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Kevin Bramer on mini comics and Optical Sloth.com

READERSVOICE.COM aims to collect a few interesting reading tips. For this issue I interviewed Kevin Bramer about his amazing website Optical Sloth.com, which features reviews and samples from thousands of mini comics. Also I went along to see John Kennedy’s ’68 Comeback Special. John Kennedy and his guitarist Jeff Pope were playing songs from their latest album Is This Not Paris? in Brisbane a while back. First up, Kevin Bramer.

Mini comics are an amazing medium. They’re basically home- made comics. They can be as simple as four photocopied pages folded in half with a couple of staples along the spine, with a print run of about ten, handed out to friends.

Or they can have high production values just like mass-produced comics. The subject matter and style is limited only by the imagination of the artist — expense is no object.

Kevin Bramer’s site Optical Sloth.com is an amazing website with reviews and examples from thousands of mini comics. It’s a great inspiration source for artists thinking of trying out this medium.

READERSVOICE.COM: I read one review of yours on your website Optical Sloth where you said Ariel Bordeaux’s Deep Girl was one of the first mini comics that got you interested in the medium but I was wondering if you could describe how you r interest started exactly.

KEVIN BRAMER: My interest in mini comics in general started mostly due to Dave Sim mentioning a few of them in the back of Cerebus (around #170 of that series).

That led me to Optic Nerve, which led me to King Cat (which is still one of my favorites), which led me to all sorts of things. I also had a very helpful lady working at a comic store near Chicago who was always willing to point me to the good stuff.

RV: What grabbed you about them?

KB: I remember being impressed by the passion in them. Buying comics off the rack from the companies was one thing, dozens if not hundreds of people were involved with every issue.

Mini comics are a labor of love, usually painstakingly put together by hand by the person who made them. Even the bad ones have that going for them.

RV: What’s your weekly routine in Columbus Ohio what with reading all the mini comics you come across and other activities?

KB: The website usually takes between an hour or two a day, and my work at the local Board of Elections keeps my pretty busy.

Other than that I do the usual stuff: hang out with friends, go see movies or the occasional show or hockey game, that sort of thing.

RV: From your reviews you value fun in mini comics as well as details in panels, and real life mixed with artistic licence, but can you give an outline of what makes a good mini comic for you?

KB: I’ve been doing this site for 8 years and reading mini comics for twice that long and I still don’t have a good answer to that question.

Sometimes minis with the simplest art in the world can be amazing, sometimes the ones that clearly took months to put together end up being lousy.

Certainly a big part of it is what kind of reaction it causes in me. If I love or hate something it’s easy to write about it, when I’m more or less indifferent it’s hard to say much other than “it was OK”.

RV: Can you list a few books you’ve really liked over the years whether fact or fiction, comics or not, especially any obscure ones, and say what you liked about them?

KB: I Like You by Amy Sedaris (basically a hilarious memoirish thing on how to host parties), anything and everything by Harlan Ellison (as he’s a fearless man and a ridiculously talented short story writer), and any of Eddie Campbell’s Alec stories (and it looks like he’s finally putting out a definitive edition soon, I can’t imagine a better comic).

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