Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Trade Waiting - Minicomics Spectacular!


The recent resurgence of the mini comic has been nothing short of spectacular. Like the halcyon days of the alternative comix scene of the late sixties and seventies and the small press explosion of the mid eighties, the current crop of mini comics will be seen in the future as a high cultural watermark of a generation. There is every possibility that names such as Michael DeForge, Benjamin Marra, and Michel Fiffe will be treated with the same respect that we give to Robert Crumb, Los Bros Hernandez and the like. With that in mind, what follows is a few reviews of some great mini comics that this reviewer has devoured in recent weeks. Are they any good? Find out after the jump.



LP
Written by Curt Pires
Art Ramon Villalobos

LP is a simple yet effective tale about F; rock star, drug addict, and all round scumbag lacking of empathy. As an addict, F has one goal in mind. Finding that the music he once adored so much is no longer giving him the satisfaction he craves, (apart from when it comes from his fan base, something that never gets boring,) he goes out of his way to acquire an unnamed drug from his local dealer. From here insanity and hyper violence ensues, due to a classic maguffin style mystical vinyl record that F once had in his possession but has now been stolen. Luckily F is a pretty handy guy and can more than look after himself when it comes to the fisticuffs.

Up and coming writer Curt Pires has fun throwing F into ludicrous situations and dragging his protagonist through the proverbial meat grinder. Pires makes no effort to make F a likable character, which adds to the dream like quality that LP has. The story is light on details; no questions are answered from the nature of the mysterious LP and how F acquired it down to the drug that F is addicted to and why so many people are out for his blood, short of him owing people money. The upshot of this is LP, for all its magical undertones and over active action is ultimately a story of addiction and how it can taint and dilute our perceptions of life and reality itself. LP plays to its advantages by really pushing the detachment of the main character and his interactions of the world around him.

Ramon Villalobos, like Chris Burnham, Nick Pitarra, and Juan Ryp, is another member of the post Quitely/Paul Pope school for art and is without a doubt one to watch for the future. His style is perfectly suited for such a off kilter tale, taking turns with his pages to showcase his strengths. Pages of F leaving a gig, packed to the borders with detail of fans mobbing him are truly a wonder to behold, every character different with their own distinct personality. Villalobo's other greatest asset are his exciting panel compositions, which when the story requires are almost of J H Williams ingenuity. Adding to this is his bold colour palette that has a lack of shading somewhat akin to the mighty Laura Allred. Villalobos uses colour to also accentuate F's feeling of detachment, often with group scenes having one colour for all the figures apart from F, who is coloured in a more traditional style.

Verdict - Buy It

More akin to a high end Image Comics production than a mini comic, LP is a fun, albeit irreverent look at addiction, rock stars and mysticism that offers no answers apart from the most important one; what makes a good comic? With simple yet concise storytelling and frankly, prime time player level artwork, LP answers that question in spades.


Rambo 3.5
Story and Art by Jim Rugg

Sometimes there are ideas for stories that are just so obvious and just right, you wonder why they haven't been thought of sooner. Rambo 3.5 is a perfect example of this. Even though the title of the comic is Rambo, Sylvester Stallone's second most famous character is a supporting character in this tale with the main star awards going to one George W Bush. Tired from all his hard work with wars and stuff, Bush decides to go for a little nap on Air Force One. We then get a sneak peek into what old G W dreams of, which is basically a borderline homo-erotic compliment fest between George and John Rambo. They compare guns, (and talk about their favourites,) admire each others muscle tone and generally act like members of the Jersey Shore cast. Jim Rugg plays this comic strictly for laughs and like his most famous work, Afrodisiac, pushes the absurdity to extreme levels. More importantly Rambo 3.5 is perfect for the format that it is in. Small in dimensions, content, and cost, Rugg knows that he is playing with a pretty thin joke and makes a point of not stretching the point to boredom.

Jim Rugg is one of the most talented cartoonists working in the industry today, traversing style and form like few others. Rugg switches his style on virtually a panel to panel basis, literally throwing everything that he has in the locker into Rambo 3.5. Traditional American comic book style, Lictenstein style pop art, manga, and even taking photos of G.I. Joes are just some of the styles that Rugg displays within this comic and trust me, there are many more to be devoured within this small yet powerful book.

Verdict - Must Buy

Honestly, this is a true must buy. Jim Rugg is already a legend in certain circles and after Rambo 3.5 that circle will get even larger. Truly hilarious and wonderfully drawn, the only problem with Rambo 3.5 and Rugg  himself is that there is only one of him. There needs to be more Jim Rugg's in this world to both make fun of and elevate the art form in equal measure.


The Jungle: A 24HR COMIC
Story and Art by Jack Teagle

Trade waiting has made no secret of its love of Jack Teagle. Teagle is a slightly more cuddly, ever so British version of Johnny Ryan, (Prison Pit volume four out soon kids,) and has a canny knack of combining crazy scenarios with touching, heartwarming themes. The Jungle is about Keith, a Robinson Crusoe like character who along with his anthropomorphic cat buddy lives off the land, catching fish, avoiding predators and generally descending into madness. Like Rambo 3.5, The Jungle is a comic that is based around one joke and again like Rambo 3.5, doesn't push the joke to a point of becoming boring. Teagle doesn't delay in getting to the punchline of the comic and when it comes is both funny, sad, and heartwarming. You will have to purchase the comic to find out what happened.

Jack Teagle has a clean style that is less about detail and more about emotion. It is easy to understand where the Johnny Ryan comparisons come from as both of their styles are incredibly similar but there is one subtle difference, Teagle manages to pack an impressive amount of emotion into his deceptively simple faces, making the relationship between Keith and both his cat and his surroundings all the more believable and easy to relate to.

Verdict - Must Buy

The Jungle is true comic book alchemy. Showing what magic you can actually weave with a pen, paper, and a fantastic imagination, The Jungle doesn't push the boundaries of what a comic can do but it does show you that even with a simple concept, you can evoke a whole spectrum of emotions and frankly, this reviewer would take imagination over innovation any day of the week.


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