Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Minicomics Round-Up: Max Young, James T. Stanton

Here are a few genre-related comics from a pair of creators.

Jetpack Shark, by Max Young. This comic is exactly what it sounds like--the exploits of an intelligent shark wearing a jetpack. Young exploits this inherently ridiculous and silly premise in the most violent way possible, satirizing ultraviolent Hollywood blockbusters with gratuitous sex and nude scenes, and a climax of an action scene where our protagonist bites the head off of his enemy. Young uses a naturalistic approach that's a bit cluttered at times. There are some panels where background detail detracts from the action at hand, and other panels where the action is unclear. The printing of this mini also looks a bit blurred at times, with some of the lines looking pixelated. I enjoyed the origin story more, partly because the clutter and that naturalistic style made more sense when the only absurd thing in the panel was the shark. This story also looked as though it were hand-lettered, as opposed to the more sterile computerized font used in the first story. I like that Young takes a silly idea and plays it as straight as possible, and I'm curious to see how he refines this idea, or if it's best left as a one-off bit of silliness.

Beast Begat Beast and Stobor, by James T. Stanton. Each of these comics is a concept piece that plays on certain genre conventions and takes them in unusual directions. Stobor imagines our technology as sentient, with the first story featuring the CPUs of cell phones mocking their "slavedrivers" for sending three photos of what they had for lunch. This comic focuses on longing and the desire for material contact. There's an extended piece that's essentially a robot sex toy/sex organ catalog (the two are one and the same), wherein the sexual utility of a part is impossible to understand by a human. The funniest story features a male robot getting off but refusing to cuddle (needing to "defrag in solitude"), but when she protests that he told her he had a "cuddle card installed", he retorted that it was removed so he could afford a piece of hardware for her hardware. The sex and tech puns fly fast and furious in this comic, but the long sex catalog feature drags the comic down. Stanton seemed more pleased with the tech he could draw than actually generating gags.

Beast Begat Beast is a stronger and funnier effort overall. The lead story, "The Sea Serpent Zoning Commission", is an incredibly clever idea: whenever a new sea beast is somehow spawned, the commission has to meet to figure out where it's going to live. The story of how the spawning couple met, the annoyance of the committee for even needing to meet, and most of all the list of "begats" are all funny, culminating in a fantastic gag. Stanton is great at drawing monsters, giving them a slightly cute and comedic edge without skimpy on their more horrific qualities. The silkscreen covers on both comics are also quite striking.

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