Tagged: minicomics

Morgan Pielli’s Pile of Minis: I’ll Take You to the Moon & Araby

After a long hiatus, Morgan Pielli’s Pile of Mini’s returns. And just in time to have my heart broken by this weeks batch of comics! Yes, the theme for the week is love lost, and so let’s pull up a pint of Neapolitan and dig right in.

I’ll Take You to the Moon & Leave You There vol. 1 by Skuds McKinley

McKinley’s I’ll Take You… is a personal anthology of oft-surreal vignettes, some of which seem quietly autobiographical while others are more fanciful and fantastic. The drawing styles vary from piece to piece, and while the McKinley struggles with some draftsmanship challenges here and there (such as drawing the back of peoples’ heads distractingly flat), his art is filled with energy and vitality. He has a clear love for obsessive detail, as evidenced by his joyful depictions of technological greeble and fleshy alien surfaces. While this creates a lively environment for his stories, it sometimes results in muddled framing.

One unifying theme throughout this book is an unusual stylistic choice: most of McKinley’s human characters wear some sort of animal mask, generally in the form of a small rubber animal nose worn over their own. I’m not certain what this is intended to convey. The characters that wear these don’t always seem particularly guarded or hidden. I suspect there is a deeper meaning, but it is one that went over my head.

Of the stories in this collection, two of my favorites were “No Pill Today” and “This Is How We Destroyed Each Other.”

“No Pill Today” is a frank depiction of depression and anxiety. It does a great job conveying the dread that, though we can banish these negative feelings with medication, we are perhaps banishing a piece of ourselves as well. This story feels the most realistic and emotionally raw, and will likely resonate with those who suffer similarly.

“This is How We Destroyed Each Other” by Skuds and Dan is the best story in the collection. It is drawn with a clean, clear line that is not competing with unnecessary stylistic flourishes. The story builds up its lovers’ shared ecstasy to a level that forebodes a devastating plummet. It serves as a perfect deconstruction of love’s blossom and whithering, and is both painful and elegantly told.

Ed Choy Draws James Joyce: “Araby” from Dubliners by Eel Choy (FKA Ed Choy)

Confession: I haven’t read anything by James Joyce. Not because I haven’t the interest; more that I haven’t had the time. And for this, I hang my head in shame.

However, this DID allow me (for better or for worse) to go into Ed Choy’s Araby without any preconceived notions or residual images of Dubliners’ characters in my head. What I found was a charming vignette about the unrequited puppy love that many of us experience as children. Joyce does a fantastic job of depicting that sense of deep obsession that comes at a time when we are too young to understand it properly. Choy’s loose, animated drawing style lends an added emotional depth to the story. He is also adept at breaking down Joyce’s sometimes-dense prose into more easily-digested moments. Continue reading

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Morgan Pielli’s Pile of Minis: The Malaise Trap by Jack Bracken and Reid Psaltis

The Malaise Trap is an amazing character study (with a fantastic title…I love a clever title). So complete and well-considered is the narrative that I was convinced that I was reading an autobiographical account. Writer Jack Bracken has created a character that feels lived in and real, which is all the more impressive when one considers that this is a person defined by obsession. Obsessive personalities are one of the easiest go-tos for people wanting to score cheap sympathy or in need of a characterful short-cut. The Obsessive Loner stands shoulder to shoulder with other such two-dimensional supporting characters as the Manic Pixie Dream Girl and the Shy Quirky Indie Nerd.

But obsessive personality traits are very real, and can be extremely destructive; to both the subject and to those closest to him or her. Or they can be a boon. Countless artists and scientists and thinkers owe their discoveries and breakthroughs to obsession. The Malaise Trap strikes a careful balance between those who paths as we inhabit a person who has just become aware that he is at a crossroads (the gender of the protagonist is never mentioned, and not enough of the person is shown to make a determination. This choice allows the reader to project him or herself onto the protagonist. For this reason, and that of simplicity, I’ll refer to the nameless main character as a male). His obsession is collecting, but at some point that urge to collect has become an urge to hoard. He has been forced, for the first time, to confront the possible future that lies ahead of him, and make some tough decisions.

This book is very well considered, and Bracken does a tremendous job crafting a believable history for the main character. Artist Reid Psaltis does an equally great job with drawings that carefully straddle the line between realistic and macabre. Great brushwork, strong black spotting, and careful panel framing let the objects and props speak volumes. My only criticism is that the pages are VERY text heavy. And while this does make possible for the aforementioned method of not showing the protagonist while still allowing large amounts of information to be provided, it also creates some awkward panels. There are many great moments in the protagonists’ life that are mentioned that I would have loved to see depicted.

But that aside, this is a very strong book. For those of you who are interested in writing character-driven narratives, this is a great book to look at.

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Morgan Pielli is the author of Indestructible Universe Quarterly. He will be at SPX this year in just 1 week!

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Philly Alt Con this Sunday!!

If you’re in the area, come by and show your support for the indie comics scene at this years Philly Alt Con! Doors open at noon on the 14th! Check out the site for more details.I’ll be there with my series  Indestructible Universe Quarterly! Stop by my very red table and say “hi!”

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Mini Zine Fest at Pete’s Candy Store!

This weekend, come out to Pete’s Candy Store, 709 Lorimer St. Brooklyn, NY 11211 for the annual Mini Zine Fest! Cartoonists Sara Lindo (Carl Finds Love, Wall Street Cat) and Steve Seck (Life Is Good) will be there, as well as your truly: Morgan Pielli (Indestructible Universe Quarterly)!

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