The review is quick.

Mineshaft #19

No, I never do get tired of seeing the new issue of Mineshaft released. The brainchild of publishers/editors Everett Rand & Gioia Palmieri, this particular issue sees 52 pages stuffed with the usual assortment of comics, articles, essays, poems, letters, and whatever else Rand & Palmieri find interesting. And that means a lot of underground or underground-connected talents are ready to display some work, as they often do.

Most unique among this issue’s stuff are a quartet of 2003 personal reportage strips (and a splash drawing) by Mary Fleener, a cartoonist I confess I haven’t seen much of in a while - I vividly recall some of Fleener’s autobiographical material from way back when I read the old Kitchen Sink anthology Twisted Sisters 2: Drawing the Line, something of a crucial comics-reading experience for me at the age of 15 or so, and I was struck at the time with the specificity of her autobiographical approach to surfing culture. The strips here are in something of the same vein, filled with copious local color.

There’s also a nice, if short (given the size of the publication, brevity is a necessity) collection of vintage gag cartoons from (I believe) a pair of television listing magazines/supplements from the late ‘40s to the end of the ‘50s -- the work of local artists offering up endless riffs on both the novelty and the ultimate cultural reign of the tube -- accompanied by an essay by Bruce Simon. Also featured is another spread of 10 Robert Crumb drawings and comics (11 if you count the back cover - he also offers one of his usual lengthy letters, bouncing around all sorts of topics), and another seven-page installment of Frank Stack’s droll adventure strip parody The Adventures of Dirty Diana.

Peter Bagge provides front cover art, although the interior content concerning him is an essay by Palmieri on meeting the artist at North Carolina’s Heroes Con. Plus: drawings and comics by Carol Tyler, Bill Griffith, Jay Lynch (both solo and with Ed Piskor), Spain, Robert Armstrong, Simon Deitch, Penny Van Horn, and Aaron Lang, a cartoonist I’m unfamiliar with but who contributes an observant three-pager on his grandfather.

There’s rarely any one piece in a given issue of Mineshaft that stands out as spectacular. It’s more a cumulative experience that steadily pleases than anything else, which I think is why my reviews of the publication tend toward description - the uniqueness of the package is its simplicity and intimacy, matched up with a pretty vast array of talents from a certain corner of comics who are ready to send things in. Truly there’s nothing else like it that I can think of, and (as usual) I ask you to check things out for yourself.