Thrown Down: The Rejection Section

Posted by on April 10th, 2010 at 5:34 AM

Rob reviews Jeremiah Piersol’s collection of stories, THE REJECTION SECTION.

Jeremiah Piersol first came to my attention when he sent me his senior thesis project, THE MARVYNS, a comic heavily influenced by the over-the-top soap operatics of Gilbert Hernandez.  THE REJECTION SECTION feels more like Beto’s NEW LOVE work at times, with daring layouts and a number of risky experiments with format.  Piersol took a number of short stories rejected from a variety of comics anthologies and decided to not only collect them, but connect them.  What’s interesting is the common tenor and themes of the stories.  They were not only rejected from anthologies, they are stories about rejection and utter abjection.

That sense of being thrown down dominates the comic, visiting that feeling from a variety of angles and tones.  One of the risks Piersol takes in this comic is the use of poetic language.  At times, Piersol overwrites as his words drown out his images.  In the best stories, he manages to create a strong link between word and text.  For example, “I’m Just A Waitress After All” is an atmospheric story about heartbreak, psychosis and revenge.  The melodrama of the story is set off nicely by Piersol’s over-the-top imagery, like tear-stained make-up, a sister killed by snorting rat poison and the overarching theme of Las Vegas fakery.  The story’s “reprise”, featuring a harried waitress in a diner being picked up by a flying saucer that rains down revenge on Earth.  It’s a much-needed bit of light-heartedness after the events of the story.

That light-heartedness continues with “I Luv U V.”, a hilarious but unsparing look at the ‘relationship” between the author and vodka.  While this is a story about rejecting alcohol, it’s a reluctant break-up, as the author missed vodka’s ability to transform him into “anything other than myself”.  Piersol once again works big here: big panels, thick lines and exaggerated imagery (like transforming into a scaly monster).  The “Solitary Animals” interlude is another amusing jape, as a lone monkey bonks a passing antelope on the head with a piece of fruit, swinging away with a satisfied smirk on his face.

The anthology begins to fall apart a bit with “Lustrous Container”, a story whose textual meter was reminiscent of Alan Moore’s poetry experiments.  The problem here was that there was no sense of restraint; it’s all too overwrought.  I wish he had taken a cue from Gilbert Hernandez’ NEW LOVE work and allowed his images to carry the story, even if its meaning might be a bit oblique.  I got the sense that Piersol didn’t trust his ability as a draftsman, or perhaps added images after he wrote straight text.  The two-page reprise was more like it, neatly encapsulating the themes of being embodied and finite with striking design.

“What’s Good” did a better job with that balance, even in a story whose theme (suicide) was so potentially charged for melodrama.  On the other hand, while “The Grass” has a number of striking collage images (there’s a page where the couple in the story is literally cut into dozens of pieces, scattered on the page), the text (describing another charged topic in addiction), is once again a bit too on-the-nose.  Piersol is a risk-taker and isn’t afraid to make a grand gesture.  His next step as an artist will be learning when to make that grand gesture and when to rein it in.

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