Minis: Lauren Barnett, Candy Or Medicine #8

Posted by on February 3rd, 2010 at 5:27 AM

Rob reviews minis by Lauren Barnett and the latest issue of CANDY OR MEDICINE, edited by Josh Blair.

I’D SURE LIKE SOME FUCKING PANCAKES and SECRET WEIRDO, by Lauren Barnett. Making my best guess, Barnett seems to be the sort of person with a fine arts background who has a passion for cartooning, and is trying to figure out how best to be one. There’s a crude enthusiasm to everything she does on the page, as both of these comics fairly burst from a sketchbook. Barnett’s lettering, balloon placement, page design, panel design and figure work are all amateurish, but she’s already developed a certain style and flair on the page as well. It helps that she’s also really funny, especially in relating quotidian observations and memories. For example, the page where she talks about being bigger than her older sister as a kid and how this may have scarred her was laid out in an aesthetically pleasing fashion and ends with a crowd of stick figures running in terror from young Giant Lauren.

The strip where she lists things that she worries about reminded me a bit of Lisa Hanawalt’s work. While Barnett’s sense of humor is nowhere near as extreme as Hanawalt’s, they do share a certain sense of the absurd wherein they appropriate “cute” imagery and use it for different ends. For example, she drew a unicorn crossing a rainbow when depicting her worries about debt because the alternative was far too sickening. Later on, she used a more representational style in a story about her killing a unicorn and dragging it outside, waiting for the birds to come scavenge its body.

The latest issue of the Josh Blair-edited mini anthology CANDY OR MEDICINE is probably the most attractive and varied in content. The mini went from Kevin Richardson’s fairly naturalistically-depicted account of emotional turmoil surrounding a particular girl to Jessica Seck Marquis’ cleanly-rendered stick-figure stories about two quarreling office-mates. Richardson’s story was well-executed in just four pages, cramming a lot of panels onto each page. That created a certain franticness of pace that fit the stress-dream nature of the story. Marquis gets a surprising amount of expressiveness out of her stick figures in one story about a QVC obsession and another dealing with the ways in which coworkers can quarrel like an old married couple.

Cliff Lipp combines the philosophy of Epicurus with a series of gags surrounding the existence of god. Pat Aulisio contributes a Fort Thunder-inspired “roaming” comic featuring a a guy negotiating a heavily-hatched and geometrically unusual environment. It’s a beautiful little interlude, less a story than a brief peek into a character’s daily world. There were a few other one-page strips in this issue, but nothing that stood out as much as these other stories. Blair keeps each issue to about 16 pages, but is finding a way to consistently find sharper work with each new issue. Part of that is a function of having a group of regulars who are getting steadily better, and part of it is simply making a point of finding new talent from around the world.

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One Response to “Minis: Lauren Barnett, Candy Or Medicine #8”

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    This post was mentioned on Twitter by sgrsickness: awesome! RT @candyormedicine Rob Clough at The Comics Journal reviews Candy or Medicine Vol. 8: