Comic Speed Readin’
Tiny reviews of local creations
Sweet 7000's Baaadassss Comics. This is the full, funky name of 7000 BC, a local nonprofit that supports New Mexican comic book writers and artists. Yes, the moniker is partially inspired by the independent nature of that one Melvin Van Peebles film you just thought about, but it also references the elevation of Santa Fe, where the group was founded.
7000 BC is comprised of people who are creators—they indie publish, photocopy at Kinko's or do whatever it takes to get their work out there. These crafty folks hold workshops and seminars to promote the idea that comic art is important in our culture and can hold its own against other mediums. They meet to share tricks of the trade and encourage each other, and they publish anthologies of members’ work. They have a prolific output and are truly baaadassss.
The comic book lovers on the Alibi editorial staff reviewed a handful of new 7000 BC offerings.
Myx (122 pages), by Jamie Chase
Chase's heavy, watercolor-style inking lends a dark atmosphere to his ongoing horror/sci-fi anthology. This square-bound compilation collects the first four issues of the series in full color for the first time. Full of monsters and the occasional twist ending, the short stories fondly recall the old Warren Publishing magazines from the ’70s (Eerie, Creepy, Vampirella). As with all anthologies, some stories resonate louder than others, but Chase's highly cinematic art style remains commanding throughout. (Devin D. O’Leary)
“Artichoke” (24 pages), by Aliina Lappalainen
Our heroine leaves her house, walks past the tomato plants and into the ocean. She is cited by a lady cop for not having a permit for her whale. Thus begins the dreamscape of “Artichoke,” a venture into fluid and careless narrative. The visual balance on the pages is sometimes quite lovely. A funny and juvenile story keeps it light. Lappalainen accidentally veers into trite, novice storytelling with the ending. But maybe it's only snobbery to worry about clichés when the fresh tone is what makes this book work. (Marisa Demarco)
“Nanotech Laundromat” (36 pages), written by Enrique Martinez, drawn and lettered by Tyrrell Cummings
In a technology-rich future, the plot focuses on a laundress who has invented nanobots that clean clothes on a molecular level. Everyone keeps personal robots to wash dishes, act as a wake-up service and perform other domestic duties. The protagonist’s robot is crushingly in love with her. But he doesn’t have the capability for speech and can’t bring himself to scribble out the news. Surrounding this sweet story are flashbacks (or forwards), as well as random page-long blips of an abused child’s tale or an angry father hitting his son. It’s never clear whether these diversions represent younger versions of the characters or how they’re supposed to be related. It makes for a foggy understanding of the book’s themes. The art is honest with human grossness, zeroing in on strings of saliva linking a kiss or stray stubble lines on a chin, giving the reader a visceral reaction to the characters. This and the prism-like plot make it reminiscent of Paul Pope’s “Heavy Liquid.” (Summer Olsson)
Mal and Chad: The Biggest, Bestest Time Ever! (224 pages), by Stephen McCranie
The young boy/animal buddy antics of Mal and Chad The Biggest, Bestest Time Ever! beg a Calvin and Hobbes comparison. Calvin is slick enough to make adults laugh but still appeal to children. The humor in Mal falls flat, but younger readers may appreciate the nerdy science-fiction vibe. (I know I would have.) Though it lacks the hilarious pathology of Calvin, Mal redeems itself with quality art. The book's strength lies in sometimes dialogue-lacking scenes of Mal and his canine buddy frolicking in primordial jungles or scuba diving in kitchen sinks. It is here where Mal is most touching. It's not really a hard act to pull off. Like Harlan Ellison put it, “A boy loves his dog.” (John Bear)
The Salmonilla Chronicles Collection Vol. 1 (114 pages), by Jeff Benham and Enrique
Martinez' scratchy cartoon doodles are the perfect accompaniment to Benham's oddball juvenile tale of grade-school warfare between luckless good guy John Boy Salmonilla and runty but rich bully Pippy Sandpiper. Occasionally, John Boy and Pippy clash over alleged cute girl Patchouli Junebottom, but it's mostly about the mortifying missteps and prepubescent grotesqueries of growing up. Benham's elaborate, name-calling dialogue ("icky teeth face," "peacock choker") strikes the perfect tone for this Job-like story of humiliation and failure. (Devin D. O’Leary)
“... a minute for Obama?” (32 pages), by Carol Holsinger
A detailed, realistic style supports the autobiographical story of Holsinger’s two months as a grassroots campaigner for Barack Obama’s presidential run. There’s no tension because there’s no doubt about how it will end, and Holsinger doesn’t delve much past topical emotions. Some people are mean, argumentative or in her face; others are welcoming and offer solidarity. Of course. However, the book presents the sweet message that if people work together, change is possible. The art is strong, and Palin-haters will love her nightmarish, forked-tongue portrayal. (Summer Olsson)
“Peoplings” (82 pages), by Courtney Angermeier and Jeff Benham
Flowing between a pair of parallel stories in different time periods, “Peoplings” follows two young boys with autism. In some of the best panels, the point of view belongs to one of the children. The art leads the reader down the dark tunnel of a birth canal, struggling toward a pin spot of light, or through a whole page of empty blackness, simulating the closet into which a character just stepped. One world is modern-day, and it’s colored in bold, solid tones. The other locale is Post-Revolutionary France, where the autistic boy is a “savage beast” under the guardianship of a physician. The sections there are sepia-toned, with murky, tangled imagery, perfectly reflecting the confused, shot-in-the-dark medicine of the period. “Peoplings” is Part 1 in a series on autism. (Summer Olsson)
“Yesterday and Maybe Tomorrow Too” (90 pages), by Jeff Benham and Courtney Angermeier
Every comic within this collection of shorts is graceful and engrossing, a snapshot of a profound moment told through effortless dialogue and art. Some are almost like Buddhist koans. With a wide range of visual styles and creative subject matter choices, each tale is a surprising gem. Sometimes surreal—always superreal—these are human stories. The pacing is dead-on, too: Though they slip by easily enough, you may find yourself pausing between them to ponder. (Marisa Demarco)
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