06/05/2017

Caleb Orecchio here with thoughts on recently read comics by Mickey Z, Matthew Thurber, and Jillian Tamaki, and enough links to make a cat bark.

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Below are some thoughts on some recent comics I’ve read. Three very different comics by three very different cartoonists. Mostly, I’ve been thinking about how people draw so that is reflected herein.

RAV 2nd Collection by Mickey Z

RAV 2nd Collection by Mickey Zacchilli (Youth in Decline)–buy it here

As is always the case with a Mickey Z comic, 2nd Collection is hilarious. She shares comedic DNA with Rumiko Takahashi. Often it is the aside remarks and the contrast of character personalities that take you off guard and make you laugh out loud.

Michael DeForge writes in the introduction, “Mickey’s comics always feel as though they’re about to come apart at the seams, but they never do.” This is true on many levels. First, my copy of RAV 1st Collection is literally falling apart at the seams of the binding (when I talked to Youth in Decline proprietor, Ryan Sands, at CXC 2016 he assured me this would be less likely to happen for the 2nd Collection. So far so good!) Second, Mickey’s drawings are thin, scratchy and chaotic, she uses the digital gray zippatone effect to strengthen and hold up her loose drawings. The gray layer allows for the drawings to keep their first-take raw energy and act as the concrete for the scaffolding—the lines. The product of such an alchemy that is unabashedly manic and energized. I imagine sparks flying off her pen when she draws, and her hair standing on end due to the effect—like Goku going super-saiyan or something.

Art Comic 1-5 by Matthew Thurber

Art Comic #1-5 by Matthew Thurber (Swimmers Group)–buy issues here

Art Comic is a satirical fairytale of contemporary art. Thurber is achingly smart. Every comic he’s done—including this one—are just filled to the brim with intelligence and rarely unparalleled whit that harmoniously blends with his traditionally-minded cartooning to make an intellectual’s dream comic.

Thurber’s drawings feel like actual drawings rather than “inked drawings.” There is almost no embellishment to his lines which creates an intimacy many comics lack (Noah Van Sciver is another cartoonist who I think fits this bill). To me, having embellished inking, digital color, etc., can be like adding a drum kit to a band—everything else has to be turned up and some of the camaraderie between performer and audience is lost. I’m not trying to put down any other way of cartooning or music—Highway 61 Revisited is one of my favorite albums; but Thurber, as a cartoonist, is the lone musician on the stage singing to his attentive and perceptive audience. Simple chord changes and finger picking, with astute, biting lyrics allows us to listen and think.

Boundles by Jillian Tamaki, on loan from comics brother, Jason Hart

Boundless by  Jillian Tamaki (Drawn & Quarterly)–buy it here

You may know her from many things. Most notably, you may know her from Caldecott Honor winning graphic novel she drew in collaboration with her cousin Mariko Tamaki, This One Summer. A skill, I think that is underrated these days is the ability to be just the drawer AND the author—and the part that goes under appreciated is the ability to do both very well.

I’m trying to keep this post brief so I’ll get to the point, Tamaki’s drawing is among the best in the business among or better than such cartoonists as David Mazzuchelli, Connor Willumson, Jaime Hernandez–you name ’em! I am especially taken with what I call her “children’s book” style of drawing. Strings of squiggles and shifty lines come together in perfect harmony to create simple, plump people, animals and plants that seemed to be ripped right out of my childhood subconscious. At first the drawing reminded me of Sendak—Little Bear specifically—but less stiff. Then I think more and I think of all the little drawings and illustrations I saw in old kid’s nature magazines, craft magazines, story book anthologies, songbooks, etc. I guess what I’m trying to say is that this children’s book drawing style feels new, old, elusive, and familiar at the same time, and I’m left baffled by Tamaki’s prowess of craft.

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if you don’t know, now you know

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Suzy and Cecil – 6-5-2017 – by Gabriella Tito

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Joanie and Jordie – 6-5-2017 – by Caleb Orecchio

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