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solid writing
skilled art
historical bonus 2
total score 6
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Only Printing / September, 1973 / 36 pages / Last Gasp Eco-Funnies
This is an interesting comic book from California Grimpet Panel Art Works in Los Angeles. Grits presents a collection of seven poems on diverse topics by Brad Leff that are illustrated by Richard Tomasic.

The first poem offers the musings of an inebriated moonshiner and establishes the tone of the comic, as the moonshiner crafts a bullshit story about an encounter with a grizzly bear in order to sell more jugs of booze to drunk hayseeds. As demonstrated in this story and the six that follow it, Leff's poetry may not be exceptional, but on occasion it provides subtle twists of perception and intriguing degrees of ambiguity. Tomasic's illustrations are usually straightforward renditions of the words, but there are spots of clever interpretations and even the straight renditions deliver some nice compositions that help set the mood of the poetry. Tomasic's style is loose and sketchy, but not so sloppy that it drags the book into crappy amateurism.

Two of the better poems are worth singling out, and elevate the writing score here from average to solid. "Didn't Brake At All" is about a suicidal young man careening around mountain roads in a sporty little BMW 2002 (I always liked that model, never owned one), leading to a police chase and his crashing through a cliff-side road railing. The last few pages are surreal and beguiling. "The Cold of Blue Tile" is a brief three-pager about a young man bleeding to death on the floor of his bathroom in a dumpy apartment building. His wound is self-inflicted and there's no reason offered for his suicide, but the poetry is captivating until a rather trite last panel. Weak end or not, I liked it.

I've never seen any other work by Brad Leff, but Tomasic did a story in Yellow Dog #24, some pages for Goodies and then in some comics from the late '90s that I've not seen nor heard of before, Legion of Stupid Heroes #4 and Dark Ages. I'd only be guessing, but I presume Tomasic has maintained a quiet little career of comic book illustrating for about three decades.
It is currently unknown how many copies of this comic book were printed. It has not been reprinted.
As of the time of this writing, you can still pick up a copy of this book for a stinkin' buck-fifty plus shipping from Last Gasp's website.

Richard Tomasic - 1-52 (art)
Brad Leff - 3-51 (poetry)