Monday, August 11, 2008

The Comics of Samuel Gaskin
When you pull something like this out of an ordinary manila envelope, you know you are in for a treat. After freeing Spider-man from his yarn prison, I unpacked the 96-page gag comic book Fatal Faux-Pas and a tabloid comic titled Pizza Wizard. Also included in the package is a slick advert for Secret Acres, the publisher of Samuel's Fatal Faux-Pas, Eamon Espy's WormDye (up next in the review pile), and a collection of Theo Ellsworth's Capacity collection.

In a separate and much smaller manila envelope, Samuel included a three page reviewer's dream - an info sheet on the artist, an info sheet on his new book, and an info sheet on Secret Acres. Everything you need to fill out the details of a review, right there at your fingertip.

Fatal Faux-Pas is a meaty mix of short gag stories riffing on pop culture. It's all in here, from Harry Potter to Saved By the Bell, to one of my all time favorites - Hanna Barbara's Speed Buggy. Samuel's art ranges from the thin line simple look of John Porcellino (in fact he even has a King Cat homage story in here) to more fully fleshed out and richly shadowed panels like the one below where Harry tries to cast a Black Sabbath spell on Professor Snape. Snape responds with the Crimson Ghost skeleton from the Misfits.
Fatal Faux-Pas is $10 from the Secret Acres store.

Pizza Wizard, a tabloid newspaper style comic, follows the adventures of Pizza Wizard and his friend the Stuff Troll. In the first chapter, they meet and the Pizza Wizard convinces the Stuff Troll to accompany him on a journey for – wait for it – a magic pizza. Yeah, it’s as silly as it sounds, but the adventure feels like a way for Samuel to fit as much weird shit into his story as he can.

They run into talking trees, huge plastic turtles, the dreaded Ghost dragon, a band of those freaky trolls from the 80s with the crazy hair. This story doesn’t necessarily go anywhere, but Samuel uses some interesting panel designs and page structures to play around with while he meanders from chapter to chapter. Pizza Wizard is $3 for a good sized 24-page comic on newsprint.

The above page is one of the more interesting pages artistically; it seems a little reminiscent of Dave Sim’s Cerebus work, but without the woman hating stuff.

Go check out Secret Acres. Next week, I’ll have a review of Eamon Espy’s Wormdye.

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