Monday, August 22, 2005

A general note to those who send in mini-comics.

If you’re sending in mini-comics for review, you can send as many as you want. Most people send in a couple or even a few for review, but some have sent in a big package of mini-comics for review. You can do that, no problem, but I just want you to know that I’ll break up the reviews over several posts rather than reviewing them all at once. Just know that I’ll usually only review one or two minis at a time from one creator, but I will definitely get to any other minis that you’ve sent in at a later date. I’ve developed this elaborate staging procedure for reviews to make sure not to miss anything that was sent in for review, and I will get to everything that you send in. However, due to the volume of mini-comics submitted, I’m running a few weeks behind from when something is sent in until when it’s reviewed.

That said, please keep on sending in your mini-comics. I’ve been pleased at the high quality of work that has arrived in the mailbox, and I’m eager to get the word out on all of them. Also, I’ll be at SPX this year in Bethesda, so you can always wait until SPX to get your stuff to me for review if you prefer.

Zirp #2 by Till Thomas

Zirp, by Till Thomas of Hamburg, Germany, is a smartly designed mini-comic. Thomas has taken great pains to ensure that his mini-comic makes an impression and it’s worked. The cover is made of stiff green paper and silk-screened with iconic imagery that kind of reminds you of The Legend of Zelda. If you look at the outside front cover, the inside of the front cover, the inside of the back cover and the back cover itself, you’ll notice that he’s made a miniature little story.

The interior pages are book ended by ivory vellum that has little black ghosts floating on its surface. Through the vellum, you can make out title, credits and other information. Before you’ve even starting reading the contents of the comic, you’re already favorably inclined towards Thomas’ work.

Inside, there are two stories, “Gigi’s Quest” and “General.” They are divided by a two-page centerfold spread (“Seasons”) that documents the changing seasons of a short stretch of a storefront real estate. This short tale follows the transformation of a flower shop to a X-rated video store, as well as changes that are visited upon the inhabitants, both human and animal, of the street. Here, Thomas uses tiny details to mark the passing of time, and in doing so he compresses a year in the life of a store, a relationship, a tree and a group of cats, into four panels.

“Gigi’s Quest,” the first tale in Zirp is kind of like watching a TV show stoned with the sound turned down. It’s wordless, so that alone allows for different interpretations for different people. Gigi is riding his scooter when he notices a woman on a bus wink at him. He turns around to chase the bus and he eventually finds her with her boyfriend. He goes home a little bummed and then things get weird. He starts drinking and a lion and an eagle show up to harass and abuse him. They spin him around in his chair until he gets sick and vomits. He falls asleep, and dreams of having a swollen and misshapen face. Then he wakes up and watches a short drama enacted by cartoon character shapes on TV. The happy ending of the TV show touches Gigi, so he goes outside to face the world once again. It doesn’t necessarily end well though.

“General” is more bizarre than “Gigi’s Quest.” Again, it’s wordless, but while “Gigi’s Quest” is straightforward, “General” is like a Young Ones sketch (please tell me someone will get this reference) watched with the sound off. Remember how characters dressed in a bear costume just walked into the room and wandered around? That’s a bit how “General” feels. There’s a moral in this one if you dig deep enough, but it’s fun just to sit back and watch the characters interact with each other.

Thomas’ art is very clean. The lines are thin and deliberate, and he uses very little shading or texturing to enhance his character designs. Because of this, his characters can appear flat or a little awkwardly posed at times. This is a minor quibble though, as the characters fit perfectly with the controlled style of art that Thomas uses in these stories.

Zirp #2 is $4 and it comes with stickers and buttons featuring the character from the comic. Check out Till’s website for details.

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