Spx Spotlight 2018/Rose City Roll Call: Silver Sprocket Brings a Zine Ethos to Your Con Experience

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When your newest logo features a pink goat with a mixed drink and an "ACAB" tattoo, you know that you're in the part of the comics landscape that evokes the ethos of the "raw" creators of the 1970s--but without the rampant sexism, racism, and homophobia. Silver Sprocket as a publisher isn't afraid to offend the powers that be, but they're going to do it in a way that provides power to those who have the least in society.

A perfect example of this is Siren School by Isabella Rotman. In this square mini-comic, Rotman plays on the idea of sirens by making the modern versions pretend to lack knowledge or understanding that men are all too happy to provide, which allows the sirens to ensnare them. It's a brilliant satire, and some of the examples are so very true, too. Rotman's illustrations of the "helpless" women--who eventually show off their bite--really makes me wish this could actually happen in real life. Alas, it's only for the comics. But if they have a copy of this one, be sure to pick it up.

Silver Sprocket might be best known for being the current publisher of Ben Passmore, the Ignatz-winning (and fellow Eisner nominated) creator behind Your Black Friend, which Scott reviewed for us last year as part of our spotlights. Ben's newest project is a quarterly comic that features one of his avatars wandering a strange, post-apocalyptic landscape, sharing space with some really strange figures, including two avatars of the police who remain committed to maintaining "law and order" despite the fact that everything has gone to shit.

This comic is strange and brilliant. I love it to death. Ben's acid-sharp tongue cuts through the life we lead and shows that when things all go to shit, we'll really see just how worthless the things we value can be. There's oddball things like the dragon creature, but there's also the idea of just really dealing with life after everything we know is lost, and not in an epic quest way--more about just trying to survive and make sense of things. It's not meant to be a hard-core commentary, but it works.

Plus, Ben's art is really funky here. Freed from any need to be "normal," the colors are a neon nightmare that pops on the page and the linework is deceptively detailed, providing a real insight into the world that Ben's devised. I've got the first two issues, and I can't wait to see where the story goes. Ben Passmore is a top talent in independent comics, and as time goes by, we'll be speaking of him in the same terms as people like Peter Bagge, I think, as social commentators whose ability to capture our world within a fictional one, even if they probably wouldn't agree on much if you sat both down for a conversation.


Sometimes their comics are just demented, irreverent fun, like Pinky and Pepper Forever, by Ivy Atoms. Pinky commits suicide as part of an art piece, so her lover Pepper joins her, finding hell a lot less pleasant than her paramour, who thrives in the pain, torture, and absolute bleakness of the afterlife. This one isn't going to be for everyone. It features a lot of visuals that may be painful if you're sensitive to abuse, for example, but it's portrayed in an animated-violence-means-nothing style, even if the characters do seem to be hurt by it. The idea of love and artistic rivalry play in as well, and the idea of obsession or devotion. But mostly it's just a brightly colored tour of Hell featuring two lesbians with a lot of pain thrown into the mix.

It's also got a great style going, with thin lined filled in with colored pencil (or a good imitation), backed by solid fills for the non-primary objects on each page. The garishness and contrasts really work well together, and while I'm not usually into such extreme illustrations of characters being hurt, I laughed through most of this, and only occasionally uncomfortably.


That's just a few of the cool things Silver Sprocket has to offer, and it gives a good overview of their line, if you haven't sampled from them before. (Seriously, what are you waiting for?) Other cool things include anything from Michael Sweater (his little book of one-off Please Destroy the Internet is one of my favorite comics I've read this year, and I'm hoping to to a longer review soon, featuring quick, sarcastic gags), the strange books of James the Stanton, and more.

If you are looking for a chance to expand your comic horizons into more experimental, political, and sometimes shocking comics, Silver Sprocket is a great way to do it. They can bring an edge and a DIY style to a comic show, without landing you with a book that thinks being "politically incorrect" (read: a total asshole) is the way to honor the roots of comix. These books may shock, but that's a good thing.

Can't make SPX or Rose City? You can get Silver Sprocket books at really cool stores, like Floating World in Portland, OR, or find them online here.