Saturday, September 26, 2015

Guinea Pig: Pet Shop Private Eye #4: Fish You Were Here

The Kiddo and I enjoyed another volume from this series, so when we had a chance to run into Colleen A.F. Venable again at the 2014 Maine Comic Arts Festival, he picked this one out.

Title: Guinea Pig: Pet Shop Private Eye #4: Fish You Were Here
Publisher: Graphic Universe
Date: 2011
Writer: Colleen A.F. Venable
Artist: Stephanie Yue
Letterer: Grace Lu

Mr. Venezi has the help-wanted sign out, but he's having trouble finding the perfect assistant for the pet shop until high-school freshman Viola walks in the door, full of energy and know-how. At least, she's full of energy until Mr. V's not watching her. Then she's more into binge-watching her soaps then watching the shop. Meanwhile, Mr. V thinks she's doing such a great job that he isn't even needed anymore.

Sasspants and Hamisher have to convince the rest of the pet store to take some drastic action to get Mr. V to come back. But first they need to solve the mystery of where he's gone.

This was the second in this graphic novel series that I've read, and it was amusing and cute. The subplot involving the goldfish (all named Steve) getting a pleco as a new addition to their tank was particularly fun.

Rating: 7/10

Saturday, September 19, 2015


I was a crowdfunding backer on this graphic novel based on the life of Niccolo Machiavelli. This is a print collection of the webcomic of the same title.

Title: Machiavelli
Date: 2014
Publisher: Don MacDonald
Writer: Don MacDonald
Artist: Don MacDonald

Beautifully illustrated and meticulously researched, Don MacDonald's graphic novel brings Niccolo Machiavelli's life in renaissance Florence to life. Told in a series of vignettes, the story spans Machiavelli's political career, through all the turmoil and rises and falls in fortune that occurred among the warring Italian city-states of that period.

Machiavelli is presented sympathetically, with the dialogue presented in modern English (which works for the story better than an attempt to make the characters sound somehow archaic would), and the political threads are balanced out with the romantic storyline of Machiavelli's complex relationship with his wife, from whom he was often separated by the call of his duties.

The artwork is in greytones, with watercolors used for the shading, and MacDonald does a particularly good job with the architecture and the battle scenes.

The section of notes shows of the depth of MacDonald's research, providing some great starting points for anyone wishing for more reading on Machiavelli and the Italian renaissance.

Rating: 9/10

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Society's Ills #1

Had to take a bit of a hiatus as school got started up. I've spent the last few weeks pretty buried in day-job work. This is from the unread comic stack I accumulated over the summer. I got this book from artist Lisa Cavalear at MASSive Comic Con in Worcester MA, this past June.

Title: Society's Ills
Issue: 1
Date: 2014
Publisher: Happy Kitty Studio (
Writer: Lisa Cavalear
Artist: Lisa Cavalear

This book chronicles the lives of a group of (anthropomorphic) misfits with geeky tendencies who work at Swillbane Library at Scuzz Community College in the town of New Scuzzden.

While mostly introducing the cast through short vignettes, the book does a nice job of hitting some topical areas (online dating, unhealthy food, and video gaming) as well as some that are endearingly quirky. I particularly liked the bit with the guy serenading the object of his, well, love is probably too strong a word here, with Prince's Purple Rain, played on a large boombox.

Nerdy jokes are always fun for me, and this one got some giggles out of me, as well as nailing some of the frustrations of the internet dating scene.

Rating: 7/10