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Review: Haiku Princess – Poems in Ascending Order of Profanity

Haiku Princess: Poems in Ascending Order of Profanity


Writer – H. O. Tanager

This book of poems by H. O. Tanager delivers on its promise of ascending profanity, while doing little to prevent the dip in quality at each stage. The book is divided into five stages: Cradle, Maiden, Lady, Crone and Holy One, which seem to bare little relationship with the subject matter of the poems.

What makes the later sections boring is less the use of crass words for ejaculate, but the fact that several of the earlier Haiku’s in the cradle section are actually quite clever and evoke more of the imagery, mood and juxtaposition that good Haiku achieves.

Take this example from cradle:

Post big-bang,

did the infinitesimal point

sigh, wonder why we’d gone?

or this one:

How many times do I

have to tell you not to

lick people’s food?

Both are clever in their own way. The first is probably a more classic example of what everyone expects Haiku to be. The second is funny less because of the subject matter, and more because that phrase becomes a Haiku with a little rearranging.

And then we have this (probably one of the cleaner things I can share from crone):

What to say when she

catches you on a porn website.

You’re just in time.

I guess we do get a bit of a switch in the last line, so this is better than some. But I don’t know if it’s funny. Let me clear that I’m actually not against bawdy poetry (I am the owner of a book of 100 limericks by Isaac Asimov). But if it’s going to be Haiku, then it needs to surprise, and probably amuse. There are many examples in this book that fail to do either, and a few might even manage to offend.

The illustrations seem fairly disconnected from the subject matter, and are in different styles in each section. The author is talented at image manipulation, if not manipulating words into images.

Honestly, the best part of the book is the about the author. The author apparently has a background in engineering, technical writing, performance art, psychology, non-profit arts organizing and parenting. More overlap than I would have expected, though a bit of a hodge-podge.

You wanna read good Haiku? Check out Brian’s Haiku 365 project. It’s free and more likely to amuse or enlighten.

(2 stars | Maybe a couple of OK bits, but probably not worth reading the rest)


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Review: They’re Not Like Us Volume 1

They’re Not Like Us Vol. 1: Black Holes For The Young

Writer – Eric Stephenson, Artist – Simon Gane


Tabitha has heard voices all her life and she’s had enough. No one will believe the voices are real, not her parents, not her therapist, no one. After a failed suicide attempt, Tabitha wakes to the face of a man who tells her that not only are the voices real, but she’s not the only one with abilities.

But the man who calls himself “The Voice” doesn’t care about saving people. The world has done nothing to help people with strange gifts, so why should they help the world? With their abilities they can take anything they want, and they’re willing to kill for it. And the first thing Tabitha must do if she wants to be part of their group, after surrendering her name, is kill her parents.

Eric Stephenson does very stylized work. His other well-known comic Nowhere Men, imagined the fab four as scientists and brilliant engineers. He’s good at concepts, but not always execution. It’s clear that some of the characters are more or less evil than The Voice and there’s a fair amount of manipulation going on, but there’s really not anyone to root for. If you find out that all of the people in a room have killed their parents so they can beat people up for cool vintage headphones, you’re not going to like those people. Sure some of them are more broken up about patricide than others, but they all did the deed.

The majority of the plot involves Tabitha (called Syd by The Voice) trying to reconcile finding other people like her with the terrible things they do. She can understand some of the vigilante justice part, attacking perverts who can’t even see where the hit is coming from, but that’s not the same as saying that regular humans are somehow less than you. She’s angry that her parents subjected her to psychiatric treatment, that they didn’t believe her, didn’t try to understand her, but she doesn’t want them dead.

Jordie Bellaire’s colors evoke a period feel to the comic though it’s set in the present day, while Gane’s lines give most characters an angular feel, pointy chins. and smirking expressions. True emotion does come through for Blurgirl and Syd, but for most others the look is mostly self-satisfied even when it’s not supposed to be.

The final confrontation with Tabitha’s parents is a nice bit of closure, but the setup for the next arc doesn’t have me that interested. The Voice is just a manipulative bastard, and I’m not sure I want to hear him talk anymore.

