Post-It Note Diaries edited by Arthur Jones

Posted in Graphic Novel review on April 20, 2012 by brunswick

Post-it Note Diaries
edited and illustrated by Arthur Jones
Plume, 2011

An engrossing and well-presented collection of talkative anecdotes by twenty different authors, illustrated by Jones on Post-it notes. It takes skill to illustrate the essence of each paragraph of a short story in a manner which flows, but the results are extremely readable, although there’s a tiny bit of fakery involved – instead of drawing every panel on an actual Post-it note and scanning it, most of the images have just been pasted into a Post-it note template, complete with slight creases and shadows. Never mind, it’s still a great concept.

The illustration style is very clear and looks a bit like the work of Dylan Horrocks. The only real variable is the skill of the writers – some contributions work well, like lecturer Andrew Solomon’s account of his ndeup (an exorcism ceremony to cure depression) in Dakar, and musician Andrew Bird’s anecdote about how his music career was saved by an actual Post-it note. A few are unexpectedly threadbare, but only if you like the author and you’re disappointed that they’re not super-entertaining, like Kristen Schaal’s story about her job as Miss Peppermint Twist at famous NYC toystore FAO Schwarz.

Storyboard Still from an Abandoned Music Video #4

Posted in Lovely pictures, Sound & Vision on April 19, 2012 by brunswick

Feeding Ground by Swifty Lang & Michael Lapinski

Posted in Graphic Novel review on April 18, 2012 by brunswick

Feeding Ground
by Swifty Lang & Michael Lapinski
Archaia, 2011

While ‘coyote’ Diego Busqueda is guiding a group through the unpleasant Devil’s Highway from Mexico to Arizona, the vile Don Oso pays his attractive wife a visit, and one dead Don and burnt house later, his family is on the run. Oh, and werewolves.

An evil American company on the border picks up unfortunate crossers to experiment on, unleashing the chupacabric results into the desert to wreak havoc on both illegal immigrants and the loutish rednecks who pierce their water caches. There’s a fair bit of sharp satire here.

The vivid artwork appears to be based on photo reference and is coloured with a striking and carefully controlled palette, with occasional strategic colour plate-misalignments to give panels an edge of psychological dislocation, and feral woodcut images. The only weakness is the depiction of the actual werewolves, which look a bit Lon Chaney Jr.-ish.

Ratfist by Doug Tennapel

Posted in Graphic Novel review on April 17, 2012 by brunswick

Ratfist
by Doug Tennapel
Image Comics, 2011

Poor Ratfist! Life takes a turn for the worse for this slightly unbalanced vigilante with disembodied Mickey Mouse ears when he breaks into a laboratory and is transformed into a giant human rat – when he has to wear a mask of himself to maintain his normal daytime identity, he becomes “a rat disguised as a rat disguised as a human”. There’s also the matter of the talking tail he uses to swing around the city (one of many jokes at the expense of Spider-Man), the space tiki who can cure cancer, and the grotesque Monkey Trout, who is prone to eye injuries.

This story first appeared as an ambitious 5-page-per-week webcomic and was only ever intended to be 150 pages long, which gives it a satisfying (and slightly sad) story arc. The only casualty of the frantic production rate is the frangible plot, but it zips along due to its exuberant brush artwork and consciously silly humour.

When in doubt: in-jokes

Posted in Jitterati, Lovely pictures on April 16, 2012 by brunswick

Fantastic Life by Kevin Mutch

Posted in Graphic Novel review on April 15, 2012 by brunswick

Fantastic Life
by Kevin Mutch
Blurred Books, 2011

Kind of an ode to early Dan Clowes, with some very close references to the paranoid dream logic of the almost-forgotten Like a Velvet Glove Cast in Iron and the hipster pretensions of Art School Confidential. It’s Winnipeg in 1982 (Ooh! Spooky already!) and musician Adam is having an extremely unsettling night with a personal timeline that seems to be out of sequence. He wakes up after a party in bed with an artists’ model who he thought had left with someone else earlier, and finds his apartment full of paintings – his paintings, with his name signed to him. He discovers he’s expected to present a massive canvas he hastily names Miss Twin Volcanoes of Boob Island to what turns out to be a feminist art class. Also, zombies!

It turns out to be the fault of the gespensterfeld. Again! This book was the result of a Xeric grant, so it’s perfectly entitled to discuss quantum mechanics and quote The Fall. The rest of us have no such excuse.

Finding Frank and his Friend by Melvin Goodge

Posted in Graphic Novel review on April 14, 2012 by brunswick

Finding Frank and his Friend
edited by Melvin Goodge
Curio & Co., 2010

An interesting behind-the scenes look at the creation of the seminal strip Frank and his Friend by Clarence ‘Otis’ Dooley, which ran in American newspapers from 1975 to 1984 and was an obvious influence on Calvin & Hobbes.

Comics professor Goodge has collected together 52 previously unpublished strips, together with their preparatory sketches, and has exhaustively annotated them based on his detailed knowledge of Dooley’s life. This ranges from the informative: identifying different cartoon techniques by their commonly-used Nat Tatisms, to the slightly creepy: identifying the model numbers of items of household furniture used in the strip based on Dooley’s catalogue illustrations for Cudworth-Hooper Industrial.

The strip was published in New Zealand in the Hastings Herald Tribune, but the subtle colours were ruined by being printed in black and white and it only lasted for a few months before being replaced by Footrot Flats. The story of an over-imaginative boy and his ever-present doll companion Frank is slightly cutesy for modern tastes, but any notional cartoonist would be honoured by a detailed analysis like this.