Monday, December 4, 2023

45 Days Of CCS, #4: Gabrielle Tinnirello and Al Varela

Al Varela's style features big-eyed characters, bright colors, and hearts worn on sleeves. It has a deeply humanistic quality to it, as it's clear that Varela loves all of their characters, whatever their flaws. Skate With Me, Baby! is a mini featuring teens Sandra and Mandy. Sandra is a new employee at a roller rink, and purple-haired Mandy is a frequent customer. What unfolds are the opening moments of a sweet romance that clearly presages a deeper summer relationship. Varela has a way of getting at those opening butterflies and sparks of attraction, especially when someone like Sandra is so shy and awkward. The more aggressive Mandy is nonetheless sweet and patient, and the scene where Mandy teaches Sandra how to skate is both tender and filled with sexual tension. This is less a story than it is a quick character study. The background details of the rink (cheap toys from game tickets, crying kids, an indifferent boss) all add to the magic of the central relationship. Varela's understanding of the relationship between bodies in space and gesture provide the reader with all they really need to know about the story. 

Gabrielle Tinnirello's career thus far has been interesting in terms of the minis I've seen from her. She seems more interested in a sort of narrative collage style of storytelling than traditional comics. That's certainly true with 27, a birthday zine celebrating her 27th birthday. The way she arranges her collage elements and then fills in with decorative drawings around them exudes warmth, and in many ways these comics feel like she's trying to put a certain kind of energy into her work. In drawing different playing cards for different people, she's aware of tarot and other divination techniques in terms of setting intentions for them. This whole mini seems to be about setting intentions after her birthday, and they include finding love and working collaboratively with others. I'm hoping to see something resembling even a further veering into comics-as-poetry given her decorative style or a more conventional narrative with lots of visual bells-and-whistles.

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