Monday, October 15, 2018

Minis: G. Fawkes

Hitting some more interesting minis...

Exit Archaeology, by Glynnis Fawkes. This is both a self-contained work and a sequel to her much longer Greek Diary as well as a companion piece to her other comics about being an illustrator at an archaeological site in Greece. Greece is a country that holds a great deal of meaning for Fawkes, and Kenchreai in particular. That's the eastern port of Corinth, where she had for nearly a decade worked drawing pottery shards and other items from an excavation site of Roman items. One of the running themes in Fawkes' comics is the notion of how difficult agency can be as a creative person. While artistic freedom and freedom in general is important, Fawkes found herself drawn to a job that had no creative nor academic value to her personally. She was an artisan, paid to do a job as an illustrator. No more, no less.

Being freed from the pressure of academia or comics deadlines--and even the responsibilities of having a family--was hard to give up. She could simply work, swim, sketch, drink and explore the area with friends. One gets the sense that Fawkes is constantly restless, her mind going in a million different directions. Only a mindless physical activity like her job or walking around seemed to soothe that buzzing brain. Even at that, the fact that she knew that she couldn't justify another trip out for this job ate at her a little, as time suddenly became a limiting factor for what was usually a more open-ended experience.

Her sketches of the local area are delightfully vivid and loose, as are her drawings of her friends. Indeed, the one major change is that this comic was much less of an interior exercise than some past efforts, and the second half of the comic focuses on the camaraderie of her work group. It wasn't just the labor that was important to her but also the fact that she was part of a team. She was an important cog making the machine run smoothly, and she took great pleasure in bouncing off of people who had become close friends over the years. More than anything, that's what Fawkes emphasized in this comic. Just as working in Corinth had become something she did for herself, so too is this comic a gift for herself. It's slowly paced and has a number of sketches of local sights. It lacks the interpersonal or family drama of her other comics set in Greece, and its only structure is that of the time spent in Greece itself. It's a breezy read at 44 pages, but it could have been even shorter without losing the essence of the story. Of course, self-indulgence was not only a theme of the comic, it was also the format of the comic. This is a comic that invites the reader to stop, slow down, and breathe as we join Fawkes soaking it all in as much as she could.

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