2007 Isotope Award Contenders

Last month, the winner of the Isotope Award for Excellence in Mini-Comics was announced as Max Riffner’s Quick Step. One of my readers asked me to talk about what other books I would have nominated. So here they are… the best of the batch, as I saw them, in no particular order.

The Executioner Is a Lonely Man

Written by Sam Costello, art by Brian A. LaFramboise

This caught my eye not only because of its skill but because of its unusual subject matter: the relationship between two men on death row. It’s horror, but unlike the too commonly seen visceral, blood-soaked zombie comics currently popular, it’s all psychological. The expression-centered, heavy on faces, grey-toned art carries the thoughtful dialogue, creating a moody whole suitable for immediate re-reading. Read it online.

Sequential Life

by Mathew Digges

Sequential Life panel

The small press collection of daily life strips is an overused concept, but Digges makes it work here. Perhaps it’s because his comics started as letters to his girlfriend, giving them more content than some. Perhaps it’s his oddly simplified figures, with their creepy blank eyes. Or maybe it’s just that I related to many of his concerns and fears.

His second strip, dealing with the creative process, hit a particular note, about trying to not think too much, and working out of desperation. I also appreciated his Valentine’s Day strip, where he and his sweetie appreciate each other for the small things. And his “lazy bones” strip wonderfully captures the feeling of a day off. There are cats included, which is a cliché for journal comics, but he captures their fluidity of movement well. Read strips online.

I walk with my wife in the evening

by Christopher Davis

This is the kind of odd way of looking at life that I read comics for, showing me another way of thinking about things, accompanied by lovely thin-line illustrations. Below its surface are meditations on class distinctions, the importance of money, the possibility of disaster, and the fear that permeates today’s daily life. It’s a disturbing indictment of how psychologically tortured we are, that we no longer have mental room for simple pleasures. View Davis’ art or read Shawn Hoke’s review.

Oil Can Drive

by Sean Tiffany

This last one doesn’t belong here, really. It’s a slipcovered full-color comic with CD marked 15 out of 20. Instead of a minicomic, it more resembles a limited-edition special collector’s item.

I remember reading Tiffany’s Exit 6, oh, 10-12 years ago now. I liked it, but as happens to so many small press efforts, it never concluded. The artist has great style and creative ideas, but it’s tough to sign on to the introductory chapter of a large adventure by anyone without knowing there’s major support (read: money) and commitment to conclude behind it.

Ok, enough digression. The story is about a rock band in a post-apocalyptic America. The CD is a natural tie-in, containing their music. It’s a familiar concept, taking the idea of punk rebellion one step further. Oni Press has a similar-sounding book coming out in July, Apocalipstix. With a gorilla and a young boy in the band, it also reminded me of Grease Monkey.

It’s an eye-catching package, but with so much to set up — new world, ongoing premise, set of characters — the comic itself is mostly introduction. The impression I came away with was that of surface flash over substance, which is probably unfair of me. Still, very nice limited edition. Read about it online. Sean also talks about his Isotope experience, which was a fascinating glimpse into the “other side” of the event.

11 Responses to “2007 Isotope Award Contenders”

  1. Mathew Says:

    “The best of the batch…”

    I’m blushing, Johanna. Thank you.

  2. Christopher Davis Says:

    Wow. Thanks for the very unexpected (and very kind) review of my comic.

  3. Split Lip » Blog Archive » Review from ComicsWorthReading.com Says:

    […] didn’t win, but Johanna posted a very kind review of the story on her site today: “This caught my eye not only because of its skill but because of its […]

  4. Christopher Davis Says:

    One more thing: If anyone would like to have a look at my stuff, please email me;
    I’d be especially interested in trading.

    squawkalong@yahoo.com (the spambots have my address already, so I’m not shy about posting it)

  5. Journalista - the news weblog of The Comics Journal » Blog Archive » May 15, 2007: Money feeds my music machine Says:

    […] Johanna Draper Carlson looks at a variety of worthy minicomics. […]

  6. Richard Says:

    On your banner headline your purpose statement is…
    “Graphic novel, manga, and comic book recommendations, news, and reviews with attitude by Johanna Draper Carlson”
    Would you also include WebComics?

  7. Johanna Says:

    I do have a webcomic category, but I don’t do a lot of webcomic reviews. And I’m afraid I’m not accepting submissions of anything right now until I get the existing stack under control.

  8. Maisie Kukoc Minicomic Award » Comics Worth Reading Says:

    […] are all the minicomic-specific awards on the west coast? The same is true of the Isotope Award, which I was a judge for earlier this […]

  9. 2008 Isotope Award Contenders » Comics Worth Reading Says:

    […] the Isotope Award For Excellence in Mini-Comics was Jonas Madden-Conner’s Ochre Ellipse. As I did last year, I thought I’d draw some attention to other worthwhile nominees. But first, some thoughts on […]

  10. 2009 Isotope Minicomics Award Submissions Open » Comics Worth Reading Says:

    […] Previous years have turned up a great crop of minicomics — I hope to see this year’s judges talking about outstanding submissions as well as the one that wins, so I can find more titles to check out. […]

  11. It’s Award Time! Submit Isotope Minis, Vote Women (My FoL Award Suggestions) » Comics Worth Reading Says:

    […] copy in the announcement, which is a lovely side benefit.) I had the honor of being a judge in 2007 and 2008, and I saw a lot of fascinating work (some of which I wrote about at those links). I look […]




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