The Conversation

The gimmick behind this comic is fascinating, and it manages to transcend its unusual construction to become worth reading on its own.

Like many comic writers, Wickline has struggled with not being able to draw his own work. The perception is that cartoonists, those who both write and draw, are the top of the artistic heap. As a way of attacking that problem, Wickline had Hedgecock draw him a background and a set of art pieces he could cut and paste together to build a story. He compares them to Colorforms, a toy made up of little rubber pieces that you could assemble to build dioramas. All of the pieces used to make the story fit on one page, and it’s included for comparison.

Now, for this reason, the art isn’t spectacular, but it’s better than I expected when I first read of the concept. The background is a diner booth. The two guys talking are either profile, facing each other, or three-quarters view, as they look towards the waitress (and the reader). There are a couple of different arms for each, as they gesture or eat, and a couple of different expressions. The artist has done a great job of working out the puzzle effectively.

Each page has two panels and a brief text footer line. The footer contains some kind of pop culture factoid somehow related to what’s in the panel. Given my love of trivia, I was pleasantly surprised to find myself learning a lot of amusing things this way.

I was won over to the book on page three, where, while waiting for his friend, one of the guys sings “Believe It or Not” to himself. I used to love The Greatest American Hero TV show, and my brother and I would sing the theme on car trips.

Wickline also says in his opening comments that he didn’t preplan the script, that he just let the characters talk. That may be why the conversation feels so realistic, quickly getting to talking about sex, but digressing to talk about trivia every so often.

I enjoyed spending an hour (their time) with these characters. I’m not sure how quickly the gimmick would pale in future issues, but this is a surprisingly effective experiment.

The writer has a website.

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