Gina Biggs: Fractured Kisses, Love of Sausage

At this year’s Heroes Con, I picked up a couple of Strawberry Comics publications from Gina Biggs. I was excited to read their mission statement:

We are an all-female group of comic creators with the common interest of writing character driven stories of drama and romance. We have a growing selection of free online comics as well as print comics on the site.

Fractured Kisses #4 cover

They’d previously put out an anthology, Fractured Kisses, which ended with issue #4.

That issue contained four short stories. The first, by Robin A. Soblewski (now Edwards), was intended to start a new series, “Cardboard Angel”. It’s since moved to the web, where you can read the first chapter (although the second chapter has apparently been in progress since 2004).

That example demonstrates so many of the decisions facing young comic creators today: it’s easier to publish on the web than in print, and you’ll get a potentially larger audience without nearly as much expense, but without publication deadlines, it’s easy to let a project languish. (Edwards has progressed further on another series, Ganbare! Shimura-san!.)

As for the story, after the demise of her favorite pop star, a girl finds his cardboard cutout talking to her. He wants her help in making things right with those he’s wronged before he can move on to his final reward. It’s all premise setup, which makes it unsatisfying since there’s no continuation. Plus, Edwards is doing some complicated shading effects for black-and-white work, which can lead to murky panels. On the web, of course, it’s in color, which looks much better.

Next is Gina Biggs’ “Never Again”. It’s a stand-alone mood piece in which a boyfriend remembers the history of his current relationship. Unfortunately, given the short space, it winds up being a list of clichés. She’s not good enough for his friends, he works late a lot, she wants a kid, he doesn’t…. I didn’t see anything I hadn’t seen before elsewhere, and the characters never became three-dimensional to me.

The artist’s choice to create pages with large central images and few numbers of panels (many are 3 or under) doesn’t make the most effective use of the short space, and while she’s clearly good at pinups/solo images, she doesn’t have much storytelling flow through the panels and pages. The message is trite, requiring a stronger presentation to overcome its familiarity.

Amy Stoddard‘s “Forgiveness” is a six-page debut based on song lyrics. The images were attractive (if sometimes out of proportion) and by letting the reader bring more of themselves to the page, it was slightly more effective for me than the previous story.

The last is “One Sweet Thing” by Ann Fujita, who’s obviously read a LOT of shojo. Her piece is about a girl wanting to get the guy she’s crushing on to notice her by baking him cookies. He’s a jerk, and the boy she should be looking at is her best friend.

The story feels comfortable in the way it evokes other, more polished manga. It’s a kind of fanfiction based on premise and tone instead of characters. Each of the stories has its own splash page/cover-style image and ending author’s note, which makes the anthology resemble several publications in a bargain grouping. I don’t mind — it’s nice seeing how each author would package their work.

Love of Sausage cover

Overall, I was more impressed by Gina Biggs’ solo work as seen in the minicomic Love of Sausage. It’s eight pages about adopting a miniature dachshund, and it’s more accomplished than the story mentioned above. It’s denser, for one thing, with more panels per page and the splash-style pages saved for emotional impact.

It also tells more, with each page serving as its own little story of one of the incidents that make up becoming dog owners. The character designs are consistent from page to page (a tricky lesson for many artists), and the dog is cute but still dog-like. I’m a sucker for cute animal stories, but this was a fun read. She hints at more to come; I hope so.

Both of these comics can be bought online.

3 Responses to “Gina Biggs: Fractured Kisses, Love of Sausage”

  1. Journalista - the news weblog of The Comics Journal » Blog Archive » Aug. 28, 2007: The Platonic ideal of josei soap opera Says:

    […] Johanna Draper Carlson reviews a pair of OEL comics by Gina Biggs, Fractured Kisses and Love of Sausage. (The former, I […]

  2. Red String Book 1 » Comics Worth Reading Says:

    […] tried Gina Biggs’ minicomics, so I was interested in reading her manga-inspired series Red String. It’s early […]

  3. Love of Sausage » Comics Worth Reading Says:

    […] year, I recommended Gina Biggs’ Love of Sausage. The links are now broken at that post because she’s revamped the minicomic into a full-sized […]




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