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|Lost Kisses is the fifth zine I've made. It's
the most emotionally
accurate thing I've ever done & this seems to have given it
appeal. It is a pain to construct both physically &
so while you're thinking "this is only as big as a pack of matches,"
still as big as my entire life. Something like that. Also
Lost Kisses for issues
#11-#20 (not all released yet).
a link to #1 or watch on YouTube or on IFC's Medialab (scars & life)
a link to #2 or watch on YouTube or on IFC's Medialab (death of a best friend)
a link to #3 or watch on YouTube or on IFC's Medialab (halloween craptacular)
a link to #4 or watch on YouTube or on IFC's Medialab (tv news & cancer)
a link to #5 or watch on YouTubeor on IFC's Medialab (check out my asperger's)
a link to #6 or watch on YouTube (pros & cons of a relationship)
Here's some digital comic versions
Watch the little Lost Kisses documentary on YouTube
If you like comics online, you should check out OnlineComics.net sometime.
Brian did an interview about LK at Jazma Online
Reviews (may contain spoilers):
* Lost Kisses #25 *
Hm, that is one scattered listing of reviews for this series. I reviewed #5-10, #21 and now this one. The good news is that you don’t necessarily have to read this entire series to get plenty out of individual issues, although I’m guessing that it wouldn’t hurt to have the whole picture. Ah well, maybe I can get caught up at SPACE this year. So this one is all about fictional Brian waking up next to a dead girl that he doesn’t recognize and eventually realizing this is because he has taken a drug to release himself from linear time. The sad part comes in when he realizes that he can’t change the future any more than he could change the past, so this girl will always be dead and will always have died. Other topics include his feelings on anonymous sex, whether or not it would be worth it to save the world (which is a question that doesn’t get asked in popular culture nearly enough), and how living forever would be fine if he didn’t have to feel anything. For most of his series I’d highly recommend getting the issues in order, but for this one it sure seems like you’d be OK grabbing whichever random issues he has available when you see him at a con. Or you could go nuts and throw a pile of money at him, as I don’t think anybody else is offering as many comics for your dollars as he is.
~ Kevin Bramer, Optical Sloth
* Lost Kisses #21 *
The art is stick figures. So it is very simple and basic. Photographic pictures are inserted to enhance the story and art. The narration is done in two styles. One more child like in its wording and the other normal for an adult. Both are on about the same thing. The storyline is about time travel. Well about discussing it. The story is all about one person thinking about time travel. That's it. The mention of Kang the time traveler from Marvel was nicely inserted. The character himself is likable and the double narration is cute.
~ Richard Vasseur, Jazma Online
A long time ago, I read about a phenomenon called the Sleep Transport. This is the name for falling asleep in one place, and waking up somewhere else; it happens to babies and small children very often, and drunk people and those with cognitive impairments. Reading Lost Kisses #21 is a bit like a Sleep Transport — I think I am somewhere, but suddenly realize I am somewhere else, and may be missing some time.
In the midst of the disorientation, however, there is a kernel of naked honesty. Naked honesty tends to be uncomfortable, and so the parade of jokes made by the continually smiling stick figure take up the slack. I find myself conflicted about this; I like what is being said here, but the presentation annoys me.
The Lost Kisses images are so un-sophisticated that to call them crude or raw or minimal would be pointless overkill. They are extremely basic renderings of notions that usually relate in some way to the text at hand. However, for all their Pictionary™ quality inelegance, they do have a certain charm. They remind me of Kurt Vonnegut's Breakfast of Champions illustrations, although I feel compelled to point out that Mitchell's drawing of a hand and Vonnegut's drawing of an asshole look essentially identical. Somehow, I think they'd both be at least a little amused by this, although possibly for different reasons, and perhaps more so if one of them were not already deceased.
As with other Lost Kisses issues I've read, there are a couple of lines that really entertained me, or struck me as Just So. Probably anyone who sees the charm and the Just So aspect in a solid deadpan delivery would enjoy Lost Kisses #21.
~ Holly von Winckel, Sequential Tart
* Lost Kisses #22 *
This is a random comic that has no sense to it. Nothing is explained. A stick figure guy that can time travel is shown saying random things.
The comic is fun and weird to follow along with. It will have you thinking and wondering.
Who is this stick figure guy and why is talking about all this stuff? We need a reason for this guy to exist.
~ Richard Vasseur, Jazma Online
* Lost Kisses #27 *
How great/awful would it be to have the ability to travel back into points of your own past? Most people seem to think that they could fix things, but chances are that you would just make things worse. This issue starts with a summary indicating that the hero of the comic is going back to “change the past & save the future”, and this issue starts with him returning to his 14 year old self, while he is tripping on LSD. As he knows his future, he’s able to see that this is a low point for him in a lot of ways (for example, a suicide attempt leads to his not drinking lemonade for a decade because that’s what he used to wash down some rat poison), but he also thinks about his son and her mother, which makes things a bit narratively confusing. After all, he’s his 14 year old self at this point, but he’s also thinking about how he never expected to see his son or the mother again, and how he was wrong about one of them. Anyway, he realizes her importance a bit more as the book goes on, and by the end he has a clearly defined mission for what he is going to do with this ability to travel through his own timeline. I guess future issues will determine whether or not he was correct. Oh, and just because I can’t praise this enough whenever it happens, kudos to Brian for putting a synopsis on the inside front cover. If all comics did that then the world would be a better place. Yes, the whole world!
~ Kevin Bramer, Optical Sloth
* Lost Kisses September 11 Special *
A TV ends up interfering way to much in a relationship. People do need to understand that people are more important than a TV.
911 as seen from a apartment building on TV and how it effected one man there. It was a shock. It was also a terrible thing with many innocent people dying. People that did not deserve that. America did not deserve that.
The stick art is really simple. So is the story. There is some emotion that comes through as the planes hit.
~ Richard Vasseur, Jazma Online
* Lost Kisses: The Dailies Vol I *
This is about a couple breaking up. The girl already had a new boyfriend, so she was cheating on him.
This girl is really really a slut and a not nice person. She just wants money and sex with lots of guys. She is just plain crazy.
The art is extremely ameteurish. It is stick figures.
~ Richard Vasseur, Jazma Online
Ultimate Losk Kisses #11
The biggie in this set is ULTIMATE LOST KISSES #11. Why? Rather than Mitchell’s traditional stick figure art, Dave Sim! steps in to handle art chores. Mitchell also tackles a serious story here, which hasn’t been the case in earlier efforts. A woman in her mid-30s receives a letter from the child she gave up for adoption as a teenager and goes to visit him on death row, and what she discovers is a grand loss of life in more ways than one. Even without Sim on the art, this is easily the best work Mitchell has produced in these minis, and I was pretty pleased to see it. Without some growth, this series was going to get stale in a hurry. And if you’re a fan of the artist? This might be the most unusual collectible out there where you can find his stuff.
~ Marc Mason, Comics Waiting Room
WHA? Dave Sim?? Yeah, it’s true — the one and only Mr. Sim did
for this issue, which is a huge departure from Brian’s usual stick
It’s a for better or worse scenario in the sense that this isn’t an issue of the Lost Kisses series I know and love. Instead, it comes from some sort of deranged alternate Lost Kisses universe where the past is both haunting and daunting (instead of overwhelming and mildly sad like it’s been in the first ten issues).
The art and words of this issue are both intense, leaving me emotionally fascinated but also drained. All said, this is a gripping story with good art (just a few too many re-used images).
~ Nick Marino, AudioShocker
The story itself is very engaging, a tale of loss and
leaves you feeling a bit queasy and angry. Pretty amazing for a comic
is almost as small as a quarter and has single panels and a line of
under it on every page. The micro-mini comic is only $1 from the above
~ Margaret Liss, Cerebus Fangirl
Mitchell took the “Lost Kisses” title in a totally new
the first issue of “Ultimate Lost Kisses.” This issue
by the legendary Dave Sim, and it focuses on someone else's life for a
change. The story involves a woman in her thirties who get a
row letter from the son she gave up when she was a teenager.
the story is a huge shift for the series, the frank and personal nature
of the issue is right in line with what the series has been about so
~ Brian LeTendre, Secret Identity Podcast
While previous issues of Mitchell's Lost Kisses have been
issue eleven dubbed Ultimate Lost Kisses, takes a decidedly dark turn.
This one's about a mother who gave her son up for adoption while she
in high school. Years later he's tracked her down. The letter she
from him begins a journey of revelation that gets worse with every
Obviously the artwork by an accomplished storyteller like Dave Sim adds to the impact of the story. He adapted quickly to the micro-mini's one-panel-per-page pacing. Past editions have kept the reader at a distance as the characters deliver sarcastic quips and jabs. Here, it's all drama. Sim switches from long shots to close-ups—even extreme close-ups—to drive the story forward.
There's a terrific spread typical of Sim's contribution to the book, that shows only the hands of the son and his mother—the physical space between the pages separating them. The posture of each, in the context of the story, shows their raw emotions quite effectively.
This drama is a real departure for the series. It could've easily been published as a one-shot. Either way, it's a special issue, well worth the price of admission.
~ Midnight Fiction
The first and longest running series from Silber is Lost
Kisses - which
up until the tenth issue, featured a very happy looking stickman who
stream-of-consciousness thoughts upon horrible events that occurred in
his life. Frequent topics include morbid thoughts on death, life, love
and having no direction - which in normal circumstances, would be
Kinkos-indie fare. The difference this time, however, is the fact that
while all of these terrible topics are being discovered, the main
greets (almost) every though with a big ol’ smile. Even the thought of
his own death.
As I said, this series featured the narration (and art) of a stick figure. With the newest issue, that all changed. And not only that, Mitchell got a big time indie creator to draw his new story. With such a big shift, it appeared that a name change for the series was in order...
Ultimate Lost Kisses #11
With art by Dave Sim. And yes, it’s that Dave Sim.
The story in this one is completed by the end of the issue, and concerns the events of a mother who is seeing her son for the first time since she gave the boy up. He’s in jail. Now, I won’t go into the details of the story - much more detail than what I just gave would pretty much ruin the whole thing. It featured a word that I really, really don’t like in my comics (they’re supposed to be entertaining, right?), and that coloured my enjoyment of the book adversely. I should just say that despite this, the story is incredibly solid, with some fine art by Sim. Just be warned: things get pretty dark.
In the end, what I believe it succeeds in the most is being a sly commentary on the mainstream’s predication for the “big creative team relaunch” - just using indie comic book tropes, rather than superhero ones.
~ Brandon Schatz, Comixtreme
No, I don’t know if this is a continuation of the Lost Kisses
(what with the addition of “Ultimate” to the title), but as this is
as #11 and the last issue with Lost Kisses in the title was #10, I’m
to assume that it is. I’ll get to the comic in a minute, but
Sim? I guess he has some free time these days, but kudos to
for getting him to illustrate a book of his. I’m actually
up the Cerebus series this week, as all the unrelated text pieces
it for me the first time around and, while I have my problems with
theories by Dave (and his sucking all the joy out of his book for the
50 issues or so), I doubt that I’d even still be reading comics if it
for his influence. I don’t know what his legacy is going to
being, but I’d put the first 220 issues or so of Cerebus up there as
of the great achievements in the field. Isn’t there a comic
I’m supposed to be reviewing? This issue changes the format
previous Lost Kisses, as this is a fictional story (or at least I hope
it is). A young woman gets a letter from her son, 18 years
she’d given him up for adoption and practically forgotten his
He’s on death row for killing a man and wants to meet her, but there’s
nothing accusatory in his letter. She informs her husband
met ten years after her son was born) about his existence, tells him of
her plans to visit her son, and she sets off. Brian is a
taking the images given and expanding or shrinking them, using the
as a director would use a camera lens, and he does wonders with what
given here. It’s a powerful story, and I hope this gets Dave
into comics, assuming he even wants to after 300 issues of Cerebus…
~ Kevin Bramer, Optical Sloth
I’m going to assume that the narrator of Lost Kisses is a fictionalized version of Brian John Mitchell and not actually autobiographical, because I’m pretty sure no one out there would want themselves portrayed like that. On the surface, Lost Kisses recalls the heights of the zine revolution, when anyone could put a comic out and it didn’t matter if it was just filled with stick men, because it’s what they were trying to say that counts. What this particular comic is trying to say, as near as I can tell, is that the author/narrator is a misanthropic dick who cares little for the feelings of other people and now that he’s indirectly caused the death of one of his ex-girlfriends he can get over his hatred of women and just get on with hating the human race in general. What’s really disturbing, though, are the constant attempts of the narrator to paint himself as not such a bad guy. For instance, he hates women, but doesn’t resort to violence when dealing with them so that makes him okay. It’s like watching a sociopath cheerily justify his behavior while making the case that he doesn’t honestly have any antisocial tendancies. The narrative itself is presented very lightly and is legitimately and intentionally funny in spots, but unfortunately the moments of humour tend not to overpower the moments that make your skin want to crawl right off.
Lost Kisses #8
I finally found something to complain about with Brian’s comics: they’re so tiny that they can get lost in the general chaos of my desk. This comic came in months ago, and just now it fell out of a larger stack of comics when I reached for something to review. As complaints go it’s pretty weak, granted, but I figured some negativity was due on this page, especially as I thoroughly enjoyed this issue. This is the story of Brian’s ex getting robbed and beaten and ending up in a coma. He pulls no punches at all in describing his feelings towards her, even going so far as to wish (almost) that he had done it. If you wanted to complain about the stick figure artwork I guess you could do that, but nobody could fault Brian for a lack of openness. Honestly, pretty much everybody who’s ever had a horrible breakup (which is probably everybody who has ever dated) has at least thought about killing their ex, but few people are willing to go into this much detail about it. Brian doesn’t let himself off the hook either, going into some things he did wrong in the relationship and bemoaning his inability to completely move on from this relationship. As always, this is another solid mini, and people with more organizational skills than me should have no trouble reading these tiny things all in a clump and not losing them around their room…
~ Kevin Bramer, Optical Sloth
A look at lifestyles. Should you do something useful or sit on
butt all day? Let's also talk about infidelity and being a homophobic.
A lot of issues are explored.
~ Paul Dale Roberts, Jazma Online!
