Name Story", yet the structure actually serves a purpose in discussing his father Carl and his same-named cousin. While Baylis often plays his personal anecdotes for laughs, there's often a deeply personal and even cathartic quality to many of them as well; in this case, it was going to the funeral of his uncle with his sick father and freaking out that "Carl Baylis" was dead.

Two other long-time Baylis collaborators also shine in different ways. The simplicity of T.J. Kirsch is perfect for an anecdote about Baylis' young son talking about how he loved The Flash, his mom...and that's it. Thomas Boatwright returned in a follow-up about Baylis' old ambition of being a horror movie make-up artist, with exaggerated, cartoonish figures and a bright use of color contributing to an upbeat story of meeting one of his heroes and having it go well. Summer Pierre was a perfect choice for a sweet story about Baylis talking to his son about music. A story about getting rare roast beef from the Second Avenue Deli in New York was fittingly done by one of the best in depicting the city in James Romberger. Fred Hembeck continues to illustrate Baylis' time as an intern in comics, which was littered with disastrous stories. This time around, it was at Valiant Comics, where he watched staffer after staffer get fired by despondent publisher Bob Layton. Hembeck's deep knowledge of comics was put to good use in some clever panels, like one where he referenced the famous image of an alcoholic Tony Stark from an issue of Iron Man that Layton co-wrote and inked. I'm not sure if Baylis suggested that connection or if Hembeck came up with it, but it's the sort of thing that happens all the time in Baylis' comics. Baylis has a love of comics and its history that's coupled with an eyes-wide-open understanding of the industry's foibles. Combining that with an intuitive sense of not only what kind of anecdotes from his life make for a good story, but how to tell that story economically, has made him one of my favorite recent memoirists.

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