Monday, July 22, 2013
Minis: Stripling, Meloro, E.Johnson
The Outliers #1, by Erik T Johnson. Kickstarter can result in some over-the-top embellishments for their final product. In this case, this mini has a color dust jacket, letterpressed covers, high-quality paper and monotone coloring throughout. The covers are particularly striking, as Johnson renders a host of nightmarish and fascinating monsters. This first issue boils down to the story of A Boy And His Bigfoot, as the seemingly mute boy Tsu endures taunts and humiliation from his classmates until a bus wreck brings an eighteen foot tall giant to his side for aid after he speaks a word in what seems to be an unintelligible language. Johnson throws in a sinister monster-man and his killer pet/chauffeur into the mix right away in this nicely-rendered (if occasionally stiff--some of the panel-to-panel transitions don't quite flow smoothly) and moody comic. I get the sense that as Johnson really starts to explore the mysterious forest that's full of monsters, things will get more interesting in a hurry. As it stands, this is a solid monster comic that plays to the artist's strengths as someone who excels in revealing powerful, static images.
Misper #1-3, by Anthony Meloro. These are some crazy comics, screenprinted on what appears to be construction paper and rendered in a crude but powerful style. Ostensibly about missing persons and police procedurals, Meloro immediately takes his comic on a supernatural turn. For example, when one cop is shot by a suspect, he is encouraged by the visions of girls the cop couldn't save to get up. When he manages to do so and makes it to a hospital, the apparitions reappear when the criminal comes to the hospital in an effort to finish him off, warning him away. Another story features a cop angering a group of cultists by accidentally stumbling upon one of the sacred shrines, and he is ultimately chased down by the bulletproof cultists and burned alive. I found these comics to be wonderfully strange and fun, bursting with energy and hastily-scrawled ideas and drawings. It's the opposite of polished storytelling, but it's what minicomics can do so well: create an artifact.
Book of Job #2 and other minis by Scott Stripling. Stripling's comics blend Gary Panter and Jack Kirby in equal measure. Mixing in elements of War of the Worlds, fantasy and the titular story, this mini follows what is Stripling's most pressing interest: evolution. The hero is subjected to a series of trials, tests and tortures until he floats in a space pod, waiting to emerge as a new being. That fascination with divinity, magic and evolution is also evident in an untitled mini that mimics the Norse myth of Balder, an invulnerable god who is killed by a humble arrow. In the mini, the gods are big and blocky Kirby-style space gods, and the invulnerable god in question is shrugging off power rays before the arrow fells him. In another, more polished and stylish untitled mini, a caveman learns how to kill using weapons, a revelation tainted by the fact that he becomes haunted by ghosts until he's driven into a cave. There, he encounters a crystalline, alien intelligence; presumably, this contact alters the savage (there's a relentless motif of teeth tearing through their prey) forever. Finally, "Shock and Awww" is a quickly-scrawled mini that relates a disgusting anecdote that the wrestler "Rowdy" Roddy Piper witnessed early in his career. There's a rising interest in cartoonists doing comics about 1980s wrestling, which is not surprising given the colorful characters involved in that business. Stripling is clearly still finding his footing as a cartoonist, but I like the ways in which his comics are bursting with energy and ideas.