One-Woman Anthologies From Laura Terry & Penina Gal

Posted by on August 25th, 2010 at 5:49 AM

Rob reviews Dance After Dark by Laura Terry and The Rapt Attention And Deep Emotion Caused By The Sight Of Something Extraordinary, by Penina Gal.

Laura Terry and Penina Gal are graduates of the Center for Cartoon Studies who have shown a great deal of versatility in their young careers as cartoonists. That versatility has been important for them as storytellers, because neither is a good enough draftsman to get by on sheer chops alone. Simply by thinking their way through their stories with regard to their visual approach resulted in some highly interesting results. For example, Terry’s three stories in Dance After Dark all play up one thing that comics can do rather well: depict motion fluidly. The first story makes her figures pop thanks to her heavy use of blacks for shadows; it’s a lovely and lyrical series of images about a young man encountering a magical dancing spirit in a park.

The second story sees her switch to a greyscale emphasis on more iconic figures, as a lumpy figure tries to evade its foes, eventually winding up in a sewer. The panel-to-panel flow is dynamic as we see the character run from peril to peril; there’s a little bit of Brian Ralph in there in depicting an environment that surrounds and at times suffocates its protagonist. The third story sees two birds dancing a waltz with each other as Terry switches styles yet again, this time using a thinner and slightly scratchier line that emphasizes the two figures above everything else. This approach requires a certain degree of control and confidence in one’s line, and Terry pulls it off. Her choice of an open storytelling style (no distinct panel grid) made the story flow differently from the first two stories; the reader was gently pushed from panel to panel, enjoying the grace of her figures until the final punchline panel. I’m hoping that Terry is preparing a longer work of some kind, because it’s clear that she experienced a great deal of growth at CCS.

Gal doesn’t display quite the same range of approaches, but her quirky wit makes this collection of odds and ends worth a look.  Rapt Attention collects anthology work as well as what looks like sketchbook doodles.  The strips range from thin-line humor strips to darker stories in what looks like charcoal or a heavy pencil.  Gal’s best quality as an artist is her deadpan but absurdist sense of humor.  In the “Dave” series of strips, the title character ambles through a strange series of adventures involving Masons, Wonder Bread and laundry day.  Her story “Rocky” is more serious, but with the same distance felt in her funnier stories.  The heavily penciled style evokes a certain childlike simplicity, which further contrasts with this story of a woman who names her cats after ex-boyfriends.  Gal’s niche as a storyteller is more in the fantasy realm (as evidenced by her Fire Messenger series), but these stories serve her well in exercising a different sort of creative muscle.

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One Response to “One-Woman Anthologies From Laura Terry & Penina Gal”

  1. [...] Attention Reviewed By Penina My lovely and talented friend Laura Terry and I got reviewed on The Comics Journal blog [...]