Sunday, July 31, 2005

Capacity #4 by Theo Ellsworth

Inside the back cover of Capacity #4, Ellsworth writes:

Each of these pieces are proof that comics are, to me anyway, the most effective art therapy I could hope for…Thanks!

Capacity contains three stories. One deals with his struggle to work out feelings about an broken relationship, one is an exercise in handling anger, and another is a short collection of spontaneous drawings completed over a ten day period. Immediately, Ellsworth mini-comic, reminds me of Jennifer Daydreamer’s work. It has that similar magical feeling about it, even though it’s grounded more thoroughly in “the real world.”

“Catch Myself,” the first story in Capacity, finds the author adrift and alone. He wanders the streets thinking about the choices he has made and the patterns that have begun to form in his young life. Rather than presenting “Catch Myself” as a straight narrative with interior monologue, Ellsworth mixes things up with delightful imagery. In one panel, he’s just a guy walking down the street, and in the next he’s wearing a space suit and sending a telegram into space. One of my favorite panels has the words, “I don’t think I’m a very hard person to understand…I have all the same basic human needs as everybody else.” The words alone are unremarkable, but the image is of an oversized beast with huge elk antlers, sitting in a bassinette/convertible car. There are dazzling chain earrings hanging from each antler, and the beast is holding an elaborate scepter in one hand/paw.

These visual tricks make Ellworth’s story crackle with an energy often missing in a lot of autobiographical pieces. There are certainly more accomplished artists, but they might not have the same unique perspective that sets Ellsworth’s comics apart.

“My Thumbprint” is the series of spontaneous drawings that close the book. There are four per page for a total of thirty-six images. These drawings reflect different moods and settings, and some of them work better than others. An exercise like this will obviously result in a mixed bag of sketches, but some of these are wonderful.

This one for instance:

You can email Theo at to inquire about Capacity #4. It’s a digest sized mini-comic of 24 pages.

Thursday, July 28, 2005

Math 12 and 13 by David Wien

I picked up these two minis at one of my favorite comic shops, Chicago Comics, and there were also copies available at the sister store, Quimby's. Math is one of those mini-comics that I end up grabbing based on cover design only. You can tell that someone took the time to screen print the covers, so you pick it up and flip through the book wondering what the insides look like.

The insides of both of these are insanely detailed with swirling lines and intricate swooping designs; tight spirals and bursting stars appear on almost every page. There isn't much in the way of story and text, but a narrative is not the point of either of these comics. Number 12 has 21 words over 16 pages and some of the words are almost camouflaged in the mesmerizing backgrounds. Number 12 is a tighter package, but number 13 has a fold out centerfold and a micro-comic carefully glued to a back page.

Math 12 is $2 and Math 13 is $5. No website, but you can email David at

Tuesday, July 26, 2005

John Porcellino's King Cat #64

I’ve written and raved about John Porcellino’s wonderful mini-comic many times before, but don't worry, that won’t stop me from doing it again today. The latest issue of King Cat is special in that it’s even more heartfelt than previous ones. Actually this one’s a heartbreaker. John’s father passed away this year and this issue of King Cat is devoted to him.

I don’t know John personally (although as a longtime reader I feel like I do), but as I read the stories in this issue, his loss affects me. I can feel the longing for his lost father in his words. And I don’t mean, “Wow, that’s really moving.” I had tears in my eyes as I read the memories of his dad and it made me think of my own father and how I would feel if I suddenly lost him. As you read this issue, there’s this sharing of grief, but also a celebration of the man that meant the world to John and the strength that it takes to deal with such a loss.

From a text composition in this issue:

"I'm standing in my Dad's bedroom - that's where he lay, that's where he stood, that's where he fell - he called out in the night. I can see the paramedic's feet, my Dad, my family, this world. The endless bright world, the darkness. The coming and going, again and again and again."

Think about it; the endless coming and going. People important to us, parents, friends, lovers, all coming and going. They come into our lives and they leave and we have no control. John's words remind us to appreciate the people that mean so much to us.

This issue is split almost evenly between pages drawn in John’s economical style and text stories and memories of his father. If you’ve never read an issue of King Cat, you might look at it and dismiss it outright because of John’s very spare line and compositions, but if you take the time to read an issue, or better yet a few issues in a row, you’ll pick up the poetic rhythm of his words and stories. John celebrates the tiny joys in life like no one else, and you walk away from his comics noticing the little details in your own life.

Visit John Porcellino's website to check out everything King Cat.

Wednesday, July 20, 2005

Welcome to the SIZE MATTERS blog.

If you're migrating here from the SIZE MATTERS column at Comic Book Galaxy, you may be wondering why there's a SIZE MATTERS blog. Well, to be honest with you, I wasn't completely happy with the format of a weekly column on mini-comics, even though Alan and the gang are wonderful hosts. Over the span of a handful of columns, I found that I couldn't give enough attention to the mini-comics that I wanted to cover. It was also difficult to include all of the image samples that I wanted to show you, the curious mini-comic reader. Anyway, just across the street at Comic Book Galaxy, Alan and new editor Chris Hunter will continue to link to my posts here. I'd like to thank Alan for his understanding and support during this SIZE MATTERS format change.

A blog will give me the flexibility to load new reviews and features when I want and include as many images as I want. I'm a firm believer that you need more than a cover image to get someone's attention when it comes to mini-comics. I'm hoping that a review, a link, a cover image, and an interior shot or two will be enough to convince people to give these tiny masterpieces a shot. Here at the SIZE MATTERS blog I'll have the flexibility and space to do whatever it takes to turn your attention to the latest and greatest in the world of mini-comics.

If you're familiar with the column at Comic Book Galaxy, then you know the drill. I'll be covering mini-comics, but I'll be covering them at my own pace and put up new content on a more frequent basis. I won't stuff a handful of mini-comic reviews into a weekly post, but rather I'll load a review or two each day or every other day as the mini-comics roll in. We'll discover the best in mini-comics and sometimes the worst. We'll have reviews, features, interviews, and anything else fit to discuss.

If you're new to this blog or new to mini-comics, I want to give you something unexpected when you click on the link that brings you here. I want to share the sense of wonder that I and many others find in this tiny corner of the comics medium. I hope you'll come back, because I'll be here regardless.