Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Extricate #8 by David Birchall Extricate is a 64-page mini-comic with a visual seizure inducing two color cover. Inside, David has three stories – “The Song of the Birds,” “The Greeks are Coming,” and “The Return of Harry the Cat.”

“The Song of the Birds” is a loosely structured tale haunted by an iconic bird figure. David uses thick brushstrokes and meandering words, stylized similar to Sixties psychedelic rock posters to create a chaotic setting for his bird figure. He uses startling pages of single images – a knife cutting up a heart, cubed pieces of a heart in a skillet, close up shots of a mouth chewing. “The Greeks Are Coming” is a bit of a departure art wise. David switches to thinner lines and sketchy, swirling bits of background to give a much more airy texture to the story. The story though matches the darkness of the first piece. Surgery, blood, sharp utensils, and a patient with a mysterious abnormality, “His mother said that he had been consuming a lot of words lately,” populate these pages. A surgeon removes a strange Greek book from the patient's incision. “Harry the Cat” is a straightforward tale featuring page after page of a cat drinking and smoking at a bar, drawn from the waist up. Harry tells a gentleman's tale of drinking and meeting a strange Irishman.

Contact David Birchall at blackandwhitecatpress@org. You can check out his website for Extricate and others minis - there are sample pages of his latest project, Exhaust. You can still probably grab a copy for 4 pounds.

Friday, October 24, 2008

Izzy Challenge by J.B. Winter and 50 Others Izzy Challenge is the brainchild of J.B. Winter, who has enlisted comic artists from 50 states to fill in backgrounds and captions for 50 panels of his character Izzy’s trek across the United States. J.B. drew his character Izzy the mouse in 51 panels over 14 pages. The first panel features Izzy leaving his house with two suitcases and a backpack. The other 50 panels featured J.B.’s drawing of Izzy, but the artists from each of the states provide backgrounds and captions. I like that J.B. makes each page look like an actual photo album – complete with the little picture stays. At the bottom of each page, an icon of the state has a corresponding text box with that state’s artist name, email, and website, if available. Almost all of the panels reflect some state or local theme. For example, Indiana’s panel refers to the “brain drain” that all the politicians occasionally wring their hands over. In Arkansas, Izzy rides on the back of the White River Monster from Jacksonport, Arkansas. In Rhode Island, Izzy hangs out on the Rhode Island School of Design green. While this is a great idea, it must have been a logistical nightmare to coordinate. Izzy Challenge is $1 and available online at J.B.’s website.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

SIZE MATTERS updates, pruning, etc.
Hey Folks, just wanted to point out some updates here at SIZE MATTERS. First of all, and probably most shocking, is that there have been actual reviews and new content more than once this month.

The lack of updates has certainly not been due to a lack of material, just a lack of time and energy. In the last couple of weeks, I have finally carved out some dedicated time each week to devote to reading and reviewing mini-comics. I also picked up up a new Macbook Pro that makes hopping on the laptop a lot more fun.

As I started spending some more time on here this week, I realized that the blogroll over there on the right was woefully outdated. After checking every link, I got rid of the broken links, added dozens of new ones, and updated the ones that needed updating. If you notice something that I’ve missed, please don’t hesitate to let me know.

Specifically, I added several new shops to the Where to Buy Mini-Comics section. I’m always looking for more places, so let me know if I’ve missed something. What used to be Comics Blogs is now Blogs and Stuff I Enjoy. I also added dozens of new comic creator links under Mini-Comic Creators and pruned a few links that had died – all the Fort Thunder links, for example.

Most importantly, I added labels to all the posts. You can find this feature right after Blogs and Stuff I Enjoy. I chose to go by artist name in almost all cases, rather than title, and I added shows, online stores, and other labels where appropriate. I think this feature makes the blog much more reader friendly and I hope you enjoy.

That’s about it, except for the robin’s egg blue background, changing the font to Trebuchet, and updating the template to the new Blogger style. Doesn't sound like much, but it's a lot of work!

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

A Gosling by Stuart Kolakovic Stuart Kolakovic’s A Gosling is a gorgeous mini-comic, smartly dressed in a three-color wraparound cover. Inside the outside cover wrapper, the saddle-stitched mini has a more subdued cover that mirrors the colorful wrapper cover.

The mini is full color throughout with a three-tone centerfold tale nested within the larger story. Everything about this mini-comic reeks of slickness and quality. The pages are cut from thick paperstock and the color palette is reserved in a way that reminds you of an old children’s picturebook. The art uses iconic shapes as trees or stalks of corn. Stuart also uses an odd layering technique that gives many of his panels a sense of depth.
A Gosling features a young boy who finds, you guessed it, a gosling. His father finds out and chastises him, “Don’t be so stupid! You can’t keep a wild animal!” The boy’s grandfather is kinder, but delivers the same message. Stuart takes the grandfather’s words and nestles them in the center of the mini as a fable, showing the boy that a wild animal is better off in the wild. A Gosling is a bittersweet mini with top notch production values. Check out Stuart’s website, blog, or Etsy shopfor more information on his work.

A tiny saddle-stitched full color mini-comic was hidden inside of my copy of A Gosling. Ja ljubar te is based on an old Serbian folk song of love discovered, love lost, and love reminded after the fact. The mini is wordless except for the occasional tumbling text – “Ja ljubar te.”

