click here if you are having troubles navigating on our site
order physical copies of individual issues for $1.50 ($2.50 intn'l) (includes shipping)
|order all seven issues of Worms for $6 ($8 international)|
The recap page didn’t help me too much on this one. I was confused, but the writing style came off to me as very poetic and it just flowed. So give or take I didn’t know what was going on, what I did read was really nice. The main problem I had with this one was the art. I just didn’t get behind the style. I get the fluid form to represent the worms and their movement, but I just found it to be not on the same line as the story. So maybe if I had a better grasp of the other issues I would have enjoyed this one a bit more.
~ Decapitated Dan, From the Tomb
the spinning wheel of
Brian John Mitchell comics lands on… Worms! Regular readers
site and/or Brian’s comics know that the guy has a half dozen series
least) that he’s working on at any given moment, usually with a few
that come out less frequently. “Less frequently”, in his
means more often than most comics that are the ONLY comic put out by
creators. He has an impressively prolific record, that’s what
trying to say. In this issue of Worms our heroine wakes up
having been eaten by a giant worm (not to be confused with the smaller
worms that have been in past issues). She seems to have
a rapport with the creature, so she leads it along with three other
to attack the complex that has been holding her captive. Some
mayhem, and it’s almost adorable on these tiny pages. There’s
thing that’s clear to me after reading all the issues (except #1) of
series: I still only have the vaguest idea of where this is all
I know that Lost Kisses is going to be self-contained stories of his
loves, Just A Man is going to keep going until the hero learns what
and gets his revenge/gets killed, but this one is so surreal that it
like it could have ended a couple of times already, or it could just go
on forever. I’m not saying that’s a bad thing, just something
noticed and haven’t been able to talk about due to my “no spoilers”
Anyway, as always this is worth a look, unless you haven’t read the
issues in this series, in which case it won’t make a lot of sense (but
at least Brian is smart enough to put series recaps at the start of his
~ Kevin Bramer, Optical Sloth
is a mini-comic not
even two inches square. In this issue, the girl inside the worm
she has become one with the worm. She leads her worm and other worms to
the surface where they attack her former prison. Her worm dies, but
stronger, moves on with the others.
If you like creepy crawlies, or at least like the effect they give you when you read about them, then Worms would be a good read. Each little issue is only $1 and is surprisingly full for such a little book. Each page contains one panel. Sometimes this is just her eye; other times it's the action of the worm. It's effective for this particular story conveying just enough of an image to spur you into reading more of the story. The art is rough and stylized, but that actually works with the worminess of this comic. If you've read other works from Silber Media you should make sure to pick this one up too.
~ Sheena McNeil, Sequential Tart
It’s another literal “mini” comic from www.silbermedia.com for only $1. Traub’s art is fairly basic representational figure work, and Mitchell’s words are typed-looking text running along static panels at the bottom of each page. The combination of the simplistic figures that can be taken in with a quick glance and invariable text location make for a rhythmically staccato reading experience that unfortunately lulls you into a sense of mild boredom. It’s “read text, turn page, read text, turn page, read text, turn page,” etc., with nothing visually or verbally to break up the pace and timing of the pattern. I caught this in the last Silber Media book I read, and it’s the odd use of the “&” symbol in lieu of the actual word “and.” The ampersand’s use is quite jarring and even if it’s arguably grammatically correct in some places, it just feels awkward to the eye. A good example of this frustration is the passage “I stand up. & wipe the dust off myself.” The script here feels like a bunch of isolated sentences loosely strung together. They feel like a series of unrelated ideas vs. being in a series of cohesive story beats. There doesn’t appear to be any context for them, it’s just a girl in a hospital, then she breaks the ceiling, then there are worms, then there is a tank of fuel, and then she gets shot. It sort of reminds me of the way a 5 year old kid will try to tell you a story with a bunch of random images: “and then blah happened, and then blah happened, and then blah happened, THE END!” There’s no causality getting you from point A to point B to point Z. Yet, even after all of that I remain a little intrigued by the point of it all. The diminutive size, about 2 x 1.5 inches overall, is also not without its charm. Grade C.
