Sunday, November 15, 2015

Thirty Days of CCS #15: Mishra, Taylor, Parrish, Carvajal

Thanks once again to my pal Craig Fischer for lending me these comics (with the exception of the preview by Taylor).

Dust, by J.A. Carvajal. Carvajal uses a fairly unobtrusive sci-fi conceit (robots that act as caretakers, especially for the elderly) as a key aspect of this downbeat story about a daughter who is worried that her father is going insane. He's become obsessed with the idea that dust contains some kind of virulent species, and we learn that he believes that they are what killed his wife. As such, he's constantly cleaning in an effort to get rid of the dust. I like Carvajal's line, as it's simple and stark with a touch of the grotesque in the character design. The tragic end of the comic is aided by the robot caretaker's logic being without any understanding or empathy for what's really happening.

The Night Time, by Emily Parrish. Parrish is an excellent example of someone who came up with a way to vividly and strikingly illustrate a story with a minimum of actual drawing. Experimenting in a manner similar to both David Lasky and Aaron Cockle, Parrish uses a twelve-panel grid to tell the story of how night slowly got longer and longer each night on earth, the harbinger of a slow apocalypse. Many of the panels were either all-white or all-black, creating different kinds of story beats on the relentless grid. Some of the panels just had text, and others had a single image referring back to that text. On the final page, when she refers to the end of the world as "a slow dimming", she cleverly uses a dark sunburst--every panel seems black at first, until you notice that they are dim rays from the sun. Parrish's use of color is important in this comic, as a way of breaking up the black and white contrasts created by the rhythm of the page structure. Each color panel is a little jolt for the reader, and while some of the images are merely reiterations of the text, there are others that veer off into an almost poetic abstraction.

It's All For You, by Shashwat Mishra. This is an interesting collection of "romantic short stories", with each entry done in a different style. "Numbers" is drawn in manga style, and Mishra nails the angularity of the figures as well as the nature of the story's hook. There's a guy who sees numbers above other people's heads, and he knows they mean different things: their age, how much money they have, etc. He happens upon a woman that he figures out has the same ability and strikes up a conversation. Her number talent allows her to see how many lies a person has told in their life. In exploring this interesting concept, he learns--in the most heartbreaking way possible--what his numbers are actually telling him. "Distance" is drawn in an open-page format (no panel borders) with a cute, stripped-down approach that emphasizes both the playfulness and the seriousness of a couple coming together in the middle of a long-distance relationship. "Time" is a dense, shadowy story about someone at the end of their rope after a failed relationship, while "Elevate" takes the conceit of using the reader's view of a couple in an elevator be a surveillance camera; hilariously, it takes them through the entirety of a relationship and back again as the elevator is stuck. The elongated nature of the view and the clipped and jarring movements forward in time make it seem as though the reader is watching a film get fast-forwarded and then played for brief bits before being jolted ahead into time again. "Fame" is the most melodramatic and over-the-top story, as it's a naturalistically-depicted story of a rock star who's just lost his true love. There are certainly some interesting experiments in here, as Mishra was clearly fishing around for ideas that worked.

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