December 23, 2009

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Or Else #2

Written by Kevin Huizenga
Illustrated by Kevin Huizenga
Drawn & Quarterly

Kevin's mainstay character Glenn Ganges thinks fanciful thoughts in this collection of mini-comics reproduced by Drawn and Quarterly. His wife, Wendy, also shows up, to give Glenn a foil.

She's pregnant in this set of issues, leading to the first major story, where Glenn wonders "aloud" (i.e. in pictures we can see) what it will be like to be the father, even worrying, quite naturally, that something may go wrong.

This transitions into a tale of Glenn's in-laws which is a conversation any of us could have. (This is the beauty of a Huizenga comic...you or I could easily be there with them.)

The middle piece is the most experimental, with Ganges talking about being at the library, when suddenly all of reality seems to explode around him into little Huizenga doodles, still-lifes, and even over-sized (for a mini comic) pages. It's an artistic abstract that I think is meant to show Glenn's mind (or that of the reader perhaps?) wandering while the pedestrian story is told.

Last in the Ganges stories is Glenn relating how he could not allow a religious family to think a red moon was the rapture, so he babbled out scientific fact after scientific fact about the concept of a red moon (which he, interestingly enough, did not even notice at first), lunar eclipses, and more. This of course all gets shown on the page, with small, intricate drawings illustrating each facet of Glenn's speech.

I was really impressed by this part of the comic. Huizenga's illustrations look like more interesting versions of those found in astronomy textbooks. They're also so incredibly detailed, even at a reduced size. (I wonder what the original looked like--is Huizenga good enough to draw this well this small? I'm betting on yes.) Everything from a funny looking ancient philosopher to the old image of shrinking railroad tracks to Gamora(!) show up to help Glenn tell three probably bored-to-death people how the world works.

My favorite part? When Glenn scratches his chin at the end and wonders how he'll feel if it turns out Jesus shows up that night after all. It's like the whole piece was written for that one joke. That's a perfect mini-comic moment.

Rounding out the story is a brief talk about basketball and how it relates to the family history of an unknown narrator. It's an odd thing to include here, but has the same narrative feel as the Ganges sections, with the fanciful elements torn away. I think it's nifty that the story ends on the back cover of this edition.

This is not the place to start reading Kevin Huizenga's work, but it's definitely worth seeking out if you like his Glenn Ganges material for Fantagraphics (that's where I first discovered him). He is right at home in the mini-comics format and these short, fanciful tales are a treat to read for fans of Huizenga. Thanks to Drawn and Quarterly for reprinting them.