Get into Comix: By Brad Dwyer, 72 pgs. By Ollie Mikse

Brad Dwyer’s love for comics and punk rock didn’t always go together. Growing up as a shy and awkward kid in a rural town in Arizona, he became enamored with comics, but as maturity and the need fit in with his peer group became more urgent and confusing, he forgot about the things that made him happy in the first place. Although inspired by his love of comics, the bar Dwyer set for himself as a kid was a little too high, and he never reached the artistic merit he thought he needed to make his own comics. Motivated to start drawing on his own, he kept this up for years and even got a few pats on the back from his classmates when they caught a glimpse of them in his notebook.

Although comics have the power to inspire and provide escape from our daily lives, the standards of most mainstream superhero comics are so high that they can become stifling to aspiring comic artists. The dream of getting into comics started to feel like a fantasy to Brad. But that perspective changed when a little punk rock got injected into the mix. The result is Get into Comix: Brad Dwyer’s very own comic book, which, in many ways, looks and feels like an R. Crumb comic.

Get into Comix focuses mostly on Dwyer’s life during and after high school. (The “wilderness years,” if you will). As Dwyer’s life got more immersed in punk rock, DIY ethics, and the local music scene, it also started spiralling out of control. Heartbreak, poverty, and a great deal of drinking overcame him. It’s only when he reached rock bottom that he discovered DIY comics (we’re talking the good stuff, like Craig Thompson, Harvey Pekar, and Jeff Smith) almost purely by chance, and with them he found the motivation to revisit his dream. In comics, characters don’t have to look like Olympic athletes and the stories don’t have to revolve around make-believe superheroes. They just need to tell a story. And with years of punk rock ethics embedded in his DNA, he was able to cut these false gods (and demons) down into a less imposing form—something he could work with. These are the aspects of Get into Comix that make it such a charming and worthwhile read. Although it’s small in size, it’s part of a greater idea. –Ollie Mikse ($8 ppd., epictalesofthemundane.blogspot.com)