This month I am posting a review of a different self-published comic book each day for the rest of the month! Here is an archive of the books reviewed so far!
Today I'm featuring Matt Runkle's Runx Tales #1.
Whatever else you can say about Mike Runkle's Runx Tales #1 (which is done in magazine format), you have to allow for two things:
1. Runkle is extremely earnest
2. He tries to convey a nice sense of fun.
Those are main things that I take away from reading Runx Tales #1, which, while perhaps a bit unrefined, is filled with fun stories and that aforementioned great sense of earnestness.
The book is basically a free-flowing expression of ideas by Runkle, split into short 2-4 page comics (the book is about 22 pages long in total).
The book opens with an examination of how "gay" most weddings are, based upon Runkle's experiences as a caterer at many weddings. The opening of the first story (and the table of contents on the opposing page) show some of Runkle's impressive design abilities - he makes a lot of the comic appear quite unique, design-wise. The whole "weddings are gay" bit is a slight joke, but Runkle gets the most out of the joke.
Runkle's sexuality informs many of the stories, probably the best one being a tale of visiting the Idaho town that his parents (and now his grandmother, who he actually gets along with) moved to, as Runkle nicely conveys the problems with visiting towns like Couer d' Alene when you're an out man. In a funny bit, Runkle explains how he traveled there with a lesbian friend of his, and the two pretended to be a straight couple, getting more than a few stares in the process. The tale, though, takes an endearing turn when we learn that in some bars, if everyone is drunk enough, equality can be achieved (mostly by the drunks being too drunk to be intolerant).
Runkle has a cute bit about how weird his resume looks...
He also has a section filled with intriguing caricatures of various crushes/obsessions he has had...
After these stories, the other short stories seem almost like afterthoughts, almost, as if they were filler.
Really, Runkle has a lot of strong natural talent, and I love the vibe that he gives off his stories (the sort of easy-going, fun to read vibe), but it just needs to be honed a lot more - a lot of the work still comes off as unfinished. Still, there is a really nice foundation here. I look forward to seeing what Runkle is up to next!
Thanks to the Gay Comics List for the scans I used.
You can purchase a copy of Runx Tales #1 at the Last Gasp! website here.
If you would like to participate in the month with your self-published comic, there might still be time (depending on how fast you mail out comics). Just check out the Review Copies section to see where to mail a review copy of your comic.