It must be Stuart's night. Head on over to Tiny Showcase to see the regular Tuesday night print by none other than Stuart Kolakovic.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Wigger Haircut and The Diary of Lisa Frank by Zach Hazard Vaupen Wigger Haircut #1 is subtitled “The House that Ska Built.” Joe and Jim discover an obscenely large mansion and Jim tells Joe the house is owned by some guy who got paid tons of money after being discovered skanking at shows. They go to a show at the mansion and Jim instantly takes a dislike to the owner. He tags the mansion and then wakes up the next morning to find his own house tagged by the owner of the mansion. Meanwhile Joe tries to decide whether or not to dump his long distance girlfriend.

This sounds pretty pedestrian, but it’s standard mini-comic fare that obviously means something to the artist. What interests me in Zach’s work is the art. He has an instantly likable style, for me anyway, that lands somewhere in the middle of Frank Santoro’s Cold Heat work and C.F. ‘s style of figure drawing, just a little more thickly lined in this mini. In Wigger Haircut, Zach uses a bright fuschia color that gives the pages a manic, overwhelming atmosphere. Backgrounds are either absent or simple representations. Word balloons are haphazardly placed, but never confusing. The overall effect is one that matches the tone of the story – rushed at times, perplexing, and vital – just like life feels sometimes. You can check out Zach’s work at his blog or Flickr pages. The Diary of Lisa Frank is a 12-page large format mini-comic with eye catching silkscreen covers. Twelve-year old Lisa Frank, who at one point goes to the attic to channel her Grandma Anne, keeps running into a strange guy who works for Mad Magazine and admires her drawings of ponies. After poking through Lisa’s diary and discovering references to a “strange man,” her mother thinks that Lisa has been molested and sends her to a psychiatrist.

Throughout Diary, Zach sprinkles snippets of Lisa’s diary pages on the page: “Dear Diary, PONYS ARE FUCKING AWESOME! i hope Mom doesn’t READ this.” The art in this mini is much lighter than Wigger Haircut.” Zach doesn’t use huge swaths of color, just thinly sketched figures against minimal backgrounds. Occasionally, a character will turn their heads quickly or move unexpectedly and Zach will superimpose the character’s face in a slightly different position overlapping the first face and the third face. It’s a nice touch that lends a sense of movement and uncertainty. Grab your copy of The Diary of Lisa Frank at Zach’s blog. It will set you back $5.

Tuesday, October 07, 2008

Moulger Bag Digest and Shitbeams on the Loose Brent Harada and Rusty Jordan's Moulger Bag Digest sports a beautiful, raucous offset cover printed on yellow paper. This 16-page mini-comic certainly screams, “Pick me up and read me!” Inside however, there’s not much to read. Moulger Bag Digest is all eye candy. Brent and Rusty take turns trying to outdo each other by drawing odd beasts and misshapen humans. I generally enjoy this type of thing and this one is no different than others that aim for this type of presentation. There’s the required nonsensical text at an odd angle that kind of relates to the drawing. This may seem like a lukewarm endorsement, but it’s not. The fun these two are having is evident as you flip through the pages. As I said, I enjoy this type of work and it you’re into watching people having fun drawing, you will too.

Not sure how much this one will set you back, but you can try to reach Rusty or Brent to find out where to buy and how much.

Shitbeams on the Loose also features Brent and Rusty, but includes a nice stable of artists like Mike Bertino, Ron Rege Jr, Matt Furie, Drew Beckmeyer, Luke Ramsey, Dave Nuss, Hector Serna, Thomas Crawford, Grant Reynolds, and Robyn Jordan.
Mike Bertino’s “Below Us” starts out the book in a blistering fashion. Two pages in, the reader is assaulted with painful visions of melting father figures and flaming skulls emanating from his character’s pounding head. Drew Beckmeyer’s piece, “The Birth of a Nation,” looks to be sketched with colored pencils and crayons. I loved the way his unique story is laid out like a fable or an Indian legend. Drew’s piece is uplifting with the perfect tone and length for a various artist book.
Luke Ramsey, who also does the gorgeous title page above, spends a few pages on intricately patterned drawings that mix absurdity and slight perversion. Good stuff! Dave Nuss’ one pager features Jesus on the cross refereeing a volleyball game, before Ron Rege’s one pager and Hector Serna’s sinister and spooky several pages of nasty looking heads. Thomas Crawford has a few pages of drawings and then Matt Furie tells the story of a rose dying on a gravestone. Shitbeems ends with some Grant Reynolds sketchebook stuff, which is always welcome, and a short piece by Robyn Jordan about the people you see regularly using the subway.

Everything here is pretty good and the pieces by Mike Bertino and Drew Beckmeyer are strong. Go to the Tender Loving Empire shop for your copy. Shitbeams is $12 for a sixty page square bound book.

While I was at Tender Loving Empire I listened to a couple bands - Jared Mees and the Grown Children and Finn Riggins. Turns out they are touring the Midwest right now and on October 16th they will be just down the street at Radio Radio for the ridiculously low price of $5. How can ou pass up a show with this flyer: