Sunday, January 22, 2006

A Moment of Clarity by John Bintz

John Bintz mines childhood memories and anxieties, mostly the fear of getting beat up, in issues 6-8 of A Moment of Clarity. In issue 6, eleven year-old John is speeding home on his bike just in front of local bully Tyler. He only manages to escape with the aid of an adult neighbor. In issue 8 John stumbles through a day of school living in fear of the after school beating that Tyler has again promised to deliver. Sandwiched in between these two issues, number 7 deals with a school assignment deadline and an awkward crush on a girl named Sarah.

Each issue of A Moment of Clarity is a quick read clocking in at 12 pages, but Bintz has kept the price tag low ($1.50 on issues 6 and 7, $1.25 on issue 8). Bintz’s art reminds you a little of the animation of the Rugrats. It’s got that exaggerated effect and detail that appeals to kids. Look at the square faces with big eyes and glasses, or the tiny shoulders that lead to skinny arms and oversized hands. This style works well with the type of stories that he tells, and you’ll find a great deal of variation in page format.

I think Bintz is experimenting a little with each issue. He’s trying new things out, at least things new to him, and he mostly succeeds. He skimps a bit on background detail; the backgrounds are more suggestions than settings. The figures and the conversations that take place are always front and center anyway. The most successful book here visually is issue 7. Issue 6 feels rushed and the character design of the neighbor doesn’t fit well with the design of the other characters. On the back cover of issue 8, Bintz tells us that he “tried to take the art up another notch or two,” and I can see that attempt, but it doesn’t work quite as well as the less adventuresome style of number 7.

John Bintz has an excellent website and just reading through it you can sense his excitement for creating these comics. He's posted issues 1 and 2 online and he's already finished with issue 9. He also has a collection of the first five mini-comics available on his website along with all the other issues. Click on The Comic to check out A Moment of Clarity and to find out what issues are available.

No comments: