Wednesday, December 7, 2022

31 Days Of CCS, #7: Gabrielle Tinnirello, Carl Antonowicz & Reilly Hadden

This post will cover a few shorter comics by interesting young CCS cartoonists. 

Gabrielle's Pocket Book, by Gabrielle Tinnirello, is a small (4" x 2.5"), landscape-formatted mini that's an excellent example of her highly decorative style that surrounds all of her drawings. This is a clever meta-assignment for CCS that includes elements of things she was supposed to talk about as well as taking the original instructions and turning them into something different. There is an essential cuteness to this that seems simple on the surface because of the approachable and cheery line, but Tinnirello's integration of word and image is actually quite sophisticated and balanced. This mini feels like a proof of concept for a longer work, and the other comics I've seen from her employ this same mix of dense imagery layered from clear line art and elegant, decorative touches. Eventually, I hope that she works bigger and continues to work in color; it will help her work breathe a bit more without losing its impact. 

Kricket The Cat (Spring-Summer 2022), by Reilly Hadden. Hadden's latest Kricket comics are some of their best. Going the black-and-white route paid off, as the strip got re-energized for this extended story. The right balance for Kricket is providing a satisfying 4-panel punchline on every page while also connecting them for a longer narrative. That's exactly what Hadden achieves here, as the perpetually put-upon Kricket takes a photo of a rare Steahorsus, only to lose his camera to a bird flying to Forbidden Island. Hadden is able to bring a number of recurring characters (apart from Kricket, there's also the hat-wearing Louise and the ingeniously-designed Old Man Catfish) who need no special introductions to understand. There's a clarity of narrative here that allows Hadden to occasionally go off on a tangent, but Kricket's central motivation is a through-line that provides a solid structure for all of the foolishness. If John Porcellino drew a funny-animal series, it would look something like this. 

The Ardent SPX Preview, by Carl Antonowicz. This is the first twenty pages of Antonowicz's next book, and he's added a beautiful blue wash and added much more clarity to his line. Antonowicz likes telling fantasy stories steeped in grubby medieval imagery, meaning that there's a lot of rubble, debris, and decay. Not to mention usually disease and violence to boot. Visually, this has meant a gritty quality that teeters into messiness, but The Ardent features his usual line-up of themes with backgrounds that aren't quite as fussed over. Antonowicz lets his use of color do a lot of the job of adding weight and substance to each page, as well as giving his characters something to work off of. The story is about a devoted monk charged with taking the remains of one of his religion's beloved saints to her final resting place. The contrast between this monk's absolute faith with the rest of the order falling to pieces because the monastery is being sold off is hilarious and fits in nicely with Antonowicz's project of studying true believers in the face of all other evidence. I'm fascinated to see how the rest of the quest goes, especially since it seems the monk is either mute or has taken a vow of silence. 

Antonowicz also submitted Open Casket Soundstyem: Tomb Riddim, an anthology about different kinds of forbidden and foreboding tombs. "Riddim" is a reference to the instrumental portion of reggae and dancehall; or the vernacular version of "rhythm." This is exactly what Antonowicz is doing here: creating a storytelling rhythm with the neat trick of using a hidden protagonist: the tombs, or rather the forces that built each tomb, themselves. One is in a desert, drawing in pilgrims. Another is forgotten, in the center of a city. Another contains the remains of a dying god and is lethal to the living. Another reveals a horrible truth about the inhabitants of its city. And so on. It's akin to Bob Dylan once saying that each of the lines of "A Hard Rain's A-Gonna Fall" is in itself the first line of its own song. Antonowicz's thinking of comics as performance and music adds a richness to how he tells a story. 

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