August 19, 2013

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SPX Spotlight 2013: Melissa Mendes

Welcome to another entry in the 2013 SPX Spotlight series!  For the next month, I'll be highlighting creators and publishers who will be at the best convention, the Small Press Expo.  You can check out all of my spotlights for SPX from both this year and prior years here.

Every year, it seems I find another new mini-comics creator that's been working for awhile but is new to me that I want to tell everyone about. This year, it's Melissa Mendes, who I first encountered in the Kids anthology (review here) but really came to appreciate as a result of my subscription to Oily Comics.

Mendes is the creator behind the series Lou, which features a cast of ordinary people whose actions lead to taking their lives in directions they'd probably not planned for. Told in eight-page quarter-sized mini-comics, Mendes caught my attention by telling an entire, complete story in each issue. When serializing a story, it's important to know just where to begin and end, and acknowledge that not every reader is going to start with issue one, especially on a subscription service. Mendes gets that with her plot and pacing, and it led to me becoming a big fan.

Like a lot of the artists in the Oily Comics stable, including Charles Forsman himself, Mendes won't blow you away with her art, but she does a great job of making a lot happen without being flashy. Lou 14 (which came with the May batch of Oily comics) features a ton of cross-hatching to create a mood for this part of the story. In other cases, we can see from character positioning and emotions all we need to follow along. There is still variety in backgrounds and dress and all the things needed to make an enjoyable visual story.

An example of this can be found in Warmth, one of the sample comics Mendes has on her site. It's rougher than her work on Lou, but the use of background to create mood and emphasis on the characters is clear.

If you enjoy mini-comics at all and haven't checked out Melissa Mendez, you are in for a treat. You should be able to find her Oily back issues at their table, if Melissa doesn't have any handy. She also has a collection called Freddie Stories that I need to pick up now that I know how good her work is. (This is why I strongly suggest to all creators to have something inexpensive to sample. Give me something to try, and if I like it, I'll be back for that book. So will others. Trust me on this.)

Not going to SPX? What's wrong with you? Well, you can find Melissa Mendes on the web here, where you can buy comics and other things in her store.