Wednesday, September 19, 2012

The Latest Batch From Silber Media

Brian John Mitchell's micro-mini comic publishing empire marches on, as he published something like two dozen new comics a year at minimum. As always, each comic measures about 2 x 1.5 or so inches and comes in its own individual plastic slip-case. Each comic features one page per panel and most of them tend to have very simplified art. The tone ranges from silly genre stories to thoughtful, philosophical comics. Let's move from silly to serious. The dopiest comic in the bunch is Star #2, wherein a musician just barely escapes being turned into a sacrifice for a demon after a one-night-stand gone horribly awry. Kurt Dinse's drawings makes this one worth a look. Built #2 and Worms #7 are both sci-fi stories involving escape. The latter is distinguished by Kimberlee Traub's thick but simple line and a wonderfully disgusting premise (a woman who gains enormous powers from being infested by intelligent worms) while the former is pretty much just a "girl and her robot" story. Pow Wow #1 is about a healer who draws disease out of him and has to put it somewhere else, and his decision to do this to the trees results in Evil Forests.

Moving on to the more serious comics, Shimmer is a balance between comics and poetry that is more than a little rough on both counts, which is not much of a surprise considering it's a reprint of one of Mitchell's first comics from nearly 20 years ago. Lost Kisses #23 is the latest issue of what remains my favorite series of Mitchell's. It's a stick-figure existential howl that may or may not contain autobiographical elements, as it's about the laments, musings and witticisms of a ruminating stick-figure man. This issue finds him with time travel powers, which encourages him to think back to when he got a girl pregnant when he was a young teen and his regrets about the death of the mother. Mitchell creates laughs amidst the tension by juxtaposing witty word balloons with serious narrative captions. Finally, Mitchell's interesting REH (Robert E Howard) is a fascinating biographical trip through Howard's own personal journals and correspondences. This is really a story about a young man and his mother, as Howard finds himself confined to his home in order to care for his sick parent after his father left for business purposes and was essentially always missing. Andrew White does some very interesting work in this comic, abstracting figures in later issues in a way that gets across more information than a standard naturalistic drawing might in the same situation. Considering that most of the images here are static, White does a lot to make this comic much more interesting-looking than Mitchell's other comics. Seeing Howard grapple with the love he feels for his mother against his desire to explore and experience the world is fascinating, as he continually tries to talk himself into what a privilege it is to do this. At the same time, he feels guilt every time he leaves the house to go to a movie or even take a walk, always fearing the worst. I'd love to see Mitchell and White eventually collect this in a format that better shows off what White's doing on the page.

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