September 6, 2010

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7 Minicomics by Matt Wiegle

Written and Illustrated by Matt Wiegle
Murder: Written by Sean T. Collins and Illustrated by Matt Wiegle, Matt Rota, and Josiah Leighton
Self-Published

Matt Wiegle was one of the first mini-comics creators I picked up material from back at SPX 2008, my first visit to the show. I liked them quite a bit, and made sure to get more of his books last year. The following is a brief review of the seven books I have so far. Mr. Wiegle is pretty prolific, so there's a lot of mini-comics to choose from. I think these books are a pretty representative sample.

Is it Bacon? reminds me of a 1950s informational short. We are told we are being given "the gateway to bacon" just like those old film reels, and the text and illustrations match up with the theme nicely. This one had me laughing from start to finish, and I am pretty sure I will never mistake trees for bacon ever again. You have to love a comic that keeps throwing jokes out there, right up until the last page.

Why Did I Put This Town on My Face? is yet another comics with a question mark in the title. This one captures a variety of short projects, including one from Elfworld. The opener, "A Story," is just funny in how it ends so abruptly, and "Salt Lick" is just a cool idea. The story about prairie dogs reminds me of something Kate Beaton would do and a tale of a tattooed man is just offbeat enough to work. (David Bowie identifying a formerly animated portrait of himself is a great moment.)

This book really shows Wiegle's range, from the strange to the silly to the crude, and is probably the best thing to pick up if you want to see if he's the kind of cartoonist you want to follow from comic to comic.

I wish Your Karate Vacation was a bit longer, but the jokes are perfect. Watch as a master of karate moves from place to place, bringing his skills into play to ensure the best possible vacation. If you follow his directions, you, too, can enjoy rest and relaxation--in jail. Another nice parody comic, with really funny illustrations to match the text.

Monsters & Condiments was a bit of a disappointment for me. I think it might have worked better with a splash of color, even if it had added to the comic's cost. There are some inspired matches, such as Lovecraftian guacamole, but the contrast just isn't there to get the full effect of the silliness. However, for some reason, I now have a strong urge for fish sticks...

Sean T. Collins takes the writing reins for Murder, which also has cameos by two other artists. This was one of the ones I grabbed in 2008, and I think it opened my eyes to what mini-comics can do.

The opening story, "Destructor Comes to Croc Town" was one of my favorites from Elfworld, reminding me favorably of a Jason book. Effectively a silent work, Wiegle does a great job showing the action going on in the tale. Destructor returns in a nifty prison break that features all sorts of delightful creatures.

There's a definite sense of the macabre in the next two stories, and I'm still not sure I understand "The Real Killers are Still Out There" even after re-reading it a few times. "Kitchen Sink" shows a total lack of morality in the most banal way possible, which I thought was really cool.

This collection isn't going to be for everyone, as the quality is, I think, a little uneven. Wiegle's art is far more advanced than the other two contributors, and that hurts the flow. Still, that Destructor story is so good, I'd say pick this one up just for that tale alone.

Underpanting seems like it has its roots in a Gorey anthology. A pair of haunted underpants brings doom to all who wear it, along with a few cartoons featuring folks in their skivvies. It's cute, but the joke wears thin after awhile. I love the last two pages, though, where we even get a brief-wearing Pacman in a set of sketches featuring everything from a flamingo to a cactus sporting boxers or briefs.

Last up is my favorite Wiegle book so far, Seven Days of Not Getting Eaten. The most fleshed out of any of the mini-comics I have from him so far, it follows the story of a very clever fish who is able to outwit the humans who want to turn him into dinner, at least for a week.
The fish uses all sorts of tricks that have their inspiration in fairy tales, folk tales, and other legends, from requesting he wear a different fish suit ("I always wanted to die a trout") to logical arguments (get a bigger net) to some dumb luck. But will his schemes get him into a fine kettle of fish, when some of his victims dabble in the dark arts at his request?

Silly and simple, yet with a great plot that ties up neatly in the end, Seven Days is the mini-comic I'd most recommend for those new to Mr. Wiegle's work. When I read this one back in 2008, I knew I'd found a creator who made things I'd enjoy. Several other comics later, I'm ready to go back for more in 2010.

Matt Wiegle has been nominated for an Ignantz this year, and I wish him the best of luck. You can find him at the Small Press Expo September 11th and 12th, 2010 or pick up his comics here. Try a few, and see what you think. I bet you'll be glad you did!