Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Minicomics Round-Up: Lindo, Milevski

Let's take a look at multiple minicomics that a couple of cartoonists submitted for review.

Little Bear, Acorn Dream, & Uncertain Doe, by Laila Milevski. Milevski is an interesting young cartoonist in the style of Aidan Koch and Amanda Vahamaki, in that she uses a fragile, even tremulous line, simple and sometimes blocky character design, and gray-scaling that acts as kind of smear or cover of her line in some panels. Two of the minis have screenprinted covers and all three are attractive as sheer art objects. Milevski's interest seems to be in juxtaposing the experiences of animals either with the experiences of humans or how their experiences mirror that of humans. At the same time, she doesn't anthropomorphize her animals, and all three of these minis emphasize the primal nature of her protagonists. Acorn Dream is about a squirrel falling in love with an opossum, only to ruin it by worrying about the possum eating it. It's a funny twist on how relationships can get derailed that relies on the very animal nature of its characters for its charge.

Uncertain Doe is the best of the three comics, embracing an Immersive technique as the letters themselves take on both decorative and narrative functions as part of the drawings. The way she uses negative space on many of the pages adds to the awkwardness of this story of a deer who becomes obsessed with a young human male and follows him around. The man doesn't really notice her and it's too late for her to go back to her fellow deer after that--she literally disappears off the page. Her light line is a perfect match for the subject matter, especially as she adds wit to the inherently sad nature of the story. Little Bear (published by Parcell Press) is told partially in color and partially in gray scale and tells of a doomed relationship between a young boy and a female werebear. Inspired in part by a Latvian folk tale, there's an especially devastating scene where there's a celebration in the village where people dress as animals and dance in order to gain the hospitality of the house. The werebear in human form comes to the door where the young man lives wearing a bear mask and dances, only to leave in frustration when she understands that the two of them can never be together. There are some powerful images in this story, like one panel where we see the werebear suddenly on the telephone with words exploding out of the receiver, only to see the phone hanging as she walks away. I'm not sure it entirely coheres as a narrative, and the grayscale is sometimes distracting, but it's still an ambitious, impressive effort for a cartoonist who shows tremendous promise.

Carl Finds Love 1-2, Wall Street Cat and Lobotomy, by Sara Lindo. There is a consistent sweetness to be found in Lindo's comics about cats, anthropomorphic traffic cones and walking brains. They're silly and fun, and it's obvious that Lindo takes delight in the simple act of making marks on paper and creating narratives. Lobotomy is about a brain that gets time off from its frontal (decision-making) lobe in order to have some fun. It's a cute concept that's derailed by sloppy storytelling and rendering choices; the brains themselves meld into the background in ways that make it difficult to discern what's happening in a given panel. The two oversized Carl Finds Love stories show improvement from the first issue to the second, in part because Lindo adds color in that second issue. Her use of color is varied but also restrained, adding depth and substance to this odd little slice-of-life comic about a cone named Carl who's trying to find a girlfriend. Even in the most awkward moments of this comic, there's a central niceness to it as every character is without guile.

Ike The Cat In: Wall Street Cat is the best of these three comics. It's a simple story: a cat gets up in the morning, his owner puts a tie on him, he takes the subway to work in a Wall Street office. His job is to make employees feel better about their day. The concept is clever, and its execution luxuriates in the details: the cat riding an escalator, the cat looking at someone's newspaper on the subway, the cat nestling into his bed at his job, the woes that the workers pour out to him. It's perhaps on the over-rendered side (there's a lot of hatching that doesn't add much to the story), but it's obvious that Lindo wanted to portray the sheer denseness of city life and how strange & silly a cat is in negotiating this environment. I'm not precisely sure what kind of stories Lindo is interested in telling, but I have a sense that she'd be ideal doing comics aimed specifically at children.

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