Wednesday, 28 July 2010

Review: The Comics of Brian John Mitchell (Silber Media, 2010)

Brian John Mitchell & Various | Tiny! | $1 upwards | Available now

Brian John Mitchell specialises in mini comics so small that they're probably best described as micro-comics. I’ve seen many small press creators supplement their traditional DIY output with a few super-tiny publishing experiments over the last few years, but Mitchell really takes this practice to the next level by exclusively focusing on these matchbox-sized books. Working as writer only, he enlists the help of a wide variety of artistic collaborators to illustrate his work, from unknowns to even Dave Sim of Cerebus fame. Featuring avenging cowboys, giant worms, gory gangland killings, post-apocalyptic wastelands and demon fighting, it seems like all weird and wonderful things come in small packages.

Thursday, 22 July 2010

Review: Fingerprints, Will Dinski (Top Shelf, 2010)

Will Dinski | 20x13cm, full colour, 96 pages | $14.95 | Shipping August

The biggest struggle I faced when planning a review of Fingerprints was exactly how to go about classifying it. It’s not that the elements of its narrative make-up are hard to pick apart (far from it), rather in the way writer/ artist Will Dinski chooses to combine them. Beginning as a melodrama about the dysfunctional life of a plastic surgeon; it suddenly contracts its focus, becoming a classic Science Fiction story. Much more than simply "Nip/Tuck meets The Outer Limits” though, it’s an intricate satire about beauty, artifice and warped desire, and one of the most structurally impressive graphic novels this year.

Wednesday, 14 July 2010

Review: Pobody's Nerfect, Wowee Zonk (Koyama Press, 2010)

Wowee Zonk | 15x20cm, full colour, 24 pages | $10.00 (CAD) | Available Now

There’s no way to fully convey Canadian collective Wowee Zonk’s latest art book without resorting to some kind of ludicrous analogy. So, with that in mind: Pobody’s Nerfect is like an unstoppable ogre-savant’s rampage through an arts and crafts store. Combining all kinds of weird and wonderful pieces into one eye-boggling 24-page package, it’s a whirlwind of neon colours and mixed media that smash and splatter together to make something miraculous. 

Although there are three people pictured on in several photos throughout the book, I like to believe that Wowee Zonk are some sort of three-headed, twelve-limbed living, breathing fun machine. For professionalism’s sake though, I’ll admit that they consist of a very un-attached Patrick Kyle, Chris Kuzma and Ginette Lapalme. Whilst their styles are quite distinct, and there’s no mistaking one for another, they all share a kind of warped aesthetic and an obvious joy of creation.

Friday, 9 July 2010

Review: HIVE 4 (Grimalkin Press, 2010)

Various | 14x22cm, black & white, 132 pages | $7.00 | Available Now

Let me start by saying that HIVE 4 is one handsome-looking small-press anthology. Grimalkin Press’ latest and greatest edition of their flagship collection says goodbye to staples, and replaces them with a glossy binding and a super-cool, efficient silk-screened card dust jacket. Also featuring a selection of great work from the indie-comics underworld, this volume is probably going to make all the other small-press anthologies in your collection green with envy, and maybe try to steal their girlfriends whilst it’s at it. The cad!

Split into 20 sections, each containing a single creator or team’s work, the book is host to a wide variety of talent, with many genres and styles represented. Traditional comic forms like autobiography and Sci-Fi intertwine with more left-field works such as hallucinogenic dark comedies, an allegorical tale of animals on the run, a faithful homage to early 20th century kid’s mischief comics and even a Zen Kōan, just to describe a few. “Varied” doesn’t even begin to cover it. 

Monday, 5 July 2010

Review: Pterodactyl Hunters in the Gilded City, Brendan Leach (self-published, 2010)

Brendan C. Leach | Newsprint, black & white, 42 pages | Free! | Available Now

One of the most brilliant things to arrive at ATF HQ this year has got to be Brendan Leach’s newsprint-format comic, The Pterodactyl Hunters in the Gilded City. Coming wrapped in a gorgeous mock early twentieth century newspaper cover (complete with hand-drawn herald and headlines), it appears to promise the reader an off-the-wall retro-fantastic adventure with hot-air balloon riding dinosaur hunters at its centre. Much like the real tabloids, the bombastic words and images shown on the cover are simply an intriguing hook, there to lure unsuspecting comic readers inside for the real story. What at first seems like it might be a fun and schlocky caper actually turns out to be a rich, emotionally dense tale of two brothers dealing with issues of jealousy, glory, family and duty. Whilst the preceding could no-doubt be used as a bad tag-line for a vapid blockbuster war epic, I assure you that this comic is, in fact, fantastic.