~ Justin Giampaoli, Poopsheet Foundation
#5 is drawn by regular
series artist Kimberlee Traub, and as opposed to Johnson’s work, hers
a real air of confidence about it. The story, involving a young woman
in a strange hospital and injected with strange alien worms, picks up
pace a bit, as she finally makes good (sort of) on an escape attempt.
it’s how the story is told that makes it work. Traub’s art is blocky
heavy with its lines, and she defies the use of deep detail; however
she does perfectly is use the matchbook format to perfect effect. She’s
adapted to the limitations of size and scope and tells the story as
as possible. Not an easy task.
~ Marc Mason, Comics Waiting Room
is one of several micro
mini comix series written by Brian John Mitchell and published through
his Silber Media productions. This series could be categorized as
fiction and/or horror.
Previously the Worms heroine found herself hospitalized and subjected to a bizarre medical experiment in which alien worms were introduced into her bloodstream through an IV drip. Worms #5 opens as she struggles to escape this living nightmare.
The story is told in first person through the voice of the heroine. Her name has not yet been revealed to the reader (unless I missed it in prior issues). Mitchell refers to her as "our girl" in the efficient one-page recap he provides up front to orient new and old readers and get things off to a quick start.
As usual, this segment of Worms is all action and plenty of surprises. It's a fun ride and leaves you waiting for the next issue, particularly after the cliffhanger ending.
Kimberlee Traub's stylized artwork conveys the action well. It was particularly fun to see how she handled the outside world when "our girl" finally breaks out of the institution.
~ Richard Krauss, Midnight Fiction
are probably a few
of you out there who have been reading this series thinking “Sure, this
is an odd comic on a number of levels, but I haven’t been creeped out
by it”. Well, your prayers have been answered! The
this institution (if that is in fact what it is) continues in this
as our heroine listens to the voice of her dead father (who is helping
her to escape), makes her way out and then has to deal with the same
who shot at her last time. This time around she seems to have
to terms a bit more with the worms in her system, and it’s all I can do
not to give anything else away. Let’s just say that Brian
have a gift for taking stories that seem to be going full steam ahead
veering wildly in a completely unexpected direction. Anyway,
along for the ride, as clueless about where this is heading as anybody
else. That’s assuming you’re already reading this, and why
you be? All these tiny comics for that tiny amount of
Plus the (as close as you can come in the comics world) guarantee that
this guy is committed to the comics and will keep cranking these things
out, so you won’t get dumped in the middle of a story? Seems
to me. $1
~ Kevin Bramer, Optical Sloth
had the chance to read
the fourth and fifth issues of this book - which are both a little hard
to describe. The story involves a girl, who wakes up in a hospital
her father’s death. Alien worms are injected into her arm, and with the
voice of her dead father guiding her, she tries to find a way to escape
from the hospital. It’s definitely the oddest story out of the Silber
collection, as scenes morph into others like they would in a dream
having, with destinations mixed up in an odd patchwork of your mind’s
~ Brandon Schatz, Comixtreme
don’t “get” Worms. I never
have. Brian’s tale is cool in a creepy horror-action-thriller sort of
but the format makes it hard for me to follow the plot clearly.
I like the art by Kimberlee Traub, and I feel that she has better synergy with the writer than ever before. Still, I’m lost when it comes to the overall story.
~ Nick Marino, AudioShocker
Let's stick an IV into our arms and let the worms flow through! Then later let's impersonate a nurse after ripping someone's tongue out of their head. Not for the weak hearted.
