Thursday, December 30, 2021

31 Days of CCS, #30: Rachel Bivens

Rachel Bivens is very much a CCS student hunting for her style, playing around with the student assignments in some clever ways. For example, Texture! is a silly story about needing to use three different kinds of textures in a story; Bivens turned it into a meta-assignment. The cartoonists gets a sweater with fuzzy texture and a haircut with feathery texture bur cries when they can't afford a third texture--and the puddle from tears winds up being the third texture for the real assignment. Bivens' lettering is rough, but that fit into the spontaneous nature of the story's energy. 

Sinking is a very clever use of the Ed Emberley assignment with simplified, geometric figures. It's a mostly silent story about a deep-sea diver who has her oxygen line cut, inducing hallucinations until she manages to make it back to the surface. The simplicity of form contributes both to the comic's sense of wonder and terror. 

The most interesting of Bivens' comics was Granite. This sketchy, expressive comic is about a trio of teen girls who go to a beach. The narrator is shy, unathletic, and clearly not into doing things like cliff diving or log rolling. She goes along with most of it because of her clear crush on one of her friends. It's more than that, however; there's an element of feeling you were exactly like one of your friends, but then you encounter them in a different environment and everything changes. There's a beautiful sense of tension and ambiguity in this comic.

The opposite is true in the fantasy/friendship comic Rhubarb's Cold Open. Rhubarb is a messenger going through a scary forest and is accosted by Smallflower and Frog Fruit. They start their friendship by scaring him and spend the entire comic ignoring his boundaries, either by refusing him a moment's respite or actively putting him in dangerous situations. The intent in this comic for kids is to encourage opening oneself up to adventure, but Smallflower and Frog Fruit are so over-the-top and obnoxious that one can hardly blame Rhubarb for wanting to be alone. This is only part one of a larger story, so perhaps this gets resolved, Rhubarb's "friends" don't display much real friendship here. 

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