It’s getting to the point where I should give Brian a separate
for each of his titles to prevent this page from getting completely
He just sent 5 more comics along, one starting an entirely new series,
and this page is bulky enough as it is. Damn his
Lost Kisses is definitely the most personal of his mini minis, as this
time around he talks about how he much he values creativity and
expression over economic stability and how this inevitably gets him in
trouble with the significant others of his friends. After
he encourages them to do more art, the reason against it is usually
of a job. The conversation then turns to how much they hate
job, which turns to questioning why they still work at a place they
which is not a direction that most significant others would like the
to go. He goes on to talk about how he can’t seem to talk to
boyfriends/girlfriends like real people, as he always sees them as
which is also how he sees life in general. Cats, on the other
are creatures that he wants to like him. He also mentions how
more he likes sleeping than sex, and once again generally shows that he
is willing to talk about pretty much any personal detail, as he comes
terms with being stuck as a jackass for the rest of his life because
would be too hard. It’s brilliant stuff and seems to be
as he goes along which, with this level of productivity, means he’ll be
Dan Clowes in no time. These are all a buck each and I just
that he sells chunks of ten for $8, for those of you who like a
~ Kevin Bramer, Optical Sloth
I didn’t really warm to this issue until about halfway thru.
I was a bit apprehensive of the concept, worried that maybe it wouldn’t
hold my interest all the way thru the issue. But somewhere along the
it clicked for me and I became emotionally invested in the end result.
That’s the way Lost Kisses always goes – Brian John Mitchell inspires
disdain, and respect (in that order) every time I read this series.
This particular installment features the main character – a somewhat simplified version of the author – as he speculates on his disconnected social nature. He wants to know why the wives, husbands, boyfriends, and girlfriends of his friends don’t like him. Thus begins an introspective journey that may end up forcing you to speculate on your own social relationships with friends.
~ Nick Marino, Audio Shocker
If you've never read Lost Kisses before, here's a little
Lost Kisses is a mini comic one-man-show of attempted
Blocks of text at the bottom of each panel present a generally rational
statement or observation about the subject at hand, while one or more
figures perform some improv theater relating to the concept. The great
thing about this mode of printed performance art is, the author can
wisdom if it comes off as deep, and blame it on the stick figures if it
goes to the dogs.
This issue examines social tensions between the protagonist and the important people in the protagonist's friends' lives. Turns out, if you treat people as you might treat waitstaff, and don't tip, they won't like you. Go figure. Perhaps this is some kind of morality play, a poorly drawn modern version of the classic Goofus & Gallant series. Except, there's no Gallant in the Lost Kisses universe. I always hated Goofus & Gallant, although if one of them had manifested this much self-loathing, it might have been as entertaining as Lost Kisses #9.
In terms of artistic rendering, this comic is basically a non-event. Except for Mr. T and girls, all characters look exactly alike. Much like identical twins, the only way to differentiate one from the other is to count the fingers, and see who has zero, one, or two elbows. The artist has helpfully tagged certain non-anthropomorphic items in the comic, in case the reader isn't sure if that's a bed or a king cake, or which type of equine has been depicted.
It can be difficult to be certain, but I will hazard a guess that if Lost Kisses #9 has an intended audience, it will be self-loathing people who defensively pretend to be baffled about why others think they are a donkey of sorts. If you need to help a person with no self esteem understand why that behavior is, well, lame, this comic could be a helpful instructional aid. I don't know for sure, but it is possible this could also be a how-to guide for ditching all that excess sense of self worth.
~ Holly von Winckel, Sequential Tart
I think Mitchell was the creative force behind these, although
are no writer or artist credits on either of them. But he wrote all the
others, so I think I can safely assume he wrote these two, and also did
the art, which is limited to stick figures. Unfortunately, the writing
matches the crudity of the artwork, being a series of self-involved
musings on life and relationships. None of it is really all that
Mitchell comes off as full of himself and kind of a jerk. Maybe it's
to be a bit transgressive and confessional, but it's mostly just
and not all that easy to read to boot, since it can be hard to tell
you're supposed to read the word balloons or the captions first on each
I hate to start out on a negative note, but I thought these were pretty poor, more appropriate for a blog or something, with the images being pretty much unnecessary. I wouldn't bother complaining about them, but the differential in quality between these and the other minis is pretty notable. I figure it's best to save the positive stuff for later, and luckily, all the others minis are quite a bit more interesting.
~ Matthew Brady, Warren Peace
Mitchell combines and deconstructs the relationship between
and stick figures with word balloons in this, well, essay on and
of love. A bit sad, but wonderful.
~ Wade Busby, Dimestore
Brian, with this issue, asks an important question: when it is
tell someone that you love them? On top of that, what exactly
love, and is anyone ever capable of really loving someone
happy thoughts form the basis for this mini, so if you’re one of those
people who is deliriously happy and in love, this one probably won’t do
a whole lot for you. It starts with Brian
a lot more people are telling him that they love him recently, and he
a point: it’s used way too much. Then again, as he points
is a stoic guy from a stoic family, so maybe he’s just taking the whole
thing too seriously. He also concedes that maybe if
a wife and kids (a lot of his friends are married with children) that
“I love you” would probably be second nature. He concludes by
that maybe he should give it a chance, or maybe he’ll end up lonely and
bitter and won’t have to worry about people telling them that they love
him because he’ll have lost all his friends. Once again it’s
comic, and he really has no right being this productive AND
Just pick one or the other and save the rest for the other mini comics
folk. I think everybody knows where I stand on these things
that they’re very much worth checking out. He does mention
running out of ideas, but I’ll believe it when I see it… $1
~ Kevin Bramer, Optical Sloth
Somewhere around the end of Lost Kisses #9 and the beginning
Kisses #10, I had a mini eureka about this series: Lost Kisses is about
an outsider indie artist who fantasizes about normalcy. Granted,
(in this case, middle-aged American normalcy) is not necessarily an
upon concept, but I think you get what I’m saying – spouse, kids,
The premise is simple – the main character’s friends have been saying “I love you” lately, and the main character isn’t having it. Not only does he dislike saying it to acquaintances, he doesn’t say it to close friends or family either. By the end, it’s apparent that the main character is becoming either apathetic or accepting to the idea of saying “I love you.” It’s to the credit of the author that the ending grants closure but remains somewhat ambiguous.
~ Nick Marino, Audio Shocker
What's with saying the word 'love'. What is the meaning of
emotions for idiots? Have you ever said: "I love you" accidently during
sex. Many avenues of love are explored.
~ Paul Dale Roberts, Jazma Online!
If you've never read Lost Kisses before, here's a little
Lost Kisses is a one-man-show of attempted pseudo-profundity. Blocks of
text at the bottom of each panel present a generally rational statement
or observation about the subject at hand, while one or more stick
perform some improv theater relating to the concept. The great thing
this mode of printed performance art is, the author can claim wisdom if
it comes off as deep, and blame it on the stick figures if it goes to
Ahh, love. That thing your friends spring on you when you're not expecting it. Our hero explores a variety of potential reasons the people around him might be declaring their love of him. As I read this, I kept waiting for this monologue to come to a point of some kind, but eventually I decided that the best bit was right at the beginning - sometimes the best thing to do is just hang up the phone.
What this comic lacks in artistic style, it fails to make up for in witty insight. A comic about showing what a sad-sack thinks of love is only engaging if there is some redemption, or even the hope of redemption. Lost Kisses #10 is redolent of despair wearing a devil-may-care mask.
This comic is essentially the drawn version of a child standing on a chair shouting, "Look at me! Look at me!" There's nothing wrong with that, as long as I can't see or hear it from wherever I am. If you are willing to wait for the child to do something entertaining, you might like Lost Kisses.
~ Holly von Winckel, Sequential Tart
Is the “L” word to heavy to toss around among friends? To this
it’s more than just an emotion, it’s a bit more of selfless devotion,
I like Mitchell’s take on the matter. It’s amusing, perplexing,
and a fun little read.
~ Wade Busby, Dimestore
This comic, however, is literally stick figures. I’m not sure
supposed to be autobiographical. The author seems to be musing somewhat
morbidly on his life, his career as an artist (???) and interactions
other people. It’s pretty self-absorbed, but worse, it’s completely
The lettering consists of crudely done hand-lettering for word balloons
and what appears to be the Times New Roman font for the captions (come
on, couldn’t we at least get a more interesting font? It’s not like it
would have taken any more effort to point and click). Bottom line, I
fathom anyone who would be interested to read this.
~ Matt Adler, Ain't It Cool News
Mitchell and the crew at Silber Media may have found the
for stick figure mini comics. The size of these micro minis is so
the simple artwork works effectively on their tiny pages. Even the text
is minimal. Together, along with the stories, they propel the reader
one panel/page at a time. Since you can't look ahead, the format
lends a sense of urgency to the action and you find yourself rushing to
reach the conclusion.
Lost Kisses is a funny stand-alone story about an ex-girlfriend with a baggage-filled backstory and an unpaid debt. Will our hero do the right thing? Will his karma cave-in or cashout? And what do barcodes have to do with lost kisses? Pucker up big fella?all will be revealed inside these bulging covers.
In chapter three of the Worms adventure a girl wakes inside an institution. Bound securely to her bed she can only watch in terror as the IV plugged into her arm releases its burning contents. Warning: formication ahead!
Lost Kisses and Worms are fun to look at and read. Check them out on the Silber Media website. You can also read several back issues online on YouTube.
~ Richard Krauss, Comic Related
small things are great,mini things are even better.
4 mini comics,each more or less self contained,each different,& each totally worth your time.
xo & just a man are fictitious short stories sparingly illustrated,while lost kisses is a biographical comic with angst & stick figures.
lastly,worms seems to be a horror/sci-fi mini comic.
these would succeed without the gimic of their seriously reduced size,but the format & stories all compliment the medium well.
$8 for 10 readable mini comics is a far better deal than most out there.
~ Maximum Rock & Roll
Wow, these little suckers put the "mini" in "minicomic."
under an inch and a half square, limiting the comics they contain to
image-caption pairing per page. It's an interesting constraint to work
impose upon oneself, given that auteur Brian John Mitchell is already
against his own inability to draw. That's not a subjective assessment,
by the way--we're not talking Jeffrey Brown lo-fi or Brian Chippendale
noise or John Porcellino minimalism or Anders Nilsen stick figures or
else that's a matter of taste in the Mitchell-drawn Lost Kisses, we're
talking actual stick figures, with little happy-face faces and five
tinier sticks for fingers. Mitchell's enthusiasm for making comics
his ability to master even its most basic necessities. Which is kinda
I'll admit, and works well enough for the kind of ramshackle
confessional humor he's doing in that particular series, but the air of
self-indulgence is unmistakable. Making matters worse is a problem with
image flow--I know, hard to believe given that you're just dealing with
one tiny picture and caption on every page. But Mitchell places the
on top of the captions even though the drawings respond to what's said
in the captions, so that you either have to read bottom-to-top or
spoil the gag for yourself. I have no idea why he does that way--surely
he noticed it doesn't scan? I don't think it's a formal innovation done
for effect, like Chippendale's chutes-and-ladders layouts--I just think
it's a mistake.
Which is what makes the other three comics in the envelope Mitchell sent me all the more surprising. Not due to the presence of other artists, mind you--White's work on Just a Man is scratchily effective, particularly with some effects involving sun glare and flames, but Traub aims for abstraction and ends up coming out just sorta sloppy, while Gardner's basic cartoony figures look like they came from any number of entry-level webcomics or student-newspaper strips. No, what's impressive here is how the physical constraints of Mitchell's tiny format are made to enhance his storytelling. When you have so little room that simply printing a sentence at a legible size eats up half your page, you've gotta keep things terse, so why not go hard-boiled and tale tales of murder and mayhem committed by flat-affect protagonists? Just a Man is a Western morality play of violent retribution; a couple of moments overstate the case, I think, but in general it's a chilling thing, with some memorable facial expressions from White and a surprisingly, refreshingly open and un-cliche ending. XO is a series, but this is apparently the origin story for its blase hitman protagonist, and believe me you didn't need to know this to appreciate the bracing matter-of-factness with which the character unwittingly but unhesitatingly graduates from selling drugs to eliminating an exceedingly minor threat to that undertaking. Worms is the least effective of the trio--the art just doesn't do what it wants to do--but the story seems like an engaging enough Cold Heat-style weird-tale sci-fi mindfuck involving a young woman in peril and fighting to break free, and it sure does take a turn for the suddenly brutal at one point. In more assured hands, all three could be really killer melds of form and function. As it stands, they're maybe not quite there, but if you wanted to spend a measly buck per book, even just to examine what they do right and what they do wrong, you'd have my blessing.
~ Sean T. Collins, Attention Deficit Disorderly Too Flat
It is always cool to get a package of these minicomics from
They are the size of a pack of matches and each take a bout as long to
read as the average TV commercial break. If I were not a mean old miser
they would would be perfect to pass around to my friends. (If I had
In a perfect world, little comics like these would be on the check out
counter of my nearest gas station. You can find out more and order
for yourself at Silber Media.
Here is a look at the most recent batch:
Just A Man
Words by Brian John Mitchell with art by Andrew White.
At 56 panels/pages this is the strongest of these matchbook sized minis I've seen. The story is a simple western revenge scenario without any real innovations or twists but the execution is quite impressive considering the page/panel count and size. The art is probably the most ambitious I've seen in one of these matchbook minis which is to say that each panel holds about as much drawing as a panel smaller than a matchbook can hold and still make sense. I like White's drawing here. Flipping back through it for a re-read I find that the pages tell the story well without the text.
Lost Kisses #9
By Brian John Mitchell.
Like previous Lost Kisses this book contains one page gag comics where a stick figure talks or interacts with other stick figures and the gag is accompanied by text which tells what I assume is the more honest truth about the situation. The theme in this issue seems to be the artist's relationship with his friends. The gags work as self-deprecating humor in a simple way that might work on a t-shirt but the text gives it a punch of brutal honesty. It's like ironic catch phrases served up with an anti-irony vaccine. The two things kind of wash each other and leave me with feelings neither or elation or sympathy. A bit like a mild punch in the stomach.
Lost Kisses #10
By Brian John Mitchell.
