Tuesday, December 27, 2011

A Few Notes On Motherlover

I won't be formally reviewing the new 2D Cloud release Motherlover because I wrote the foreword to the book. Instead, I'll just contribute a few notes about the book, which is an anthology featuring the work of Nic Breutzman and the team of John & Luke Holden.

1. The Breutzman story "You Can't Be Here" was originally self-published as a broadsheet. In the anthology, it was redesigned and a layer of sickly green and purple was added by editor/publisher/colorist Raighne Hogan, giving the story another layer of alienation. Here's my original review of the story:

"Nicholas Breutzman is an exciting young artist whose grim comics inspire feelings of dread and malaise. Breutzman has been ambitiously and aggressively experimental with regard to format and design with his early works as he’s explored some uncomfortable subjects. You Can’t Be Here was done in broadsheet format, giving each panel a certain power and heft that he filled with zip-a-tone. Breutzman once again zeroed in the subjects that have informed his small body of work to date: the darker side of small-town life, the way the claustrophobia of such an existence leads people to do strange things, and the ways man and nature have an adversarial relationship. Breutzman is a master of both the single striking image and overall restraint with his storytelling, a combination that helps create that air of dread. The reader always gets the feeling that something awful has happened or will happen. The image of a washing machine on the side of a wooded road as roadkill and its subsequent “crossing” is Breutzman at his best, combining the absurd with the unsettling.

Breutzman’s style is unusual in that he mixes naturalism in terms of his backgrounds and character designs with slightly loose, rubbery expressions on his characters’ faces. The result is both amusing and disturbing, like a boy appearing on an ATV with bugged-out eyes, freckles and a crew cut. This comic concerns a down on his luck young man who leaves New York (after having been swindled by fake crack) to return to his small town. His recollection of two kids he knew when he was younger who did horrible things to the local opossums early in the story referred back to the title of the story, giving it a different meaning. It’s not just that he and his friend weren’t allowed at a nearly abandoned housing development, it was that simply being back in old patterns was going to lead him down a dark path, one that part of him knew he would enjoy taking. Breutzman is going to be an artist to follow for quite some time."

2. Speaking of which, Hogan has a huge hand in creating the atmosphere to be found in the Holden Bros' "The Boys". The spattered green & purple add a lot to the loose, grotesque pencils and sordid, haunted subject matter of a group of boys desperately trying to find pornography.

3. Breutzman's first story in the collection, "Photograph", is a crisp story about a missed connection on one end and the latest in a series of dead end encounters on the other end. Breutzman's stories are all about trying to establish connections and how difficult that ultimately can be.

4. I won't be ranking this book in my top 50 for conflict of interest reasons, but I would certainly place solidly in my top 25 if I did.

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