Minis Monday: Coping with Death and Duddits the Comic

Posted by on February 15th, 2010 at 1:00 PM

A while back I got a chance to share my enthusiasm for concept and execution of a journal-style comic, Four Squares, in which four cartoonists offered strips of the same days for a given month. With today’s offerings, selected members of that crew are back, in differing capacities but with similarly gratifying results.

Coping With Death

Maris Wicks

Duddits the Comic

Maris Wicks, Liz Prince and Joe Quinones

As above plus and

In Coping With Death, Maris Wicks composes a consideration of mortality as a superheroesque throwdown. The amusing tussle is distinguished by an indomitable Grim Reaper otherwise wholly preoccupied with workaday routine. Wicks has a supple, solid, persuasively animated visual style and a choreography to match. Imagine Bryan Lee O’Malley streamlined and tightened up. She makes the most of cartoon liberties, using pop-culture references as sprinkles. Her degree of foresight and control over material is matched by a fluidity in tempo and pose (for instance, with a slight gesture in a single panel, Death holds aloft a bus stop sign, an insignificant move until placed in the context of the larger situation). In the end, the comic delivers a payoff better than could be expected when calling out an Eternal Verity.

©2008 Maris Wicks

Wicks teams with Liz Prince for the story of Duddits, a nifty, light-on-its-feet gambol between aggressor, victim and fresh aggressor. Wicks supplies the first part, applying a consistent set of visual and pacing virtues, with Prince handling the parallel comeuppance. By way of contrast, Prince composes with a lighter line and takes more of those cartoon liberties. Duddits him-/itself is a rounded-off square with tail, arms and legs. Imagine a crassly opportunistic plush toy for Dilbert. The fact that he takes on a life of his own (to say nothing of a consistent life) is a credit to the collaborators. All comes, again, to a fitting end that manages to be completely apt if still unexpected. The booklet ends with clever activity pages, some by friend-cartoonist Joe Quinones.

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