This book continues the formula of the last issues but focuses it's attention on the artist's relation to love and uneasiness with his friends' affection toward him. It would be easy for this sort of introspective self-analysis to become depressing (and that does seem to be the default setting for a lot of auto-bio and diary comics) but the juxtaposition between gags and text keeps things light. There is a tongue-in-cheek self awareness about it that keeps you just a few feet on the funny side of whether or not you need to worry about the artist's potential suicide.
Story and words by Brian John Mitchell with art by Melissa Spence Gardner.
Gardner's minimal Archie style cartooning mixed with Mitchell's Tarantino style characters and situations makes for a fun little read. The story itself is over the top and unbelievable but the character's delivery is so understated that I'm right there with him in every panel. I think the pacing and length are just right making this a really enjoyable episodic narrative. Not quite like a TV sitcom but exactly right for the trip to the bathroom during the commercials.
Story and words by Brian John Mitchell with artwork by Kimberlee Traub.
This comic continues Mitchell and Traub's Lynchian horror adventure. The narrative is a stream of consciousness nightmare. The story does not really move far beyond the previous issues. The character is moving in baby steps as she tries to figure out what is happening to her. Traub does a good job of setting up the scene, action and emotion in as few brush strokes as possible. It's like narrative flash art. Considering the format, each panel represents a clever choice on Traub's part.
~ Shannon Smith, File Under Other
Minimalism can be annoying if there's nothing solid there. The
artistic product better be interesting or impactual enough to warrant
sparse quality of its formula.
In the case of Brian John Mitchell's line of matchbook-small mini-comics the messages meticulously imprinted on their tiny pages are short but sweet enough to work expertly.
"Just A Man" is a straight story of revenge better and more effective than any John Huston or Sam Peckinpah film.
"Worms" is a cute little thumbnail of Dadaism that should fill the void for viewers of davidlynch.com that missed a membership payment.
But the crowning achievement in this series, the crazy, quirky coup d' grace that is most deserving of straining your eyeballs is "Lost Kisses," a group of strips with stick figures standing in for Mitchell himself and his sundry self-deprecating and contradictory thoughts about himself and his predispositions.
"I don't always acknowledge my own existence," he writes in one of them. "I could be a figment of your imagination." If this doesn't speak for a society steeped in narcissism, cerebral contusion and damaging self-analysis, I don't know what does. Probably I need to shrink about it.
As I wait to see Dr. Katz to talk about this I read more "Lost Kisses" and wonder why a TV network hasn't snapped these mini-comics up for minisodes yet.
The artwork by Andrew White, Kimberlee Traub and Melissa Spence Gardner is tailored for the screen and Mitchell's words ache to be expounded on. But for now they remain neatly tucked in their cute little dimebag-like sleeves.
~ Bob Freville, Kotori Magazine
I have not had too much experience with minicomics in the
past, so I
was excited to check out writer Brian John Mitchell’s line of
under the Silber Media banner. Each comic is about the size
matchbook and sells for $1. Most of the pages feature one
text below them, giving them the feel of a small storybook.
reading each of the four titles Mitchell is currently writing, I was
with his ability to pack a good amount of narrative into such a small
Here’s a rundown of the four titles I read:
“Just a Man” is a Western tale of a farmer that is out for vengeance after his family killed by people looking to get his land. The story is very reminiscent of some classic westerns (Unforgiven for example), but Mitchell does a great job of drawing you in with the main character’s tragedy, and also giving you plenty of payoff before the issue is over. The art by Andrew White is raw and really carries the emotion of the main character. This one was my favorite of the bunch.
“Worms” is sort of a sci-fi horror story about a woman who is the subject of some grisly experiments, which involve some kind of worms being injected into her bloodstream. I read issue #4, and it seems to be a turning point in the story, as the woman rises up against her captors, presumably tapping into some power that she’s developed because of the experiments. Kimberly Traub, a tattoo artist by trade, provides the art for this story, and it has an abstract, nightmarish quality to it that creeped me out (in a good way).
“XO” follows the story of a hitman, and issue #5 is a flashback tale of how he got started in his life of killing for hire. I enjoyed the dark humor of the book, and the origin story is ironic and funny. Melissa Spence Gardener’s art is solid and will appeal to more traditional comic books fans.
“Lost Kisses” is definitely the most personal book out of the four, as Mitchell takes a self-deprecating look at his own feelings and attitudes. He also provides the stick-figure art on the book, which gives it the feel of a diary entry. With issues #9 and #10, he explores his relationships with people, love and hate, and his own need (or lack thereof) for approval.
Brian John Mitchell definitely knows how to tell good stories within the parameters of a minicomic, and he’s paired himself up with artists that fit well with each individual title. I am interested in reading more of each of the four titles, and I’ll probably check out some of Silber Media’s other stuff as well. At $1 apiece, you certainly get your money’s worth.
~ Brian LeTendre, Secret Identity Podcast
Welcome to the first edition of “Small Matters” – the mini
here at the good ol’ Publitorium. In the spirit of most minis, we’ll be
posting these sporatically, when content merits it.Thumbs up!
To kick things off, we have five minis to discuss – all of them written by Brian John Mitchell. Brian was nice enough to contact us via the internets and ask us if we’d like some free mini comics to review. Being entirely professional and such, I did not jump up and down with glee, shouting “Yesssssssssssssss” over and over again. Did. Not. Instead, I sent him an e-mail telling him that we’d be glad to give some of his minis a bit of a read-and-review. Soon after, I got five of these bad boys in the mail. When he said “mini comics”, he sure wasn’t kidding. But enough foreplay – let’s get to the goods.
WORMS #4 | I read this one first… and I’m not really quite sure what to think of it. Mitchell provides a little blurb at the beginning that gets the ball rolling, but as I continue to read the book, I find myself a little lost. The narrative is full of surreal content, as it details what I believe to be a woman waking up from medicated stupour, and finding herself trapped in horrible place where the nurses can send you to sleep just by speaking and worms crawl into your arms from IVs. In the end, I think I failed to get a good footing – but that could also be due to the fact that these kinds of stories rarely float my boat.
JUST A MAN #1 | This, on the other hand, is completely in my wheelhouse. It’s a simple story about a simple man living a simple life as a farmer in olden times, when his house burns down – his family (seemingly) along with it. So he goes all Die Hard, looking for revenge on the man what killed his family. I’m not exactly sure how he does it, but Mitchell really packs this one with a lot of story – even with a beginning that takes a few pages to set up a specifically terse atmosphere. Definitely worth a read.
XO #5 | Drug deals gone bad in this one. Each of these books seems to have a different style of narration – or rather, different narrators. With XO, the protagonist seems to be fairly laid back as he recounts the story of his first kill on the job. The whole thing starts out innocently enough, but then takes a sharp turn for the worse. There’s a bit of blood and a touch of “what-to-do-with-the-body” shenanigans, and then, it’s over. A really good read though. I’m definitely interested in the nameless protagonist and where he goes from here. Or heck, even how he even got to this point in his life.
LOST KISSES #9 & 10 | Ah, the auto-bio comics. A staple of the indie comic world. A lot of people I know are starting to get annoyed with stories like these, but not me. I could read about the trials and tribulations of the misunderstood for hours on end – because as much as the comics try to show how unique their suffering is… really, we’re all going through the same stuff. The players might be a little different, and the actual events might not completely lend themselves to readable drama, but it’s all life. We all pretend to hate it, but really, what would we be doing if we didn’t have one?
Anyway, in the realm of autobio, these are pretty good. All the drawings are very crude (these being done with stick figures – but really, am I one to talk?) but the narration more than makes up for it as Mitchell explores his own life, and his frustrations with it.
All in all these, were pretty great. I probably should’ve picked something other than Worms as the first read, as that one didn’t really seem to stand by itself as much as the others… but I have to admit, that I’m intrigued to see what his other offerings in these series’ are like. Even Worms, but to a lesser extent.
If any of these have tweaked your interest, definitely go over to the Sibler Media mini comic website and order some up. They’re pretty inexpensive, and they all come packaged in these small little comic bags (so many style points). Now, if only I had the gumption to make a tiny long box… that would be nifty.
~ Brandon Schatz, Pulphaus
I get a few comics in the mail for review purposes, but I
in my mail a couple of weeks ago that was unlike the typical review
It was a standard business-sized envelope, not the usual big envelope I
often find. Inside I found a folded 8.5×11 information sheet and
five tiny packets. Five little plastic sleeves (the kind I imagine is
used to distribute personal amounts of cocaine) each contained a single
mini-comic — much more mini than the typical mini-comic. We’re talking
about comics no bigger than large postage stamps. Writer Brian John
offers a diverse array of material — a western, a surreal story of
conspiracy, a Dexter-esque crime comic, and an autobiographical
title — that make for surprisingly engaging reads. It’s surprising in
because the artwork for all of these projects is amateurish in tone,
Mitchell’s scripts are solid. Thumbing through these tiny comics with
meaty mitts was a bit of a pain in the ass, but it was an inconvenience
that was ultimately worthwhile.
Just a Man #1: In terms of plotting, this was the strongest of these mini-comics. Mind you, that doesn’t mean will find an original story in these pages. It’s a Western about a simple farmer who seeks revenge on a greedy landowner after he finds his family killed and his home torched. We’ve seen this sort of fare in the genre before. What’s interesting about the story is how it’s constructed. This format only lends itself to a single panel per page, so the reader essentially gets a series of little splash pages. The limited space doesn’t allow for much dialogue or narrative text, but the story is never hindered by those limitations. Mitchell clearly understands his format and uses it well. Andrew White’s art is strong at first, but as the comic progresses, it gets rougher and more amateurish in nature. Still, it’s the most solid of the Silber mini-comics, both in terms of writing and visuals.
Lost Kisses #s 9-10: This is Mitchell’s personal journal of sorts, which he illustrates himself by means of stick figures. The art complements the thoughts he expresses in his script, but it’s so simple and crude in tone that it really doesn’t stay with the reader. Mitchell is surprisingly honest with Lost Kisses (assuming the main character/narrator is meant to be a reflection of him and not a character). He confesses to rudeness, self-involvement and anti-social behavior. But the narrator, as negative as he can be to others, is also true to himself. He’s uninterested in the facades of civility, and he appreciates that he’s as flawed as everyone around him, perhaps even moreso.
Worms #4: I really don’t know exactly what’s going on here as this is just a snippet of a larger story. it’ about a woman apparently in the throes of madness. She awakes in a hospital and manages to escape, perceiving energy around her that empowers her and parasites in the medicine that she’s meant to take. Adding to the confusion is the thoroughly surreal art provided by Kimberlee Traub. Mitchell’s script manages to give the reader some clues as to what he or she sees in the artwork. While the surreal tone of the visuals poses an obstacle, its fluid, weird quality also suits the main character’s apparent insanity.
XO #5: The overall look of Melissa Spence Gardner’s art looks like Archie meets Henry. Again, it’s amateur in tone, but it’s effective in that it mirrors the slightly innocent tone of the sociopath main character. Mitchell’s protagonist is a dichotomy. He sounds like a regular teen, but there’s a corrupt side to his character. He sees violence of a casual, necessary thing, but the target of that violence is painted in a distasteful light as well (even though he’s in the right). The oddly titled XO is curiously twisted, and I think I might be more intrigued by what the writer has to offer in this title if I’d read more than this single chapter.
Overall, these Silber mini-comics spotlight the versatility of the medium, the affordability of self-publishing and the passion of amateur creators whose independence allows them to play around with more experimental ideas and methods. These mini-comics lack polish, but they’re diverting all the same. Still, it’s odd that the quality that makes them truly unique — their tiny size — ends up making them seem disposable as well.
~ Don MacPherson, Eye on Comics
These are tiny micro-mini comics, measuring about 2x2", and
16-40 pages each. Mitchell is the writer for all of them and is also
(stick-figure) artist of LOST KISSES. Most of these are parts of a
all of which are easy to pick up on as Mitchell hops from genre to
JUST A MAN, drawn by Andrew White, is a sort of hard-bitten western,
of glory. A farmer sees his house burned down, his infant son killed
his wife disappear. He's pretty sure he knows who did it, and hunts
down, one by one. I liked the voice Mitchell used for the character,
he overwrote this story. That's not unusual for a writer collaborating
with an artist, but the story would have had a bit more power if the
narrative had been sparer and he let the visuals carry the story.
WORMS and XO fall into the realms of sci-fi/horror and crime noir, respectively. WORMS had a zippy pace to it and appealingly minimalist art by Kimberlee Traub that fit the story nicely, one that featured a young woman who witnessed the death of her father and was the subject of an experiment in a lab. This issue found her gaining power through some strange worms, subduing her tormentor, and escaping. The single panel per page format fit with Traub's striking and hallucinatory imagery. XO had a similarly snappy pace to it but was let down by Melissa Spence Gardners art. It was competent, but it didn't fit the story's mood or add anything to Mitchell's narrative, which needed a moodier style.
The stand-outs in this set were Mitchell's issues of LOST KISSES. These stick-figure comics were first-person, meandering observations about human behavior and the narrator's own misanthropy. What's clever about these strips is precisely the same thing that hamstrung JUST A MAN: there's a narrative caption working against the image and dialogue on each page (it's a panel per page for all of these comics). However, in this comic, there's a comedic tension that arises as a result of that juxtaposition. Issue #10 was especially amusing, as it was a takedown of the concept of love and those who insist on expressing it, with the author worrying about falling for that fallacy himself. I love how unassuming and direct these comics are; there are no frills or pretensions here--just a writer and artists who are experimenting with a variety of means of expression.
~ Rob Clough, High-Low Comics
I wasn’t expecting Silber Media’s business to be what it is
when I visited
their website. I spend a lot of time looking at the websites of comics
artists and writers. I’m used to a certain format — a format that
include a recording business and music publishing collective. (Though
that I think about it, I’m not sure why I’m surprised.) The
of the Silber Records website does explain something, though. It
the patient professional follow-through that Brian John Mitchell has
in his correspondence with Fantastic Fangirls regarding the reviews of
his mini-comics. He’s been polite but dogged in making sure his comics
don’t drop off the radar. That I remember to review them.
I have to admire that. The self-promotion aspect of self-publishing comics is among my weakest areas in this whole game — right after the actual production of the comics themselves, which I find to be nightmarish. I mean, I’ll mention right now that my comic, Cool Kids has issue #2 available for sale right now, along with a second printing of Cool Kids #1. And #3 is on schedule for September. But I don’t — as of yet — have the persistence that Mitchell shows.
