Tuesday, January 2, 2024

45 Days Of CCS, #33: Laura Meilman

Laura Meilman is a talented cartoonist with a particular knack for color and a delightfully scribbly line. Her proficiency with colored pencils and playful sense of humor make reading her frequently silly comics a pleasure. However, Meilman's actual narrative storytelling style shown in these comics leans less toward strong character-based content and more on anecdotal storytelling. That limits her ability to put together coherent stories and sometimes leaves the reader with a meandering series of sequences that too often overly rely on text. 

Starting with the shorter comics, Laura's Writing A Graphic Memoir is a micro-mini that's essentially an extended advertisement for her Patreon. Even the brief clips from this do little to establish an actual story; instead, there are references to anecdotes within a story. Aquar-aoke is a cute anecdote about working in an aquarium and singing to the electric eel. With just six pages of story, it's a perfect length for this brief, funny story that has a solid punchline. 

Salvage is a dream comic. Dream comics are tricky under the best of circumstances, as they require post-dream interpretation to make them into something resembling a narrative. Meilman here strings together a number of images flowing into each other with a few key words, and the boldness of her color brings to mind how vivid some dreams can be. The comic didn't really need any further explanation, but Meilman included a long text page decoding dream symbols. This didn't work at all with what preceded it; instead of the flow of a story, the reader was asked to go back and do homework in a way that didn't flow at all. 

The longest story here is titled The Pot Brownie Story: The Comic. This is a story about telling a story, which unfortunately transforms an amusing narrative into an anecdote about telling a story. What's worse is that the superfluous introduction to the actual anecdote tells the reader how funny and popular this story is--it is literally telling, not showing. The story itself, wherein a drunken Meilman consumed a pot brownie that made her uncomfortably high, leading to a trip to the ER, is funny enough on its own without the extra asides about particular parts of the story being especially funny to people in the medical industry. It's a shame, because there is an actual funny story in her that's well-drawn, but Meilman just added on too many unnecessary details. That said, her self-caricature is killer, her page composition is frequently innovative and makes story elements pop, and her bold lettering adds a great deal to the story's impact. Meilman's talent is undeniable; she just needs to rein it in a little. 

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