Tuesday, August 23, 2005

Comics and Commentary XIII

Here are the reviews I've recently submitted to Poopsheet:

Apres-Shampooing: This 36-page collection, published by Robot, comprises pieces that previously ran in Kitchen Sink magazine, online in Serializer, and in various anthologies. Goodin sheds some light on where he finds inspiration; shares a story about a three-legged woman; offers an extremely well-drawn fable about elephants, rabbits, and trickery; and provides an effective piece about ineffectively enforced crime -- and bad customer service. His artwork borders on that of some of the bulkier manga or historieta artists, and his writing occasionally resonates with that of Dave Cooper. Intriguing. (Robert Goodin / 115 W. California Blvd. #188 / Pasadena, CA / 91005 USA.)

It Happens in Here: Written by McClurg and drawn by Ballard, this 16-page, color-photocopied minicomic tells the tale of a man mourning a lost dog -- and his father -- in the questionable seclusion of a library bathroom. Subtle and sensitive, the work captures a personal, private moment experienced very much in public. A small slice of life, but still substantial and sensitive. Have these two produced longer pieces? (Stephen McClurg and Derek Ballard / Alabama Society for Activity Vs. Inactivity.)

Misfortune Cookie: While this 40-page item was drawn "years and years ago," Justin Gammon's first minicomic is a welcome publication. Had Bob Burden and Jordan Crane produced a print version of Toy Story, this may very well have resulted. Concerned by a flying squadron of fortune cookies, the silverware -- lead by Z Fork -- enlist toy soldiers to dispatch the "invaders" with what appears to be a toy gun. The result is frustratingly successful, and the extremely well-drawn, wordless comic comes across as well paced, wise, and not at all wanting. Practically perfect. Impressive. (Justin Gammon / Wide Awake Press / P.O. Box 14234 / Greenville, SC / 29610 USA.)

Nina the Librarian: In the supplement to Zine World #22, Jerianne describes this 24-page photocopied comic as a "cute story, with cute illustrations." I don't know if I'd call this self-published item cute, but it is darkly light hearted. Similarly, I'm not sure if the main character escapes into fantasy. Rather, Nina, a workaday drudge at a library (natch) seeks solace in a somewhat social situation only to be disappointed by a near-suitor. Then she encounters Stewart, an open-mic poet who has a crush on her, again in the company of a strange elderly lady. The old woman provides a welcome buffer, and while the result is all but certain, the outcome is seemingly open and hopeful. I hope this is part of a longer story, because the characters -- and plot -- could use some development. Furgason's inking is uneven at times, but her character designs are solid. I'd like to see more. (Sharon Furgason / P.O. Box 5735 / Astoria, NY / 11105 USA.)

Shuck the Sulfurstar #1: Part of what I liked about the Shuck installations published in Modern Tales online was the coloring and visual layering. In this black-and-white print edition, which debuted at SPACE this spring, much of Shuck's strong imagery is stunted. So readers are left to, well, read. The artwork doesn't entirely fail, but what carries this issue is the lettering, the delivery, and the diction -- somewhat appropriate because much of this issue encapsulates the performance of a play. With occasional nods to Seth, especially in the design of Shuck's masks, our erstwhile actor gives driving directions to lost strangers, in turn perhaps finding himself. This book is made for color, but is still worth looking at in black and white. One to watch. (Rick Smith.)

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