Art Objects: Good Minnesotan #4

Posted by on December 2nd, 2010 at 12:01 AM

Raighne Hogan, ed.; 2D Cloud;

Good Minnesotan‘s origins are not unlike that of Kramers Ergot.  Both anthologies started small and featured stories by friends of the editor, a young cartoonist with ambition and a wide view of comics art.  The fourth issue of Kramers exploded onto the art-comics scene and gained its editor, Sammy Harkham, a considerable amount of notice and respect.  That issue saw him reach out far beyond his own circle of friends to include the most cutting-edge of cartoonists, as well as a number of pieces that stretched the boundaries of what could be called narrative.

©2010 Sean Lynch

Raighne Hogan’s anthology is not on the same level, but it’s clear that he’s become more ambitious and has taken a number of interesting risks in the fourth issue of Good Minnesotan.  It’s now become the anthology of note for a part of the country packed with up-and-coming cartoonists as well as a few stars, and Hogan made a point of reaching out to the likes of Zak Sally and Tom Kaczynksi for this book.  Tom K, best known for his Mome work, once again contributes a piece that straddles the line between eschatology and genre concerns, with a character named Ransom Strange who pontificates on the apocalypse.

©2010 Will Dinski

There are a number of other cartoonists from the Minneapolis scene that made their first appearance in the anthology, including Will Dinski (contributing a funny strip about an Evel Kneivelesque stunt biker jumping over a canyon),  and Kevin Cannon (with a strip depicting a cartoon history of the quest for the North and South Poles).  Good Minnesotan is now really tapping into artists from the Minneapolis College of Art & Design (MCAD), providing an outlet for artists whose output is line with Hogan’s sensibilities.

©2010 Kevin Cannon

Hogan is interested in a number of visual approaches, from traditional comics narrative to visceral, disturbing images to photos that carry their own sense of narrative. Hogan’s blog is well worth a look, both for his essays on comics and the many interviews he’s conducted with Good Minnesotan contributors.   He also includes a number of what seem to be sketchbook pages as a sort of palate-cleanser between stories.  With this volume, Hogan clearly put a lot of thought into making GM an art object.  The anthology, acknowledging the minicomics roots of its contributors, comes in the form of four separate minicomics, collected in a color cover sleeve.  Each edition also comes with a print (there are four different prints to be found, with Moorman’s “landshark” joke being my favorite).  I generally don’t mention pricing when I review comics, but it was thanks to this project’s successful Kickstarter fundraising that this 162-page anthology costs only $5.  Hogan was able to figure out just what needed to be done with an earlier, shorter version of the anthology. Hogan made some subtle alterations in addition to adding new stories, including moving certain illustrations around and doing a better job of identifying stories in each mini’s table of contents.

©2010 Nicholas Breutzman

The heart of Good Minnesotan has always been Hogan spotlighting emerging artists.  The best of these cartoonists, Nic Breutzman, contributed another in a series of stories about the unsettling nature of the isolation children can feel growing up in a middle-of-nowhere suburb.  That eerie stillness was at the heart of this story about a boy fascinated by the skeleton of a new house going up next door to his, where the stillness became a sort of companion as he would lie down in the scoop of a bulldozer at night.

©2010 Joshana Anderson

Sean Lynch’s “The White Dot” is a series of abstract, swirling images arranged in a four-panel grid.  One gets a sense of motion, if not direct connection, between each image.  Joshana Anderson’s “OCD Hand Study” is a fascinating series of drawings of hands, wherein we see the artist drawing hands as mechanical, in a clear-line style,  in a graph-paper grid, in shadow, as anatomy-textbook items and as hatched and crosshatched objects.  It’s one of the more interesting pieces in the anthology.

©2010 Martha Iserman

Other standouts, all done in different styles, include  Martha Iserman’s”Albert,” a funny illustration-with-caption strip about a puffer fish who goes on a series of escalating, ridiculous adventures; Justin Skarhus’ “Indestructible Breeze,” a strip about parasites digging around a person’s face while they sleep that brings that visceral, Fort Thunder feel to the proceedings; Anna Bongiovani’s fable about onions bringing a mother back to life in an unusual way; Eric Schuster’s funny “My Favorite Spider,” drawn and lettered in a deliberately crude computer 8-bit-style; Meghan Hogan’s weird photocomic featuring plush bears; and Buck Sutter’s haunting, blurry series of photographs that ooze with desolation and despair.

© 2010 Eric Schuster

The anthology is ragged at times.  Hogan’s own contributions don’t seem to be as well thought-out as his editorial contributions.  Hogan at times goes overboard by inserting too many incidental drawings and  sketchbook scribblings of some of his contributors.  There are also some strips that looked like they were originally color pieces that were greyscaled for the anthology, and they simply don’t look as good as the crisper black-and-white pieces or moody photography. I think if Hogan decides to do another edition of Good Minnesotan, he should consider adding a color section, even if he has to handle those chores himself (he’s actually an interesting colorist in his own right).  That aside, Good Minnesotan #4 combines the craft chops of the most beautiful of handmade comics art objects with a remarkable level of challenging, unusual, amusing and thought-provoking comics.

©2010 Buck Sutter

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