Saturday, December 8, 2018

Thirty One Days Of CCS #8: Emma Hunsinger, Hachem Reslan, Kat Ghastly

I spent the first week of my CCS reviews mostly looking at the work of old favorites. Now it's time to turn my eye to the classes of 2018, 2019 and 2020.

The Last Mather, by Kat Ghastly. Subtitled "Inherited Karma", this is a short shaggy dog joke of a story about a ragged homeless man (derisively referred to as "the trash king" by a local) having a horrible day. He gets bitten by a wild boar and loses his shoe, he steps on a nail, he gets soaked with a bag of piss, etc. The final scene, where he confronts a famous ancestor, is actually a pretty hilariously complicated reference having to do with the concept of predestination. Ghastly's cartooning is spare but expressive, pointing the reader to every portion of each snowballing misfortune.

Under The Sun, Trickle Down, and Karantina, by Hachem Reslan. These are all short, weird minicomics made by an artist clearly interested in the absurd and horrific. Under The Sun I starts as a story about a lovers' quarrel. The comic is set in a nine panel grid, but there are no panel borders set, giving it an open feel. Reslan uses a number of interesting perspective tricks, like putting a door in the upper right hand of a panel to indicate its distance, but not moving the “camera” closer as a figure approaches it—he gets smaller on the page as he moves further away. It's an effective device for showing the emotional distance between the man and woman having a fight. Then a vampire appears in the woman's room, whom she mistakes for her lover at first. The eventual conflict is told with a series of shifting perspectives, the use of shadow and light, and the eventual collapse of panels on the final page. It's a short, smart comic told with a fine but steady line.

Karantina is about a woman surviving in a war-ravaged area. The comic is all about rituals of survival, focusing on water above all else. When that runs out, she has to move on. She finds a stream but also a dead, decaying dog, which she shoves into the stream in an act of mercy. The comic is about her attempts at not just survival, but dignity, and it's told with that same steady hand. Trickle Down is pure nonsense, as Reslan channels Joe Daly and possibly Cowboy Henk in talking about Ronald Reagan's exploits rolling skating and subsequent disappointments. It's pure absurdity, from the interactions of the main characters to the use of Reagan's image over various other people in the end pages. Reslan's work is imaginative, strange and well-executed.

The Pipe Family, by Emma Hunsinger. This oversized comic (about 12" x 8") is pure, glorious nonsense from beginning to end. Hunsinger's over the top ridiculousness, grotesque cartooning and distorted images form a weird, funny but logically consistent story about the Pipe family moving to "No River Junction". The Pipes have a monopoly on both pipes used for plumbing and smoking, and a couple of curious kids investigate why they've moved to their dusty old town. Hunsinger heightens everything here--dialogue, character design, plotlines--in order to make the narrative particularly silly. There are creepy-eyed children, impossibly large mustaches, non sequiturs, and plot twists to go with hilarious, deadpan dialogue. This comic is raw in the best possible way, as it looks like it just popped fully formed from Hunsinger's head.

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