Minis: Nurse Nurse #5 and The Regular Man

Posted by on February 6th, 2010 at 6:12 AM

Rob reviews NURSE NURSE #5, by Katie Skelly; and THE REGULAR MAN #1-5, by Dina Kelberman.



Katie Skelly’s NURSE NURSE #5 is a perfect example of a comic wherein the artist uses a very simple line in such a way as to create beautiful page after beautiful page. Skelly is interested in psychedelia, and psychedelic art at its core is all about the ways in which black and white interact with each other. There are a number of pages that reflect that sort of play between shades, with figures and background melting into and out of each other. It took Skelly about four issues to gain enough control over her line and the design of the page to effectively create the sort of visuals she was going after, but the results have been extremely interesting. While Skelly’s character designs are simple, they still draw in the eye because of a few details here and there, like carefully-placed freckles, odd clothing, and body paint. The simplicity of the character design makes the psychedelic pages all the more effective, since it’s still easy to follow every page.



Skelly is a storyteller first, which is why she makes sure her visuals draw the reader in rather than overwhelm the eye (like a lot of psychedelic art might). The story follows Gemma the nurse in space as she left her initial job, got hijacked and wound up on Mars, falling in with a renegade rock band and friendly natives. It’s psychedelic sci-fi, and it’s still unclear to me where Skelly is going with this story. At the moment, I’m simply enjoying the ride that each issue offers up, especially since Skelly is managing to now make each issue a satisfying entity of its own.



Dina Kelberman was one of my favorite new artists of 2009, and her collection IMPORTANT COMICS wound up as one of my top 50 comics of the year. Her two-page THE REGULAR MAN series of comics continue the same sort of stream-of-consciousness rants, observations and memories seen in that collection. Kelberman’s page design is unconventional, to say the least. Panels vary in size and shape, floating on the page. Some panels are sequential, while others on the same page are discrete units. Her figures are anthropomorphic cubes, cylinders and spheres, with her own self-representation a particularly misanthropic cylinder. The most notable thing about her comics is her non-intuitive use of color and the immersive way she employs lettering.



The lettering ranges in size, color, font and cursive vs print. Colors appear and disappear on the page in odd ways: coming on as part of the lettering, filling up word balloons, acting as panel borders, creating character space or simply amorphously spreading across a page. Kelberman appropriated images for her covers (often to hilarious effect), and the subjects of each issue ranged from the end of the world; a walking trip from Annapolis to Washington, DC; extreme social anxiety; the merits of solipsism; and the pressures of acceptance. Kelberman combines sketchbook spontaneity with a firm understanding of exactly how she’s stretching the boundaries of comics. There’s also a wicked and blunt humor to be found here that works hand-in-hand with her bleak worldview that reminds me a bit of Chris Ware. This is an artist who clearly loves being a cartoonist but goes about it in a manner different from any other artist working today.


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