This looked interesting, and chapter one ends with a good hook. But by the finish I was ready for it to be over.

(3 stars | Expected more from this)

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Review: D4VE


Writer – Ryan Ferrier, Artist – Valentin Ramon


Man builds robots, robots rise up, kill man then everything else in the galaxy. Ah, the good old days.

D4VE is a former defense bot pining for the glory days. He’s stuck in an office job he hates, in a marriage that’s falling apart, and with a son with no sense of boundaries. But there’s hope, in the form of a new alien invasion from a race called the Klarr. The robots have allowed themselves to become complacent about defense so D4VE may be their last hope.

Overall, I love the concept of this and there are imaginative and funny sequences, but some of the writer’s predilections get in the way of what could be a great story. One joke about catching the teenage robot son wanking off in the living room is fine … ish. But making it a recurring theme of the book? Ick.

There’s some clever word play in the ways that language, names and even swearing would be changed in a robot filled world. Instead of G–damn you get “Jobsdamn”, or “Holy Woz”. I like the nod, though I feel like this vocabulary isn’t switched on until midway through the first issue. And truthfully I don’t know how well Jobsdamn would roll off the tongue in a swearing context, but I like the way they’re thinking. Computer language is used to varying degrees of effectiveness throughout, though after a while it feels thrown in and without a consistent standard for usage. And as for names, pretty much all of them feature some variation of 4 being using instead of A. So we get S4LLY, TIN4 and HILL4RY.

Ramon’s art has a lot of hidden gems in the background of scenes, but it’s when D4VE returns to his defense-bot ways that it really gets a chance to shine. All of the imaginative ways D4VE finds to kick alien butt are pretty funny including a classic, ripping one alien’s spine out and using it to beat other aliens to death. Okay, it’s kinda gross, but it does a good job of balancing playful humor throughout.

The same cannot be said of the language and the crass content in this. Swearing loses its effectiveness if overused and trying to have D4VE’s catch-phrase be S—balls doesn’t help. Personally, the best catchphrase in the book is that of the boss who repeatedly tells D4VE he is a loser, only to follow it up with, “I really need you to know this.” If that kind of dry humor was consistent throughout the tale I would have enjoyed it a little more.

In short, this was fun, but could have been better with a little more restrained humor. Also could have done without the robot dropping nuts in fear.

(3 Stars | Amusing but could be better)

* I received a free ARC of this from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

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Review: Kinski


Writer and Artist – Gabriel Hardman


Kinski is the story of a man who ruins his life over a dog. Joe is unsatisfied with his job as a chicken feed sales rep, and needs to find meaning, which he does in the form of a black lab puppy.

Joe immediately assumes the owners must be irresponsible since the dog escaped somehow, and decides to take ownership of it for himself. When he’s forced to surrender it to the pound he tries to claim it as his own, only to find the real owners have reclaimed it. When he finds the real owners, and sees the dog happy with a kid, he decides to steal it anyway.

Maybe this an homage to the German art films Hardman is referencing, but I found this to be a meandering tale with no meaning. The puppy is just friendly by nature, and yet Joe thinks he has formed some special attachment to it, even though he has never owned a dog before, and only has an outside view of how to really care for one. He throws away his life largely on a whim and even though he seems to find some measure of happiness later, it’s only after pages and pages of one bad decision after another.

Hardman’s artwork is the saving grace of this book, and he does a good job of depicting a man going further and further off the deep end. His desert scapes and trailer park scenes are detailed and evocative. And the dog itself is cute. But that’s really all the book has going for it.

The tale moves briskly, which is just as well considering. The ending relies on two time skips of six months to give Joe some kind of a happy ending, and some plot elements happen completely “offscreen” as if Hardman was rushed to a conclusion. I guess I had the wrong impression of what this book was. I thought Joe would get embroiled in some mob dealings or something because of the dog, but frankly for most of the book, he’s the bad guy.

Want to read a book about dogs? Try Peanuts.

(2 stars | Disappointing)

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