See, he asked us to review his mini-comics. For the record, here’s the Fangirls’ policy on review:
Fantastic Fangirls will accept materials for the purpose of review. Acceptance of materials for review is not an agreement to review or mention the work on the site. If we do mention the work, we do not promise or commit to a positive review. We will make clear in the review the context in which we received the work and any professional or personal affiliations we have with the creative team. We do not accept money or valuable items in exchange for reviews. Materials sent for review will not be returned, whether or not we review the work.
Materials can be sent electronically to any of our emails. Physical copies of works are also accepted. Please email one of the Fangirls for mailing information.
In accordance with this statement, Mitchell sent me five of his mini-comics. Again, the professionalism of his outfit shows in the materials I received. Each mini-comic — and they are mini, each about 1.5 x 2 inches — was neat, trim, well-stapled, and in its own small plastic slipcover. The overall impression I got was that the producers of these comics treated them like art, and perhaps I should as well. Though tiny in dimension, each comic was 40 pages — front and back covers plus 36 pages of black-and-white text and art.
Scott McCloud, in his must-read book Understanding Comics defines the art form thusly: “com.ics (kom’iks) n.plural in form, used with a singular verb. 1. Juxtaposed pictoral and other images in deliberate sequence, intended to convey information and/or to produce an aesthetic response in the viewer.” Brian John Mitchell’s works fit that definition well. Of the five mini-comics I received for review, three tell a portion of a story. Only Lost Kisses (of which I reviewed #9 and #10) doesn’t meet my criteria for story — there is little narrative, little action. It does, however, intend to and succeed at producing an aesthetic response in the reader.
Let’s take a closer look at Lost Kisses. This is probably my least favorite form of comics, or comix. The noodling autobiographical discussion of one’s self. Frequently including how unpleasant, petty, and diminished the author/narrator is, or how vile other people are. But I recognize that, if one likes that genre — if one likes things like the RAW Anthologies — then these are a good example of the type. Each page is one panel. Each panel contains a narrative and a simple stick-figure drawing in which characters interact. In the pages of Lost Kisses #9 and #10, Mitchell and/or the narrator discuss how badly he/they/one relates to other people. It’s not my idea of a good story, but it is well done for what it is.
I far preferred the other three comics I read. Mitchell sent Worms #4, XO #5, and Just a Man #1.
Just a Man is a western. It’s very decompressed, with panels and narration that convey a sense of the empty timelessness of a western landscape. The story is straightforward, and the simple art (by Andrew White) is evocative. I think my favorite was Worms, with art by Kimberlee Traub. Billed on the website as a sci-fi/horror comic, I’d have to agree. With only issue #4 in front of me I was plunked into the middle of the narrative, about a hospital, and imprisonment, and worms, and — Let’s just say it was creepy and evocative. Traub’s art is simple, stylized, and made me think of the nightmare child of Kandinsky and Miro.
Mitchell offers his comics for sale. He also offers many of the single issues in digital format, and some are available as short animations. I think I have to say that most of his work is not precisely my thing. But he is quite good at what he does. The stories are cleanly presented in a format that is pleasant to hold; as physical objects, Mitchell’s mini-comics are attractive and engaging.
Tell you what — go to the website and look for yourself. Check out the digital comics, look at the animations. See if you want to shell out the one, or two, or ten dollars to help an independent artist continue with his work.
~ Sigrid Ellis, Fantastic Fangirls
For this review I hopped in my Way-Back Machine and revisited
love affair with 'zines and mini comics in the mid-late
While living in BC I consumed many charming, low-grade-photocopied,
stapled, DIY creations, and this handful of 1.75" x 2.25" (approx)
comics from Silber Media in Raleigh, North Carolina were a pleasant
to those days.
So let's start with "Just A Man" from Brian John Mitchell (words) & Andrew White (art):
Like all of the mini-comics reviewed here "Just A Man" starts off very strong with a simple, but gripping cover and an intriguing beginning for the story. As a big fan of westerns, I was happy to see a story about a simple, peaceful man ("I'm just a farmer." "I'm just a husband") working the land. It's not easy establishing a character or characters in such a limited amount of space but this does it well with both imagery and simple text. The second half of the book wasn't quite as strong for me as it seemed to resort to a few gunfighter cliches. Perhaps it could have been streamlined a bit more by jumping right from the death of the main antagonist to the visit with the doctor (which I really liked). All in all, this would be well worth the price of admission.
Next is "Worms" #4 from Brian John Mitchell & Kimberlee Traub:
Worms starts off with simple summary that gets us up to speed on the important parts of #1-3. The abstract art may be a little inaccessible for some readers, but conveys the condition of the narrator at the time of the story well enough for me. Strange and discomforting imagery was the highlight though with ideas like little worms moving from an IV drip into the veins or a nurse who is "light as a feather" and is thrown into storm clouds to be struck by lightning. Again, the end of the book wasn't the strongest part, but it could be because this one is more of a serial than the others.
Next is "XO" #5 from BJM & Melissa Spence Gardner:
XO's strength at the top is the first line of the comic: "My best friend's brother was the first person I was ever paid to kill." I'm immediately hooked and want to know more. Initially, I thought the juxtaposition between the noir-ish subject matter and the Archie-ish art was going to be a part of the story (both of which I liked) but I'm afraid the disconnect between the two remained throughout the story for me, much to its detriment. That could be due to not having read the first 4 issues though. I think I would have enjoyed seeing more of the "I'm the star in the movie that is my life" kind of mentality for the main character as his thought process seemed to be the highlight of this mini for me.
Finally is "Lost Kisses" #9 & 10 presumably from BJM on both the writing & art:
This is probably the fav' of the lot I got to review despite (partially because of) the stick-man art. Of the lot, this one is easily the most introspective and thoughtful as the opening line "I'm not sure hatred's better than apathy." attests. Imagine a thoughtful, slacker who is a self described misanthropist waxing philosophic about the temporary nature of life and how it affects peoples' opinions of him because he views them as "ephemeral" and "temporary"... or how love "Freaks [him] the fuck out." My favourite line on the latter subject was; "Sometimes I say "I love you" by accident when having sex or something." Hilarious. The contrast between heady subject matter and overly simplistic visuals emphasizes the cerebral strength of this comic while unapologetically ignoring the physical aspects. Definitely the most engaging for me.
All in all, I'd say Silber Media, Brian John Mitchell & friends are putting out fair to high quality comics that are easily worth their humble cover price, especially considering the challenge of conveying emotion and hooking the reader with such a limited medium. I'd say these treats from our neighbours to the south are worth every penny! Check 'em out at www.silbermedia.com
~ Where Monsters Dwell
These are the smallest comics I've ever seen. Seriously, look
Their palmable size and tiny plastic baggies bring to mind illicit
or secret messages that you have to destroy after reading. Each page
only one panel and a line of text, requiring the storytelling to be as
compact as the packaging.
These match-book sized comics are written by Brian John Mitchell and put out by his indie distribution company, Silber Media. Issues of each of the four serialized titles can be ordered for a dollar each, though several issues are also available for free on the Silber site.
The books cover a range of genres; XO is a hitman power fantasy, Just a Man is a slow burning western, Lost Kisses is an sardonic, self-effacing confessional about Mitchell's personal life(illustrated almost entirely with grinning stick figures), and Worms is a paranoid headtrip that invovles worms, questionably ethical medical treatments, and other unpleasant things.
The common thread in each book is an understated, almost deadpan style of narration. Take for example the narration that accompanies the opening three pages of XO:
"I just killed someone for free.
I guess you could say I killed some people when I was younger....
...but none since I consider myself an adult."
This irrisistibly macabre hook is made even more distincitve by it's context; an adorably small booklet with illustrations that look more like a daily comic strip than the sort angular grit usuallly found in a crime graphic novel. The story unfolds with similarly passive descriptions of crime and murder, and the series ends up feeling like a slice-of-life diary comic by a sociopath. Whether it reads as creepy or funny is probably a matter of taste, but it's entertaining either way.
While several issues of XO can be read online, the highlight of the Silber Comics stable really needs to be read in print for the full effect. Only a single issue of Just A Man has been released so far, but in that 56 panel issue Mitchell and artist Andrew White tell a wild west story of revenge that evokes dread and suspence on every miniature page.
The dramatic weight of Just A Man is entwined with it's formal elements; having to focus your attention on stamp sized panels creates an bond between the reader and the stark desert world of the story. The limitations of size and length force the reader to consider the meaning behind each image and sentence, and as the plot turns more and more grim, the effect is hauntingly intimate.
Just A Man is a serious tale in a small package, and I highly reccomending spending the dollar it costs to have one delivered to your house. Read it in a public place for maximum effect; people will wonder what the hell you're holding that has you so engaged, and you'll feel like you're getting away with something.
~ Ana Hurka-Robles, Geekanerd
Five new micro-minicomics from Brian John Mitchell. Taking a
JUST A MAN is drawn by Andrew White and tells the story of a farmer in the Old West that comes home to find his infant son dead and wife kidnapped into a fate unknown. The farmer then has to decide whether or not to wait for justice or quest for vengeance, and, well, that’d be a boring wait. Mitchell does a good job of getting mileage out of a classic Western story trope here, and White does a nice job in creating the panel-a-page approach used by Mitchell. Solid.
Melissa Spence Gardner draws XO #5, the continuing saga of a professional killer. Mitchell takes the story into flashback mode here, recalling the first time the character was paid to kill someone… his best friend’s brother. What surprises is that he creates some solid suspense as to whether or not he actually accomplished the deed. I’ve generally been enjoying the XO comics, and this is easily the best one to date. However, I think the real secret is that Mitchell and Gardner simply work best as a team. He’s learning how to write to her strengths, and she’s getting more skilled at using the format effectively. Very good.
WORMS #4 has Kimberlee Traub on art chores, and continues following the lead character as she tries to escape the strange hospital where she’s being held captive and experimented upon. Tired of the i.v. that’s allowing the worms into her body, she once again musters the strength to stand and begin to make her way towards the exit. Only a single nurse stands in her way- will she make it? WORMS has an interesting story going on, but I don’t feel like the micro-mini format really allows it the oxygen it needs to effectively tell the story, nor does it allow Traub the ability to do any real storytelling with the art- it’s just one abstract moment after another.
Closing things out are LOST KISSES #9-10, both drawn by Mitchell himself. LOST KISSES is an autobiographical comic, and to be blunt, it’s the weakest material he produces. I give him credit for putting things out in front of people: issue nine discusses why his friends’ wives and girlfriends hate him, and issue ten covers his inability to deal with being shown love. But while I think it’s supposed to come off as brave to discuss these things, the attitude he conveys makes him come across as a complete d-bag. (I don’t think that’s what Mitchell really had in mind.) There’s something really unpleasant about admitting you see someone’s wife or girlfriend as just another object to ignore, like a t-shirt. It mostly wants to make you put down the comic and punch the author in the junk.
As always, never a dull moment with the Silber micro-minis.
~ Marc Mason, Comics Waiting Room
It's always fun to read one of Mitchell's micro minis. Even
you get several at one time. The page count varies based on the story,
but they're always so chubby and pages are bursting to escape the pair
of staples it takes to bind them. Mitchell ships them in tiny plastic
to keep them as flat as possible during their trip through the mail.
The format for each is a full page panel on every page with a caption below. If there's any dialogue, it appears inside word balloons in the panel. Mitchell uses the format to great effect building tension and momentum in his dramatic series. The design is seamless for books without dialogue. Those with dialogue take a moment to adjust to because the natural tendency is to read the word balloon first. Once you get in the groove of caption first, balloon second, it's all good.
Worms is a sci-fi/horror series. The heroine is trapped inside an institution, drugged, and hooked up to an IV drip filled with worms. The latest episode is #4. It's more fun to start at the beginning of the series but Mitchell is kind enough to start each issue with a short recap of the previous action. Worms is drawn by Kimberly Traub. Issue four is quite the psychotropic adventure and provides a hint of hope for "our girl" in her hopelessly horrible hostel.
Lost Kisses is a comedy series with Mitchell's sometimes hilarious, sometimes glib ruminations on love and relationships. Each issue is a self-contained exploration. His most prolific title, the first ten issues of Lost Kisses are available individually in print or digitally in a DVD collection with a few bonus features. BTW, Mitchell illustrates the stick figure cast of Lost Kisses when he's not writing or producing music CDs.
Mitchell describes XO as his darkest mini comic, the humanization of an anti-hero. And here I thought is was going to be all kisses and hugs. Issue #5 opens with: "My best friend's brother was the first person I was ever paid to kill." Now that's an opening line that grabs you and fits the page-turning design of these micro minis perfectly. Drawn by Melissa Spence Gardner, it's another winner.
Just a Man is Mitchell's newest title and surprisingly, it's a western. Like his other dramatic titles, Mitchell starts building tension and conflict immediately until it erupts in a western showdown that doesn't disappoint. The ending is twisted—a satisfying, but quirky conclusion with room for more should the series continue. It's drawn by Andrew White.
Mitchell is a prolific author. If you like his comics I believe he's looking for more artists to render his growing list of titles. He can be contacted via Silber Media, where you can read and order issues of Worms, Lost Kisses, XO, and Just A Man. For bundled deals check out the Silber Media Comics page.
~ Richard Krauss, Poopsheet Foundation
Can you tell a story with only one panel per page? That's what
at Silber Media did with their mini-comics and although the format is
they seemed to have pulled it off with the unique style that is Indy
The art in the mini's isn't your everyday glitz and glam that much of the industry relies on. It sports its own unique style that changes with each mini.
Just a Man features a story of a man on a mission. With only fifty-six panels to work with total, Brian John Mitchell and Andrew White managed to take what seems a simple tale and tell a story that had captured my interest and made me wonder what the next installment had in store for our gun-toting' farmer. White's use of scratchy almost sketch-like art brings you into the era the story takes place in and compliments the story.
Worms #4 was one of those issues that made you think about what was happening in the issue. Seeing an insane asylum or possibly recovery treatment center from the perspective of a delusional mind was a unique way to bring a story to life. Kimberly Traub's art is reminiscent of the broken and chaotic scenes that make up dreams and the visual metaphors the mini uses seem to be indicative to its ability to make your own mind try to figure out what exactly is happening.
