Thursday, January 24, 2019

CCS Extra: Laurel Lynn Leake

Laurel Lynn Leake has been slowly building up an interesting body of work since her dynamite debut, All Rumors Are True. Her latest, Suspension, is reflective both of her sensitive and humane approach to character and world building as well as the craft of design. With a metallic green cover, she immediately conveys a sense of mechanization with the images of not just characters, but their identification badges for their job. It's an important image because the story discusses the way that capitalism at its heart reduces labor to pure commodities instead of valuing them as human beings.

The story is set in an unspecified future where a number of different people are construction workers laboring on a new project. Pointedly, the cast is a diverse one, as the job clearly drew people from a wide socioeconomic spectrum. There are a few pages of establishing material, as the reader learns about the job, the workers' dependence on their high-tech suits for safety, and the perilous nature of the job. Leake uses a single tone (a metallic green), mixing spot colors and washes. She creates depth and contrast by using white for negative space, putting the emphasis on the characters above all else.

The meat of the comic comes when one worker makes fun of another for eating hearty lunches. As it turns out, the company provides the gear for free but doesn't pay for "wear and tear"...which includes staying within whatever weight class you entered into the job with. It's a staggering revelation that truly reduces each employee to their weight and little else. Leake lets that incident speak for itself without elaborating too much on it, other than a lingering close-up on one employees's wrist counter. It reveals how many hours they've worked and how much they've earned. It's a brutal calculus that reveals the workers as nothing more than a means to an end--especially since the penalties for "wear and tear" are not immediately evident. As always, Leake is an excellent character designer whose expressive figures are the key in restoring humanity to this problem.

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