Rich Kreiner: Minis Monday: Blood Moon: A Love Story

Posted by on July 12th, 2010 at 1:00 PM

Blood Moon: A Love Story
By Ron LeBrasseur

At the beginning of Minis Monday’s Second Season a month ago, I lamented the fact that I didn’t get to meet nearly enough of the new-to-me cartoonists at the most recent Maine Comics Arts Festival, let alone gather their wares. Naturally since then I’ve been doing nothing but reviewing the work of new-to-me cartoonists.

Not that Ron LeBrasseur was entirely unfamiliar before. I’d already gotten to commend his “pleasantly riotous” romp of “Too Many Robots!” from Inbound #2, one of the house anthologies from the Boston Comics Roundtable (although I regret pigeonholing it as a “kids’ story.” The lil’ shavers will, of course, dig the frantic action, the child protagonist, the goofy scientist and the various and cleverly modeled robots, for which LeBrasseur gives credit to Harrison King. At the same time, few of the kids are gonna appreciate the genre-busting elements of the tale let alone the joke “Way to totally miss the ‘getting ready’ montage, there!”).

LeBrasseur also had comics in Inbound #4, the issue devoted to the history of Boston. He provided the corroborating visuals for Roundtable founder Dave Kender’s account of living in Cambridge without being associated with Harvard, an existence akin to the Buddhist state of being “in but not of ” the world. He also condensed into five very solid if breakneck pages an account of “The Lost Pirate Treasure of Dungeon Rock” from origins in oddness and lore through haunted guardians, land exchanges, spiritualists and tourist traps to the present-day status of the public park, the Lynn Woods.

Both “Too Many Robots” and “The Lost Pirate Treasure …” appear in LeBrasseur’s pamphlet comic Blood Moon: A Love Story. The titular story concerns itself with the doomed romance between a saxophone-playing vampire with a trumpet-playing nurse, so if you’re following along on your the Topical Character-O-Meter, the comic already boasts bloodsuckers, sweethearts, musicians, pirates, pirate ghosts, automatons, plucky heroes and mad scientists.

To which we must add stories of Drake Marvel, a hard boiled private eye who, on behalf of his alien client, gets mixed up in a spacecraft-jacking; an evildoers job fair in which two slackers pursue a career in a gang of clown criminals; and the origins of “The Wandering Homunculus” as he is liberated from his natal vat. That, ladies and gentleman, is covering a lot of genre bases. (Where are the dinosaurs?)

LeBrassuer has an open, very accessible cartoon style. It will appeal, as do his topics, to children although again, some of the humor will remain the province of adults (Clarabellum, “The Clown Prince of Evil Clowns,” herds his newest employees to their company car with “Come, my stretch limo awaits!” even as his tiny circus car sits curbside). Situations are dynamic (LeBrasseur even makes property transfer as lively as possible), with spirited characters drawn in an animated line. Genre conventions as well as uncharacteristic twists get their due within short stories made shorter still by the territory traversed.

LeBrasseur’s visual style proves amenable and congenial no matter the dictates of subject.  In the context of kids’ commercial comics these days, it is entirely professional. As such, much of Blood Moon would make for a terrific resume.  But as individual craftwork, such careful considered transmissions can sacrifice an element of personal expressiveness, an element that, for instance, enlivens his homunculus tale. There a looser, more spontaneous line brought a handcrafted and evocative sense to the proceedings: At the opening, bendy buildings give the impression of formidable height; at the conclusion, bowed trees stretching away in panorama give a sense of the intimidating vastness of life outside the container. In contrast with the rest of the book, the story’s stark black and white and tentative shading provided a warm, human touch to the machine-smoothed shades that prevail elsewhere. That tale, done in 2001, testifies that LeBrasseur may have moved along technically, but its hand-wrought funkiness retains a charm in this company.

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One Response to “Rich Kreiner: Minis Monday: Blood Moon: A Love Story

  1. […] LeBrasseur was praised by The Comics Journal for his book Blood Moon: A Love […]