New Anthologies From CCS: Funny Aminals

Posted by on December 7th, 2009 at 9:58 AM

Rob continues his look at recent anthologies from CCS with FUNNY AMINALS, edited by Jef Lok and Bryan Stone.

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FUNNY AMINALS was the most uneven of the four CCS anthologies I’m reviewing, which was unfortunate because there was a lot of talent on display here.  Jeff Lok and Bryan Stone were the editors, and they were perhaps overly ambitious in putting this book together, because it felt hastily-assembled. There were a number of spelling errors (from the table of contents to several of the pieces) and a feeling that the pieces were assembled haphazardly. The book veered from single page gag strips to longer stories, most of which tended to be on the funny/gross-out side. This book wound up as an unintentional tribute to a 70s underground anthology of the same name, and there’s a sense that some of the cartoonists were trying to evoke that same spirit.

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There were a number of highlights in this book. We got yet another chapter of Lok’s “Sam and Dan” series, which lived up to the creepy weirdness of prior entries. Olivares’ “Playin’ Dead!” was a funny account of Peter o’Possum mistakenly being picked up by the Grim Peeper, coming back to the land of the living and making a new friend. His comics often revolve around life and death, but this was a cute spin on that idea. Joseph Lambert’s “Today’s Tantrum” is unsurprisingly the most visually striking piece in the book. The way he scrawled the facial features of the girl who rampaged through the town (after her dog was literally flattened by a car) was amusing and gave the story a frenetic quality. The way Lambert made it obvious that the girl and the dog were drawings to the reader created an interesting tension when they interacted with their more naturalistically-rendered environment. Morgan Pielli’s metaphorical story about integration & immigration was well-drawn, even if its message was a bit too on the nose at times. Stone’s “Love For the Devil” was a companion piece of sorts to what Lok was doing, as it followed a lonely anthropomorphic dog who stumbled upon a carnival, his true love, and all sorts of trouble.

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The rest of the anthology was fairly disposable, with a few witty one-pagers from Colleen Frakes & Penina Gal along with a moody, wordless piece from Emily Wieja. Matt Aucoin’s pieces were actively repellent, especially in terms of the visuals. His line was difficult to follow and his character design was frequently incoherent. Storywise, it seemed like he was trying to shock for the sake of shock, and the gags fell short as a result. The Steve Bissette essay on obscure underground artist Michael Hurley was interesting, but felt out of place. It was the only historical/text piece in the book and was a full seven pages, which upset the rhythm of the rest of the book. There’s potential in this anthology for future volumes, but it needs to be more tightly edited–both in terms of focus and the contributions accepted.

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5 Responses to “New Anthologies From CCS: Funny Aminals”

  1. johnrplatt says:

    How do you order this?

  2. Rob Clough says:

    I edited the post to include a link to their website. It should be available at http://iknowjoekimpel.com, but I don’t think they have it for sale just yet.

  3. […] Funny Aminals reviewed… by Rob Clough! […]

  4. matt aucoin says:

    This critique you put on my work might be a little harsh, but not undeserved. It was similar to the response my girlfriend gave when I showed her those pages, “What the hell are you thinking?” I realize now that I should have listened to her.

    I was excited to be working with such a talented group of artists that I tried to cram too much into my pages. Like a freshman who wants to hang out with the seniors, I tried to impress with as many gross gag jokes that I could fit in a panel, and tried a number of “artists” pens that I’d never used before. Hence the difficult to follow line work. And the subject matter, monkey sex, was crude at best…consequently making my piece repellent to most members of the human race.

    I was happy I got to work with so many talented people, but next time I’ll listen to that little voice by my side that asks, “What the hell are you thinking?”

  5. Rob Clough says:

    Matt,

    Thanks for the reply. I think your self-critique is accurate. I’m one who can enjoy a decent gross-out gag (I’ve been reading Ivan Brunetti since before his Schizo days), but as you note the real problem was being able to follow the story.

    That said, I can understand your enthusiasm in wanting to go all-out for an anthology, especially one with so many talented cartoonists. The problem with your strip had nothing to do with effort or enthusiasm, and I hope you maintain both as you continue your career. I think your ability to take critique will serve you well, and I hope to see how your work evolves.