Wednesday, February 25, 2015

The Complete Clough On Comics at Cicada

I just wrapped up a year's worth of reviews over at Cicada, the literary magazine for teens (and cousin of the more famous Cricket). Here are links to every one of my columns:

1. May/June 2014: Margerite Dabaie, Ed Piskor, Gilbert Hernandez
2. July/August 2014: Nicole Georges, Rutu Modan
3. September/October 2014: Max Badger, Isaac Cates
4. November/December 2014: Liz Prince
5. January/February 2014: Farel Dalrymple
6. March/April 2014: Renee French

Monday, February 23, 2015

The Kitchen Sink: Fearful Hunter

Sometimes, the best way to break through a creative block is to write and/or draw a story that has elements one simply enjoys playing around with. In creating Fearful Hunter, Jon Macy decided to draw and write about things that he liked and figure out how they connected later. In his case, that was punk rock, boys, druids, werewolves and trees. The result was a much looser, freer and more expressive work than what I've seen from Macy.. This is hindered in part by the ridiculous, fantasy bodies that speak to the sillier end of wish-fulfillment: six-pack abs and asses so curvy they would put Milo Manera to shame. Still, unlike his previous book Teleny & Camille (in which he added a ridiculous, tacked-on happy ending), Macy here is able to unite his "star-crossed lovers" themes in a way that was organic, exciting and entirely related to the plot.

In brief, the story is about a young, emerging druid who falls in love with a werewolf, and the jealous master that seeks to have the werewolf for himself. Along the way, there's an epic conspiracy designed to make a particular druid all-powerful over their gods, a werewolf caravan, various friendly animals and sex scenes that not only aren't jarring to the reader, they are integral to the story. The more mundane aspects of the story, like the daily lives of werewolves and the sexual and platonic friendships of the book, help balance out some of the nonsensical fantasy/magic-speak.

Every character has solid motivations and the fantasy elements of the story are well thought-out, fascinating and manage to avoid familiar cliches while still trumpeting "the power of love". Indeed, the book is one long exploration of sex as a function of love vs. sex as a function of power. This plays out in how the druids interact with their "allies" (the elder gods), including an excellent plot twist at the end that saves the day. At its core, this is a simple "outside forces conspire to break up an ideal couple" story, but Macy's storytelling instincts make these obstacles interesting to read about and far from arbitrary. By placing part of the conflict as one as professional duties vs romance, Macy hit on a point that will resonate with many readers. There is joy on every page of this book, as Macy's enthusiasm for his favorite subjects sings on every page. If Teleny and Camille felt clinical and slick, this book is personal and delightfully sloppy.

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Thirty Days of CCS: The Index

I've been quietly updating the Thirty Days of CCS feature that got off-track during my hiatus for the last few weeks. Now that it's done, here's an index of every day and the comics reviewed. In all, I looked at the work of 48 cartoonists and read three anthologies. The last CCS review for this period will appear soon at  Regular reviews will resume at both and High-Low shortly.

1. Beth Hetland
2. Laurel Lynn Leake, Alexis Frederick-Frost, Laura Terry
3. Eleri Mai Harris, Josh Kramer, Bryn Adams
4. Penina Gal and Melanie Gillman
5. Stephanie Zuppo
6. Sean Ford, Amelia Onorato, Andrew Christensen
7. Colleen Frakes, Sarah "Chu" Wilson
8. Chuck Forsman
9. Sean Knickerbocker and April Malig
10. JP Coovert, Melissa Mendes, Rachel Dukes

11 .Reilly Hadden
12. Carl Antonowicz, Matthew New
13. Applied Cartooning Manifesto
14. Laurel Holden
15. Wade Simpson
16. Andy Warner
17. Max Mose and Dakota Mcfadzean
18. Romey Bensen
19. Sophie Goldstein
20. Ben Horak, Alex Kim, Jeff Lok

21. Dan Rinylo
22. Sasha Steinberg
23. Rebecca Roher, Jonathan Rotzstain, Peter Audry
24. Kevin Uehlein, Red House
25. Luke Healy, Simon Reinhardt
26. Annie Murphy, Adam Whittier, Jon Chad, Sean Ford, Rachel Dukes
27. Dog City 3
28. Aaron Cockle
29. Irene 4,5
30. Iris Yan