Wednesday, November 14, 2018

Minis: November Garcia

November Garcia made one of her periodic journeys to the US from the Philippines, which meant that another issue of her grab-bag minicomics series Malarkey (#3) made its way to my mailbox. Garcia's confidence grows from issue to issue, and her use of spot color here enhanced the storytelling significantly. Garcia's use of color was not so much decorative as it was for storytelling clarity, as the colors helped lead the eye across the page. Garcia's comics are autobiographical, but there's no telling if she's going to go with a current observation, a dip into childhood, a tale about "My Weepy Ex", or hijinx from her family (and especially her mom).

Garcia is a humorist, first and foremost. When she does a four-panel, single-page story, it's almost always a sign that the fourth panel is going to have a punchline. That said, Garcia isn't afraid to "spill some ink" as a memoirist; that is, she makes herself vulnerable to the audience and provides intimate, personal details about her life. Her comics are funny because life is funny and frequently nonsensical, and she has a knack for distilling these moments. The greater precision of her draftsmanship shows in emphasizing certain images for comedic effect. For example, in a two-page story detailing her difficulties with smoking pot, there's a close-up panel of her bloodshot eyes as she realizes everyone she loves will someday die. There's a rubbery quality to her character work that's reminiscent of Peter Bagge at times, down to the heavy hatching.

That said, her character design (with emphasis on the eyes above all else) and lettering bears her own unique stamp. They're meant to be a little loose and cartoonish, but the reality is that she's careful on each page to have rock-solid storytelling and clearly-defined background jokes. Garcia is especially adept at drawing herself as a child, which can be a difficult task for some. She gets the body language and gestures that children make and just how weird they can be, which she emphasizes in a strip about her own strange behavior as a kid. Garcia is also as much a fan of comics as she is a professional, and there's a funny two page strip about a friend who tells her his animation friends think her work is too whiny. The result is two tight nine-panel grids worth of one-upmanship, as Garcia defends her indie comic turf and rejects the critique because the people making it don't know what they're talking about. The strip is especially funny because Garcia points out her own foibles and hypocrisies along the way. Her ability to do short strips and longer narratives with sensitivity, humor and even the occasional bit of scatology is indicative of her versatility and points to a wide and varied career path.

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