~ Paul Dale Roberts, Jazma Online!
and pieces coming to
light, that’s what this series is all about. This time around
heroine has a dream in which her dead father tells her that it’s time
wake up, while she still can. Upon waking she sees that
a ceiling above her bed there are storm clouds and silent
One bolt of this lightning hits her IV, which has the odd effect of
her fine with the worms that are coming through it and into her
It also gives her the energy to try to escape again, which is when her
nurse comes in to check up on her. There’s no sense of my
you much more than that, as there are few things worse than a suspense
comic with no surprises, but we do get to see a bit more about the
holding her captive and, perhaps, why that security guard from a couple
of issues ago seemed to be bloodless. I’ve said it before and
say it again: send the man a pile of money so he’ll send you a pile of
tiny comics. It’s so simple!
~ Kevin Bramer, Optical Sloth
Silber website describes
this series as "surrealistic horror/sci-fi", and that's pretty
Even though this is the fourth issue, it's pretty easy to follow, with
a one-sentence recap on the first page introducing us to the main
plight, in which she is trapped in some sort of asylum and being
on. It's weird, but pretty effective, with strange details blending
crude, abstracted art to make for a compelling narrative that pulls the
reader right into the tale.
It's a quick taste of the story, but it's enough to get the reader on board with its disturbing milieu, making us wonder what's going on and what will happen next. This is one that I'll have to try to keep up with.
~ Matthew Brady, Warren Peace
is sci-fi/horror mini-comic.
Worms #4 "awake" is a rapid-fire series of single sentences, stream of
consciousness narrative detailing the protagonist's renewed efforts to
escape a sinister medical research facility.
Overall, this is a decent comic. The story is engaging, horrifying, and mysterious. It is told in the first person, encouraging the reader to imagine herself in this scenario, which is pretty uncomfortable. Communication from beyond the grave and inexplicable events that turn the rules of normal daily life upside down help achieve a quality creeping dread.
The images support the text to some extent, but they are more of a side dish than a critical element. The whole story is contained in the words, and would work even without the pictures. While they may be largely extraneous, the pictures contribute a harsh, nightmarish confusion. It reminds me of David Lynch films, with a squeeze of Aeon Flux; occasionally hard to tell if it was really slick or I just didn't get it. I tend to think that the message has been mangled, if the audience doesn't get it.
Many of the drawings are stylish and moody, which is very cool. Others are difficult to interpret, or even outright indecipherable. Some of them even seem a bit like placeholders, inserted so something will be there, but nothing specifically related to the event or text described on that page. Out of 38 panels, 24 feature part or all of a woman's face, with particular emphasis on the eyes. It is tough to know if this is part of the stylishness, or simply some manner of obsession on the part of the artist?
If you're into streamlined sci-fi scenarios, this is a good one to check out. Less so, if hospitals, nurses, or parasitic wormy things are among your personal freak-out triggers.
~ Holly von Winckel, Sequential Tart
not gonna lie – I have
a hard time connecting with Worms. It’s an abstract and violent fantasy
that just doesn’t capture me. I appreciate the experimental narration
Brian John Mitchell and the minimalist art of Kimberlee Traub, but I’m
just not drawn to this series in the same way as Lost Kisses. I dig the
weird nurse-fetish thing going on, but that’s about all that struck my
~ Nick Marino, Audio Shocker
girl is trapped in some
sort of psychiatric institute. She's been subjected to odd psychotropic
experiments after her father's recent death. She attempts her
or does she? Really? Mitchell's writing is on point and in contrast,
single panel art is painterly and emotive. I'm wondering and eager to
how this ends - start here.
~ Wade Busby, Dimestore
always wary when something
tells me it’s recommended for fans of H.P. Lovecraft and Franz Kafka,
basically what that means is that it’s weird and creepy, but you won’t
get an explanation for the weird creepiness, because that would take
from the creepy weirdness. Worms follows this pattern to a T. Here’s
plot: a woman, after witnessing the death of her father, is trapped in
a strange hospital which conducts horrifying medical experiments.
and horrifying things include: an IV bag full of worms, an endless
patients in comas and a nurse whose voice can put people to sleep. The
art resembles nothing so much as the drug-addled doodles of my friends
in Grade Nine art class, which isn’t the worst complement to the story,
but doesn’t do it any favours either. Honestly, if you want to read a
Kafka-esque book about a hospital, track down Secret Rendezvous by Kobo
Abe. Or, if you’re in the mood for disturbing tales of mental illness
comic form, try Tales of Ordinary Madness. Either of them follow
on their (unspoken) promises better than Worms does.