XO #5 takes us into the world of narcotics as part of the everday life. Melissa Spence Gardner brings a more familiar drawing style to this comic, adding details some of the other mini's left untouched. The story itself didn't quite capture my imagination and seemed a bit unreal presenting character interactions to the reader that just didn't seem genuine.
Lost Kisses 9 & 10 looks like a blog in the form of a miniature comic book, with each issue appearing to be a blog entry. The issues make you wonder if this is honestly how the author feels about life or if it's just a character he's created to bring to Lost Kisses. The issue uses a strange style of a combination of word balloons and narrator dialogue boxes on every panel. The character in the story many times begins his thoughts in the balloon and they finish in the narrator box. It struck me as odd, but to each his own.
I applaud the attempt to create and publish your own material and the unique way in which it was accomplished, however I have to say that all in all, I wasn't excited about the comics and at a dollar each, I can't say I'd recommend them. To be fair I should note that you can also get a bundle of 10 for $8, but to be honest, even though some of the comics managed to keep my attention, I wasn't happy enough with them to order more.
~ Steven Sykora, Project Fanboy
Silber Media does a lot of things, and one of those things is
tiny little hand-written, hand-drawn mini comics that are about the
of match books. The makers of these little comics have released a new
for fans of theirs to check out.
Lost Kisses # 9 & #10
Lost Kisses is a series that follows characters in their simplest form: as stick figures. These stick figures like to offer up a lot of thoughts and philosophies about the world around us, and more specifically, they dive into the ruthlessly painful world of romance and relationships.
A bit of a trippy mind-screw of a ride, Worms tells the story of a girl who mysterious wakes up in a hospital, attached to an IV filled with worms that are making their way into her system. Over time, the girl begins to find herself getting stronger as she attempts to escape the evil hospital.
Here’s a tale in the same vein as Dexter, where a murdering hitman makes an effort to slide back into every day society — a task that turns out to be just as difficult as it sounds.
Just A Man
Just A Man is Silber Media’s new take on the Western genre. It tells the story of a man who has been wronged, and seeks justice and cold, hard revenge on those who are responsible.
All comics are written by Brian John Mitchell and can be found at Silber Media’s official site. Comics will only run you about $1 each, or can be picked up in bundles.
~ Geeks of Doom
Dans la série mini-comics, on connaissait les 2 Watts box de
Bülb comix (la set U étant la dernière en date), ou
encore les ‘John Master John’ de Ibn Al Rabin. Outre Atlantique, Brian
John Mitchell, réalise plusieurs séries de mini-comics, format
presque carré autour de 5 cm, entre 20 et 40 pages. Seul, il signe
l'humoristique ‘Lost Kisses’, articulé sur une situation ou réflexion
dessinée (au style enfantin) et d'une légende décalée
ou en contrepoint. Il écrit d'autres séries avec différents
dessinateurs, ‘Just a Man’ avec Andrew Shite, ‘worms’ avec Kimberlee
‘XO’ avec Melissa Spence Gardner. Tout ceci est à découvrir,
avec de nombreux extraits (en vidéo et au format comics numérique),
et à commander sur la partie comics du site Silber Media. Brian
John Mitchell n'édite pas seulement des comics, mais aussi de la
musique, voir et écouter la partie music!
~ Le Zata
I finally found something to complain about with Brian’s
so tiny that they can get lost in the general chaos of my
comic came in months ago, and just now it fell out of a larger stack of
comics when I reached for something to review. As complaints
pretty weak, granted, but I figured some negativity was due on this
especially as I thoroughly enjoyed this issue. This is the
of Brian’s ex getting robbed and beaten and ending up in a
He pulls no punches at all in describing his feelings towards her, even
going so far as to wish (almost) that he had done it. If you
to complain about the stick figure artwork I guess you could do that,
nobody could fault Brian for a lack of openness. Honestly,
much everybody who’s ever had a horrible breakup (which is probably
who has ever dated) has at least thought about killing their ex, but
people are willing to go into this much detail about it.
let himself off the hook either, going into some things he did wrong in
the relationship and bemoaning his inability to completely move on from
this relationship. As always, this is another solid mini, and
with more organizational skills than me should have no trouble reading
these tiny things all in a clump and not losing them around their room…
~ Kevin Bramer, Optical Sloth
The king of very tiny comics is back! OK, maybe I’m not
allowed to call
him the king of tiny comics. Many people are making mini
and many of them are pretty damned tiny, but very few people I know are
this prolific while keeping their books this tiny… and still managing
pack engaging stories in the little things. This issue is a
book (both by Brian), with one half detailing the reasons he should
with his girlfriend and the other detailing the reasons he should
He makes a point in the beginning of the mini to say that this isn’t
any specific girl in his life, and I suppose that’s true of the comic
a whole, but a number of panels here just have to be about one
Still, it’s not like he’s going to get sued or anything, as these
images make lawsuits pretty unlikely. On the
yes, he goes into things that are true of a lot of women, and no, I
think it’s misogynistic to say so. His negatives are lying, a
of willingness to deal with past emotional scarring, spider veins, her
being over her ideal body weight, appearance being more important than
reality, having no taste in art, and rogue nipple hairs. On
side, his positives for a girlfriend are intelligence, a sense of
better self-esteem, the peace he feels while holding her, good hair,
skill, and the simple fact that he loves her. Granted, some
negatives are pretty petty, and some of the positives are generalities
that you see in every dating ad to ever exist, but this is still a
book. Leave this on the coffee table (if anybody even sees it
the clutter) and sit back and wait for all the awkward conversations
are sure to follow. Like everything else I’ve seen from this
it’s well worth a look, that’s for sure.
~ Kevin Bramer, Optical Sloth
Brian John Mitchell continues to confuse and surprise me in
with Lost Kisses #6. While I am utterly perplexed by some of his
I am in awe of his brutal honesty. Writer / artist Mitchell refuses to
back down from thoughts or observations that would be easily judged or
labeled by others. He bares his soul to the benefit of the reader’s own
Notably, this issue of Lost Kisses takes things to a new level. Instead of directly extolling the good and bad elements of his own neuroses, the creator extols the good and bad virtues of the woman he loves. Is this his wife? His girlfriend? His mistress? It’s irrelevant. What’s important is that Mitchell is head over heels for her. Wait a minute… is he???
Flip over this comic and it provides a counterpoint argument to Mitchell’s deep love. This dialectical mini comic presents cons as well as pros about the creator’s lover. She has past emotional trauma and refuses to deal with it. She’s overweight. She trashes the very art we’re reading. But back on the other side, she’s the calming force in Mitchell’s life. She’s stable. She’s loving.
Personally, my favorite moments are when the creator introduces awkward observations into the story. Phrases such as “rogue nipple hair” and “premature saggage” will be dancing in my head for the next couple days. (Oh, and Brian, I’m over 25 and I love big boobs. Why? Because they’re awesome. And big.)
On the inside front cover of the mini comic, Brian John Mitchell tells us: “Technically this issue is not a comic because the panels are individual gags rather than sequential art.” I couldn’t disagree more. Though the story is told through individual moments, this issue is 100% comic. The panels work extremely well when read in order, and the sum of their efforts produce a fascinating look inside the head of an insecure man who is deeply in love.
~ Nick Marino, AudioShocker
Yep, that's about actual size for this comic. It was
shrunk from a smaller size a few years back and is now right around the
size of a pack of matches, but somehow Brian manages to pack all sorts
of goodness into this tiny package. This is a short version
story of Brian's life, his struggles to keep friends, to distinguish
from humanity as a whole (although I would submit that a continuing
in this medium is a good start), and his surprising lack of interest in
many self-perceived failings. Turns out (spoiler alert!) that
has something called Asperger's, so maybe this odd disconnectedness
feeling is simply a matter of faulty brain wiring. Honestly,
I see a comic this tiny, the best I'm hoping for is maybe a good joke
two, something mildly amusing because of the novelty format.
fact that he was able to put together an emotionally moving story while
still being oddly disaffecting is impressive as hell to me.
order all five issues at his website for $3.50, or maybe, what, $1
This is well worth seeking out for anybody who has ever felt listless
directionless, which I'm guessing is just about everybody reading this
at one time or another...
~ Kevin Bramer, Optical Sloth
I love experiments. Creators who play with content, format,
other ideas get me excited for the world in which we live. Because of
I used to buy a lot of things I didn't wind up enjoying, simply to
the effort. It didn't matter, because the thrill of seeing and holding
something new more than made up for it. Brian John Mitchell and the
from Silber Media have been sending me stuff that fits the experimental
description, and fortunately, have avoided that "don't really enjoy"
First, the format. Each "book" is roughly the size of a business card, folded in half. With 24 pages, one panel to a page, it creates two things. First, each page is pretty well focused, not a lot of room for back and forth chit-chat, or major artwork or scenery. Second, it creates a fair frenzy, since you are turning the pages nearly as fast as your eyes can read, you have a growing sense of urgency in flipping the book. In this kind of environment, pacing is key, and it seems like they have enough practice to really make it work.
Now, about the book itself. This book came packaged with two others, XO #4 and Worms #2, but honestly, it was this one that stood out as the best. Not only is this a little book, but this issue is a flip book, where each half tells a different side of a story we all know well -- how we can simultaneously love and hate our boyfriend/girlfriend/spouse/partner. If it wasn't apparent, one side of the flip book is the love part, and the other is the hate part...
In the introduction, the author disclaims most of the content as not necessarily being true, not being funny, and even not really being a comic at all. Hogwash, all of it. Well, maybe not being true to his life, but the rest is true. While the panels don't read as a sequential story, they do read one to the next (and you flip them fast) and most of them are a riot. Some of the helpful points are loaded with sarcasm, such as "She helps me keep my life in order" (read: "I wont sleep with you till you clean your room.") And some of the others are just totally out of the blue (Her nostrils are different sized.)
I carried these around in my pocket for a few days, and read them a couple of times. I'd encourage you to take a look.
~ Bart Gerardi, Paperback Reader
Two different mini-comics tell two very different stories all
in a format
no bigger than a book of matches.
Indie writer Brian John Mitchell continues two of his "tiny" projects with new issues of his mini-comics XO, about a serial killer trying to reform, and the slice of life story Lost Kisses, about a young man trying to understand life, emotion and everything that goes with it. Both comics are only about the size of a book of matches and black and white.
In this issue of XO readers take a trip back to the past and witness the first time this assassin for hire killed. It may not be for the reasons you think…
In Lost Kisses the narrator ponders his bad luck at relationships, questions his lack of feeling and then must struggle with a sudden diagnosis that, while it explains certain things, now raises more questions.
Mitchell has a genuine talent for managing to write stories that read densely in just a short amount of space. This issue of XO, however, feels a bit more like a vignette rather than a complete story. The spare, clinical prose, while it does give insight into the mindset of a man who can kill with an equal, clinical detachment, also keeps the reader too much at arm’s length. The tale ends up feeling more like a vignette or a scene rather than a complete story.
Lost Kisses, on the other hand, not only feels complete, it leaves the reader a bit dizzy and pondering. The narrator embarks on an almost adolescent cataloging of faults and failings and yet breezes over them with a self-deprecating humor that borders on self-flagellation. The reader goes through an emotional turn as they may find the author’s attitude at times juvenilely annoying and at other times feel a kind of sadness and sympathy for his plight. The interesting point being that the narrator himself experiences no real emotions throughout and does not experience the same events in the same way the reader takes them.
XO is illustrated by Melissa Spence Gardner in a simple, slightly manga-influenced style that nevertheless manages to convey quite a bit in just a little space. With a canvas only the size of a matchbook she wisely focuses on close-shots and keeps the details and surroundings to a minimum – but not so little that readers cannot follow the action. Lost Kisses, however, is illustrated by Mitchell himself and features his usual stick-figure style. Being stick-figure based, he focuses on representational and metaphorical action rather than attempting for any kind of realism.
While both of these titles manage to provide quite a bit of story and impact for a buck a piece, this month’s edition of Lost Kisses is the more well-rounded read. If you are in the market for something a lot different, something imminently portable, and something that you can read in class or a meeting without getting caught then these mini-comics are worth a look.
~ Tonya Crawford, Broken Frontier
More matchbook-size madness from Silber Media as the
continue with humor and mayhem.
Writer Brian John Mitchell crafts three different stories with three different distinct voices in each of his three matchbook style comics – an impressive accomplishment for an indie writer. XO is written from the point of view of a cold-hearted assassin trying to change his life… with a distinct lack of success, while Lost Kisses chronicles the everyday adventures of a guy drifting through life and coming to realize things profound, mundane, and sometimes stupid. Worms, on the other hand, is an adventure in a surreal dreamscape… or is it all a dream?
In this installment of XO our nameless hitman finds his nice neighbor lady outside the apartment complex having an argument with her abusive boyfriend. Of course, our protagonist tries to do the nice thing…
In Lost Kisses the nameless lead takes a look at his current girlfriend and tries to decide if her good qualities outweigh her bad or vice-versa. Of course, what he considers good and bad qualities varies considerably.
Finally, with Worms the unnamed female protagonist wakes up from her nightmare… or does she? The surrealism continues – is this all just one extended dream? Is she insane and this is part of her delusion? Or could there be more than meets the eye going on here?
Mitchell switches voice from comic to comic with ease and each one feels true to character and to genre. With XO, while the story may be pretty simple and easily straightforward, that is because it is really more of a form to hang this peculiar brand of black humor on. That kind of black humor that comes from awkward, sudden, and brutal violence and a person so far outside of society they cannot see the strangeness of it all. It is a little in the vein of the movie Grosse Point Blank. Lost Kisses, on the other hand, is weirder and funnier. Based (a tiny bit) on Mitchell’s own life, the first person narrator seems stereotypically young and a little off-kilter. Trying to make sense of life and of love, the voice bounces from the ridiculous to the sublime and the reader can sometimes see a bit of themselves here – both the times when we are unaccountably brilliant and the times when we are shamefully shallow and superficial. Worms is an interesting experiment but, as an ongoing, it has been a little hampered by the long delay between issues. I have to confess that I didn’t clearly remember the story from the previous issue and, being the size of a book of matches means there isn’t room for a recap page. Still, Mitchell does manage to capture the twisted surrealism and landscape architecture of dreams and bend them into a story.
