Genre Is The New Steady-State III: Funny Aminals 2

Posted by on December 20th, 2010 at 5:35 AM

Rob reviews the second volume of the Funny Aminals anthology, edited by Bryan Stone and Jeff Lok.

The second volume of the underground comix tribute Funny Aminals is a good bit tighter than the first edition.  Not that much of it is really in the spirit of the sort of perverted funny animal comics that R.Crumb once did, but all of the pieces go up against one’s expectation of a standard F.A. comic while still operating in the same sort of visual language.  The 8.5 x 11″ format helps a number of the pieces breathe and especially makes the many single-page illustrations stand out.  It’s perhaps a bit bloated at 50 pages and probably could have done with fewer illustrations, but the overall design is attractive.

The standout stories are from the usual suspects, though one wonders what the target audience is for this anthology.  Is it just fellow cartoonists (or fellow Center for Cartoon Studies cartoonists, to be specific), or are they going for a larger audience?  It’s an important question to ask, because there are at least three stories that are part of a larger work.  Jeff Lok’s “Meanwhile Elsewhere” is the latest chapter in his sprawling, disturbing “Sam ‘n Dan” saga.  Fortunately, the absurd nature of this story makes it one where jumping in randomly isn’t such an unpleasant experience, thanks to the dread his hatching inspires and the tension between the cute characters and the brutal, bizarre world they inhabit.  Morgan Pielli’s “How The Coyote Stole The Moon” is set in the same world as in his recent Werewolf!!! story, wherein wolf-like creatures have a complex relationship with light.  It works much better here than in Werewolf!!!, partly because the bigger pages give his dense panels more of a chance to breathe.  There’s also the second chapter of Stone’s “Love For The Devil”, which is probably the closest in spirit to underground work like Rory Hayes–a nightmarish, hallucinatory experience for a cursed couple in love.  It actually works just fine as a stand-alone story, given its tone and imagery.

One of the problems with this anthology is that there’s not enough variety in its visual approaches.  Mark Bilokur’s story looks a lot like Stone’s, while the raggedness of Betsey Swardlick’s line isn’t too far off of Lok’s.  Her story of two cats bamboozled by the city is funny and over-the-top at least, which sets it apart from some of the other stories.  Two exceptions are Jon Chad’s delectable line that makes its final, fearsome punchline all the more effective; and Jess Smart Smiley’s childlike designs about a boy separated from his snake spine.  The latter was originally done in color but is in a highly unattractive greyscale here.  The figures are at least interesting to look at, but it’s unfortunate that more stories couldn’t have been printed in color.  The lushly illustrated one-page pin-ups are nice story breaks, but the difference between the rendering in those drawings  and the simpler stories creates a weird contrast for the reader.  Though uneven, I do like the direction in which this anthology is heading.  We’ll see if this particular theme will continue to attract talented artists.

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One Response to “Genre Is The New Steady-State III: Funny Aminals 2”

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