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.
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.
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.
Really though, I can’t say enough positive things about Choy’s artwork. Araby possesses a confident line and a lush use of dot-tone. Choy employs simple-yet effective layouts that, as mentioned above, allow the reader to clearly and easily interpret the text. I also very much loved Choy’s use of a monotone color palette that changes from scene to scene. This is a tremendously effective way of conveying the tone and disposition of the story from scene to scene.
Lastly, the production quality on this mini is great. The pink-on-white-and-blue works surprisingly well. The paper used has a nice tooth to it that feels good in the hand, and everything is stapled and cut like a pro. The final package looks as gorgeous as the art within.
So there you are! What indie books have YOU been reading? Any that have broken your heart?