Late summer minicomics review roundup

I don’t have too many this time, but mostly I’m just trying to stay caught up since it’s quickly becoming convention season (I’m not sure if I’m going to make it to Philadelphia Alternative Comic Con, but we’ll see).

The Never-Ending War and Jailbreak!: Adam Dembicki
I will never say anything bad about comics made by a child.

While Adam obviously has a good guide in his dad, he has a clear sense of storytelling. The subject matter falls in typical boy interests — wars with aliens and cops & robbers — but Adam seems to have a mature sense of justice. He’s also becoming a wonderful artist. The aliens in The Never-Ending War are creative and scary. These are great.

(Plus, at this weekend’s DC Zine Fest, Adam handled the whole thing with the disinterest of a veteran. I think this kid has a future in comics just because of that.)

The Worst Kind of People Giant-Size #2: James Cuartero
If the title doesn’t tip you off, this collection of one-page comics is fairly vulgar and cruel. There is a purposefully distasteful vibe about it that turned me off at first, but the more I read it, the more I understood what it was going for. I think the comics got stronger as they went along — “My Baby Predator Daddy” and “#Winning” were two of my favorites. Cuartero’s dynamic faces convey the every-day moments of cruelty and disappointment well. I don’t know how much of this I need to read but I was ultimately impressed.

Spaz! #4 and From the Wikipedia List of Unusual Deaths: The Collyer Brothers: Emi Gennis
Gennis continues to develop as a cartoonist and while her often vulgar tales aren’t going to be for everyone, they do reflect a confident and playful perspective. Her “Emi’s Guide to Being a Teenager! Tip #37: How to Sneak Out of the House” is wonderful. The scenario she presents is overly complicated but almost seems plausible and the way she draws the big innocent eyes on herself is incredibly funny.

Gennis often inserts “unusual deaths” stories into her minicomics, but The Collyer Brothers is a standalone one. About two brothers who lived in Harlem at the first part of the 20th century, it’s both cruel and depressing. The comic is a wonderful showcase for Gennis’ artistic range, though, as she draws period costumes and building and a wide range of faces. Her Spaz! comics are fun but I like seeing what else she’s able to do.

Dodo Comis #1: Grant Thomas
Thomas’ narratives are more abstract than most comics (in fact, he was featured in Abstract Comics) but there is a definite lyrical beauty to his work. “Where Do Ideas Come From?” is a wonderful marriage of words and art — each makes the other stronger — and “The Duel” and “The Chase” take images from manga and strip the characters out, leaving only motion lines behind. These may be a little obtuse for some, but I admire his ability to expand on the art from of comics and what it can do.

Grow Up!: A Homage to Psuedo-Adulthood: Sara Baier
Feeling adrift in your 20s is nothing new — and a countless number of comics have been made about this subject. I often think there’s nothing else left to be said on this subject.

Baier proved me wrong. Through a series of vignettes, she meditates on what it means to be an adult. It’s often funny — the images of what she wanted to be when she grew up includes everything from “Gwen Stefani” to “A Mutant” — but it’s also sweetly poignant, as when her dad tells her there’s nothing wrong with the fact her heart tells he to do crazy things.

Her simple faces carry panels that are often dialogue- or text-heavy and I love her presentation of various icons of growing up — a diploma, or packing up to move away because you don’t know what else to do.

This is apparently Baier’s first completed comic. That seems crazy to me because it’s beautifully accomplished. I will love to see what she does next.

Review copies provided by Gennis and Thomas.

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