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
these little suckers
put the "mini" in "minicomic." They're just under an inch and a half
limiting the comics they contain to one image-caption pairing per page.
It's an interesting constraint to work impose upon oneself, given that
auteur Brian John Mitchell is already up against his own inability to
That's not a subjective assessment, by the way--we're not talking
Brown lo-fi or Brian Chippendale noise or John Porcellino minimalism or
Anders Nilsen stick figures or anything else that's a matter of taste
the Mitchell-drawn Lost Kisses, we're talking actual stick figures,
little happy-face faces and five even tinier sticks for fingers.
enthusiasm for making comics outstripped his ability to master even its
most basic necessities. Which is kinda cute, I'll admit, and works well
enough for the kind of ramshackle navel-gazing confessional humor he's
doing in that particular series, but the air of self-indulgence is
Making matters worse is a problem with image flow--I know, hard to
given that you're just dealing with one tiny picture and caption on
page. But Mitchell places the drawings on top of the captions even
the drawings respond to what's said in the captions, so that you either
have to read bottom-to-top or constantly 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
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
is always cool to get
a package of these minicomics from Silber Media. 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
to pass around to my friends. (If I had friends.) In a perfect world,
comics like these would be on the check out counter of my nearest gas
You can find out more and order these 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
can be annoying
if there's nothing solid there. The bedrock artistic product better be
interesting or impactual enough to warrant the sparse quality of its
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
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 minicomics under the Silber Media
Each comic is about the size of a matchbook and sells for $1.
of the pages feature one panel with text below them, giving them the
of a small storybook. After reading each of the four titles
is currently writing, I was impressed with his ability to pack a good
of narrative into such a small package.
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
and the crew at
Silber Media may have found the perfect format for stick figure mini
The size of these micro minis is so charming the simple artwork works
on their tiny pages. Even the text is minimal. Together, along with the
stories, they propel the reader forward one panel/page at a time. Since
you can't look ahead, the format automatically 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
to the first edition
of “Small Matters” – the mini comic feature here at the good ol’
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
get a few comics in the
mail for review purposes, but I found something in my mail a couple of
weeks ago that was unlike the typical review package. It was a standard
business-sized envelope, not the usual big envelope I often find.
I found a folded 8.5×11 information sheet and five tiny packets.
Five little plastic sleeves (the kind I imagine is normally used to
personal amounts of cocaine) each contained a single mini-comic — much
more mini than the typical mini-comic. We’re talking about comics no
than large postage stamps. Writer Brian John Mitchell offers a diverse
array of material — a western, a surreal story of murder conspiracy, a
Dexter-esque crime comic, and an autobiographical journal-like title —
that make for surprisingly engaging reads. It’s surprising in part
the artwork for all of these projects is amateurish in tone, but
scripts are solid. Thumbing through these tiny comics with my meaty
was a bit of a pain in the ass, but it was an inconvenience that was
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
are tiny micro-mini
comics, measuring about 2x2", and range from 16-40 pages each. Mitchell
is the writer for all of them and is also the (stick-figure) artist of
LOST KISSES. Most of these are parts of a series, all of which are easy
to pick up on as Mitchell hops from genre to genre. JUST A MAN, drawn
Andrew White, is a sort of hard-bitten western, stripped of glory. A
sees his house burned down, his infant son killed and his wife
He's pretty sure he knows who did it, and hunts them down, one by one.
