Thursday, August 26, 2004

More Mini-Madness

Written and Drawn by Aneurin Wright
Welsh el Dorado Press

I recently reviewed Wright’s graphic novella LEX TALIONIS in my MoviePoopShoot column, and I found it to be a decent effort, but lacking in some depth of storytelling. On the bright side, it looked very pretty. What I know now, though, is that Wright’s slight miss in LEX is more than made up for in his work in these two minis. THINGS TO DO… is a marvelous, emotional piece of work, mining the events of Wright’s personal life in an anthropomorphic setting. I was very impressed by it.

We meet Wright as he’s existentially slogging his way through life as he heads towards thirty. He’s at a crossroads, trying to work as a professional artist and dealing with his father’s terminal illness and all the complications that come with it. It succeeds because it’s real, enhanced by Nye’s choice to depict himself and his father as bulls, rather than humans. It immediately adds an subtext to both their personalities that kicks the dialogue up a notch.

With only two issues out, there is plenty more story to go. I hope that Wright completes his journey and eventually puts it together in graphic novel format. This is the good stuff.

Written and Drawn by Joe D’Angelo
Pirate Cove

I have three of these minis here, and they collect various strips from the long running online series. PIRATE COVE is best described as a wild comedy, long on stretching for funny gags and short on seriousness. It’s artistically simple, perhaps more than it should be after years of production, but the ratio of good strips to bad is pretty high. Of course, these books are made up of selected gags, so that’s to be expected. Still, with its tradition of bizarre non-sequitors and odd moments, I always get inspired to read more of the strip online after I see the minis. I’d take that as a good sign.

Written and Drawn by Joshua W. Cotter
E-mail for details

Passed on to me by mini-comics maven James Sime, this book (I have issues one and two) is a stunning gothic interpretation of family life in Middle America. An artistic fit with the best of material being published by Fantagraphics, Cotter performs open heart surgery on the pains and fears of childhood, and the way those fears carry through and can destroy our adult lives.

Superbly produced, these minis are designed to resemble a magazine straight from the 40s, complete with ads encouraging smoking on the back. It might seem crass to parody that old faux pas, but when you read the brilliantly dark “We Are Already Dead” in issue one, you realize that Cotter has passed the mark where parody ends and where social enlightenment begins. If the scenario depicted in “Dead” is true, and even on my best days, I’d have trouble arguing that it isn’t, then maybe heading for an early grave isn’t the worst that can happen. Smoke ‘em if you’ve got ‘em. These are award-caliber works.