I actually didn’t buy too many mini-comics this year due to being on a limited budget. Still, I was surprised when I was pulling them out of my bag at how many I still bought.
As always, in no particular order.
American, Eh? Parts 1-3 — Heather Bryant
American, Eh? tells Bryant’s story of moving to the U.S. to be with her boyfriend. She deals with crappy apartments, the ups and downs of employment and her relationship. It’s a quiet story, and Bryant presents it in an unadorned way. She does a lot with a little — her strong lines capture body language and facial expressions beautifully. I was surprised at how much this affected me.
The Baby is Disappointing — Idiots’ Books
Written by Matthew Swanson and illustrated by Robbi Behr, this is less comic and more illustrated mini-book. I picked it up because I loved the presentation — it’s 4 1/2 inches by 5 inches and spiral-bound. One page will state things like “The baby is not agile. It cannot leap or jog or lick a stamp” which is accompanied by an illustration of a photo of an antique baby doll in various situations with objects drawn around it. The joke — babies are trouble — is maybe a little obvious, as is the conclusion — but they’re worth it! — but it works anyway. I adore that this couple is out there making books like this.
Neon Girl #0-1 — Dennis Pacheco
A fun, irreverent take on the superhero genre, Neon Girl is a sort of everywoman superheroine — capable and confident, but still someone who has to deal with the ins and outs of everyday life. Neon Girl #1 is more of an extended battle between Neon Girl and Atom Girl over the superhero Red Eye, but it’s done with humor. Pacheco is playing with genre motifs here, riffing on typical “fan service” moments. His women are attractive but realistically drawn and the action is first-rate. But even though I liked it, I think these two are enough for me.
Oh No, A Meteor — Anthony Clark
This is just silly. That’s a good thing. This is about a chicken (or some other generic bird — I believe it’s a chicken) and a cross between a bear and a potato named, surprisingly enough, Beartato, trying to find away to stop a meteor from destroying the earth. Clark’s art is crude and cartoony, and I loved the goofy, almost innocent nature of his writing — he’s not trying too hard. He’s genuinely weird and funny. Looking at his site makes me almost certain I’ve seen his work before. I’m very happy I bought this.
My Boyfriend is a Space Robot! — Abby Denson
I love Abby Denson, so let’s just get it out of the way that I like this. I love the limited color palette she used here — all pinks and blues and purples — and her art has this loose, rock ‘n’ roll quality to it (which is appropriate, because she also makes music. Now is the best time to link to the “Teen Boat” video. You will have that song stuck in your head for days, but that’s a good thing). I like how matter-of-fact she is about the heroine of this comic having muscular dystrophy and being in a wheelchair. There’s no heavy-handed message. This is possibly my favorite mini-comic I picked up at SPX. But then, that’s not really a surprise.
Bad Grammar —Marie Condenzio
Maybe this gets better as the story goes along? Michio has moved from Japan, where he meets two strange classmates during his first day at his new high school. There’s something about some odd cross-shaped symbols and a haunted house. Condenzio’s art is a little rough and unpolished — purposefully so, but just not really my thing. I’m kind of intrigued, but probably not enough to seek this out again.
Nine Gallons — Susie Cagle
Nine Gallons follows Cagle’s experiences working with Food Not Bombs. While she’s obviously a believe in the group’s mission, she doesn’t present it as being some idyllic, joyful experience either. Her art feels influenced by cartoonists like Daniel Clowes — it’s exaggerated and just one step away from caricature. It suits her story since nothing here is meant to be pretty. I love how she subtly presents her loss of idealism. I really should’ve picked up Cagle’s other comics when I had the chance.