Assorted Miscellany: Candy Or Medicine, Devil’s Lake, Desmond Reed minis, Dina Kelberman, The Cornelia Collection

Posted by on February 7th, 2011 at 5:39 AM

Rob offers quick takes on comics in a variety of media: the webcomics content of Devil’s Lake; minicomics by Desmond Reed, The Corneila Collection by Kel Crum; Candy Or Medicine #12, edited by Josh Blair; and the latest issue of The Regular Man, by Dina Kelberman.

The Regular Man #15, by Dina Kelberman.  The latest two-page color explosion from Kelberman sees her little sausage character get drunk and greatly regret it.  Once again, Kelberman’s incorporation of geometric shapes, lettering and expressionistic coloring into one deranged whole is both funny and sad.  This series is the depiction of an artist’s ongoing ambivalence regarding not only her own work, but the idea of creating art in general.  Its humor derives from the tension that arises from that need to create art (and have an identity as an artist) and her desire to escape its demands.

Candy Or Medicine #12, edited by Josh Blair.  This is probably the best issue of the mini-anthology to date and certainly the weirdest.  From the intricate William Cardini cover to the dense Willard Herman map/figure comic to the slightly grotesque Sam Spina story of a workaday monster, this issue consists of a series of short, sharp shocks with the occasional resting place (like the airy gag comic from Steven Myers, “Box Lunch”).  The issue also features a new strip by promising newcomer Tori Holder, whose observations and crude stylings remind me a bit of Lisa Maslowe’s comics from about fifteen years ago.   Blair did a nice job highlighting some interesting young cartoonists who actually have a few comics under their belt, most of whom are working in the fusion style of comics that combines genre ideas with psychedelic flourishes.

The Cornelia Collection, by Kel Crum.  This is a collection of comic stories about a sad-sack woman being tossed to and fro by her friends and the world.  A putative satire of modern gender, these stories are painfully labored and jackhammer-subtle.  Crum’s line is crude but not especially expressive.  The biggest problem is his character work; what is intended to be amusing and exaggerated  instead winds up being grating.

Devil’s Lake, comics edited by Lydia Conklin. This is a web-based literary magazine from the University of Wisconsin whose comics content was chosen by Conklin, a young cartoonist of note.  John Dermot Woods’ “The Swimmers” isn’t a comic (though it was put in this section), but rather a short story with a single illustration.  Brian Connolly’s “How To Date Kate” was a disposable story about one geek’s Dan Pussey-like ambivalence toward sex as he stumbled into a dating situation; it was more notable for its odd layout (that doesn’t quite work online) and bright use of color than the cleverness of its conceit.  Janice Shapiro’s “Harry Walker” was the keeper of this trio, even if it’s an excerpt from a longer work.  There seems to be a distinct Lynda Barry influence at work in this memoir about a kindergartener and the way a particular crush she had was obliterated in humiliating fashion.  It’s the details that make this story such a delight, like the aspects of her daily school activities that stressed her out to no end.  I liked that Conklin tried for a variety of visual approaches in her first shot at editing, but the section didn’t quite cohere.

Dexter Park and The Neighbor, by Desmond Reed.   Working in a folded-over, 4×3″ minicomics format, Reed tells shaggy dog stories with twist-ending gags.  How good each mini is tends to depend on how good that final gag is, though Reed is quite skilled at keeping the reader engaged with what I call shaggy-dog sideroads.  For instance, in Dexter Park, a story about two frogs who want to party and the potential existence of a monster, Reed keeps the reader focused on the ridiculousness o details like a limbless grandfather frog, insolent young frogs and a shiftless party frog named “Terrible T.J.”  Unfortunately, the ultimate punchline was quite predictable.  On the other hand, The Neighbor, about a cat who at first is resentful of and then alarmed by the presence of a cat next door, has a great punchline that is aided by the simple, yet effective nature of Reed’s line and storytelling choices.  I like the simplicity of Reed’s intentions here: small, disposable, joke-telling devices.

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2 Responses to “Assorted Miscellany: Candy Or Medicine, Devil’s Lake, Desmond Reed minis, Dina Kelberman, The Cornelia Collection

  1. tori holder says:

    Thanks for another kind review. Hearing that you’re “a promising newcomer” by someone that definitely knows what they’re talking about is such a great encouragement.

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