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Cross Country Panel

So, as a way to shamelessly get new free books as well as support local, underground artists, I bring you the talent of one MK Reed. She’s also the writer of this particular series. Robin Enrico of Life of Vice fame… or you know, my review fame, did the lay out. Like Life of Vice, this series is for MATURE READERS.

Now, MK Reed happened to fall into my life through years of knowing another great independent artist, Liz Baillie (My Brain Hurts Vol. 1&2 as well as Freewheel). She brings us a tale of an author Greg, who has a book signing deal at a bunch of warehouse type stores (think Sam’s Club/BJ’s) called Colby’s. Funnily enough, Greg’s last name is also Colby. No coincidence there. He’s a rich kid frat boy who is being driven around by his assistant, Ben Spooner. While Ben is driving him around, he is driving Ben insane.

Short synopsis: Greg eats disgusting food, has sex with lots of ladies (including a youngin’) and is all about living in the here and now. Ben is his Polar opposite, he eats an apple a day, has sex with virtually no one and is pretty much living in a tormented present and a deep emotional scar of his past. Ben is trying not to murder his boss, but having fantasies every night about exactly that and is unable to contact a character named “Julie”. She must be his girlfriend. You don’t know her. She goes to another school. In Canada. *wink,wink* He does write to his friend Tara from the road. The tour is supposed to go across a bunch of states and the farther into the country you get the more you get to know these characters. Greg can come off as a real douche, but he’s a well written character and pretty damned funny. Ben is kind of emo, in my opinion. He gets cooler as the book goes on and Greg ends up not being the asshole he starts off as.

I am very much into the style of Reed’s artwork, but a sad truth to independent comics is that most of them are black and white. Ink of course, but only a color cover. Most of these independent comics look more like zines until they (sometimes) get published as graphic novels. Unfortunately, most publishers choose to go the less expensive route and not color the pages. I prefer color…in my comics as well as in my tattoos. I do however understand that the independent comic is a different beast altogether. The money comes from the artist and color is expensive.

Reed’s drawings are pretty cool, and the lack of color (which probably only really makes a difference to the capes and tights crowd, anyway) is more than made up for with the hysterical social commentary of an intellectual working man who is forced to be with his spoiled brat corporate boss for a non-stop journey. It’s hard traveling with people. Have you ever done it? I can sympathize with Ben, but at the same time I wanted him to get over his misery and smoke a joint with his boss. Of course, I did review a weed cookbook. Ben and Greg do however get to know each other on a more meaningful level and Reed makes it very easy to follow along. If you want a “true bromance” you won’t get it, but you definitely find a humourous look into a sort of alternative male bonding, as it were. I genuinely enjoyed it.

First Second Press is bringing us a second book by Reed this year called Americus. It’s going to be another rad book, color cover, black and white pages in 2012. Jonathan Hill will be the artist for that piece. It will be available on her website, which you should check out www.MKReed.com. Leave a nice note, tell her Loud Melissa sent you!

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