Tuesday, October 2, 2018

Minis: R.Petersman, F.Lyn/S.Cantirino

Some more recent minis from SPX to ponder...

Summer Sketches, by Rachel Petersman. I understood this to be Petersman's first official comic, but this humble photocopied mini of black & white pencil sketches shows a young artist who has already developed her own observational voice. Petersman has also developed a strikingly effective visual language predicated upon narrowing each page down to a single, central image. For example, on one page where she's seeing a band play, she zeroes in on the lead singer prowling on the stage. It's clear that she's using some photoreference as well as simple observation of her city's environs, but the results feel lived in rather than stiff. Her style is naturalistic, but she doesn't make the mistake of overrendering. She's perhaps too reliant on naturalism in drawing faces without quite having the chops to pull off differentiating figures at this point; a more cartoonish but definitively drawn set of expressions would have made it easier for her to get across emotions in close-ups. That said, her writing evokes the sadness and sweetness of being a young person in the city, struggling with anxiety but determined to make the most of the environment around them.

Flower Girls, by Francesca Lyn and Sally Cantirino. A post-modern take on "magical girl" comics is a strikingly original idea, especially when addressed in such a humane and loving way as in this comic. It poses the question: what happens when a bunch of magical girls grow up and stop having adventures? How do they adjust to the world at large? Lyn introduces us to Rose, now an adult but formerly the leader of a group of such girls who now lives with her cousin in the city. Right from the start, the reader is introduced to the idea of not only her being a magical girl in real life, but that the ancillary materials like best-selling dolls were a part of their daily existence as well. Negotiating fantasy with the ugly, harsh reality of capitalism is a theme of this comic, especially in the sense of exploring the problem of conflating purpose with financial success.

That said, Rose is drifting, and encounters with former teammates Prism and Skye (now a couple) do little to assuage her anxieties. She has dreams about encountering the goddess who gave her her powers, which have now faded with the years. There are allusions to one team member who fell out of contact and another who totally abandoned them. There's a mysterious segment where her cousin disappeared, only to turn up in the hospital without memories of how he got there--only to make a mysterious phone call indicating that Rose had been fooled. The comic left the reader with a lot of questions and certainly had me wanting more. Cantirino was a perfect choice as collaborator, as the SAW grad is equally adept at depicting the grittiness of daily urban life with the feathery, airy quality of fantasy realms.

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