Thursday, November 26, 2015

Thirty Days of CCS #26: Dean Sudarsky

Dean Sudarsky will be graduating from CCS in 2016 and has tried a number of different ways to express himself through comics. Side A: Work Dance/Side B: Sinkhole sees him experimenting with comics-as-poetry. "Work Dance", drawn in a scratchy, angular and open style not unlike Sophie Yanow, ritualizes the act of getting ready to go to work, with the text being both suspicious of "work" in the context of a societal whole and grateful for work done on a personal level. "Sinkhole" is a denser, darker story that addresses the mind/body split, with every facial expression a rictus of agony. The image of the body being so pressurized that it's practically liquid is a vivid one, with clever lines like "I'm just so ambitious! I won't stop 'til I secrete success" getting at that sense of being pushed and pulled. Sudarsky's line is thicker and his use of zip-a-tone and other effects helps create that oppressive atmosphere.

Sudarsky submitted some short and incomplete work as well. One of my favorites was about a rock band called The Bureau started by agent 3181 of some government agency in order to infiltrate the underground music scene. While they were a failure, their music got sent back in time to 1979 and became highly influential, so by the time the band was formed, they suddenly became popular. The art is a mix between Yanow and Tom Kaczynski, with Sudarsky's own biting sense of humor. "The Dysfunctionals" is a single page strip done in the style of a Sunday old-school drama/romance comic, in full color. Sudarsky goes to town on using the formal elements of the strip for humorous purposes, like the middle column being variations on the same tearful pose, distorted body positions and absurd situations. It subverts romance comic tropes with modern relationship politics. "Song Of The Left Hand" seems to be a sort of tribute to Jim Woodring's "What The Left Hand Did": surreal autobio that incorporates Sudarsky's interest in using background text as a way of commenting on the story as a sort of Greek chorus. Here, the "left hand" is essentially the invisible hand of fate, pushing Sudarsky to and fro with regard to where he goes, whom he meets and what he cares about, illustrating the ways in which he feels like he's drifting through life. Offered a doomsday weapon that allows him to wipe out his own world, he eventually pushes it while imagining this fantasy person he's singing to in the background urging him out. It's a clever strip that combines despair, loneliness and that sense of drifting that comes with being depressed, drawn with a combination of his angular style and a more naturalistic style.

His comic Lachrymator is a collection of brief, mean, political, funny and often existential strips, mostly drawn in a flat and naturalistic style that again owes a lot to old comics pages. "Dawn Of The Red Sun" sees a downtrodden Superman buying fair-trade chips as a way of being "a considerate and well-informed citizen", only to be foiled by a kid wearing a propeller beanie who says "There's no such thing as ethical consumerism under late capitalism". The strips are somewhere between the nihilism of Ivan Brunetti's early work, David Rees' pointed and scorched-earth political commentary, and Evan Dorkin's blunt and frequently visceral sense of humor. His nameless art commentary comic featuring horses committing acts of violence is profane and rough much like a western, but it gets at the heart of why creating is not about a pose or being liked, but rather is about expressing truth and experiencing the joy of creation. Finally, Murderworld Comix was my favorite of Sudarsky's work in this batch. A series of interconnected strips, it starts off with the President declaring all crime to be legal, which created a field day of murder. He zips between genres in each of the strips, hilariously and viscerally satirizing both genre and culture in a Hobbesian nightmare. Sudarsky is a smart, promising cartoonist who has a lot to say and the tools with which to succeed no matter what direction he chooses.

No comments:

Post a Comment