Thursday, December 17, 2020

31 Days Of CCS, #17: Kit Anderson

Kit Anderson brings a completely different set of skills and experiences than most of the other CCS students whose work I've seen. A graphic designer and illustrator, Anderson is applying these skills to cartooning. What's interesting is that Anderson has the eye of a formalist, paying a lot of attention to elements like page design and panel design, and how the two can be related to theme. For example, in Crossings, there's a page that starts with a single horizontal panel of mountains running across the first quarter of the page. The second panel is a smaller map of that territory, also in a single panel. That map is inset as part of a larger image of a car driving toward the mountains, with other panels strategically placed to reveal the driver of the car. The other comics here are similar in intent, although this one was the most effective. 

Minis 2020 is four different one-page strips, each with a different narrative done in a different style. One emphasizes the passage of time in the same place by using different gradations of light and color. Another is a black and white experiment about someone using a match for light in a dark basement, met only by the reflective eyes of a rat. Another used a stark black and white contrast to ultimately express the seriousness of leaving a biosphere behind and the choices that led up to that. The final strip is a COVID commentary, where the text consisted of typical sentiments about bingeing TV and reading books, only each image is that of a scene in nature, oblivious to what humans were doing. Anderson is a thinker as a cartoonist, combining word and image in a deliberate manner to create a feeling, rather than concentrating on a narrative.

With The Snow Well, Anderson went way out of her comfort zone in a number of ways. This was the CCS Aesop's fables assignment, and she chose to adapt "The Fox And The Goat," wherein a fox trapped in a well lured a goat into it with promises of delicious water and jumped on its back to escape, leaving the goat there. This is an old West-style story set in winter, wherein a messenger appeared at a bar, and a man who knew her sat down for a drink and a story with her. She told a story about a messenger who took refuge in a cabin in the middle of nowhere during winter, thanks to the kindness of a woman living there, only to find that the woman stole her horse and left her there.

This comic looks like it was drawn mostly by hand, and it seemed like Anderson tends to do everything with electronic tools. She went all out in terms of various drawing tricks, with grayscale shading, dense hatching and cross-hatching, and her typical use of highly contrasted light and shadow. It's a cleverly-told story with a slight variation on Aesop that provided a clever twist. The one area where Anderson seemed less confident was her figure drawing. They were stiff and she didn't have a tight grasp on how bodies interact in space. Her thin line seemed ill-matched for the material and made her characters look wobbly. There's a great deal to like about Anderson's cerebral approach, especially with regard to panel design and page-to-page transitions, and it's clear that this mini is the first step of many in merging her formal sophistication with more basic character drawings and narrative.  

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