Minis Monday: Oh My Black Eye and The Collective, Convention Sneak Preview

Posted by on January 18th, 2010 at 1:00 PM

As Mickey would say at the beginning of his own specialized convocation, “Howdy, partners!” Welcome to the second installment of Mini Mondays here at the ranch. We’re looking at some comics gathered at the first Maine Comics Art Festival held last year in Portland, continuing with cartoonists from the home state.

Oh My Black Eye

Ben Bishop

Ben Bishop’s Oh My Black Eye is as structurally ambitious as an eight-page comic can be before it starts to swap entertainment for formal experimental purpose. Garden-pathing readers from the beginning, this dense, thoughtfully conceived, tightly told story expands upon two entwined flashback episodes before bringing us to the immediate present with an end that combines grace note and wish fulfillment. Bishop’s realistic drawing provides the advantageous verisimilitude but it’s the expressive faces that carry the drama and reveal implications.

Oh My Black Eye ©2008 Ben Bishop

The Collective, Convention Sneak Preview

Ben Bishop, Joel Rivers, and Jason Gorcoff

Here, cultivated realism (abetted by a proliferation of smaller panels) carries us past a dubious moment or two, coaxing us deeper into a predicament of ominous complexity.

The Collective, though, is a far longer tale told in “exquisite corpse” form. So, after Bishop’s initial set-up in which the protagonist  awakes within a threatening mystery, Joel Rivers (of Along the Canadian; see TCJ # 262) gives the tale a sharp thematic turn into heroic sci-fi secret-society fantasy and a quick acceleration through monsters, action and mayhem. River’s art is more textured and shaded while still dutifully delivering the grisly goods. After that, Jason Gorcoff provides a slice-of-life respite. His two characters engage in seemingly innocuous routine … before the unexpected reappearance of a sinister figure. Gorcoff’s presentation is becalmed, straightforward, lulling even, which makes the concluding entrance all the more effective.

There are good reasons why exquisite corpses, as a narrative form, are undertaken by the creatively adventurous and intended for consumption by the like-minded. The Collective is at present an ongoing work, but these opening chapters give a good account of the nature and unpredictable stages of the process.

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