Monday, December 9, 2019

31 Days Of CCS #9: Alexander Washburn

Alexander (or Alex) Washburn is a 2nd-year CCS student who mostly works in the fantasy genre. He uses a rough, chunky line and simple character design to tell stories. In The Tranquility Of Beja Guja, he tells a straightforward story of a warrior who learns how to use her "strongest inner demon" to defeat a monstrous opponent who wiped out her village. That meant using her negative emotions in order to power her magic, leading to an epic conclusion. This feels like a bit of a writing exercise, nailing a short narrative and finishing it up without being overly precious about it. The character design is a little wonky, as it's very stylized but looks like it's striving for naturalism.

Feast is an interesting bit of body horror where it looked like Washburn used magic markers for coloring. The character comes across sushi, but the more he eats, the fatter he gets and the more he's surrounded by needles (possibly for insulin?). It's a brutal, personal way of making a particular kind of struggle into a visceral experience.

Washburn's work is best suited for comedy, and Goblin Guts is a good example of why. It's about a thief named Guts and a goblin named Rainer, who become friends as she goes on a quest for a magic video game controller. Using a basic grid, Washburn works big, which makes sense considering that thick line weight. That line gives his characters an extra-cartoony quality without sacrificing any clarity. Guts' quest turns out to be a selfish one, as she is trying to get ultimate power over reality, but Rainer brings her back by reminding her how much she had helped him. Washburn's comics are all very light-hearted, until he suddenly introduces a story element like depression into it.

Clan Zargs is the first in a continuing series, and he uses a furry/anthropomorphic character design approach here. It's a ridiculous quest story that's really about the relationships between the five characters in the clan. There are two dumb but tough brick-type characters, a couple of navigators, and a scholar. One of the navigators is a creature who doesn't quite know how to interact with others. Washburn makes it funny, but also makes it about each character's feelings and the ways in which they navigate them. That adds a level of warmth that's unusual for a fantasy comic, be it funny or straightforward. He once again works big in this comic, and that chunky line is far better suited for this kind of style than for more naturalistic art.

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