Friday, December 9, 2022

31 Days Of CCS, #9: Robyn Smith and The Mesozine #2

Ding Dong, by Robyn Smith. Noted as a "sketchbook zine," this mini shows off some of the things that Smith does best. Her character design, her understanding of how to draw clothing, her incredible detail with regard to hair are all on display, to be sure. Smith could ditch comics tomorrow and have a successful career as an illustrator, because her style is so lush and attractive. However, Smith never abandons what also makes her a great cartoonist, which is her understanding of gesture, expression, and the relationship between bodies in space. That's true in even the roughest pencils for some of her strips; Smith is especially adept at using a head tilt to convey meaning and affection. There are other drawings that give hints at untapped aspects of her talents, like movement and physical struggle, but Smith is best at drawing highly stylized figures in various states of repose talking to each other. While I've enjoyed Smith's collaborations with other writers, I'm eager to see her write her own material down the line. 

The Mesozine, Issue 2, edited by Denis St. John. St. John loves drawing monsters and dinosaurs, and this zine is a gathering place for his friends to also draw dinosaurs. St. John was in the second graduating class of CCS, and there are a lot of older grads in this mini. It also includes fellow co-workers in the Schulz Studio. the highlights of the mini include a serial from Morgan Pielli (whose bizarre sci-fi comics are greatly missed), drawing a dinosaur combat from three different species, and a thoughtful strip from Ross Wood Studlar (a forest ranger and cartoonist) discussing how the Oviraptor got a bad reputation as an egg thief. There's a wonderful image from Donna Almendrala-Joel and a slightly cartoony story from St. John that adds a touch of Carl Barks cuteness while still maintaining Carl Barks action and movement. This is the story of more dinosaur fights, this time with a mother trying to protect her children from predators. Bryan Stone, another early CCS grad, contributes some pin-ups, as does the legendary Steve Bissette, who was a faculty member at CCS for many years. Non-CCS alum Alena Carnes has a memorable but brief story about being on a dig open to the public, and what it meant for her. Overall, there's something loving and fun about doing this kind of drawing that's at once highly technical in its illustration style but also freeing in terms of the sheer nature of the visceral quality of these animals. Those who love dinosaurs will get a kick out of this zine. 

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