SPX Roundup: Crying, Dying and Bears / by Alex Jarvis


Man, I love minicomics. They are these perfect little packages of interesting content, able to deliver such a punch without much room. There is a real economy of storytelling here--although sometimes there are just unicorns. Here are a few* that I picked up over the weekend.  The Cartoon Crier: Classic Saddies Presented by the Center for Cartoon Studies

I had stopped by the Center for Cartoon Studies booth late in the day Saturday, and (because I am a sucker for a "FREE" sign, especially at SPX) immediately picked up their Cartoon Crier.  It felt misplaced from time at first; an honest-to-God newspaper in this day an age. (Note: I briefly worked for a major newspaper in Connecticut. On my first day, I had to be reminded not to refer to newspapers as the "Dead Tree Format." I did not last long.) I decided to open it as I rolled into bed the Sunday after the con, and I was delighted.

The paper would have been the cream of my Sunday mornings growing up; as big as the real paper, but all comics! Funny page after funny page. The Crier, however, is not full of funny pages; indeed, the opening essay refers to them as ‘saddies’, and it is edge to edge full of raw saccharine. Names I recognize are on the page next to names I don’t, with some comics touching on ironic or schadenfreudic sads (“MOMMA” getting in her misery quota) to unexpectedly gut-wrenching moments of reality (“Millie”, playing on one of my oldest fears; “Lucky Dog” taking an unexpected turn towards fiction). The normal newspaper tropes are here too, parodied with spot-on precision (the “Spot the Difference” made my roommates and I laugh, and then get very quiet.)

I’ve decided to frame The Cartoon Crier in my room. I’m just not sure which page to face out. There’s a lot of talent here, and it shows.

See more from the Center for Cartoon Studies! 

Wulforne: Elegy for Innocence :The Coldest Winter Art by Lee Cherolis, Story by Mike Mann

“The Dark Epic Begins,” or so says the cover of Wulforne. There’s a lot of promise in this minicomic, which (the interior cover, a personalized and professional touch, describes) serves as a modest introduction to a series of associated graphic novels. The plot sets up pretty quickly, but there’s really only one thing you need to know about this 12-page mini:

A man fights the hell out of a giant bear.

The fight scene is dynamic, with good use of inset panels to convey action. The art was actually very interesting; simplified but expressive, a cartoon with edge (literal and figurative). One particular panel, a close-up on the protagonists face, overflowed with emotion and personality. Normally, a name like “Wulforne” and two sets of subtitles (and a descriptor like “The Dark Epic Begins”) would turn me away from a book. I opened the mini expecting to be bored by another fantasy trope; I closed it surprised and opening my web browser to see where I could find more.

What Happened Was... II By Domitille Collardey

I was excited to see that Domitille had brought WHWII, considering I picked up I and III last year (the latter of which hangs proudly above my desk to this day). A nice thick cardstock cover holds a custom-painted image (mine, a very sad asterisk), which is a nice personal touch.

Inside there are a few comics I recognize in WHWIII, but they are vastly outnumbered by the new and seemingly stream-of-consciousness doodles. All of Collardey’s art has this sense of frenzied whimsy, but in WHWII this emotion cuddles up next to death. There are a number of morose drawings (including a really great mirror spread that I didn’t quite get at first) that seek to highlight some subtle points. I particularly liked the bluntly honest graveyard, myself.

As always, Collardey’s work delights. I look forward to what she has to offer in the future, and I’ll be keeping this one close by.

*minicomics, not unicorns.