Mini-Comics from Lane Milburn and Ryan Cecil Smith
Weird Shmeird is a flip-book mini-comic. Lane and Ryan each start from opposite covers of the book, then each 28 page story bumps into the other in the middle of the book with the line, “Weird Shmeird.”
Ryan’s story is told as a multi-level video game and his art has a bit of a similarity to Kevin Huizenga’s mini-comic work. The penultimate chapter, titled “The Valley of Shifting Stones” is the neatest visual piece in his story. The repetitive pattern of the stones, cross hatched with shadow, gives this section a unique background.
Lane’s story, “House Party,” is dark as hell – visually and story wise. His heavily shadowed backgrounds and heavily laid line make this tale crackle with atmosphere. Maybe I’ve been to too many house parties like this in the sticks, but the barely contained violence simmering underneath each page was palpable until the very last panel.
Ryan’s Picnic at Tough Beach is a mostly silent exercise in intense physical effort and movement. As a group of gods cycle through calisthenics and heavy lifting on the beach, Ryan does a fantastic job at capturing the movement and concentration in their lifting. I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention the gorgeous silk screened cover spotted with clouds. The cloud theme continues in the opening pages, as Ryan lays down thick brushstrokes that hint at the fullness of an illustrated cloud – nothing white and fluffy here. Those same thick strokes highlight the movement and startle lines that radiate from the heads and muscles of the gods at Tough Beach. When the silence gives way to words in the last several pages of the story, it’s an abrupt shift in timbre and feeling; the gods become more approachable, somehow more human as they marvel at Achilles’ feat of lifting Hanging Rock.
Lane’s Olde Tales: Volume II continues his creep on from Weird Shmeird. In “A Fireside Tale,” an old, topless witch, complete with drooping tits to her navel, regales a group of youngsters with her tale of an epic contest in which she bests a lizard beast. I don’t want to give away the contest, but Lance uses some phallic props to illustrate the old witch’s oral skills. The clueless kids look upon her in admiration as she delivers the ultimate final line echoing a ZZ Top song. That’s all I’m saying.
In “Wasteland,” three American tourists are touring ancient ruins and begin to lament the lack of women around to entertain them. They get MUCH more than they bargain for when a pissed off minotaur pays them a visit.
I really enjoyed Lane and Ryan’s work. They both hail from Baltimore, MD and you can find out more about their work at the ClosedCaption Comics blog. I’ve included a scan of their attention grabbing envelope as well. I can’t tell you how many cool envelopes arrive in the mail here at the Size Matters offices; I’ve always meant to do a post featuring nothing more than envelopes from the likes of Gary Panter, Souther Salazar, Allison Cole, Dan Zettwoch, and many others. Look for that soon as well as a more frequent posting schedule. I’m getting a new laptop and have carved out some time at the neighborhood pub to sit down and do reviews. I hope people are still interested. Trust me, there’s some good stuff in the review pile…