Mitchell puts on his artist’s cap for Lost Kisses and handles the simple, stick-figure art. There are no backgrounds to speak of but his simple, deliberately kindergarten style adds to the humor, whimsy, and oddness of the piece. Melissa Spence Gardner handles the artist duties on XO, however, and she proves that she is growing more and more comfortable with the space constraints and actually using them to her advantage. The matchbook size makes extreme close-ups even more intense and she sprinkles these throughout the story. Backgrounds, however, are still mostly non-existent as she instead focuses on the characters. Kimberlee Traub takes on the art for Worms. As with the others, the small scale of the medium keeps her artwork limited… perhaps a bit too limited. She has a nice, spare style and she obviously understands the unrealism of the story but her single panels look a bit disjointed when viewed as a whole.
These three mini-comics are each an interesting experiment in storytelling in more ways than one. At $1.00 each they are an affordable way to test out a unique series of independent comics and with a size smaller than the palm of your hand they can be read anywhere at any time.
~ Tonya Crawford, Broken Frontier
Lost Kisses, Brian talks about women in general. It
information is brought on from the experiences found in his
The woman in focus in this story has a history of mental abuse and
type of abuses. She is a pathological liar. She has
terrible relationships. The boy in this story is somewhat shallow and
on the aberrations he finds on her body. She appears to be a
digger, her intimacy seems faked. You get two sides of this
In a second story, it seems like a dream come true and the other story
is horror around every corner. Some of these stories remind
my Starbucks coffee dates. There are personality conflicts,
don't look like their picture, they live beyond their means, they are
and egotistical. To find the perfect woman is as hard as
a Bigfoot. In Worms, you have a woman that has a gun battle
a policeman, she finds herself tied up on a gurney and taken to a
where they are intravenously giving their patients a solution that has
tiny worms in it...yep, we have a big mystery and it will
In XO, a guy is a good Samaritan and saves a girl from a brutal attack
by some ruffian guy. The good Samaritan breaks the ruffian's
punches him in the face and accidently kills him. He now has
up this accidental murder. He should have minded his own
Silbermedia has extreme entertainment in small packages. I am
for Aruba and Argentina, I can carry these comics in my shirt pocket
read them on my layovers, it can't get any better than that!
~ Paul Dale Roberts, JazmaOnline
In this edition of Breaking Ground, we are taking a look at
produced by Silber Media: xo, Worms, and Lost Kisses.
We pick up the xo story with issue #4, "Neighbors" where our empathetic sociopath is drawn into interfering with his neighbor's argument. While our retired hired gun's interference is well intentioned, he only knows one way to solve problems. He stuffs the drunken, abusive, passed out boyfriend into a car, drives down the road, and...you have to pick up this mini-comic! The art packs a TKO punch and the storyline is darkly funny (along the lines of Chuck Pahaniuk's novels). The artwork is by Melissa Spence Gardner and the story and words are by Brian John Mitchell.
The Worms mini-comic is only two issues in, and the first issue tells the story of how a young girl witnesses the murder of her father. Taking a look at issue #2, "Capture" has our girl waking up, still clinging to the gun she stole from the murderers. She tries to elude her captors in hospital halls that never end, rooms that are reminiscent of WWII infirmaries, and witnesses malevolent medical treatments. The art conveys the confusion, fear, and entrapment mirrored by our heroin's plight. For those of you who love H.P. Lovecraft and Franz Kafka, you'll appreciate the references. The artwork is by Kimberlee Traub and the story and words are by Brian John Mitchell.
Lost Kisses #6, "She's at least as Good as She is Evil," is a collection of standalone laughs rather than a continuation of the story. This comic is a veritable yin and yang with its "Reasons to Run and Hide" on the front and the "Reasons to Stay by Her Side" on the back (or would that be front?). As for "Reasons to Run and Hide," if you are bitter from a recent break up, you will identify your ex-psycho on this side and have a hearty (and relieved) laugh. Take solace, it was the right decision. And for "Reasons to Stay by Her Side," this side will give the self-aware co-dependent a good chuckle. As for me, I certainly see a former boyfriend-turned-stalker depicted on this side. The draw-dropping stick-figure art, as well as the story, is by Brian John Mitchell.
For comics that are only as big as a Goliath's thumb, I'm giving these two thumbs up!
~ Katie Riley, Comic Related
In many ways, minicomics are the purest form of comicbook
Written and drawn in an artistic form of guerilla theatre, they are
and stapled by people who genuinely love the artform and see it as a
to present their thoughts and ideas and not just as a way to make their
name. Whenever I hit a major con, I always put aside a piece of my
to find and buy new minis. But occasionally, I also receive some in the
mail for review, and that was the case with these three minis from
John Mitchell. And Mitchell has taken the minicomic to an even more
place; rather than the usual 8.5 by 5.5 inch mini, these are two inches
by two inches, about the size of a matchbook.
XO #4 is the best of the three, a surprising and darkly finny piece of work. A man arrives home from the grocery store to find his female neighbor arguing with her lout of a boyfriend and intervenes against his better nature. What happens from there goes south in a hurry, and the ultimate resolution has a wonderfully black heart in the center of its chest. Melissa Spence Gardner does a terrific job of using the tiny amount of space on the page to its fullest effect, employing her inks diligently to maximize the panels’ ability to move the story forward. One recommendation- I didn’t read the PR about the story ahead of time, and I was glad because it contained a spoiler that would have taken some of the edge off the story. Should you choose to buy one of these, avoid any descriptive text.
Right behind XO in my preference would be WORMS #2. This story, which focuses on a young woman waking to find herself in a nightmarish hospital, fills its pages with tension and dread, and again finds a way to use the small format to positive effect. Artist Kimberlee Traub goes with a more minimalist look, allowing the reader’s imagination to fill in the blanks as the girl tries to free herself from what appears to be a horrible fate on the horizon. Mitchell’s script is mining a rich vein of traditional sci-fi horror tropes here, but it doesn’t feel warmed over.
Lastly is LOST KISSES #6, Mitchell’s meditation on whether or not the woman in your life is right for you. It’s a flipbook, presenting the good things on one side and the bad on the other, and while I understood what Mitchell was trying to do (be funny and work out some issues he’s gone through in his past) it just never took hold for me. I felt that way in large part because nothing here felt surprising or revelatory; instead, it felt like old hat- like a supplement to “He’s Just Not That Into You.” Put up against his work in the other two minis, this is definitely the weak sauce in the Mitchell oeuvre.
~ Marc Mason, Comics Waiting Room
Lost Kisses #7 - Keys, Phones & Barcodes
A world of confusion...are bar codes the work of the devil. Is our government trying to track our food purchases? Is the world headed for chaos? Find out here in Lost Kisses, it's going to grab you by the throat and won't let go!
Lost Kisses #8 - Confessions of a Passive Aggressive Killer
Losing your job and having an ex-girlfriend in a coma, will send anybody's world spiraling out of control!
Drama that is top-notch and will keep you chewing your nails to the quick!
"Previously our girl saw her father murdered and escaped from the culprits only to be trapped in an institution conducting bizarre medical experiments." In this issue...our girl faces a scary IV that is hooked into her arm. In the IV are all kinds of worms. What if one of those worms reaches her heart? This story makes CSI: Miami look like children's play. This story is a real attention grabber!
~ Paul Dale Roberts, Jazma Online
These minuscule mini-comics are adorably sized. The cute
there, however. Inside it’s sci-fi dread and hard-core issues of hate,
guilt, and anger.
I love that each mini is barely larger than a postage stamp. And it’s also nice that they come in snug, clear plastic sleeves. Brian gets an A for packaging. Inside things don’t go so well. The two issues of Lost Kisses deal with a stick figure character’s feelings about an ex-girlfriend. Over two disturbing issues, the guy finds that he may or may not have indirectly led to his ex’s house being broken into, which leads to her being beaten into a coma.
Over 40-single panel pages, the main character talks to the reader in word balloons; underneath Brian types captions that usually telegraph the action above, but sometimes lead you in a different direction. It’s a bit disconcerting at times. For instance, at some point in issue 8 the ex goes from being in a coma to actually being dead. After rereading, I couldn’t figure out where it happened, where she went from coma to dead, but it did happen. I think. Brian’s art in Lost Kisses is stick figure drawings with minimal props and no background. It’s serviceable to the story, but unfortunately as flat and lifeless as the computer font in the captions.
Worms, with artwork by Kimberlee Traub, is physically similar to Lost Kisses. The panels are one per page and the mini-comic is tiny. The art is livelier, but still very basic. Her line is thicker and her drawings are more varied. Worms is the third part of a tense story where a girl wakes up in an ICU with an IV bag full of worms. The captions totally mimic the action drawn above, which gets tedious, but the story does grab you and move along quite nicely. You can check out more on Brian's minis at his SilberMedia website. Issues one through four are just $1 each, not sure about these two issues, but give Brian a shout on his website and he can give you the scoop.
~ Shawn Hoke, Size Matters
Brian John Mitchell sent in three more matchbook sized minis
worms #3 "inside me" continues a Lynchian thriller. The writing is in a stream of consciousness style and it is unclear what is real, metaphor or illusion. This issue includes and IV full of snake headed worms. The images are minimal but stylish. You can see the tattoo art influence in Traub's drawing. At this short length it is hard to tell if the story is going anywhere. It feels like episodic television and would probably process better if each issue could be read within a week or so of the last.
The Lost Kisses minis continue Mitchell's series of one panel gag comics. The gags are linked together by a typed statement at the bottom of each gag. These statements reinforce the gag but more importantly link the gags together into a loose narrative. Maybe a little too loose in #7. The book was a bit confusing and felt like the pages might have been out of order. #8 is a lot tighter and sticks to a consistent theme throughout. Most all of the gags in both books are funny but I think #7 might work better without the typed statements. What I like most about Mitchell's comics is that he is able to make light of mundane relationship moments without being too cute or too bitter.
~ Shannon Smith, file under other
Out there in the world, right this moment, there are countless
comic book writers and artists trying to make their mark in the comic
Silber Media is one of those folks, but instead of sticking on the
path or taking the new road of digital comics, these guys and gals took
an alternative path rarely traveled: mini-comics!
Mini comics aren’t comic books, and they’re not comic strips. They’re kind of a hybrid of the two. Each is about the size of a matchbook, with one panel, one picture, and one or two lines of dialogue on each page, but in the page-turning book format. Basically, you throw a handful of them in your pocket and go wherever you need to go. At a low point in your day, grab a mini-comic and go to town.
Currently, Silber has multiple mini-comic series going on, including Lost Kisses — which follows a lowly stick figure on his bitter, loathing quest for vengeance on a hated ex girlfriend; as well as Worms — a nightmare of a story that sees a girl waking up in a mysterious hospital, tied to her bed and attached to an IV with worms in it that slowly work their way into her system.
What’s truly amazing about these books is that the creators are able to tell a complete story with art in such a small format. These mini-comics go beyond small, they are teeny tiny and, thankfully, quite affordable.
You can head over to Silber Media’s website to see all they have to offer, or you can head straight to the Lost Kisses page, or the Worms page to check them out. At the pages you can watch videos of the comics, or you can pay the really, really low amounts to get the aforementioned physical mini-comics sent to you.
~ The Movie God, Geeks of Doom
This is a review of both issue #7 and #8 — I put them together
they are mini-comics, literally (they are smaller than a business
#7 is about a guy who deals with lost keys, lots of phone calls
with an ex he doesn't want to see), and a lost store code. All a bit
but it gets tied together as it goes. #8 is his feeling guilt when the
aforementioned ex gets killed in a break-in that happened because he
keys in her door.
I kind of like the tiny format, with one panel per page with one line underneath it. However, unlike Worms (same format), this has dialogue in the panel as well as first person narrative below — which is sometimes confusing. I found myself more than once, having to flip back and forth and re-read things because I couldn't follow what was going on. The dialogue and narrative didn't seem to be in sync all the time — especially in #7. The art is stick figure art. The dialogue blurbs are hand written, but the narrative is typed. It's all readable, and I think this format works for a series of stick figure stories. For me though, if my interest is to be kept with stick figures I need much more humor (preferably violent); serious stick figure stories just don't have enough substance to hold them up for much reading at all. For my time, less dialogue vs narrative and more humor and/or violence would be better. As it is, I can't find enough in these to recommend reading them.
~ Sheena McNeil, Sequential Tart
This little comic is not even two inches square in size. It's
story in a bite-sized format. The story is about a girl who is slowly
her safe, everyday life. This volume has her waking up in a strange
with an IV hooked to her arm. The IV though is pumping worms with
teeth into her. Can she get away?
Each page has a single panel on it, with a single line below the panel done in first-person narrative. The art is not stellar or even that great, but it is more than stick people, and those worms are pretty darn creepy! I enjoyed reading the story, and am actually curious as to how she got here and what will happen to her next! If the other volumes are filled with the same vicious worms, this comic would be worth the read just for the creep-you-out effect. It's a quick read, and the tiny size is neat and different — the overall concept is very nice.
~ Sheena McNeil, Sequential Tart
Writer Brian John Mitchell (along with artist Kimberlee Traub)
three more of his mega-minicomics with LOST KISSES 7&8 and
(Silber Media). Mitchell’s minis are printed at about the size of a
giving them an unusual quality not only in look, but also in
single panels per page propel the plot forward. KISSES finds a man
on the foibles of an ex-girlfriend and deciding to confront his
head-on, with ugly results. WORMS continues the story of a young woman
trapped in a scary hospital with no way of escape, as freaky works are
sent via IV into her bloodstream. It’s wonderfully disturbing, and it
me intrigued. KISSES fell flat with me in skipping an important action
that we really needed to see… twice.
~ Marc Mason, Comics Waiting Room
Brian John Mitchell sent me over some very small comic books
and the design fetishist in me immediately liked the form factor. As a
package, each issue measures two inches by two inches and provides a
dense read, especially for the price point.
The body horror in Worms #3 is muted in a few places by some pretty dodgy art from Kimberlee Straub, but Mitchell’s strong first-person narrative compensates nicely; it’s deceptively simple and displays a keen ability to use the text space on each of the tiny pages to great effect, building suspense very nicely. Despite actually quite enjoying this, I immediately wanted to see how the writer would make use of a larger format, where this form factor’s limitations are removed and his scripting would get more room to breathe.
