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.


Heather Hulbert said...

I'm pretty into Theo's work and recently got Capacity #6. It's my favorite yet and his art keeps getting more detailed and imaginative, clever clever boy.

Shawn Hoke said...

I know what you mean. I grabbed a few more issues of Capacity when I went back to Chicago Comics but I haven't even got a chance to look at them yet. Can't wait!