Sunday, January 30, 2011

BCGF Reviews Too

Here are 2 more handmade comics which I picked up at the Brooklyn Comics and Graphics Festival (and 1 that I picked up at Small Press Expo.) I'm not telling which was which, deal with it.

Steam Walkway
Carlos Gonzalez
Carlos Gonzalez is the Providence, RI based creator of the comics series Slime Freak. Steam Walkway is a one-off short story set in a similarly strange world to that of Slime Freak. The comic is B&W throughout and features Gonzalez's trademark multi-colored crayon outlines on the cover. The size is slightly larger than a standard zine and is oddly bound along the spine with the staples facing out, the pages are not folded. It's a small touch but it adds to the idiosyncrasy of his work. Idiosyncratic is probably the best word to use when describing Gonzalez's comics. They are always dense with writing and conceptually crowded. In Steam Walkway we find the characters' fates altered by an encounter with a tunnel-of-love style art installation that serves as a medium for an ancient Aztec projection. It's the way that Carlos turns an object of conceptual art into an object of science fiction that places his narrative somewhere between the two and makes his stories so unique. His drawing features a clean minimalist line that is reminiscent of CF, however in place of CF's naturalism Carlos opts for highly mannered iconography that evokes Egyptian hieroglyphs. Art Comics are often criticized for style over substance but Carlos Gonzalez's work is an example of an artist giving you more substance than you actually know what to do with.

DannyJeremyCarol Comics Collection
Lizz Hickey
This book collects (I believe) the first 3 DannyJermCarol zines. The strips are mostly one page or two and feature the odd interactions between Danny (a shape-shifting creepazoid), Jeremy (a sensitive type) and Carol (an awkward, perhaps semi-autobiographical id of the author.) The dialog is written in a sort of pidgin grammar that is reminiscent of a poorly translated Japanese comic, or even the work of European cartoonists such as Kristoffer KjĂžlberg of the Dongery collective. This is a source of much of the humor and charm of the DJC strips. The art is raw art-brut and creates the feel of the heta-uma manga of King Terry and Takashi Nemoto. The perverse logic of Danny, Jeremy and Carol's lives builds and builds as you read through the book and eventually sucks you into their horrific world. The strips are often scatological and filled with confused emotions such as shame, desire and childlike guilt. The darkness is always just below the surface however because these comics are genuinely funny and smile worthy.

Mr. Cellar's Attic
Noel Freibert
Mr. Freibert, Like Zach Hazard Vaupen, is also a member of the Closed Caption Comics crew out of MICA and Baltimore, MD. Story goes that they all had Brian Ralph as an art teacher and he inspired them to live their art in the tradition of Fort Thunder and it's a message that apparently sunk in. Noel's comics are perhaps my favorite of the whole group. He utilizes a stripped down presentation to deconstruct the EC Horror standard as a vehicle for his dry and bizarre humor. Mr. Cellar's attic is an 8.5 x 11 pamphlet featuring a pastel 4-color process screen-printed cover that creates a crayon-like aesthetic. The interior pages feature a similar rendering technique reduced down to greytones behind the otherwise clean line. A lonely man looks to rent out the attic of his home only to eventually settle on the ghoulish Mr. Cellar. The narration is frantic and obsessive, always building towards the dreadful climax with a war drum cadence. It's within this over-dramatic structure that Freibert sneaks in his awkward wit. The payoff is of course gruesome and filed with the artist's sincere delight in the visual culture of the macabre. I really can't get enough of this guy's work.

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