by Kevin Czap
Hey, it’s January, BCGF was a month ago, but I still have comics to review. Here we go, the end is in sight.
“Roussimoff,” Box Brown — Brown continues this interesting biopic of Andre the Giant, constructed from a bunch of incidental fragments of the Giant’s life. that explore the day to day of his life while barely brushing out the shape of larger events. The anecdotes from the set of Princess Bride are pretty cute. Box is one of those cartoonists that I’ve started to explore a wide range of their work in a short amount of time, so his development as an artist is more apparent. Particularly the paring down and refinement of the comics – making the most out of economy of line and detail (visually and storywise). The back copy refers to this mini as being a preview of a larger work Brown’s working on, so I’m interested to see what the book will be like.
“Seeking the Spirit,” “Provided by the Management for Your Protection,” and “Skin, Deep: A Surprising Twist,” L. Nichols — Another conflict of interest review. I’ll say that, as a colleague, L has been a great inspiration and motivator for me pushing my own work. We share a lot of ideas about art and an enthusiastic positivity. So when I see her making such good work like this, exploring collage, color and pooling all her wider interests into comics, it takes away any excuse I might give myself not to follow my own path in this direction. Each of these minis are assembled with wide blocks of color, found objects and L’s great figure-as-wire-sculpted equation. Of particular interest to me is “Skin, Deep,” that examines sex as physical and animal, divorced from superficial ideas of beauty or worthiness. It seems to me to celebrate the Queer (adj.), and there’s nothing wrong with that, folks.
“You Will Always Be My Cat,” Julie Delporte — Love the collaged elements here, and the expression of timid exploration of sensuality. The line “but if my desire goes away, will we still be friends?” is a great one, capturing the weird space where one is navigating the physical and emotional (not a binary, one and the same thing, to different degrees) aspects of relationships. The depiction of the animal boyfriend reminds me of Inés Estrada’s “Mitocondria”, both in terms of style and concept. There’s something charming about the way the text shifts from French to English to magazine cutout, a charm that’s almost unbearable (in a good way) by her apology for the “clumsy English.” There’s a quiet sincerity to Delporte‘s work that makes me very glad she’s making it.
“Ladies Night,” Lizz Hickey — “Excuse me sir, do you like laugh?”1 Lizz Hickey has a wildly hilarious public persona that gets under the spotlight for this collection of strips on her newlywed bliss. For the Carol fans, there’s a big section in here that intertwines some of Carol’s advice on surviving a heartbreak with Hickey’s momentarily forgetting that she’ll never be Broken Up again. The way she draws husband/cartoonist Keith Jones as bucktoothed and alternately adoring and stand-offish is great. Perhaps even more interesting is the few moments where Hickey dips towards the serious, adding another dimension to the “Lizz” character beyond her fickle love for Keith and her undying love for chips. Beware, this thing is dripping with fucking glitter. But I guess that’s what true love is like, after all. ❤
“P/d indigest,” Roman Muradov — Roman‘s exquisite cartooning on full display, loping line work and harmonious colors. The way it’s written adds this strange effect – kind of aloof, insistently dark – that matches the drawing style more than one might expect. It has this clipped pace that doesn’t wait up for the reader, each piece is more poetry than anything else, making heavy use of visual metaphor. Throughout it all I can’t help but hear the grumbled muttering of Roman’s professed self-loathing behind the slighty odd, jokey lines, though the comics get across more of the humor there than may be deduced from his twitter account. Make no mistake, this is a great primer for Roman’s work, whose prolificacy has already made this “early work.” Absolutely adore the “Post-eviction suite.” Muradov is an exciting talent to pay close attention to in the coming year, for those of you who may not have caught on yet.
Spider Monkey #1, Jesse McManus and Austin English — Whenever I look at this cover my first thought is it’s some kind of Street Fighter fan comic. Out of all the former Comets Comets crew, McManus‘ work probably hews the closest to traditional cartooning. His particular blend, however, is really aggressive, forcing every element in the drawing well past any comfortable idea of consistency. At times I pick up on similarities to some of Harvey James’ wilder work, although the context here is more surreal. Interesting how the mask art portion is handled, using the black and white to strong effect. I think it was valuable for me to pick up an Austin English story drawn by another artist. Since I’ve only had quick, tangential interactions with his work before, his style tended to dominate my attention. So here, with McManus’ more “invisible” style, I have another angle to take in English’s work. Of course, I’m aware that this being a collaboration means his solo work may be quite different – still, this piece feels useful towards an understanding of the whole. Together with the work I saw at the panel discussion, I’m eager to take a closer look at more.
1. That’s a quote from The Simpsons.