Friday, November 21, 2014

Thirty Days of CCS, Day 21: Dan Rinylo

Dan Rinylo's influences are remarkably broad. There's confessional cartooning, a deep and abiding interest in classic cartooning, a strong affinity for Ernie Bushmiller's Nancy, a certain emotionally raw and surreal storytelling urge similar to Dane Martin (and his ancestor, Mark Beyer), and a strong commitment to gags both light and dark. His excellent and stylish 2013 broadsheet Mangy Mutt is as beautiful a mini as I've seen in a long time. Much like fellow CCS alum Cole Closser, Rinylo has a knack for recreating the look and feel of classic comics. Instead of a direct take on those comics, Rinylo instead modernizes them, using a slightly grotesque but still delicately-rendered take on funny animal comics to create a weird fusion of disparate visual and conceptual influences. In his Mangy Mutt broadsheet, he evinces an amazing amount of control on the visuals: each face looks timelessly old, surrounded by flop sweat and spare but striking minor background details. His Murray the Mangy Mutt and trusty cat friend Shmedley beg for money to buy cigarettes, play terrible music to earn cash and get their pants pulled down by "Pantsy", one of many Nancy-surrogates Rinylo loves to play around with. Murray also has sex with aliens to horrifying results, ponders his mortality with glee, tries to serenade a girl he likes with horrible results and many more classically-structured gags that go in dark directions. This is funny, accomplished work.

Nothing Should Be Precious is Rinylo's grab-bag comic. It's a little more uneven and leans more heavily on the grotesque and violent end of the comedic spectrum, but there's still a tremendous amount of visual and conceptual ingenuity at work. Or rather, at play: Rinylo seems to take particular delight in playing around with familar comics and comedic tropes and images and mangling them until they are much darker and weirder. The countless Nancy variations speak to this; Rinylo seems a natural for Josh Bayer's frequently Nancy-inspired Suspect Device anthology. Rinylo's own self-caricature variants often send the reader into extended, disturbing stories. In one, an embittered Rinylo is working at a diner. Elsewhere, a man is pushed to his breaking point when he's fired from his job, he discovers his wife cheating on him and his pet fish dies. The man enters the diner just as Rinylo takes a smoke break; tragedy and mayhem break out, allowing the Rinylo stand-in to take full advantage of the situation.

There are gags involving a fish monster and a bully near a river; a hilarious BD/SM joke, various forms of body horror humor and transformations, and brutal takes on sex and relationships. The drawing ranges from sketchbook-loose and immediate to immaculately and studiously polished (no matter how simple the actual drawings are). There's a sense of a powerful outpouring of ideas in this minicomic, as Rinylo is all over the place in trying to work out his ideas on paper. It's an interesting companion piece to Mangy Mutt, because the polish in that work can be seen in some places in Nothing Should Be Precious, but both are rife with the same kind of cynical, pitch-black kinds of jokes and visuals. It was a pleasure to get to know Rinylo's work, as it struck any number of sympathetic aesthetic markers of mine.

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