Minis Monday: Two by David Yoder

Posted by on November 22nd, 2010 at 1:00 PM

 


©2010 David Yoder.

 

Giant Naked Baby
B&W; 32 pp.
It Happened at Work…
B&W; 20 pp.
Both by David Yoder
Both self-published
davidyoderisawesome.com

Two very different books form my first impression of David Yoder’s comics. Giant Naked Baby is the opening part of a longer narrative about the sudden, unexplained appearance of, well, given the title, what else? G.N. Baby rolls into a small town to assume, Buddha-like, the lotus position in front of the home of caretaker Denise and her dying grandfather Jonathan. General turmoil naturally ensues but it is of a remarkably restrained nature. Sure, there’s a good-cop/trigger-happy-less-good-cop duo on the scene and a neighborhood road block that’s a real inconvenience, but overall the surprising visitor’s impact remains chiefly a localized phenomena. The most highly mobilized institution on the case is not that of security or science, but the community church and its pastor.

Greater personal implications no doubt remain to be developed for the characters, especially in light of the concluding cliffhanger for old Jonathan. Rounding out the cast, and thereby perhaps completing Yoder’s list of persons of interest, is Roy, the first person to have seen Baby and the town’s substance abuser.

Yoder’s art is straightforward and purposeful, functional without flourish and devoid of non-representational flair. It’s plain that narrative flow and the integration of story-telling elements are of utmost importance to him.

 


©2010 David Yoder.

 

As a comic, It Happened At Work… enjoys several advantages over Baby, not the least of which is being a self-contained package. Work is a collection of single-page autobiographical strips and a five-page dream finale all of which focus on Yoder’s stint as a clerk in Wal-Mart’s electronics department.

The book benefits from a premise and setting that are likely already familiar, if not all too familiar, to many readers. It also gains appreciably by Yoder’s depiction of himself with a wry, understated efficiency. His presence gives continuity to the segments, focusing them through the lens of the common man in a way unavailable to the similarly central but largely placid Baby. Yoder is the empathic anchor. He offers in expression and body language the most nuanced communication of either book.

As slices of modulated life in the customer-service industry, the strips are tamped down, properly restrained in order to insure job continuity. Set-ups are minimal, possibly because odd interactions lurk seemingly everywhere: the kid going to the bathroom by himself, the machete in the toy department, almost anything to do with the boss, the best intentions not to gawk at the cute girl, the irate guy threatening to come back with a gun. Concluding jokes, punch lines and humorous resolutions — such as they are — are unassumingly plausible as well, befitting their uninspiring setting and the range of responses available to a completely dispensable drone.

All of which conspires to instill a guileless poignancy to the proceedings, particularly to the end of the dream sequence. There’s an authentic Charlie Brown tug to the final panel as Yoder stumbles upon a figurine modeled after himself under different circumstances. Maybe that moment deserves its own spoiler alert, except it hardly ruins any surprise built into the comic and, moreover, it’s backward-looking. What’s more relevant is that it raises and sharpens the expectations of what might lay ahead for Yoder in subsequent work.

 

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