Sunday, December 2, 2018

Thirty One Days of CCS #2: Daryl Seitchik, Coco Fox

It's still a bit odd for me to think of Daryl Seitchik as a CCS cartoonist, as I've been reading her work long before she matriculated there. It didn't take long for her to reach a fully-formed style, with a stinging authorial voice and a penchant for reality-bending, dream-influence work. The CCS experience seems to have expanded her range of interests a little as a cartoonist, as well as introduced her to the valuable skill of collaboration. That said, her two most recent comics seem like extensions of past work, with slight tweaks.

Dear Missy (published by Robyn Chapman's Paper Rocket Minicomics) is a continuation of her semi-autobiographical Missy comics. The character design for Missy, and Seitchik's characters in general, is a sort of updated take on kids' comics: big heads, small bodies, and almond-shaped eyes with tiny dots. There is a sort of deliberately rigid quality to her characters, making them look like avatars as much as they are people. Seitchik uses tiny shifts in drawings to express a lot of emotion, but in eschewing a lot of gestural expression, she instead focuses on how tightly wound her main character is. This particular comic is part of Missy's journal, and she at first writes about loving writing. The child's voice she uses is heart-rendingly authentic, as she writes a poem to god about her divorcing parents. The poem has a simple, lovely meter and has the sort of misspellings one would expect from a ten year old. The line "Please don't fail me/It's OK if you do" is especially effective, because it underscores both Missy's essential sadness and her capacity for forgiveness. As opposed to the more direct diary entries that made up the previous Missy comics, this one felt like the sort of grand gesture only a child could make.

Caryatid is a more poetic entry from Seitchik. It's about caryatid columns, which were sculpted to look like women. It's a beautiful comic, written from the perspective of one of the columns, her eyes darting back and forth. Seitchik makes great use of gray scale shading here to create an illusion of light. The statue's imagination wanders from goldfish in a bowl to the fish swimming in the ocean to a rose in a sea of bottles. Here, Seitchik switches to bold red watercolors, emphasizing how the rose's initial appearance is like that of blood. The imagination of the column, as a female energy that is nonetheless constantly objectified, naturally turns to images of trying to be safe. She retreats back into sleep only when she has seen and felt that she is holding fire, imagined a head to be an egg and felt the presence of the rose above her. She was seeking totems and items of protection,

Coco Fox is a second-year student at CCS, and she uses an effectively clear drawing style that emphasizes her storytelling, use of gesture and creates an easy, natural charm in her comics. In Right To Left: A Basketball Memoir, she writes about her sixth grade basketball team. Using a 2 x 3 grid and long, looping lines for her character design, Fox injects the story with a level of detail that's unusual for this kind of reminiscence. This is a story about playing the game that's full of game-related details, as opposed to the game being the background for a more character-oriented narrative. Fox writes about her coach accidentally breaking her wrist when teaching her how to block a shot. During that sequence, Fox deliberately blurs her line to reflect that she had to use her non-dominant hand to draw and play basketball. It's written in a sixth grader's voice, which works well because it gets across her enthusiasm and her living in the moment; this approach goes a long way in charming the reader. There's even a suspenseful climax to the story, and Fox's illustrations are especially funny but well-designed during that segment.

Art Makes Me Feel features a young girl in a museum, looking at various works of art. Each drawing has a caption that starts with "This painting makes me feel like..." and goes from there. Examples include "...like I found loose hummus in my pockets" or "I'm French kissing a picture of myself. " Once again, this comic works because of the tiny, charming image of the girl. Her design is simple: a bow in her hair that seemingly levitates above her head, a dress, a pointy nose and long dark hair. The reader is drawn to her more than the works of art, and the subtle expressive differences from page to page A slightly more refined approach could make Fox an ideal candidate for doing children's  comics.

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