The Tendersons / Colby Tenderson
This is a six-page mini comic that I forget how I acquired, but I no less read and found it to be of some interest. There’s some pretty simple cartooning in it, but I like how Tenderson (who ever he may be) goes about the issue of identity and pokes some fun. His cast of “characters” are a collection of ovals, each detailed with its own string of lines and crosses to distinguish some sense of likeness. The pages are packed with small panels, and the “characters” simply exist, in pairs, within these panels. Tenderson has them awkwardly share the same space, and occasionally they shout out names like “JAS?” or “TINA?” looking for some sort of confirmation from the other of their identity – of course, they are mistaken. It’s oddly funny. Tenderson does a nice job of making these rather simple shapes emote, and this carries much of the humor in the strip. The whole thing’s a nice exercise in body language. I wouldn’t seek it, but as something I randomly had it was a fun 45 seconds or so.
Thinger Dingers / J.T. Yost
This mini comic collects a number of strips Yost has done for various anthologies. Some are better than others; none are bad, but I wouldn’t call anything memorable, either. These were in anthologies for a reason – to entertain for a few pages. That said, I still enjoy Yost’s visual style. His line art has a rich sensibility to it, and he’s quite good at pairing humor with misfortune – most notably at the end of “Ruemates” with the death of his cat. Ultimately, though, missing this is missing nothing.
1999 / Noah Van Sciver
Bought this is at Bergen Street Comics in Brooklyn, NY. I hope to go back one day.
Anyway, the teaser above sets 1999 out to be like any other typical piece of slacker fiction, but Sciver goes in and offers us something a little richer by intermingling this piece with the Y2K scare. While more of a backdrop then centerpiece, he uses the event to cement the comic’s sense of dread and the feeling of futility the main character lives with. It’s interesting how Sciver casts Y2K as a forthcoming wave of doom that’s unquestionably going to happen, when we all know it did not, and that seems to not matter. As titled, Sciver’s interested in the year 1999, and with that is all the build-up to what some believed as the coming end of the world. He’s putting us in that moment, again, and dredging up these uncontrollable forces in light of a few directionless souls. Love might be a savoir, but for this Generation X’er love isn’t there. Just lust. This is pretty solid work. There’s a real, I don’t know, traditional feel to this with it being about the 90s, but the attention to sex and pornographic imagery sort of attaches it to today’s slew of alternative comics. I enjoyed it.
Tyranny of the Muse #1 / Eddie Wright, Jesse Balmer
Kickstarted this. Forget why. It’s about a nobody named Frank and his addiction to “inspiration” and his maybe-girlfriend-girl-thing Bonnie.
A pleasant surprise. Visually, very nice. Jesse Balmer’s line pops off the page, and the sense of confinement in the opening scene really makes this book, establishing its smell, slime and general disgust. There’s a real element of body horror here, and the discomfort only increases with the claustrophobic artwork at hand. On the script end of things, it takes a little time to get going, and that hurts because it just sort of ends when it gets really interesting. Normally, I wouldn’t complain because I could just buy the next issue, but in a case where the first issue needed Kickstarter, there’s no idea if a #2 will ever exist. Still though, Wright has some nice moments here, especially when crafting the relationship between Frank and Bonnie, twisting it into some sort of tortured affair. Tyranny of the Muse has some legs. I just hope those legs can keep on walking with a second issue.