It’s been pretty crazy these past several weeks, here in the basement of Forbidden Planet NYC. There was the heat wave … and other things to, I suspect. I just remember the heat wave, then a blank period, and then waking up with a copy of RASL stuck to the side of my face.
Of course, there is always the smothering embrace of an ever-expanding pile of mini comics, which processes a seductive power akin to falling asleep in the snow (a fate whose appeal has increased sevenfold in the past few days). Two books in particular have helped to both entertain me and to fan my perspiring brow as though I were the obese sheriff of a Bandit-plagued southern township.
Unspoken is collection of short anthology and zine submissions from the early 90s. Now an established creator (with four books out from Fantagraphics, including Artichoke Tales), these stories were done while Kelso was still cutting her teeth. That said, the work is solid, though a bit hit-or-miss. Here the artist is still finding her voice, and as such the stories and art are quite varied. This is both a positive and a negative, as it yields comics that don’t ways work as well as they could have, or in the case of “The Alien Birth,” that veer off into genres that the artist wasn’t as comfortable with. But that is what being a young and hungry cartoonist is all about: trying everything and seeing what sticks.
The strongest piece herein “Whistle & Queenie,” is also the closest to Kelso’s current style. Included in Dark Horse Presents 100, this is a slice-of-life story about a homeless girl and a kindly laundromat owner. It is touching without being melodramatic and is told in a clear, crisp style.
Unspoken is a great glimpse into the evolution of a unique and strong comics voice. Recommended in particular for fans of Kelso’s more recent work.
Seed Chapter 2 contains beautiful brushwork; every character is brimming with barely-contained motion. This is a comic that is very much about movement. The characters swoosh and swoop about as they are propelled breathlessly in a story that itself rollicks along like a runaway wooden cart. This gives the admittedly few quiet moments more gravity, although even those few quiet moments are less about introspection then they are about comic timing. For a comic that is so characterful, I do wish I had a better sense OF the characters. Now, part of this could be because I am coming into this at Chapter 2 (I searched around for Chapter 1, but we seem to be all out). I get the sense that, like it’s stylistic inspiration Bone, this story will flesh out it’s characters as they tumble towards it’s likely epic climax. Seed seems to be the sort of story wherein we learn about the cast by way of their actions rather than by way of their interactions.
As I said on the outset, Mike Maihack’s brush work is gorgeous, with his broad, sweeping lines and volumetric black-spotting. My only reservation is the occasional use of dry-brush. I found it very distracting, particularly as it doesn’t reproduce particularly well here. But that aside, this is a fun, charming story that promises an engrossingly epic adventure.
Morgan Pielli’s posts new comics Monday through Thursday on-line at www.MorganPielli.com