Tuesday, February 26, 2019

Minis: Forever and Everything #3

Forever and Everything #3, by Kyle Bravo. This is more autobio work from an artist who previously just went by "Kyle." Bravo uses a simple, stripped-down line not unlike Kevin Budnik, emphasizing character expressiveness above all else. Bravo's line weights don't vary much, nor does he add much in the way of effects like spotting blacks, hatching or shading of any kind. He's fully committed to a 12-panel grid and keeps it simple as a way to keep his vignettes briskly moving. The captioned titles for his vignettes are very much in the style of a Jeffrey Brown, who is another clear influence.

There's a sweetness to these strips as Bravo writes about daily life with his son Ollie and his wife Penny. The strips with his toddler son are excellent, as Bravo's joining a growing number of cartoonists who express the day-to-day joys and frustrations of raising a child in a realistic way. The extreme mood swings of children as they are developing can be frustrating, but Bravo keeps it in perspective as he documents it. Bravo also documents the new pregnancy of his wife in a poignant manner, acknowledging the fear that can be a part of early pregnancy when miscarriage can occur. One thing I liked about this comic is that Bravo treats it as a sort of document regarding his self-improvement as a person and artist. He struggles with how to address the subject of his parents, with whom he had some unresolved issues. He takes a writing class to improve in that area. He's constantly working and puttering to improve his New Orleans home. He goes to therapy and tries to process the trauma of hurricanes.

Finding ways to cope is a constant theme in his work. For example, after a positive experience at SPX, he still found himself overwhelmed by a weekend of intense stimulus. So he walked to a church service on the Sunday after the show, finding a way to clear his mind. This particular issue ends with the birth of their second child, as they take their time trying to figure out a name for her. That whole sequence is both amusing and slightly poignant, as his wife in particular struggles to settle on something, even after they've officially recorded the name. It's all part of the gentle quality of this comic, as Bravo navigates conflict with grace and honesty. Bravo approaches amusing quotidian moments with his family with the same quiet directness as he does bigger emotional issues, and it's that even-handed narrative quality that lends the comic its charm. Bravo has a strong storytelling sense, giving even the smallest moments a rock-steady framework that entertains on a beat-for-beat basis, especially as he intentionally runs each moment together on the page. That results in a reading experience that feels fresh on page after page, despite the fact that his visual and emotional narrative structure never varies.

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