Time to look at a couple of minicomics from near and far.
Candy or Medicine #13, edited by Josh Blair. The latest in this all-comers minicomics series is the usual mixed bag of visual & narrative approaches. William Cardini's story, as always, was welcome to see, as he unleashed his usual Mat Brinkman-style exploration of environment with monsters and robots. It's a nice mix visually between heavy use of black in negative space with wavy lines filling up entire panels. There's also a slice-of-life gag from Katie Omberg that was fairly routine up until the punchline, which actually landed with some force. Brad W. Foster shows once again that he's a fine artist, even if his gag was less-than-inspired. As an editor, Blair has shown a tendency to try to print some genre-oriented stories, like this issue's "The Cloud Catcher" by Christopher Tupa. It's a mildly amusing fantasy story that lacks visual appeal thanks to its use of grays; it probably looks more interesting in color. Blair's commitment to a variety of material as well as experience & even talent levels has always been impressive, and some interesting names have floated through this anthology as a result.
Whores of Mensa #5, edited by Ellen Lindner & Jeremy Day. Kickstarter strikes yet again to produce another attractive, lengthy comics anthology. In the past, the Whores of Mensa anthology printed no more than three or four cartoonists. This UK-centered anthology has also traditionally published the work of women, a tradition that continued in this issue with one exception. Each issue has also revolved around a loose theme; this issue's central idea is "parties". This approach spawned a surprising number of variations on the experience of a party. Patrice Aggs, for example, set her comic in a hair salon where everyone there talks about potentially attending a party at a club later that night. Aggs skillfully depicts the inanity of workplace chatter with great affection. Perhaps too much affection, as the comic slightly outstays its welcome at seven pages.
Sarah McIntyre's two-pager about being forced to fold paper napkins for her mother's parties, on the other hand, benefited from its brevity, as it possessed a clever punchline. Co-editrix Jeremy Day's nine-panel comic "Larderella" is typically cheeky, turning the Cinderella story on its head with the prince being interested in the heroine's shoes for a quite unexpected reason. Cloidhna Lyons' story features lovely art with bold black lines, but it was more than a bit predictable and ultimately forgettable as a result. Francesca Cassavetti's childhood anecdote is typical of her in that she goes from the general (attending all sorts of parties) to the specific (a party that her secret crush Serge was supposed to attend) with great fluidity, easing the reader to her eventual punchline. Her scribbly art is a perfect match for the kinds of stories she tells.
Co-editrix Ellen Lindner, long a favorite of mine in the minicomics world, shows off a remarkable amount of polish in her story of a young woman bouncing from London to New York with great misgivings. Her precise misgivings go unrevealed, but her tendency to bounce from affair to affair may well have something to do with it. There's a stark precision to Lindner's line combined with a certain stiffness of figure that almost reminds me of Steve Ditko. It's stagy, an aesthetic that fits due in part to its nature as a period piece. Howard John Arey (formerly of the High-Horse collective) contributes a two-pager about the sort of person who isn't invited to a party, but desperately longs to be. It's a clever story with an agreeably sloppy line. Emily Ryan Lerner's story about two friends negotiating a New Year's Eve party at an unfamiliar apartment has the sort of specific detail that this sort of slice-of-life story demands. The simple line allows the reader to fly across the page.
My favorite story was that of Maartje Schalkx's, a cleverly-designed map comic that follows her progress walking up a street (shown as walking "up" a landscaped page) with a lost little boy. There's a remarkable spareness of line and image in this comic, as she has the street map take up most of each page. Finally, Tanya Meditzky's comic features small drawings and tiny print, which was certainly distracting as a reader. The simplicity of her line allows her to lead the reader across and around the page with surprising fluidity, much like the conga line she depicts. Whores of Mensa #5 is somewhat uneven but overall still a coherent and joyful shout of a comic. It's another example of the way the British comic scene is growing and the variety of approaches that are springing up.