Monday’s Comics

Contents of Webcomics Folder in Google Reader for Monday: 1 episode of Lewis Trondheim's Les Petits Riens, 1 episode of John Allison's Bad Machinery (Note to John if he's reading this: Do you realize the only place your name appears on your home page is in the copyright notice at the bottom?), Yeast Hoist #1 by Ron Regé Jr..

Les Petits Riens is French comic artist Trondheim's latest autobiographical comic (you may have seen some of his earlier ones serialized in Fantagraphic's "The Nimrod" or the Mome anthology). NBM has been translating and publishing the collections of these pages as the "Little Nothings" series (three to date). Trondheim's is not the confessional type of autobiography, he keeps a distance, but it is often very funny, most frequently at his own expense as he plays up his foibles and neuroses. The art is drawn with a simple line and a light watercolor that is at worst attractive and at its best really beautiful (many of the nature scenes, particularly an early sequence where he is on vacation on the island of Reunion). It's worth checking out the print collections if this sounds interesting to you, especially since the web version is in French and the archives slowly fade away as they age (an interesting way to handle a time limited archive). NBM's lettering is pretty stiff when you compare is to the originals, but the reproductions of the colors are nice.

Today's episode finds Trondheim unable to find page 11 of his current project, despite having finished up to page 21. He imagines the possible that he mailed it away recently with his tax papers, then considers a more absurd idea: that he never drew it at all. This page, like many of them, takes the form of a gag strip (note the "beat" panel second from last on the page), though with a page of space he tends to have more time to fill in the context for the joke.

Bad Machinery is probably already known by most webcomics readers, or at least it's predecessor Scary Go Round. About a year ago now, creator John Allison, switched the comics from the latter to the former, though I've never really seen them as all that different. The art style is the same, a number of the characters are the same or related (younger siblings) to previous characters. Perhaps the name change was more of psychological issue for Allison, the need to feel like he was making a new start, a rebirth, as I doubt it was a marketing ploy (Scary Go Round readership was already very high it seemed, and making changes (gasp) is probably more likely to scare away readers than keep them). Sometimes I think I keep reading Bad Machinery more from inertia than real interest, I think Allison's real skill lies in the way he deals with the characters and their interpersonal relations, but he tends to frame it in fantastical stories that often fall a little flat. The fantasy doesn't really get played for suspense, and he tends to drop the solutions to mysteries without a real build-up.

For instance today's strip, gives us the answer to: what are these strange animals that have been an ongoing mystery/concern for the cast of characters and where did they come from? But it doesn't feel particularly surprising or revelatory. Perhaps Allison is purposefully subverting the suspenseful elements, though I'm not sure to what end as he does tend to let them push out the other parts of the story (as has been the case for the past week or two.

What a coincidence after I started to blog about "web to print, print to web" that Ron Regé's Yeast Hoist #1 (from 1995) made an appearance on the What Things Do website yesterday. Here's a great example of minicomic that is probably pretty rare, finding a new home online. It's not the greatest read, but it has a certain historical/archival insterest. Regé continues to make Yeast Hoist issues, the latest #15 being a zine hung around the neck of an earthenware bottle of beer.

The What Things Do site has been posting a lot of formerly print comics onto the web by a host of great comic artists. Issues of Jordan Crane's Uptight, stories from John Porcellino's King-Cat, parts of Kevin Huizenga's Glenn Ganges, and much more. It's a site well worth following.


Derik Badman

Derik A Badman is a web developer (for Springshare, Inc) and comics artist/critic living in the suburbs of Philadelphia, PA with his wife and two cats. His comics are often abstract or poetic in nature, frequently drawing from appropriated sources.