Unfortunately, I was a bit underwhelmed by Mitchell’s autobiographical Lost Kisses comics I was given (issue 7 and 8.) I think a good deal of this is because I’m just past the whole stick figure thing at this point, especially as Matt Feazell and Randall Munroe make almost every other comic using the technique moot. Points for exposing some nasty truths about himself and his toxic relationships, but haven’t we crossed the event horizon for comics of that ilk?
~ Kevin Church, beaucoupkevin
Now for something different, albeit not in a good way...
I received review copies of three mini-comics from Silber Media and they are so “mini” that I’m not even sure they will be visible on the scan I’m including with today’s column. They measure about two inches high and about an inch and three-quarters wide and my first reaction to them was “why?” But I’ll discuss their format after I consider their content.
LOST KISSES #7 and #8 ($1 each) by Brian John Mitchell are stick-figure comics apparently autobiographical in nature. The 44-panel comics comprise a two-issue tale of the narrator’s mixed feelings about an ex-lover. The writing itself is pretty good. For what it is, so is the stick-figure art.
WORMS #3 ($1) by Mitchell and artist Kimberlee Traub is a boringly “arty” coming-of-age tale about a girl facing changes in her life. Traub’s art does not serve the story well.
LOST KISSES suffers from its format. It’s difficult to hold these too-mini mini-comics in one’s hands...and I have very tiny hands. Trying to appreciate Mitchell’s stick-figure art in this size can cause eyestrain. Under normal circumstances - such as presenting the story in a sane format - I would be giving LOST KISSES a higher score than the one out of five Tonys it receives here.
WORMS #3 receives no Tonys whatsoever.
~ Tony Isabella, Comic Buyer's Guide Extra
Mini Comics are something that I know very little about. Ask
Marvel Comics from 1963 until the mid-90's and there's a good chance I
know the answer. Ask me about mini-comics and you'll get a blank stare.
I do know that many indie creators started out creating mini-comics.
before the internet, mini's were a great way to gain experience
comics and get your material out to a larger audience. These days,
have all but replaced mini's.
Brian John Mitchell decided to go old school and make comics. He printed up some mini's and sent them for us to review. Each mini is 2"x 2"and 26 pages long. Standard to mini's, there is one panel per page.
Worms #3, (w) Brian John Mitchell (a) Kimberlee Traub
Worms is a fairly straight forward horror story. Our heroine wakes up in an institution where bizarre medical experiments are being conducted. Now, she is one of the experiments.
Of the three books Brian sent, this was the weakest. It's a fairly straight forward horror story with some bizarre moments. The art is typical of what I expect in mini-comics. By that, I mean it is very raw, and the artist needs to develop anatomy & proportion. In addition, the single panel format really forces the artist to make the most of the little composition space. Sometimes, Traub succeeded, sometimes she didn't. There's nothing particularly wrong with this, but neither was there anything to particularly draw me in.
Lost Kisses #7, "Keys, Phones, & Barcodes"
Written by Brian John Mitchell, this is what I always imagined mini comics would be. A small rant against the world told in single panel format. In this issue, Brian rants about an ex-girlfriend who is still acting like his girlfriend, and his inability to confront her.
What you see on the cover, and below, if what you get. This is stick-figure theatre at it's best. The stick person is there to provide something to look at other than words, and little else.
What makes this so much fun is the internal monologue Mr. Stick goes through. Brian has a stream of consciousness discussion for 26 fun filled pages. I liked this particular story because I could relate to it. As someone who has trouble dealing with confrontation, there was many a smile to be had.
Here are some pages from the inside -
Lost Kisses #8, "Confessions of a Passive Aggressive Killer"
This issue presented contained another internal monologue about the ex-girlfriend. It's entertaining and much like issue #7.
Overall, these weren't groundbreaking but they were fun in a fun format. If you're looking for something different, then this could be for you. And, if you've ever wondered how to easily self publish, this is a good way to do it.
The comics cost $1 and get be gotten at the Lost Kisses website here
AND, and, Brian is affiliated with an independent record label here.
~ Lee Dunchak, Comics And...Other Imaginary Tales
When comic writer Brian John Mitchell describes his series of
as minis the size of a matchbook, he’s not kidding. Individually
in little plastic baggies and bound by two teeny staples in their
they’re two inches in height and width. And you don’t need a magnifying
glass to read them, which makes them instantly awesome. If that doesn’t
sell you, how ’bout the fact that each series is the brainchild of a
comic illustrator and tattoo artist? The first series, Lost Kisses, is
written and drawn by Mitchell. Issue #6 is unique as it’s a split: the
front half addresses the pros of staying in a toxic relationship, while
the back half addresses the cons. Despite its simplicity in design and
illustration (stick figures), the comic tackles the emotionally
issues that many couples face. XO is the second comic series and is a
between Mitchell and comic artist Melissa Gardner. This one has the
elaborate artwork of the various series and I love it because it plays
on the same kind of humour as TV’s Dexter. It’s about an ex-hitman
trying to reintegrate into normal society. But wherever he goes, he
himself in a situation that ends in him murdering someone. Worms, the
series, is written by Mitchell and drawn by tattoo artist Kimberlee
Based on the classic escape-the-corrupt-hospital theme, issue #2 is
in the vain of Poe, Kafka or Lovecraft, with references to the latter
if you’re dorky enough to catch them (sorry, no Cthulhu cameos). It’s
very surreal, really, and I sure as heck wouldn’t want to wind up
~ Amy Greenwood, Broken Pencil
Silber Media sent me three little matchbook sized minis from
Mitchell and friends. Each mini is about the size of a
I like mini-minicomics a lot. They are just cool to look at
and they fit in your shirt pocket. They are great to pass
to friends. Everyone should have more of them and cartoonists
make more of them. They are not the easiest minis to make
When you work at that size it is really hard to cut the paper
If you are off by just the least little bit then you have ruined at
one copy. Maybe more. They are also hard to write
for. You have to take into account the lettering size, page
and the composition. Mitchell seems to have all the logistics
out. Each of these comics work at one panel per
is perfect for the size and works really well with the pacing because
page turn is a story transition.
Lost Kisses is a collection of one page thoughts on the writer's relationship with women drawn with stick figures. The first half of the book is from a positive point of view and then you flip the book and start over and you get it from the negative point of view. It is both cute and disturbing.
worms is a dreamlike horror/thriller with art by Kimberlee Traub. The art is minimal but iconic and expressive for such small panels. The story moves a natural yet dreamlike pace assisted by the one panel per page format.
XO features more ambitious art by Melissa Spence Gardner. The writing is a lot deeper as well. The main character performs some very violent acts as if they were any other mundane tasks. It's American Splendor meets American Psycho.
Each of these three minis came in it's own neat little plastic pouch and simply put they are just freaking cool looking. Sliber Media is primarily a music label. You can check out there impressive catalog here.
~ Shannon Smith, file under other
Brian John Mitchell gives “drawing thumbnails” a new meaning
itsy-bitsy thumbnail-size comics. He’s publishing three series of 2?x2?
comics: Lost Kisses, Worms, and xo.
~ Kirk Chritton, Comics Career
One of the things I find perennially fascinating about comics
way constraints can spur artists on to new heights of creativity.
the constraints are aesthetic and sometimes they are purely physical;
they're self-imposed and sometimes they're imposed from outside. Often
there's no way to tell which is which as you read; only the artist
whether the decision to, for example, use only black ink came from
or aesthetics. Sometimes it's in the overlap between economics and
that the most fertile ground is to be found.
One extremely obvious physical constraint that gets overlooked precisely because it's so obvious is size. Most comics tend to be within a relatively small range of sizes; there's a lot more variation on the market now than there was 20 years ago, but for practical reasons, comics much bigger or much smaller than the standard US floppy format tend to be niche productions. So it is with Brian John Mitchell's minicomics, which are so small they should really be called microcomics. Smaller than a box of matches, they are; so small that you could lose one between the sofa cushions without even creasing the pages. Even smaller than the 8-page Greenbelt comics I blogged about three years ago, which were made on one side of a sheet of A4 card. The fact that he's managed to create coherent and interesting stories in such a tiny space is enough to raise eyebrows.
The stories themselves are relatively conventional. XO (art by Melissa Spence Gardner) is a straight-up power fantasy of the "protagonist gets to kill unpleasant people without consequences" type; it's competent but unremarkable. Lost Kisses (art by Mitchell) is a stick-figure comedy series about bad relationships which may or may not be autobiographical. I found it very funny and occasionally infuriating; the main character is self-absorbed and sometimes a little self-righteous with it -- a dangerous combination. I waver between thinking that the humour I find in the series is entirely unintentional (and feeling very uncomfortable) and thinking it's entirely intentional (and laughing like a hyena). The truth is probably somewhere in between; certainly Mitchell sometimes seems to be laughing at his protagonist, but some of the most off-putting statements seem to be the ones where he is most sincere, and that makes me wonder.
Probably the best of the three is Worms (art by Kimberlee Traub), a sci-fi thriller about a girl embroiled in a bizarre conspiracy involving people being injected with apparently extra-terrestrial worms. The storytelling is straightforward enough, but Traub's stark, expressionist art does an impressive job of conveying the main character's bleak situation and her nightmarish mental state.
It's obvious that Mitchell is only starting out with these comics; he may want to use them as a springboard for something on a (literally and figuratively) larger canvas. I'd be intrigued to see what a more experienced creator could do with a set of teeny-tiny pamphlets like these. But as an experiment, these microcomics are so pared-down that it's hard to avoid the conclusion that this is a bit of a dead end from an artistic point of view -- the ne plus ultra of minimalism. There's never more than one panel per page, which limits what can be done in the way of visual or narrative effects, and while, as I said, limits and constraints can encourage creativity, too extreme a set of limits can be stifling. These microcomics are interesting, but not likely to start a trend.
~ Purity Brown
Brian John Mitchell has been churning out these micro-mini
awhile now, they measure 1 7/8” x 2 1/8” at 44 pages. In this title he
talks about his troubles with women in general and girlfriends in
At one point he says his girlfriend “murdered her child in her womb”
yet he still wonders why he has troubles with women. He’s self-involved
and barely seems to acknowledge his female characters as people, I
he’s trying to be brutally honest, but this often makes him somewhat
The drawings are extra primitive stick figures with either smiling or
faces. Maybe they aren’t autobiographical at all, I think I’d prefer to
~ George Parsons, Dream Magazine
In case you can’t read the caption, it says “Keys, Phones and
What do these things have to do with each other?” It takes a
to get there, but he pulls it all together in the end. This
story of Brian finding some house keys from an old girlfriend, and it
to be the old girlfriend who he actually bought a house with years
She still owes him $5000, he has no interest in ever seeing her again
spends the issue trying to figure out what to do with them.
is that the first half of the book is all over the place and I didn’t
piecing this story together until the start of the second
goes from a ringing phone right to a panel about the odd names of
stores in other states to questions about how the store located him in
the first place. Reading it over again, I got what he was
the grocery store called him because of the bar code on the keyring,
it was awkwardly put together. He saves things in a big way
the second half though, because what do you do in that
He goes through all the pros and cons and eventually comes to a
Without ruining anything, it turns out he’s a nicer guy than I
Brian sent a small pile of minis again this time around, so more tiny
will be had in the near future. As for this one, I recommend
anyone who has ever fantasized about revenge of an ex. Which
~ Kevin Bramer, Optical Sloth
For being just stick figures and based on real life
is a roller-coaster ride with lost keys and calling the wrong
The depicted actions and word balloons coupled with the captions make
a whimsical inward conversation. I've had them myself and so have I.
~ Wade Busby, Dimestore Comics
This trio of tiny, self-published minis are so fat Mitchell
one into its own little plastic bag to hold it shut. In truth, I had to
cut one of them open to get it out. At only about 2 x 2 inches I can't
even imagine how challenging it is to collate, align, and staple them.
But of course the size gives them instant charm.
The format really only allows one panel per page and for two of these books—the ones with stories—it works especially well. Unlike a traditional comic page made up of multiple panels, here, whenever the story turns in an unexpected direction it's a bigger surprise because you can't glance ahead.
Lost Kisses #6 (48 pages) is uncredited, but I think it was written and drawn by Mitchell. Initially, the charm of the book's size, its title, and its first person narrative style made me think it was an autobiographical comic about the love of the author's life. But on closer reading, I learned it's only inspired by real life and individual entries may be entirely fiction. Each page is a gag cartoon that riffs on the thought expressed in the caption below. That's another unique aspect of the layout—start at the bottom and read up. Maybe this issue is a double-issue. Whatever the reason, it's set up like an Ace Double. Read the first half, flip it over and read the second half. The front cover is the same on both sides. Every gag is about relationships and they range from amusing to very funny.
Worms #2 (52 pages) was written by Mitchell and drawn by Kimberlee Traub. It's a fast-paced horrific thriller with humanoids, worms, and espionage. Thankfully, Mitchell includes a one-page recap of the action from issue #1. The story takes full advantage of the format and unfurls at a frantic pace with a creepy cliffhanger ending. More Worms please!
XO #4 (44 pages) was written by Mitchell and drawn by Melissa Spence Gardner. The most common use of XO I've seen is shorthand for hugs and kisses, but a lesser known use means "Oh No". And that one certainly seem to fit the story in this issue called Neighbors. Let's just say it was not a wonderful day in the neighborhood when this brutally funny story took place.
You get the feeling Mitchell and crew have a lot of fun putting these super mini comics together and they're a lot of fun to read too. For $1 each, you can't go wrong. Check out the Silber Media website for lots of free downloads. Scroll to the bottom of the home page for links to Mitchell's comic series.
~ Richard Krauss, Poopsheet Foundation
This is a tiny stick figure comic that is pretty funny at
follow a stickman's thoughts on physical and emotional scars relating
a past love, his job, and silly tangents. The size is a bit too small,
as I found it springing out of my hands while reading. I think this
action actually added to the comedy of the mini. Though it may not be a
life-altering read it's worth a quick laugh.
