Quick Comments On Series: Shiot Crock, Big Questions, Nurse Nurse, Boneyard

Posted by on November 27th, 2010 at 6:53 AM

Rob offers some quick words on the newest iterations of various series: Shiot Crock #16 edited by Shannon Smith, Boneyard Volume 7 by Richard Moore (NBM), Nurse Nurse #7 by Katie Skelly, and Big Questions #14, by Anders Nilsen (Drawn & Quarterly).

Shiot Crock #16, edited by Shannon Smith.  This is the apa-anthology of the Comics Journal message board, wherein the only publications in circulation tend to be for the contributing members.  The apa (amateur press association) is a model that dates back several decades and has been used as a means of expression for the denizens of the infamous TCJ message board for close to a decade.  For a thrown-together anthology put together with random parts, this issue coheres rather well.  There are certainly any number of pieces that are so amateurish as to be distracting, but the extended pages from Josh Latta (an entire Rashy Rabbit adventure) are well done.  Bits from Joe Kletz and Mark Campos are amusing while the pages from Kurt Beaulieu & Sean Robinson are attractive.  Shiot Crock exists as a means of encouraging aspiring cartoonists to get work out there in a forum where they know their work will be seen; as such, it’s beyond a real critique.  As an actual artistic item to be evaluated, it’s a decent anthology that suffers from a lack of editorial veto, given the extreme disparity in talent levels of some of its contributors.

Nurse Nurse #7, by Katie Skelly.  The penultimate issue of this series (prior to its collection by Sparkplug) sees Skelly return to characters and situations from earlier issues.  This seems to signal the series being ready to wrap up, but it’s interesting to see how more stronger the series is now visually since Skelly first started this psychedelic outer space adventure.  One thing I’d like to point out here is just how important not just character design is to Skelly, but also character costuming.  In addition to the crisp nurse uniform the protagonist Gemma wears, the outfits the pirate characters wear are a sort of futuristic mutation of late 60s fashion.  Like her character designs, everything is just a bit askew in terms of angles, amping up the psychedelic feel of the comic.  I’m hoping that when Sparkplug collects the series, they go bigger in terms of page size to help emphasize the psychedelic interplay between black and white that Skelly emphasizes.

Big Questions #14, by Anders Nilsen.  For any regular readers of this series, this issue contained a series of stunning, upsetting events.  I plan to do a full review of the series once issue #15 (its last) arrives, stretching back to the minicomics days.  Until then, a few general notes.  This is a series known for languid stretches featuring its bird protagonists philosophizing on the significance of two significant events: the crash-landing of a jet plane and the presence of of a bomb from said plane.  The first climax of the series came when the bomb exploded, killing not just several characters but shattering the religion (and prophets) that sprang up around it.  The past few issues have been about the aftermath of that event and how it created an almost post-apocalyptic sense of survival.  That change of attitude culminates in the events seen here, as the human pilot and the mute whose house he inadvertently destroy clash, a fight that leads the pilot to open fire on the birds.  Nilsen’s highly detailed, stippling style is incredibly involved in this issue, given the large number of close-ups that we see.  I’m eager to see how the violence in this issue shakes out in the conclusion.

Boneyard Volume 7, by Richard Moore.  This appears to be the final volume of the series but it happens to be the first that I read.  To its credit, the plot and characters were easy to follow, which perhaps isn’t surprising since Moore bridges any gaps in potential reader understanding by making most of the characters recognizable monsters or monster tropes.  This book is a sort of cousin to Batton Lash’s Supernatural Law in that it’s a genre/horror homage/parody drawn in a fairly mainstream style.  None of the characters stood out for a first-time reader other than perhaps a crow that’s actually a muse, and the dialogue of some of the characters was painfully stylized at times.  Happily, Moore is less interested in advancing a master plot than he is in drawing funny images, and the extended sequence when the gang of monsters flips from parallel universe to parallel universe, looking like pirates/robots/superdeformed manga characters (depending on the universe) is a gag that gets funnier with each variation.  Boneyard has an almost genial quality that stands out in the face of far more visceral takes on this sort of material; I got the sense that Moore banks on reader goodwill toward characters earned through earlier action set-pieces rather than any real complexity or depth in the characters themselves.  I wasn’t moved to seek out earlier volumes, but I did appreciate the level of craft on display on the most densely illustrated pages.

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One Response to “Quick Comments On Series: Shiot Crock, Big Questions, Nurse Nurse, Boneyard

  1. Thanks for the review Rob. FYI Shiot Crock 16 actually is available for all the world (unlike the previous versions). Folks can get it here… http://shannonsmith.ecrater.com/p/8082933/shiot-crock-sixteen