August 23, 2012

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SPX Spotlight 2012: Andrew Cohen

Welcome to another entry in my SPX Spotlight 2012!  You can find all of my SPX Spotlight posts, including those from past years, by clicking here.

Andrew Cohen is one of the members of the DC Conspiracy comics collective, several of whom end up under the spotlight for SPX, as they do great things in the mini-comics genre.

Of all the conspirators, Cohen may be the most innovative in terms of his layouts.  His signature character, Dr W., an example of which I have as the picture for this spotlight, is a recurring character in Magic Bullet and is also featured in his own mini-comics.  In his adventures, Dr. W. fails to respect the fourth wall.  But he doesn't so much break it as interact with it, staying completely in character but also finding that the actions in one panel often have consequences in a later one.

I described this as "Will Eisner on steroids" and I think that still holds.  Cohen does a great job of being innovative while still illustrating in a way that appeals to a wide variety of comics readers.  I highly recommend anyone who likes experimental comics work to see what you think of Dr. W.

In addition, Cohen also works on a surreal send-up of strips like Rex Morgan, MD, with a series called Porter Black, which he illustrates while "Art" does the words.  It doesn't play with panels, but the action is completely farcical, such as the first adventure, which takes a young man to the North Pole to investigate an all-too-willing killer.  After throwing convention out the window, Andrew and Art put the characters in increasingly ridiculous situations that they treat as being perfectly normal, culminating in one interesting trek across the country.  Cohen draws the comic almost entirely straightforward, using a style that relies heavily on shading, clever use of black and white spaces, and editorial-cartoon characters who earnestly perform their dialogue.

For SPX this year, Cohen will have new Porter Black and Dr. W. comics, along with another project about bare-knuckle boxing in 1850s New York.  Given Cohen's ability to make things look old-fashioned just by shading, I'm sure that one is going to look great and should be a nice addition to other comics with a historical bent, such as Rob Ullman's Old-Timey Hockey Tales.

If you enjoy comics that tweak the nose of conventions, either in newspaper strips or in terms of design, stop by and see Andrew at SPX.  You'll be glad you did!