I liked the voice Mitchell used for the character, but he overwrote
story. That's not unusual for a writer collaborating with an artist,
the story would have had a bit more power if the first-person 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
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.
used to a certain format — a format that doesn’t include a recording
and music publishing collective. (Though now that I think about it, I’m
not sure why I’m surprised.) The professionalism of the Silber Records
website does explain something, though. It explains the patient
follow-through that Brian John Mitchell has displayed in his
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
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
this review I hopped
in my Way-Back Machine and revisited my brief love affair with 'zines
mini comics in the mid-late nineties! While living in BC I
many charming, low-grade-photocopied, hand stapled, DIY creations, and
this handful of 1.75" x 2.25" (approx) $1.00 comics from Silber Media
Raleigh, North Carolina were a pleasant return 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
are the smallest comics
I've ever seen. Seriously, look at them. Their palmable size and tiny
baggies bring to mind illicit substances, or secret messages that you
to destroy after reading. Each page has only one panel and a line of
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
from Brian John Mitchell. Taking a look…
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
always fun to read one
of Mitchell's micro minis. Even better when you get several at one
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
Mitchell ships them in tiny plastic bags to keep them as flat as
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
you tell a story with
only one panel per page? That's what the folks at Silber Media did with
their mini-comics and although the format is unusual, they seemed to
pulled it off with the unique style that is Indy Comics.
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
Media does a lot of
things, and one of those things is making tiny little hand-written,
mini comics that are about the size of match books. The makers of these
little comics have released a new batch 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
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’,
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 Traub, ‘XO’ avec Melissa
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
our girl saw
her father murdered and escaped from the culprits only to be trapped in
an institution conducting bizarre medical experiments." In this
girl faces a scary IV that is hooked into her arm. In the IV are all
of worms. What if one of those worms reaches her heart? This story
CSI: Miami look like children's play. This story is a real attention
~ Paul Dale Roberts, Jazma Online
are adorably sized. The cute factor ends there, however. Inside it’s
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
John Mitchell sent
in three more matchbook sized minis from Silber Media.
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 to cute or too bitter.
~ Shannon Smith, file under other
there in the world, right
this moment, there are countless independent comic book writers and
trying to make their mark in the comic world. Silber Media is one of
folks, but instead of sticking on the regular path or taking the new
of digital comics, these guys and gals took an alternative path rarely
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
is a review of both
issue #7 and #8 — I put them together because they are mini-comics,
(they are smaller than a business card). #7 is about a guy who deals
lost keys, lots of phone calls (including with an ex he doesn't want to
see), and a lost store code. All a bit random, but it gets tied
as it goes. #8 is his feeling guilt when the aforementioned ex gets
in a break-in that happened because he left 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
little comic is not
even two inches square in size. It's a bite-sized story in a bite-sized
format. The story is about a girl who is slowly losing her safe,
life. This volume has her waking up in a strange place with an IV
to her arm. The IV though is pumping worms with sharp-pointy 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
Brian John Mitchell
(along with artist Kimberlee Traub) delivers three more of his
with LOST KISSES 7&8 and WORMS #3 (Silber Media). Mitchell’s
are printed at about the size of a matchbook, giving them an unusual
not only in look, but also in storytelling: single panels per page
the plot forward. KISSES finds a man ruminating on the foibles of an
and deciding to confront his feelings head-on, with ugly results. WORMS
continues the story of a young woman trapped in a scary hospital with
way of escape, as freaky works are sent via IV into her bloodstream.
wonderfully disturbing, and it kept me intrigued. KISSES fell flat with
me in skipping an important action that we really needed to see… twice.
~ Marc Mason, Comics Waiting Room
John Mitchell sent
me over some very small comic books to review and the design fetishist
in me immediately liked the form factor. As a package, each issue
two inches by two inches and provides a surprisingly dense read,
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
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
Comics are something
that I know very little about. Ask me about Marvel Comics from 1963
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
started out creating mini-comics. Long before the internet, mini's were
a great way to gain experience creating comics and get your material
to a larger audience. These days, webcomics have all but replaced
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
comic writer Brian John
Mitchell describes his series of comics as minis the size of a
he’s not kidding. Individually wrapped in little plastic baggies and
by two teeny staples in their spines, 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
each series is the brainchild of a musician, comic illustrator and
artist? The first series, Lost Kisses, is written and drawn by
Issue #6 is unique as it’s a split: the front half addresses the pros
staying in a toxic relationship, while the back half addresses the
Despite its simplicity in design and illustration (stick figures), the
comic tackles the emotionally troubling issues that many couples face.
