Sunday, November 10, 2013

Thirty Days of CCS #10: April Malig

April Malig is one of several recent CCS grads whose work uses fantasy and science fiction tropes as a means to get at deeper, more poetic ideas. Malig has a powerful sense of page design and a decorative sense that balances out a sometimes limited character rendering ability. Questions Of Space Travel is a good example of this. Nestled between two beautiful, eye-catching silk-screened covers, Malig narrates the story of a group of space travelers from earth, going about the story from the point of view of why someone would want to leave the earth on a semi-permanent basis. Malig wraps her characters in loops, ribbons, and psychedelic effects that work on both a literal and figurative basis. This comic is at its heart about loneliness (especially in a crowd) and the unsettled feeling of never feeling at home. Malig is careful not to let the comic's decorative aspects overwhelm the actual narrative and flow of character movements, though it's fair to say that the characters are in the constant embrace of those decorative aspects. In the short, cardstock-printed comic It's Funny To Think, Malig takes eight pages to contemplate the hidden nature of heat and its effects on what one sees. Once again, her design elegance and smart use of two-color printing works in concert with a short, poetic observation, creating a new idea where word and image are interdependent.

Then there's the first issue of her new adventure series Magical Bitches (truly, an irresistible title), in which different cities have different gangs of fairies and several of them are drawn to an abandoned hotel to fulfill some mysterious destiny. Character design and gesture are key to making a comic like this work, and Malig stepped up her game in creating a number of interesting, memorable characters. The fairy gangs feel like a cross between Tinkerbell, the Lalaloopsy characters and the Bad Girls Club, and Malig still finds ways to incorporate her weird decorative tendencies as an artist. She fills in gaps with zip-a-tone effects and finds other ways to add weight to character designs that are simple. One senses that this story could go on indefinitely.

Finally, Bananas: Short, Odd Stories, Full of Potassium, features striking shorts in different styles. "Porcelain" is touted as a "dream comic about feelings". This is a color piece that emphasizes just how strong her sense of design is as well as how delicate is her color palette. The color-driven special effects are the catalyst for the narrative, as they deliver key pieces of information to the reader. "Today I..." exaggerates her character design in a monstrous manner, as she uses a thick line weight for her character and then blows it up to fill an entire page with swirling, lines. It's almost like a David B page. Finally, "That's Not Sugar" is a gag strip that nonetheless still uses Malig's trademark swirly lines to emphasize the punchline. Malig is very much an artist who's still experimenting with how to incorporate her personal aesthetic vision into a more cohesive narrative while at the same time retaining her poetic tendencies. These recent comics show that she's certainly on the right track.

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