Monday, December 5, 2022

31 Days Of CCS, #5: The Ladybroad Ledger #5

The Ladybroad Ledger is a broadsheet anthology by women, femmes, and nonbinary cartoonists in Vermont. So says its back page. The original version of this folded a few years ago after four issues, but three CCS students revived it with a bunch of their fellow students and alumni, along with other local cartoonists. The editors are Violet Kitchen, Annabel Driussi, and Sofia Lesage, and it looks like Kitchen handled the editing and Driussi the design. Kitchen took the cover chores and she came up with a powerful, vivid strip filled with violent reds and oranges that exemplified her anger regarding the Supreme Court overturning Roe v. Wade and endangering a woman's right to her own body. It's an eye-catching, righteous bit of fury that demonstrates her considerable skill as a cartoonist. She's got every tool needed to become great. 

One of the fun things about a broadsheet is that cartoonists get to work big. Coco Fox's strip about her struggles with gardening is a 16-panel grid that still has plenty of room to breathe because there's so much room on the page. Her loose, scribbly style and extensive use of decorative flourishes along her panel borders aid in depicting the slightly out-of-control nature of gardening and how difficult it is to control. Kristen Shull's autobio comic addresses the problem of worrying about her readers and audience reactions in general. It also has a lot of interesting visual flourishes that reflect her other cartooning interest of fantasy, and the panel design is chaotic in ways that aid its overall aims. 

A lot of Daryl Seitchik's work involves wide-open spaces, and so working big in her story "How To Become A Mermaid" does a great job of using negative space and black/white contrasts. Masha Zhdanova's comic about summer and falling in love has a nice visual gestalt effect that encapsulates a brief, fleeting feeling. Sofia Lesage's comic about summer goes in a radically different direction: it's a depression journal that's an absolute howl. It's a comic about being trapped in one's own worthless, horrifying mind and body, where the possibility of communication that doesn't poison everyone around you seems impossible. Where one's creative impulses are self-muted and whatever distractions that can be generated are fleeting and foolish. She captures all of these feelings and more in a loose grid that emphasizes body language above all else. 

Leda Zawacki's "29 Miles" suffers from murky grayscale reproduction, marring an otherwise spare, emotionally resonant story about a desperate young woman making a hail Mary play to get a ride. Sarah Woodard's "Open Heart" is a slightly heavy-handed but certainly pointed story about the ways in which the absurdity of racism is highlighted in a medical care facility, with people of all backgrounds providing care and treatment. Driussi's own piece spreads across two pages, depicting the raw, visceral, and erotic experience of experiencing live music. The clashing and clanging images and density of the lettering all play into creating this experience for the reader. 

Sarah Oak's strip about her "Daisy Duke" character grossing out a guy who's hitting on her at work is funny, although her cartooning style is cloyingly stylized. Jen Jolls' piece about someone whining regarding a class has a funny punchline, although the cartooning is all over the place. Keilani Lime and Amy Burns' graphic medicine comic about giving blood (I think; it might be just getting a shot) is funny, reflecting how chronic illness can disrupt any experience. Franky Frances Cannon's full page strip about favorite Vermont bars is cluttered and disorganized, but the drawings are so charming and the actual reviews are so funny that it won me over. Finally, Gabrielle Tinnirello's piece on dresses beautifully uses up the space provided with a host of delicate, decorative elements in a fluid, open page layout. 

There are also essays on why making bad comics is a good thing, how to become a cartoonist, an interview with Kitchen, and a long interview with musician and comics fan Neko Case. Overall, the level of cartooning is superior to the original publication, and more of the cartoonists take advantage of the format to produce work that's outside of their normal comfort zones. 

No comments:

Post a Comment