XO is the second comic series and is a collaboration between Mitchell
comic artist Melissa Gardner. This one has the most elaborate artwork
the various series and I love it because it plays on the same kind of
as TV’s Dexter. It’s about an ex-hitman who’s trying to reintegrate
normal society. But wherever he goes, he finds himself in a situation
ends in him murdering someone. Worms, the third series, is written by
and drawn by tattoo artist Kimberlee Traub. Based on the classic
theme, issue #2 is written in the vain of Poe, Kafka or Lovecraft, with
references to the latter two if you’re dorky enough to catch them
no Cthulhu cameos). It’s all very surreal, really, and I sure as heck
want to wind up there.
~ Amy Greenwood, Broken Pencil
Media sent me three
little matchbook sized minis from Brian John Mitchell and
Each mini is about the size of a matchbook. I like
a lot. They are just cool to look at and hold and they fit in
shirt pocket. They are great to pass around to
should have more of them and cartoonists should make more of
They are not the easiest minis to make though. When you work
size it is really hard to cut the paper correctly. If you are
by just the least little bit then you have ruined at least one
Maybe more. They are also hard to write and draw
for. You have
to take into account the lettering size, page transitions and the
Mitchell seems to have all the logistics figured
of these comics work at one panel per page which is perfect for the
and works really well with the pacing because each page turn is a story
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
John Mitchell gives
“drawing thumbnails” a new meaning with his itsy-bitsy thumbnail-size
He’s publishing three series of 2?x2? comics: Lost Kisses, Worms, and
~ Kirk Chritton, Comics Career
of the things I find
perennially fascinating about comics is the way constraints can spur
on to new heights of creativity. Sometimes the constraints are
and sometimes they are purely physical; sometimes they're self-imposed
and sometimes they're imposed from outside. Often there's no way to
which is which as you read; only the artist knows whether the decision
to, for example, use only black ink came from economics or aesthetics.
Sometimes it's in the overlap between economics and aesthetics 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
Worms Brian John Mitchell
is joined by Kimberly Traub.
Kimberly does the illustrations which have the feel of itty-bitty linoleum prints, the storylines here are obviously fictional. It’s a darkly hallucinatory creepshow like a lost X-Files episode or something. This feels far more intriguing and enjoyable than his other stuff, and is lifted up considerably by someone with slightly more advanced graphic skills.
~ George Parsons, Dream Magazine
art is more angular
in this ish. She and writer Mitchell continue this tale of a girl who's
trapped in some sort of strange medical institute, strapped to a bed at
one moment, trying to escape again in the next. What is it with the
she seems to "see"? I'm intrigued.
~ Wade Busby, Dimestore Comics
a suspense comic it’s
best to leave the specifics alone for as long as possible, as that
ratchets up the suspense, and Brian does an excellent job of that
We do learn in this issue why the title of the series is “Worms” (at
a little bit), but as for everything else… who knows? Our
from the last issue wakes up strapped to a bed, hooked up to an
She quickly sees that this IV has worms swimming in the liquid, then
sees that one of the creatures is swimming through the tube to her
Things get even more disgusting from there, believe it or not, and
left to wait until the next issue (if then) to get some idea of where
she’s being held and why. It didn’t take me long to get
these tiny comics, but they’re like minuscule bundles of comic
You get a little tiny taste each time of what sure feels like a master
plan, unless of course he’s making it up as he goes and has me
fooled. Worth checking out either way.
~ Kevin Bramer, Optical Sloth
is a stream of consciousness
story narrated from the point of view of a character that seems to be a
woman about the aggression of her father by men in black and her
It is a mini comics that fits in a wallet, where each page is a single
illustration with captions.
