Tuesday, 23 March 2010

Small Press Spotlight: Lauren Barnett's Mini Comics

Oh velociraptor, you're always putting your enlarged sickle-shaped hindfoot in it.

I assume that it’s with knowing resignation that Lauren Barnett, in her introduction to Secret Weirdo, states her pet peeve is people calling her comics “cute”. After all, this statement does directly follow a whole-page image of an open-armed stick-limbed figure offering “free hugs”. 

Whilst a lot of the content in  Secret Weirdo and Barnett's mini-comics, Was That Supposed to Be Funny? and I’d Sure Like Some Fucking Pancakes, creeps into “adorable” territory, it’s certainly not all there is to her work. Conversely, there's an anxious nostalgia that permeates through her autobiographical strips, acting as a balance against the comedic cuteness on their surface. Affectionate childhood anecdotes of fun and development are played against tales of dead-end office-ennui, the depressing process of apartment hunting, potentially cancerous soda sweeteners and debt.

Lauren's illustration style is very much "draw now, ask questions later" and her autobiographical stories and asides are accompanied with loose doodles that remind me of a less-measured Nick Sharratt (specifically his work for Jacqueline Wilson's books). Coincidentally, my favourite story of hers is the furthest away from this lo-fi aesthetic: the concluding piece in I'd Sure Like Some Fucking Pancakes, where the author details murdering a unicorn, mournfully wrapping the creature up in a blanket before leaving it outside and waiting for the birds to come. Encapsulating the bittersweet interaction between childhood and adulthood seen in the rest of her work, this three-page epilogue felt satisfying to read and definitely makes me want to see how the author's work develops in the future.

Ok, so, I lied a little: My real favourite is the one-page "Cat Police!" strip, which pretty much speaks for itself, really:

If you're into cats, dancing broccoli florets and pancakes, Lauren's mini-comics are available on her Etsy page, and you can find more of her work over at her regularly-updated blog. Remember, it's not so bad to be cute, just as long as you murder a unicorn every now and again to make up for it.

Now we're going to post her recent video interview with Crazy Sexy Geeks, because, well, I'm lazy and it's convenient.

Edit (24/03/2010):  Rather excitingly, Grimalkin Press have revealed that Lauren's work will be featured in the 5th edition of their HIVE anthology.


  1. I'm also creeped out that my security word was "skingine"