More Mini-Comics: Smith, Baddeley, Mardou

Posted by on January 8th, 2011 at 6:30 AM

Rob reviews another batch of minicomics, including Anais In Paris, by Sacha Mardou; Silent V #3 by Kyle Baddeley; and Two Eyes Of The Beautiful #2, by Ryan Cecil Smith.

Anais In Paris, by Sacha Mardou.  Mardou has always done thoughtful, slightly scribbly comics mostly about interesting women.  Some of the stories are present tense and expose unpleasant emotions and characteristics of her characters, while others are set in past tense and embrace the warts-and-all tendencies and mistakes of her characters.  Anais In Paris is a short bio comic about the diarist Anais Nin.  Best known for reconciling the quotidian and erotic aspects of her life, the frankness with which she talks about her sex life and her sexually adventurous nature proved to be quite scandalous as well as hugely influential.  Mardou’s matter-of-fact and even lightly comedic approach in depicting her life was a brilliant move, given the culture’s usual depiction of her in “erotic fiction” terms.  Mardou, in her ragged but expressive line, is most concerned about depicting Nin’s eyes as her most seductive quality, as well as an indicator of her intellect and wit.  That was a visual shorthand for telling the audience that in Nin’s eyes, creative & intellectual energy burst forth from the same source as sexual energy.   That creativity was key; Nin was far from mere muse for the writers and artists she dallied with.  Indeed, Mardou argues that inspiration proved to be a two-way street for both parties in the couple.

Silent-V #3, by Kyle Baddeley.  Baddeley continues to grow more confident in expanding his bizarre world with each new issue.  That confidence has led to greater clarity on the page, both in terms of how figures are rendered as well as the world they inhabit.  That clarity makes the dissonance he specializes in all the more effective.  Baddeley likes to portray cute animals and babies doing as assassins, mystics and perpetrators of terror.  Starting off the comic with a curly-headed baby being poked, prodded and stretched on a rack was both funny and disturbing, but it was also clear that it was part of a yet-to-be-revealed plot point.  That was far less weird than one of the series’ protagonists (seen nailing fish to a wall) being told by a malevolent talking teddy bear (shades, once again, of Rory Hayes) about how to meet up with a UFO.  It’s almost as though Baddeley is cutting out plot-explaining scenes in favor of the fluidity of action.  At some point, it may or may not have some kind of plot payoff, but it scarcely matters if the scene-to-scene flow is this fluid and amusing.

Two Eyes Of the Beautiful #2, by Ryan Cecil Smith.  Smith is another artist who specializes in depicting awful scenes that are also hilarious in their own way.  Filtering an old manga story through his own sensibilities, Smith doesn’t skimp on depicting the horror of a demented former actress planning to have her brain transferred into the body of her innocent young daughter.  Smith quickly skates over the obvious juxtaposition of former beauty queen whose now-grotesque skin is matched only by her inner moral decay and goes straight into a deliberate and drawn-out set of panels that set the reader on edge like the best Japanese horror stories.  You know what’s coming, and the heavy intensity of zip-a-tone makes each anticipatory panel all the more oppressive, but Smith manages to blow through reader expectation with the more naturalistic panels of animal corpses and heads with their brains scooped out.  The little girl, Sarah, is wonderfully over-the-top in terms of her naivete’, telling the audience how much she loves and trusts her mother until she overhears her hilariously-telegraphed plan.  I have no idea if the original source material had this level of self-awareness in terms of how it presented the melodrama of its premise, but Smith clearly picked up that ball and ran wild with it.

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