Cut Flowers by Pat Palermo
My first impression after reading Cut Flowers is that I’m surprised it’s self-published. Palermo has excellent drafting skills and his comic feels like something that you would see from Top Shelf. It’s a full sized format and this version has some wonderfully dull newsprint-like paper, which is nice and glare free. The cover, if this is the final cover, is very subdued with a thickly inked sunflower covering the upper left corner (I apologize, but my cover image file is not working at the moment, I’ll scan in a new image this evening).
Inside, Palermo’s black and white art is polished and quite accomplished. He does a fantastic job with night time scenes and seems to take great care in laying out the architectural angles and other details. In short, the art is precise and appealing. The characters are rendered close to life, but Palermo uses just enough caricature work to make the faces less realistic. Tiny eyes, maybe slightly oversized noses and wrinkle lines add character to the faces without being too real.
Cut Flowers moves quickly. Palermo uses a lot of dialogue to give the story an everyday feel. Hank and Fay are artists who are currently trying not to speak to one another. Instead they yell. Hank storms off and meets up with an acquaintance named John, also an artist, and they go out for beers. John doesn’t drink, but he buys for Hank and another fellow they meet named Ed. John’s got a box full of fireworks though.
The real meat of the story takes place while the three guys are out in the woods drinking beers and talking. Hank and Ed have conversations as they get to know each other, and Palermo does an effective trick while illustrating a brief story that Hank tells his new friend. As they admire the wetland sanctuary that Ed has helped preserve, Hank tells him about a group of activists in Alaska that decided to paint seals bright pink so the hunters won’t kill them for their hides. Palermo does this roughly three panel tale in a more cartoonish style, and the activists almost look like dwarfs from Snow White. One of the dwarves/activists is toking on a bong in the second panel. Anyway, the style here sets Hank’s story off from the rest of the comic and introduces a character that kind of haunts Hank as the rest of the comic unfolds.
Cut Flowers will run you five dollars, but it’s a full sized 32-page comic. You can grab it from Quimbys, USS Catastrophe, and Printed Matter.