Monday, December 11, 2017

Thirty Days of CCS #11: Dakota McFadzean, Dean Sudarsky, Mitra Farmand

That Was Awkward 1-2, by Mitra Farmand. Farmand draws funny, four-panel strips featuring little thumb-shaped characters. That said, it's amazing to see what she can accomplish with such simple shapes, especially in terms of both humor and expressiveness. Seeing one with a pony tail is an inherently funny sight, for example. That said, the strips are funny because of Farmand's wit and sense of timing. Farmand turns her attention toward awkward social interactions on herself (with a fourth panel that says "I DID THIS") as much as she does others ("THIS HAPPENED"). Farmand is especially sharp when doing strips about relationships and dating, racism, workplace drama and aging. She'll occasionally dip into full color experiments that work quite nicely with the ultra-simple figures. Despite the sense of formula from strip to strip, Farmand keeps the audience off balance because the punchline panel can vary from anywhere from the second to the last panel, with either the text noted above to fill out space and emphasize the joke, or else a silent beat panel. I could have read a dozen more issues of this.

Untitled (Last Mountain #4), by Dakota McFadzean. This nerve-wracking, silent story about capitalism and advertising gone horribly awry gets its message across with a number of suspenseful 24-panel pages. It's the story of a young girl who's eating her typical morning sugary cereal with a nauseatingly cute mascot on its box. When it comes to life with its incessant smile on its face, it's unnerving but still interesting to the girl, until the bear wants to play hide-and-seek and its eyes appear on its hands. Not only are its eyes now blank, but dozens of tiny bears can be seen spilling out like maggots. What's real and what's an illusion are questions she's constantly asking herself, as the bears disappear and later come back to haunt her at night, as they've invaded the world and (worse) her mother. There's a nasty image of the girl stabbing her mom in the yes with scissors, only to be met with that unrelenting leer. The girl eventually triumphs, and years pass.

A guy comes into the cafe where she's a barista, and he's wearing a t-shirt with that image. Horrified, she asks about it, and he shows her a video of the bear being back in full-force...and there's a creepy set of panels where we see a close-up of his face, and the image of a bear forming as a kind of boil. In the way that time passes differently as an adult, so are these panels 2x3. It turns out she had kept the evil cereal box in a safe for a number of years, and when she opens it up again, she wishes her present away, and winds up being trapped in the past with the monster, forever eating bowls of cereal. She's sacrificed herself to a past of boredom, cavities and the annoying, invasive and omnipresent nature of advertising. McFadzean's control of his line is superb as he crams so many drawings onto single pages and loses no readability in doing so.

Hyperlydian, by Dean Sudarsky. This is a series of strange aphorisms in the form of letters between the unseen Darla and Ronald. Ronald begins the dialogue with a bunch of statements about ends, means, babies and respect, and the line is deceptively plain, especially with the off-putting font that he uses. Everything about this comic is off-putting, strange and yet familiar by way of deja vu. Darla tells him things like "You are as hostile to grace as rhythm to the future" and urges him not to dance again, with drawings of anthropmorphic notes rushing toward a puddle soaking in musical notes. These letters are interspersed with strange images, jokes, violent scenes that have nothing to do with the epistolary narrative, and these climax in a nail desperately trying to not get hammered, to no avail. There's something beautifully liquid about both text and images that swept me along quickly; I often had to stop myself to retrace my steps and really take in each page. This is a comic in the immersive tradition, filled with poetic passages and images, and it's worth many readings.

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