- Posted by Johanna on October 20, 2008 at 7:33 am
- Category: Minicomics
I’m tired of clutter, so instead of doing what I’d planned yesterday, I wound up sorting through stacks of minicomics. I apologize to those who sent or gave me the comics dated 2003 and 2004, but I threw those out. I need a fresh start. (Google shows that many of the referenced contact websites are defunct now anyway.) Here’s some of the more recent work that I enjoyed or thought worth mentioning. This isn’t all of it, though, so I hope I’ll be able to do another one of these in a week or so.
Creeping Terror Tales 2
The first Creeping Terror Tales was nicely spooky. This one, “Unfair”, is drawn by the same artist, Sandy Jarrell, but written by D. Vance Sumner. It’s the story of a strange rural custody battle, with an unusual mood created, very different from the first. I found myself reading it multiple times, both to take in the detail and be sure I picked up on the implications. The art is impressively accomplished. Talking scarecrows are always creepy. I also liked the way the possum and her babies worked as a kind of Greek chorus. You can read it online in color. Check out the flying baby panel!
The folks behind Adrenaline are preparing another title with an eye-catching name. I picked up a preview sketchbook at some convention this year, which has several story pages written by Tyler & Wendy Chin-Tanner and drawn by Andy MacDonald. The best description of the story comes from the back cover, which says it’s about four citizens who protest the government and get labeled as terrorists. They go on the run and fight to redefine how the public understands democracy. That’s not visible yet in the early glimpse I got, but there are plenty of pages to come, I assume.
The reporter part of the story is too similar, in my opinion, to DMZ, but I loved the realism and personality of the schoolteacher. She’s encouraging her kids to think about what the American Revolution really meant and what it would have been like to live through, so I can see how that gets her labeled a troublemaker. I would say you could find out more at awaveblueworld.com, but all that’s there right now is an out-of-date ad banner. (It says Summer 2008, which has passed.) I don’t know what the plans are for the title, but I hope it still does appear. I’d love to see it as a big thick graphic novel.
Blink is my favorite new minicomic, because I love the characters, and the mood behind it is so entertaining and yet calming. It’s like a refreshing adult beverage — relaxing, comfortable, and yet eye-opening in noticing the world from a new perspective. This collection contains short pieces that originally ran in a local free monthly. They’re really good.
Like the characters, surrounded by cell phones, I also miss phone booths. And even though I’m not from the area, I liked the page at the back that gives notes on local Columbus, Ohio, locations referenced in the comics. It’s neat to see a cartoonist actively working to be part of the community. Find out more at Max’s website. Or email Max Ink, and he’ll send you a free sample. Who does that any more?
There’s also a new Blink story in Oh Comics! #17, an anthology that in this issue focuses on water. That longer story not only shares Blink’s real name; it’s also a meditation on loss. And the rain is well-drawn.
Raina Telgemeier‘s newest minicomic features short bits she’s heard from kids while trying to teach them about comics. It reminded me of Stuart Immonen’s 50 Reasons to Stop Sketching at Conventions, only gentler. I especially liked the bits about kids’ reading habits. Probably because I already knew that kids don’t think manga is the same thing as comics.
I would love to see much more of these — wisdom from the mouths of babes, and all that. And they’re so cute, even when being obnoxious, when drawn in Raina’s lovely style. (I did want to dub that kid who, when told he couldn’t use profanity, proclaimed, “then I don’t have any ideas!” Baby Bendis.) Find out more at goraina.com.
Mimi’s Doughnuts Zine
Marek Bennett puts out a down-homey comic strip collection every three months or so reprinting weekly comics from a local New Hampshire paper. The title comes from the setting, Mom’s doughnut shop, but in the issue I sampled (#13), that location didn’t feature much. Instead, some kids went looking for stray kittens, experiencing the mysteries of life and death. Then the talking cats started doing political cartoons. There were a couple of school jokes, too.
The second half is an over-rendered sketchbook from a trip through Eastern Europe in which everything’s dark and hard to make out, followed by a handful of diary comics. Issue #14 is mostly these diary comics, lots of which are about the weather (plenty of snow) or lying in bed or working with kids. I found it sometimes hard to tell what I was supposed to be looking at — the smaller diary comics don’t have all the space needed for the text required to explain what I was seeing. The more dialogue-based Mimi strips thus better camouflage Bennett’s weaknesses. The characters are lumpy and simplified in modern newspaper strip style. The whole thing is well-meaning — Marek seems like a nice guy — but rather boring. It would probably be more entertaining for free than at $4 a zine. But since he’s won a Xeric Grant to do a best-of paperback collection, what do I know?
Find out more at marekbennett.com/mimisdoughnuts/.
I’m pleasantly surprised that this anthology is still going strong. Then I notice how much attention they put into their themes, including different formatting to suit each issue, and I realize why they’re still around. Their latest, #11, is about Work, and to match, minicomics in various shapes and sizes come packaged in an inter-office mail envelope with a memo (written in bureaucratic doublespeak — actualized, synergistic, strategist) for a contents list.
Unfortunately, the package is the most satisfying part of the assemblage. I can appreciate the imagination that goes into the various comic attempts, but as intellectually interesting as some of them are, none of the stories or art will stay with me. They don’t have the impact I hope for. For example, Brent Bowan contributes a one-sheet set in an apartment building. Following the characters through the windows reminded me of Will Eisner (or that Alan Moore homage), but his work doesn’t have their depth or attraction.
A wordless knights-and-dragons piece by Dara Naraghi (editor of the anthology) and Matt Kish looks like it was drawn by an eight-year-old and fit the theme only in the loosest sense. Steven Russell Black and Tim McClurg do another wordless thing about fish. M.A.D. wasted more paper than was needed on a loosely cartooned interview joke, but at least it’s in keeping with the subject. The most creative match of format and content was a triangular-shaped comic about a pyramid scheme by Sean McGurr and Brent Bowan, but the story provides nothing much beyond a history lesson on who Ponzi was. (I will say Bowan’s art is well-suited to the 50s feel of the two businessmen in a bar.) Craig Bogart does a twist on zombies with the moodily illustrated story of a gravedigger’s passing; surprisingly, this was my favorite of the group.
Find out more at www.ferretpress.com/weblog/.
I don’t recall how I got a copy of Blaise Larmee’s latest zine, and I don’t understand the story or the use of what look to me like unfinished panels, so I don’t recommend paying $7 for it, but I do adore this drawing of an elephant in a box.