Thursday, July 20, 2023

Minis: Ruby Carter and Kayla E.

Ruby Carter is a young Chicago cartoonist who is primarily a humorist at this point in her career. For full disclosure, she will be doing a book for Fieldmouse Press in the near future. That future book is quite different from the full-color, psychedelic craziness of her minis Bogue and Oozemart. Bogue is a smaller mini billed as "the world's 1st fashion mag 4 bugs!", and that's precisely what it is. Carter has a great visual wit, and this Riso zine puts its colorful art to good use in depicting insects in fashionable gear. The funniest bit was "Who Wore It Best?" featuring comparisons of spiders and bees wearing pink ribbons, centipedes and dragonflies wearing pink heels, and snails and slugs wearing scarves. Oozemart is a sort of dystopian Riso zine done at larger scale (8.5 x 11), and Carter goes all-out with a colorful assault on the senses that mimics the visual assault of a big-box store. Of course, all of the food is comprised of a colorful ooze that melts away even as one is shopping. This is less a story than a concept brought to vivid (and lurid) life, as the pinks are especially nauseating. 

Ahead of the 2024 release of her book, Kayla E. continues to break brains with excerpts in the form of minicomics that are in themselves interesting objects to read and hold. Precious Rubbish: "Birds 'n Bees" (Vol 2, No. 2) is especially uncomfortable reading, as Kayla appropriates old kids' comics (here, Archie Comics and Sweetie Pie), redraws the art in her style while retaining the composition and action, and then grafts it to horrifying tales of sexual & physical abuse and incest. The bold simplicity of Kayla's line and adherence to gag format is almost unbearable to experience as a reader, as she forces the reader to engage these horrors through a structure that almost forces the reader to think of them as gags. Indeed, Kayla even labels many of these strips as "Surrogate Spouse Syndrome" gags, as both her father and brother walk around with her in a way that sexualizes her and leads others to think that she's their wife. Along the way, there are a number of fake ads that take their cue from Chris Ware's classically brutal ads in Acme Novelty Library #10, but she aims her vitriol at her abuser in things like "Hitman 4 Her." It's Kayla E's skill in making memoir that's a sort of subgenre, in that the homages use art meant for children and give it a warped new meaning that's meant to confront the reader. 

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