Wednesday, October 2, 2019

Madeleine Aguilar's Minicomics

Madeleine Aguilar's upbeat autobio and fanciful comics are a delightful burst of fresh air. The two volumes of her autobiographical Precious Moments series feature expressive, stripped-down art founded on basic shapes. The first issue features the introduction of Baby Madeline, and Aguilar's depiction of her thoughts as an infant and toddler are both funny and warm. She captures that powerful sense of unconditional love that children feel for their parents, siblings, and grandparents as they feel like part of the same unit or being. The second issue (volume 5) features an older Madeline and a baby brother. Aguilar amusingly gets at several levels of sibling relationships at that age, from sharing the sheer joy of the world to being disgusted when he fills up his diaper. Aguilar uses a lot of blank space on her pages that gives them an almost sense of being scrawled on in a free and easy manner. That thick line has power, but it's also friendly and engaging.

That storytelling carries over in her equally cute middle-ages story Luteboy, which is about the titular character and his friends. Luteboy is an innocent to that point of being almost obnoxiously naive at times, something he gets roasted for from time to time by his monk friend Timotheus. Aguilar writes this character with a great deal of sincerity, but she's also acutely aware that he can be hard to take. This isn't a James Kochalka cute overload situation, but rather an instance of a character badly misunderstanding concepts like appropriate social cues, even if he does so without malice. At the same time, he's tolerated because he is so innocent and enthusiastic. Aguilar is also gently spoofing the concept of the idealistic, sensitive artist, as Luteboy often doesn't know how to take responsibility for his own actions or accept direction criticism. Still, his unflagging optimism wins the reader over, and at times his insights are real and poetic. Aguilar's line is unfailingly winning here, using a slightly lighter line weight but adding more detail to the comic.

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