Monday, August 8, 2016

Minis: O.Hale, T.Galambos, V.Fluckiger

Inside Salmeck, by Vincent Fluckiger. Fluckiger is a Swiss cartoonist and musician whose main project as an artist is recording quotidian details in his city of Basel. With a thin, delicate line, Fluckiger adds a sly sense of humor to his observations, equating the front door of his flat with that of a dungeon, gargoyle and all. He has a real knack for giving life to structures as he draws from life, which was key because he only drew people on a single page of the mini. And those drawings are small , just getting across the essence of each person. A lot of this comic is devoted to the things he loves: coffee, the smells of Indian food cooking from a nearby apartment, and musical instruments. The instruments are rendered in minute detail, as they truly are the most important thing he sees on a daily basis. Fluckiger ends the comic by tying in a comment about the Rhine river and salmon that he made earlier in the book, concluding a slight but satisfying set of images and commentary.

Moderne Luv, by Ohara Hale. Published by Cody Pickrodt's Ray Ray Books, Hale's simply drawn but emotionally intense stories about two worm-like creatures experiencing the ups and downs of relationships does a great job of creating a rhythm that draws the reader in. Whatever dialogue is exchanged on the pages is rendered moot by extreme closeups that mash together the characters' faces, warping them into abstract shapes that reflect the sort of true intimacy that their words do not. From there, we see the man talking to another man and the woman talking to one of her friends, both excitedly reflecting on their encounter. The excitement turns to reticence as the couple finds excuses not to see each other, until the fantasy ending where both are sleepless, longing for each other and magically reach across the distance to erase that gap. Hale really commits to her drawing style, which helps keep the book's emotional tone slightly flat until the very end.

Travis and Sing, Sing A Song by Tom Galambos. It's always good to see new work by this 90s minicomics veteran who draws  with a thick, confident ink line. His self-caricature is one of my favorites in all of comics: a bulky, smashed-up hulk of a figure with an almost bean-shaped head, furrowed brow and glasses. Sing, Sing A Song sees Galambos draw himself doing various activities, singing lyrics from truly cheesy songs from the 70s. Whether he's taking a bath, mowing the lawn, fighting a squid (!) or playing basketball, Galambos scowls and sings tunes like "Afternoon Delight", "Easy" and "Seasons In The Sun". This is a silly bit of fun that mostly serves to show off Galambos' inking skills.

Travis takes a completely different approach. Half of it is silent, with each page slowly building on the image of Galambos sitting next to the titular character, his long-time friend Travis, on a bench. Building from the bottom right hand side of the page and branching upward (a counter-intuitive approach, to be sure), Each panel fractures time as the key panel is repeated (sometimes with variations) on page after page. There are sometimes little suites of panels working together, like Travis aging in reverse, works of art juxtaposed against Travis working on them and images of floating away. As the pages get denser, we can see that this is a story of a friendship cut short by cancer. Midway through the comic, when the word "cancer" is uttered aloud, Galambos switches styles, continuing to use that shot on the bench on page after page. The narrative is otherwise more conventional here, as Galambos tells the story of his friendship with Travis, starting with negative first impressions in art school to discovering they were kindred spirits. Throughout, Galambos uses a slightly thinner line and a lot of negative space surrounding his crisp art. While Galambos grapples with the idea of his friend, who had figured his life out in a way that Galambos had not at that time, succumbing to cancer, the panel in the bottom right-hand corner changes to show Galambos aging and Travis staying exactly the same. The idea of Travis is the only thing that stays the same as Galambos ages. Galambos' ability to combine a personal story with unusual storytelling techniques makes this a comic that's worth reading again and again, in order to absorb images that may have passed by the first time.

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