Thursday, December 16, 2021

31 Days Of CCS, #16: Reilly Hadden

Reilly Hadden was one of my favorite CCS cartoonists from the moment I saw their first comics. He's in that Chuck Forsman liminal space where it's hard to say exactly what they're doing. It's genre, to be sure. But there's a sheer weirdness and some genuinely frightening aspects to the work that lingers in one's mind. It's like a second cousin to Chester Brown's early work. 

Hadden seems to have really hit their stride with their Kricket series of comics, however. It's a kids' comic with a lighter touch that doesn't give up an ounce of its weirdness, and the new mini, The Mad Dungeon Lord, continues this trend. One can see that Hadden respects and likes genre tropes but is also perfectly willing to take a self-aware wrecking ball to those tropes. It all begins with Reilly's pleasing character designs, from Kricket to Louise (who feels Moomin-inspired) to the various robots to the Mad Dungeon Lord himself. There's also a bit of Tronheim & Sfar's Donjon at work here as well, as Reilly simultaneously spoofs the fantasy genre while also expressing love for it. Like most of the Kricket comics, there's a silly punchline at the end, some non-sequiturs, and a great deal of unexplained strangeness. In other words, your typical Hadden comic. Subverting expectations is Hadden's specialty, and the way the fear on Kricket's face is completely absent in the story is part of why it's funny. Ultimately, I'm looking forward to a big collection of Kricket comics.

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