James Kochalka, . . Highwater Books/ Alternative Comics, $14.95 (168pp) ISBN 978-1-891867-18-7

Like much of Kochalka's work, this is a series of intertwined episodes that progresses linearly but without much plot. Readers follow Amy and Josh, pals and superheroes of sorts (the Fantastic Butterflies of the title), and Magic Boy, Amy's husband, who sports a Vulcan's pointy ears. There's also New Guy, who is neither human nor alien but wears a helmet and loses a testicle in a softball showdown; Birdy, a tall bird who is in love with New Guy; and Jason x-12, a former robot who now lives in the form of a depressed talking dog. Despite the book's random nature, the story moves quickly and gracefully. Magic Boy warps himself a few hours into the future to the aforementioned softball game/party, while Amy and Josh bake a cake. Birdy takes New Guy to the hospital and professes her love for him, and the Fantastic Butterflies take Magic Boy dancing. Kochalka's simple drawings will appeal to the young at heart. The thick lines of his uncluttered b&w drawings gloss over fine details and mute his bizarre reality. Layered, comic and infused with exuberance, Kochalka's work creates a parallel universe that's larger than the human world but more familiar than fantasy. Despite such sad elements as a man dying of cancer, Kochalka's characters have an upbeat and positive manner that can turn a bar brawl into a dance party. In the end, the book's Zen comes through as Magic Boy tells Jason x-12 at a bar, "The world is pure nonsense. Accept that and enjoy the silly ride." If life's a silly ride, Kochalka is selling the tickets. (June)