Thursday, December 7, 2023

45 Days Of CCS, #7: Colleen Frakes, Coco Fox, Mary Shyne, Carl Antonowicz

Today's entry features short reviews of very short minis by a number of creators. Most of them are in the middle of longer projects, and these minis represent something they can have at shows. 

Starting off with Colleen Frakes, she's from the first CCS graduating class and is still at it. Her first major-publisher book, Knots, will be coming out in September of 2024. For SPX 2023, she did a mini called Where Have You Been?, and it's a funny little autobio comic that talks about the past few years. While Frakes usually does variations on fantasy stories, her self-caricature has long been one of my favorite in comics, and I enjoy the exasperated body language in these comics. Frakes flashes back to how the past few years have felt lost for a lot of people. During this period, Frakes had a kid (who is nearing kindergarten age) and had a book dropped from a publisher. There's a hilarious anecdote where an editor told her that the book was dropped not because Frakes got pregnant, but because her "art was bad." Frakes' pen line remains a joy to look at; she has a keen understanding of the in-between spaces in drawing big scenes. 

Another artist working on a longer book is Mary Shyne. Her brief but funny mini Robbing O'Hare's Weed Box features the main characters from her upcoming book, Graduation Day. It's a time loop story involving two best friends in high school on their graduation day. This fragment is about their wanting to rob the Cannabis Amnesty Box in Chicago's O'Hare Airport, and the various shenanigans they get up to in order to do it. Shyne loves crazy page composition, and even here, she uses a page with slanted panel lines (including the rare trapezoidal panel in the middle of a page) and an open page layout. That doesn't detract from her winning character design, because even in the span of these four pages, Shyne gets across a strong sense of self for both of them. 

Coco Fox also has a book coming out titled called Let's Go, Coco! Fox has leveled up as a cartoonist as much as anyone I've ever seen from CCS, and she did a quick mini for SPX called Just Kitten'. It's a beautifully designed mini with a bunch of cat puns that are awful, but Fox milks each joke with an elaborate visual set-up and doubles down on the pun. The one about "Caturday Night Live" is especially well-done, as she layers three levels of puns in the punchline. 

Carl Antonowicz is an artist who is fascinated by multimedia presentations of comics with performance and music. He did a performance of his upcoming book The Ardent (full disclosure: it's coming from Fieldmouse Press and I'm editing it) at SPX in 2023, with a full array of props and sound effects. His brief mini Open Casket Soundsystem: The Great Beast is paired with a set of musical pieces that can be found on Bandcamp or his patreon. It's the usual sort of Antonowicz comic and it continues to follow his extensive interest in cults and how they operate on a psychological level. Here, the cult in a postapocalyptic setting is following the Great Beast, a monstrous creature indifferent to their presence. He is unthinking and unyielding, devouring all of the detritus of a former civilization that's in his path, with his followers eating his waste. It's bleak and once again points out the utter uselessness of rigid belief systems in the face of a nihilistic and uncaring world. Antonowicz's ratty line is perfect for depicting charred, decaying flesh and piles of bones. 

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for reviewing, Rob!!
    Interested parties can listen to THE GREAT BEAST here:

    I'll post a way to get at the mini today!