Today Sam Ombiri looks at work by GG and Gloria Rivera, and Sally shares new work by K. L. Ricks, updates from Yona Harvey, Shannon Wright, and more!
Sam Ombiri here, going through š! #25 ‘Gaijin Mangaka’:
GG’s comic in š! #25 ‘Gaijin Mangaka’ (above) had a poetic, slow, rhythmic passage of time, with a mystery unraveling – and simultaneously, less clarity is achieved as time progresses. Even so, there is density present in the simple things going on, and elements of the story are moving towards something unrelenting.
We come back to our senses with a very grounded comic from Gloria Rivera (above). It almost feels like it does not fit in this book. It certainly does not stick to the gimmick of recycling manga tropes for alt comic readers, as I initially anticipated. It is then surprising in how sincere it is about this simple interaction – someone’s terror of the complications of being. The work was explained by Gloria Rivera in the introduction of Gaijin Mangaka – “The more you do research, the more you end up at the ‘weird part.’ ” For her, this included the special genre of Josei manga, made by and for adult women, which Rivera considers an alternative form in itself, in which “women are no longer in the background, or victims. They are given their own stories with true breadth. Although sometimes they can seem villainized, the discourse that comes attached with those characters has a profound effect on its audience.“
I’d like to think that Gloria’s success in her comic is independent of the manga she read. I’m sure the manga helped her, but at the end it was all her. I mean, am I just reading this work because there are artists who make compelling work somewhere else? I highly doubt it, otherwise I wouldn’t be compelled myself by the work.
While the introduction of the book is great, there are points where you are being told which aspects of the work to be compelled by. It then proves to be a challenge to engage with the work, because a foreign entity has entered the work and proceeded to guide you, the reader. It places the reader in the role of someone who is there to regurgitate the feelings of the one who is contextualizing the work. The real exciting moments of the anthology are the points at which the selling point of Gaijin Mangaka – being manga themed – is almost entirely ignored, or not prioritized at the expense of the comic.
This happens with Gloria’s contribution, or Mickey Zacchilli’s contribution. I hesitate to say, but it’s the work itself turning into the selling point, as opposed to the way it’s being contextualized in the book. It is more that at the end of the day, I like the work. I like all this stuff in the book – I have my preferences, but it is not motivated by a simple idea like, “Because the manga has influenced the comic, it means I like the comic.”
When I was getting into alt comics, what I saw as “alt” was really unspecific. One of the main attitudes I saw as “alt” was whatever the crazy thing might be, “it’s not such a big deal” – and that even applied to artists appropriating the typical manga drawing styles.
The works that I really responded to in Gaijin Mangaka were the ones where manga’s influence wasn’t so apparent, or it wasn’t what was carrying the comic. I probably felt that way because the work felt like it was being sold to the audience as “alternative cartoonists” doing a bunch of manga-influenced work. Manga’s influence is increasingly present. In fact, the book gags you with this influence, and overloads you with it. The problem is that it almost distracts from the work – but still it’s a great anthology all together. – Sam Ombiri
Sally here – K. L. Ricks has a new comic up on her site – Nesting (first page is above). It was made for the Critical Chips anthology, edited by Zainab Akhtar. You can see the rest of this, and plenty more of her work HERE.
There’s a good piece on Fusion about the new Black Panther & The Crew, co-written by Ta-Nehisi Coates and Pittsburgh’s Yona Harvey. The first issue kicked off recently, and has been garnering admiration and excitement. It is proving to be quite topical as well, but this shouldn’t be surprising.
“While Coates and Harvey might not have set out to write Black Lives Matter: The Comic, it’s obvious that they’re writing from perspectives shaped, in part, by their experiences as black Americans. Black Panther & The Crew isn’t a “black story” solely meant to appeal to black fans. It’s a story written by black authors, centered around black characters, and featuring themes that reflect the lived experiences of real black people. That distinction is important.“
Ebony ran a feature on Shannon Wright recently, focusing in a series she did on the hairstyles of black women. Although her work has been leaning toward illustration more so than comics lately, I’m hoping she will direct her energy and passion back into the medium soon. Regardless, her word of advice to other creatives holds true:
“Make work that you’re passionate about because people can definitely tell when you’re not in it. Be kind to people. Don’t create work that’s going to make people feel like they don’t belong. Honesty goes a long way in your work. People notice when you stand by your values.“
Everyone wants to spend time outside as spring pulls itself together in earnest – you need good books and comics to read on blankets spread out in the sun. Consider adding The Art of Vanesa R. Del Rey to your picnic basket, for a compelling afternoon read that will also inspire you to head back into your studio to try and make new and better comics yourself! Check it out HERE.
Blinkers – 4-20-2017 – by Jack Brougham
Suzy and Cecil – 4-20-2017 – by Gabriella Tito
Joanie and Jordie – 4-20-2017 – by Caleb Orecchio