As a stream of consciousness story the narrative progression of the story is loose and detours are taken before the narrator returns to the core of its message. That core are a bunch of pink eels that she refers to as worms that seem to play some role and be the object of desire of her father and the men in black. Worms is an innovative mini comics with a second level message that I guess I should pick up on, but I fail to at this point. Perhaps more will make sense in the next “issue.” For one thing, I like the experiment even if it’s not a real story and it’s supposed to be random. It plays with the medium.
I think a lot more could be done with the pocket size format visually. Remember those little booklet we got as kids where each page was an animated panel and when you flip them they would create this instantaneous animation? Well, I expect visual games like that and such experiments from artists working is such a format.
~ Hervé St-Louis, Comic Book Bin
art is simple and
yet the layout of each panel is well designed. She and writer Mitchell
take us inside the head of a girl who witnessed her father's murder and
now attempts to escape from a dream-like hospital after the cops take
there. Either it's all what she actually sees or her perception is
~ Wade Busby, Dimestore Comics
from Silber Media as the ultra-tiny comics continue with humor and
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
Kisses, Brian talks
about women in general. It appears the information is brought
from the experiences found in his life. The woman in focus in
story has a history of mental abuse and other type of abuses.
is a pathological liar. She has been in terrible
boy in this story is somewhat shallow and remarks on the aberrations he
finds on her body. She appears to be a gold digger, her
seems faked. You get two sides of this picture. In
story, it seems like a dream come true and the other story is horror
every corner. Some of these stories remind me of my Starbucks
dates. There are personality conflicts, they don't look like
picture, they live beyond their means, they are shallow and
To find the perfect woman is as hard as capturing a Bigfoot.
you have a woman that has a gun battle with a policeman, she finds
tied up on a gurney and taken to a hospital where they are
giving their patients a solution that has tiny worms in it...yep, we
a big mystery and it will continue.... In XO, a guy
is a good
Samaritan and saves a girl from a brutal attack by some ruffian
The good Samaritan breaks the ruffian's finger, punches him in the face
and accidently kills him. He now has to clean up this
murder. He should have minded his own business.
has extreme entertainment in small packages. I am headed for
and Argentina, I can carry these comics in my shirt pocket and read
on my layovers, it can't get any better than that!
~ Paul Dale Roberts, JazmaOnline
this edition of Breaking
Ground, we are taking a look at three mini-comics produced by Silber
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
many ways, minicomics
are the purest form of comicbook expression. Written and drawn in an
form of guerilla theatre, they are photocopied and stapled by people
genuinely love the artform and see it as a way to present their
and ideas and not just as a way to make their name. Whenever I hit a
con, I always put aside a piece of my budget 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 Brian John Mitchell. And
has taken the minicomic to an even more literal place; rather than the
usual 8.5 by 5.5 inch mini, these are two inches by two inches, about
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
trio of tiny, self-published
minis are so fat Mitchell forces each one into its own little plastic
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
collate, align, and staple them. But of course the size gives them
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
always been a big fan
of mini-comics. Spending time in the early 90s in Boston meant that
record shop, comic shop, penthouse and outhouse in a 5 mile radius
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. More to the point, with
comics you really could "see the brushstrokes" and get some real kicks
out of seeing the work in progress, and know that someone out there had
your own brand of odd humor. However, I never imagined that I'd see
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
has strong human interactions
and incredible drama. Lost Kisses #4 is a lot of
of the world around us. Worms #1 contains a lot of
It entices you to keep flipping the pages to see what is actually going
on with the story. These cute little books are enjoyable to
around in your back pocket and when boredom sits in, pull one out and
~ Paul Dale Roberts, Jazma Online
young man struggles with
the vagaries of life in Lost Kisses, a sociopathic assassin tries to
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 Frontier
we’re on the subject
of people who were nice enough to send me comics, I really ought to
Brian John Mitchell, who contacted me a while back about sending me a
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
Kimberlee Traub - website
Brian John Mitchell - xo mini-comic
Brian John Mitchell - Lost Kisses mini-comic
Brian John Mitchell - QRD interview zine
Brian John Mitchell - band Remora