I've written before about the perils of comics falling under a distribution monopoly. When Diamond Comics, the only national distributor of monthly comics, can't manage to deliver the week's shipment of comics on any given Wednesday due to inclement weather, comics shops across Seattle simply don't get any new comics. It happens usually at least once a year, and yesterday was one of those days.
A Wednesday without new comic books is unthinkable, though, so I tend to use New Comics Day to unearth the books on my shelf that I haven't read yet — preferably local books that wouldn't ordinarily fall under the monolithic Diamond Comic blackout.
I've written before about the joys of Seattle comedian Brett Hamil's minicomics. Hamil's primitive gag cartoons — which I appreciatively called joke delivery systems — used to be featured prominently in CityArts magazine before it went under. No local media outlet has picked them back up on a regular basis, which is a goddamned shame.
In lieu of new comics, I dug up a copy of Hamil's zine Tardigrade Appreciator, which he published in the middle of 2018. The book is a spoof on magazine culture, in the form of an US Weekly-style magazine about how cool tardigrades are.
But of course part of the joke is that tardigrades are really super-fucking-cool, so the breathless reporting feels more genuine than the phony celebrity worship in People magazine. (If you don't know what a tardigrade is, you should Google them immediately; also known as water bears, tardigrades are microscopic creatures that, as one explains in an interview in Appreciator, "could survive a meteor strike or a nuclear war or an ice age." They are the toughest creatures in the known galaxy, but they look like total chubby doofuses and that's part of their charm.)
Appreciator features person-on-the-street-style interviews with humans about where they first heard about tardigrades ("house party in Flagstaff") and a giant centerfold of a tardigrade lying on its back in a come-hither pose. A tardigrade talks about politics, and another segment is about how tardigrades are "just like us!"
This is just a delightful little package of a minicomic, and Hamil's best cartooning yet. I would read a full-size issue of Tardigrade Appreciator, and I'd love to see a book version of this. Track a copy down wherever you get your zines, and I guarantee you won't even care that your weekly new comics are sitting in the back of a UPS truck somewhere on the side of the road just outside Eugene.