Minicomics Round-Up: Rugg, Blair, Cardini & Burggraf

Posted by on May 17th, 2010 at 5:36 AM

Rob reviews a batch of small minis, including CANDY OR MEDICINE #9 and the Free Comic Book Day Special 2010 (edited by Josh Blair); RAMBO 3.5, by Jim Rugg; COLLECTIONS, by Josh Blair; and SHAMAN THUNDER, by William Cardini & Josh Burggraf.

CANDY OR MEDICINE #9, CANDY OR MEDICINE FREE COMIC BOOK DAY SPECIAL 2010, and COLLECTIONS.  The first two were edited by Josh Blair, and the latter was written & drawn by Blair.   CANDY OR MEDICINE is a sort of entry-level minicomics anthology, frequently emphasizing unknown or up-and-coming artists in a 16-page package.  Blair goes out of his way to pack in as many different styles as possible–everything from near-abstractions to gag work to fairly naturalistic genre stories.  Blair himself contributes stick-figure comics to the anthologies, which was also true of his COLLECTIONS (a funny gag comic about his experience as a bill collector).  The FCBD comic was dominated by a Patt Kelley story that mixed in naturalistic shading with the absurd premise of sharks striking a small town after a tornado had dethroned their king.  While many of the contributions have been forgettable, every issue of the anthology has at least one or two interesting entries highlighting an artist to watch.

In the case of the 9th issue, the two standouts were Cameron Callahan and Maggie Morrill.  Callahan’s conceptual strip featuring robots and anthropomorphic flowers arguing about health care plans had a great punchline in an otherwise oblivious character enjoying a snack at the kitchen table.  In Morrill’s case, her character design in her amusing “interview” with Sherlock Holmes made each page a pleasure to look at, especially in terms of character gesture and overall presence.  While the story was light-hearted and cheeky, it was obvious that this was a love-letter to a favorite character.  I found myself wanting to see more of her work right away.

RAMBO 3.5, by Jim Rugg. Rugg, the creator of amusing genre parodies/pastiches in STREET ANGEL and AFRODISIAC, crafted what is actually an over-the-top political parody with this stylish little mini. It’s a George W Bush fever dream, featuring him imagining teaming up with Sylvester Stallone’s infamous ass-kicking movie character to take out terrorists in the wake of 9/11. This comic is jammed with puns, cheap shots, double-entendres, adolescent sexual references and hilarious non-sequiturs. What I liked best about it was the way Rugg threw in so many varied visual approaches, from naturalistic drawings (with zip-a-tone, even) to quick, cartoony sketches to amazing (and ridiculous) schematic drawings to fumetti photos of Bush and Rambo dolls. RAMBO 3.5 is gloriously inspired silliness, a comic destined for cult status.

SHAMAN THUNDER, by William Cardini & Josh Burggraf. Cardini is an interesting artist who has digested Fort Thunder-style drawing (Mat Brinkman in particular) and merged it with the angular backgrounds of a P.Shaw. This has all been in the service of remarkably straight-ahead narratives, at least in terms of structure.  This is a jam comic done with Burggraf, with each artist alternating pages in a story about two dueling shamans and a case of mistaken identity.  Burggraf uses a more detailed and naturalistic line than Cardini, which made for an interesting contrast, but my eye was drawn to Cardini’s pages.  He simply has an uncanny knack for creating a sort of frantic energy on the page (aided by the use of a lot of wavy lines) without sacrificing readability.  Indeed, working big allows him to establish character relationships in space in such a way that establishes tension without resorting to cramped clutter.  Much of Cardini’s work to date has been him fooling around with form in silly stories, but he’s got the tools to do some interesting work.

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One Response to “Minicomics Round-Up: Rugg, Blair, Cardini & Burggraf”

  1. […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Josh Blair, Josh Blair. Josh Blair said: The Comics Journal reviews Candy or Medicine Vol 9, the FCBD Special and Collections: […]