Monday, January 28, 2013
My first experience with this was the excellent Retrofit Comics, published by Box Brown. While I am now doing Retrofit's books ala carte (my taste runs a bit less towards the abstract/raw than Box*, and so my enjoyment ratio dictated moving off a subscription), I keep my eyes open for any similar projects, such as Oily comics, which is apparently successful enough to replace Chuck Forsman having a minimum wage job.
Several months ago, I was lucky enough to be on Twitter when Andrew Fulton announced he was doing a mini-comic of the month club, bringing 12 Australian creators together. I didn't even hesitate thinking about the conversion rate, because this was a chance to sample artists from the other side of the world. I've talked before about how mini-comics tend to be a regional thing, so I was excited to get a chance to expand my horizons. Best of all, the price was quite reasonable, working out to a little over $2 a comic, including the shipping.
$2 is easily within my "impulse purchase" range if I am at a convention, so I signed up and waited to see what would arrive. It took a bit, but soon I was getting small paper packages in cute envelops that promoted the project (very nice marketing move, in case anyone along the line might be comics-oriented) and urged the postal worker to keep the comic themselves if the address was wrong.
I'm several issues in so far, and quite happy with what I've gotten. I won't talk about every issue here, but what I can tell you is that personal themes are apparently universal among mini-comic creators, regardless of where they live.**
Most recently, I received two mailings that I think were possibly my favorites. Coma Toes (apologies if it is supposed to be Comatoes) by Jase Harper is a silent comic about the last man on earth and the things that he does. It's told in a lot of tight panels, packed into only a few pages, oddly making it feel a bit claustrophobic despite the open air of a world alone. There's quite a bit of comedic scenes, but when we pan out to the empty world, it's a powerful (and well-detailed moment). In the end, the man finds a friend and they bond over Spam. With a strong use of black and white in a style that reminded me of Colleen Frakes, this one stands out and might make my 2013 mini-comics list.
The other mailing was a pair of minis that link in an innovative way. Australian poet R. Ray reprinted a small collection of verse and Marc Pearson drew a mini-comic imagining how these poems may have come to be. They link together, improving each other, and my only complaint is my own fault--I started wanting to read them together and couldn't figure out how to hold two comics and still turn the pages! The verse is full of vivid images and cleverly, Pearson doesn't try to capture them verbatim, instead opting for how Ray might have stumbled upon them.
I don't keep every mini-I read (despite their small size, they still take up room), but I do appreciate being able to finish reading a comic (any comic) and say, "yes, this was worth reading." I've done that every time with Fulton's club so far. If these had been random grabs at a con, I'd have walked away happy.
Hopefully, Fulton will keep coordinating a club like this one. Keep an eye out for the next one, and check out the store to sample comics from some of the creators involved. I love that I can now get mini-comics and support creators without having to go to every convention and can now extend my reading options across the globe. Fans of mini-comics will be glad they can, too.
*This is not to say that Box has bad taste in creators. Far from it. While I am not a fan of comics that I can best describe as being raw, taking the ideas of Robert Crumb out to the edge of the comics-making universe, I can appreciate them. If you like that style, Box's taste is amazing. It's just not for me. His more traditional taste meshes almost perfectly with mine, as you can tell by the fact that three of my top ten minis in 2012 were all Retrofit, and two of the seven I chose in 2011 were also curated by Brown.)
**That might not be true on, say, Mars. But so far, no Mini-Comic of the Martian Club exists, so I will just assume that little green men also angst about relationships or like to tell short stories about quirky characters, just like we do.