~ Deviant Art
The important narrative going on in Lost Kisses is not
to the pages of this mini comic. Rather, it exists in the ongoing story
of writer / artist Brian John Mitchell’s life and the tragedy of his
(though he does attempt to tell readers that his tragic portrayal is
I’m not saying Mitchell’s life is ACTUALLY tragic. It’s just that the storytelling structure and tone used in Lost Kisses #5 drips with melancholy.
I know that sounds confusing. But read more than one issue of Lost Kisses and you’ll see what I’m talking about. Mitchell’s self-deprecating form of communication is more than just “Dear Diary” sequential storytelling – it’s his trademark, his brand.
The persuasive power of this mini comic is not spent trying to convince readers to suspend disbelief or partake in a drama of fantasy. Instead Mitchell expends all his energy trying to sell himself as a hapless loser. That’s the real narrative we partake in by becoming absorbed in this issue’s story – we become an observer of Mitchell’s personal struggles.
If I have any critique of his work, it’s that he is occasionally redundant. The beauty of comics is that the combination of words and pictures tell the story together. Sometimes Mitchell obstructs this beauty by having his images, word balloons, and typed text all say the same thing on the same page.
With that said, this issue is all-around better than Lost Kisses #4. While this installment begins on shaky ground, it eventually finds its footing. The words and pictures slowly achieve a confluence of meaning. By the end of Lost Kisses #5, the visuals and text tell the story by working together instead of repeating each other.
I’m left with only one question: is the tragedy of the author’s life in this story fact or fiction? Either way, I applaud Brian John Mitchell’s efforts to tell his story through this confessional mini comic. If he’s fishing for fans by using the pretense of his “life story,” then I’ve been caught hook, line, and sinker.
~ Nick Marino, Nasty Musings
XO #3, First Time with talk about Lost Kisses #5 Am I Freaking
Two miniaturized comics that you can place in your top shirt pocket. How does Melissa draw so well in XO #3, with hardly any room to draw? XO#3 is a very dramatic story on how a young man catches his girlfriend in bed with another man and how a heated crime of passion turned to accidental murder!
With Lost Kisses, Brian uses stick figures to tell a sad, but comical story.
For more information, email them at: firstname.lastname@example.org Check out their website at: www.silbermedia.com/lostkisses or www.silbermedia.com/xo
My comments on these comics: "Miniaturized comics with a gigantic entertainment wallop!"
~ Paul Dale Roberts, www.jazmaonline.com
I can't believe this! These comics are about the size of my
Also, they are easy to read, the characters are stick figures and there
is some good comedy and some intense human drama in these mini-comics.
The writer may be doing a semi-biographical satire about his life in
of the comic books, like the Halloween Craptacular, in which the
was dressed up as R2-D2, a pumpkin, a hobo and the events that
his dressing up in these various costumes. Our main character gets in
with the police for doing a toilet paper event at the elementary
via an idea his sister came up with. The premiere issue deals
scars of the past, a tattoo of a girl's name that he wants to remove,
he doesn't have to think about her anymore and this premiere issue has
stick figures. In Lost Kisses #2, there is talk of a friend who died,
relationship together, sneaking into movies, substance abuse, sharing
love of Star Wars together and now this friend is dead. Human drama
in a tiny format! Tiny fun reads that has human drama, human horror,
fragilities, human humor. This is something totally different, check
~ Paul Dale Roberts, jazmaonline
Lost Kisses is a series of autobiographical stick figure
delving into the emotional life of Mr. Mitchell. There is some humor,
appropriately short and dry, as he guides us through what had to be a
wrenching tale about a former girlfriend, who had since married, dying
First thing’s first though, yes, the art is all stick figures. So Mitchell is not a practiced artist, but he doesn’t need to be in this particular instance. His message comes across simplistic, yet vividly clear. The simple art is easily forgiven as it accurately portrays what he is feeling as he draws each piece.
The writing plays with itself, jumping back and forth from narrative to dialogue, both telling the same story, one factually, one breaking down those facts with revelation, and sometimes a little levity.
The best thing I could possibly say about this mini comic is that the message came across and I felt the writer’s intentions, and that is a compliment I myself wouldn’t mind receiving.
~Brant W. Fowler, Silver Bullet Comics
I've always been a big fan of mini-comics. Spending time in
90s in Boston meant that every record shop, comic shop, penthouse and
in a 5 mile radius carried tons of them, usually for a price so low you
wouldn't blink to pay it, and get tons of reading value out of them.
to the point, with these comics you really could "see the brushstrokes"
and get some real kicks out of seeing the work in progress, and know
someone out there had your own brand of odd humor. However, I never
that I'd see mini-comics as small as this output from Silber media.
Looking to be about the size of a large business card, and fitting exactly one panel to a page, these 22-page beauties fit just about anywhere, and are a blast to read. All three were written by Brian John Mitchell, with Mitchell, doing the art on Lost Kisses, Gardner the work on XO and Traub on Worms. That's the cover to Worms #1 on the top left.
The books cover different genres, even in only 22-26 panels. Worms is a horror/thriller, about a girl whose home is invaded by people she really doesn't expect, XO is about a guy who can't stop killing people, and an opportunity gets served up to him, and Lost Kisses is a sad kind of love story. Lost kisses alone is worth the price of the package, as it's this alternately bitter, sometimes biting, sometimes regretful look at a guy who has a lost love die at an early age. They've both moved on, and years have passed, but he hasn't figured out who to blame/hate for her death. He goes through lots of stages in a pretty short time.
~ Bart Gerardi, Paperback Reader
XO has strong human interactions and incredible
drama. Lost Kisses
#4 is a lot of philosophical insight of the world around us.
#1 contains a lot of mystery. It entices you to keep flipping
pages to see what is actually going on with the story. These
little books are enjoyable to carry around in your back pocket and when
boredom sits in, pull one out and ENJOY!
~ Paul Dale Roberts, Jazma Online
A young man struggles with the vagaries of life in Lost
Kisses, a sociopathic
assassin tries to change his life in XO, and a young woman experiences
a dream world in Worms.
Independent writer Brian John Mitchell crafts three very off-beat mini-comics – each one only about the size of a book of matches. The results are surprisingly deep and fascinating stories told in a minimum amount of prose and space.
In Lost Kisses a 20-something, directionless young man learns that a former girlfriend died of cancer two years ago. The story follows his reactions as he deals with guilt, the randomness of life, his own self-centeredness, and the future. XO moves in a totally opposite direction as a sociopathic hitman tries to retire from his life of death and develop a heart and conscience. In this outing he does so by agreeing to stay with his elderly grandmother while his parents go on vacation. An unexpected event, however, could set his plans for redemption back. Finally, in the last mini-comic, Worms, a young woman finds herself wrapped up in a nightmare involving strange things, shadowy conspiracies, and a fight for her life.
Mitchell proves to be an able and capable writer, perfectly capturing voices and spirits with just a few words. His protagonist in Lost Kisses is someone readers have either known or been ourselves – a young person trying to make sense of an insane world that seems to ask much of us and ask nothing of us by turns. The ruminations are silly, funny, sad and serious – just like life itself. With Worms, Mitchell’s writing style changes drastically and here he perfectly captures the voice and logic of the dream world. Things happen, things that make no logical sense but, as with any dream or nightmare, the sleeping mind simply accepts it. The reader travels along with the unnamed protagonist, wrapped up in a story that, while the details are different, feels like a place many sleepers have been in their own dreams. The third of these mini-comics is also in many ways the weakest of the three. While XO strives for black humor and dark satire it still feels a bit hollow. The unnamed protagonist remains distant throughout the story and so takes some of the bite out of both the irony and satire.
The art is as diverse as the titles themselves. Lost Kisses is penciled and inked by Mitchell himself and consists of a series of stick figures. Despite the limitation one might think this would impose, Mitchell manages to make the simple figures quite expressive and subversively fun. XO features the work of Melissa Spence Gardner and is, perhaps, more what most readers are used to. Her work has a cartoonish quality with a bit of an amateurish gloss still to it but it works for the feel of these home-grown comics. Besides that, Gardner manages to create effective figures that move well within the story. The final artist is Kimberlee Traub for Worms. Kimberlee’s style is very abstract – some pages put one in mind of a Picasso print. While, to a certain extent, this is perfect for the nightmare world of the comic, the panels do, occasionally, get a little too abstract, making it difficult to understand what is supposed to be going on in the panel.
For a flavor of something a little different, any of these three comics would be worth the purchase price. Be forewarned, the little books can easily slip out of your hands but on the other hand they are immensely portable and can go anywhere with you.
~ Tonya Crawford, Broken Fontier
While we’re on the subject of people who were nice enough to
comics, I really ought to mention Brian John Mitchell, who contacted me
a while back about sending me a few of his mini-comics.
I’m not really what you’d consider a mini-comics guy–unless of course said mini-comics involve the One-Man Army Corps–but I’m always interested in seeing new stuff, so I asked for a few and he sent them over.
And the first thing I noticed, of course, was how tiny they are.
About 2 postage stamps, I'd say.
I imagine that’s the first thing everyone notices when they see them, since Mitchell’s putting the mini back in mini-comics with his work, and it’s a novel format that I found utterly charming when I sat down to read them. Each of the three he sent me (one issue each of XO, Worms, and Lost Kisses), is around 44 pages, with each page as a single panel, and while they’re not really my thing, they’re pretty enjoyable.
Pictured above is Lost Kisses, which, coincidenally enough, probably best fits my stereotypical definition of “mini-comic,” seeing as it’s an autobiographical tale done in the fine art of stick figures, where Mitchell deals with finding out an ex-girlfriend of his recently died of cancer. And it’s the best by far, mostly because of jokes like this:
"Stick with me & you won't get cancer!" "I think I'd prefer the cancer."
[If I had a nickel for every time this happened to me...]
In another novel concept, all of Mitchell’s comics can all be viewed as videos or purchased as physical copies on the website, so if you’re curious, check it out.
~ Chris Sims, Invincible Super Blog
Writer / artist Brian John Mitchell plays out a bizarre
hate-fest in this story dealing with the death of an ex-girlfriend.
an extreme contrast between the overbearing self-importance he
in losing a woman who he hasn’t dated for years, and the blame that he
assumes for a death that was certainly not his fault. The more
moments deal with his treatment of cancer-related issues. He seems to
his ex-girlfriend’s widowed husband simply for running in a Race for
Cure marathon. In another awkward display, he ponders if keeping his ex
away from the microwave may have saved her life, as if cancer was so
prevented as the common cold.
It’s these strange thoughts that create an endearing yet revolting feeling while reading the tale. More often than not, the hand scrawled words of the character contrast greatly with the text printed below, developing new meaning as the two forms of communication merge. The art in this issue is more about the word balloon than the characters or their actions.
I can’t help but want to watch more as the Mitchell examines his own uncomfortable thoughts and feelings with brutal honesty. It’s not that this story is about the eye-opening journey of losing someone close to you. Rather, the tale is about the nagging thoughts in the back of your subconscious that may not play out politically correct, but they come from the same place that causes people to crack jokes at a funeral and mock someone from beyond the grave. These are healthy emotions, albeit undeveloped, which will hopefully only become healthier through expression. I praise the creator for being brutally honest even at the expense of his own creative security.
~ Nick Marino, Nasty Musings
With digital editions of his comics available for free on his
writer (and sometimes artist) Brian John Mitchell is obviously more
on telling his stories than making a profit. A few of them arrived in
mail a couple days ago, and they’re presented in an unexpected medium;
black-and-white, laser-printed, two-inch square pamphlets with a
binding. It makes an impression.
LOST KISSES #4 is my favorite of the bunch. Drawn by Brian himself, it depicts an inner monologue from a man who relates his inability to cope with the guilt from dealing with the recent cancer death of an ex-girlfriend. It’s an extremely poignant piece, even if it is told from the perspective of a very poorly drawn stick figure. As someone who has physically dealt with cancer, I can agree with Brian’s argument that running for the cure is the most ridiculous thing ever. XO #2 is the continuing story (and I don’t really mean continuing; you don’t actually have to have read the first one) of an extremely troubled and seemingly gentle man who deals with a dangerous confrontation in an ultra-violent manner. I was both entertained and disturbed at this vicious story, the artistry of which kept making me feel like I was sneaking a peek into the notebook of a demented high school kid. WORMS #1 was not for me. Or maybe I’m not for WORMS, which is a psychedelic telling of a government project, worms, a girl and her parents, guns, agents and a storm. I just couldn’t follow it or get into it at all, but at least I did give it a shot.
The stories are available at the related websites, and are at least worth a couple minutes to take a peek. I definitely recommend checking out LOST KISSES, and if you like it a lot, you can support his work by ordering a copy.
~ Squashua, Ain't It Cool News
Continuing the ex-girlfriend mode, in simple single-panel
tells a story in word balloon vs. caption about a girl the main
used to know and how she ended up in a coma. He has to face a lot of
decisions, and perspective on the matter. Cool stuff, but language and
some situations for the more squeamish are included.
~ Wade Busby, Dimestore Comics
"Reasons to stay by her side"... flip it over and there are
to run and hide." Remember the 'Love Is...' panel comic from the 70s? I
just dated myself there. Brilliant cute done in stick figure. I love it
and you will too.
~ Wade Busby, Dimestore Comics
Het begon met Pol, Pel en Pingo en Jommeke. Later begon ik
& Kale, De Rode Ridder en Kiekeboe te lezen, om dan de sprong
naar het werk van Jacques Tardi, Chris Ware, Benoit Sokal of Manu
Voor het lezen van strips weet ik nog steeds de nodige tijd vrij te
Voor de small-press beweging - tekenaars die boekjes uitbrengen in
- heb ik nog steeds een zwak. Dit werk van Brian John Mitchell is zo'n
pareltje. Zijn tekenstijl is niet bepaald schitterend, maar dat
de scenario's ruimschoots. In dit deel vertelt hij hoe hij te weten
dat zijn ex overleden is. Hij vraagt zich af hoe haar en zijn leven er
zouden hebben uitgezien als ze samen waren gebleven. Weinigen slagen er
in om zoveel tristesse te vermommen als humor.
Mitchell maakt ook muziek als Remora, en die muziek had een perfecte soundtrack kunnen vormen voor dit geluidloze filmpje.
~ Wim Lecluyse, De Standaardgasten