Wednesday, December 2, 2015

Thirty Days of CCS #32: Rio Aubry Taylor and Jan Burger

Rio Aubry Taylor has been experimenting with weird, psychedelic comics that slip between narrative and abstraction for quite some time. Xir new webseries, Jetty (two issues to date), is an attempt to combine commercial and aesthetic interests in one clever package. The story follows a girl named Mina, living on a future earth where chaos is everywhere because the sun disappeared. With her parents gone in the disaster, she lives with a group of monks who are chased from their monastery by bandits in the first issue. It's wonderfully episodic young adult fiction with a certain fierce, scribbly density in its line. There are monsters, there are weird friends (some of whom are monsters), there are adventures as well as a larger and more sinister set of subplots.

While following Mina's adventures, we are also introduced to a couple of adventurers in "the dark internet", which gives Taylor a chance to draw the sort of line patterns that appear so often in xir work. The second issue retreats a bit from the first narrative, delving into the series' central medium of searching for the "jetty of the mind", retreating from rationality into intuitive thought. That internality comes back around to following up on the dark internet adventurers, where as it turns out one of them is Commander Grok, who has been asleep for two millennia. Taylor uses each page here as a full-blown, separate chunk of narrative: flashes and fragments of story meant to flow across the reader like a flood of hidden memories bubbling up in one's consciousness.

This kind of journey through the images of the artist's consciousness reminds me of the sort of thing that Theo Ellsworth does, only Taylor has created zir own visual language and symbols. The series pulls from a thousand separate influences, but what really comes through is Taylor's own sensitive, playful and intense aesthetic sense. One can subscribe and support Taylor through zir Patreon at
I also wanted to quickly mention a couple of Taylor's intricate microminis: Commander! and Carnitas! These aren't so much narratives as they are unfolding images (one per page) that flip and veer thanks to Taylor flipping around and folding the accordioned pages of ach comic. Each begins with a text statement (the former about an all-conquering villain, the latter about Taylor's relationship with meat. Neither comic is a narrative, but each drawing is a variation on a theme.

Taylor's friend and fellow CCS grad Jan Martijn Burger, is an extremely talented cartoonist as well as being one of the minds behind the avant-garde puppet troupe Paperhand Puppet Intervention. That last word applies to his mini Awake Sleeping Moles, which originally appeared in the anthology Irene #5. It's a personal but fanciful story that winds up being a statement of purpose, as his unborn child is called forth from his wife's womb by the family cat. It's a warm and wonderful story about waking up and facing the demons that keep us distracted from what's important: being creative. Burger's supple line is perfect for crafting fables such as this.

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