Last year this month I surveyed all I knew about Mormon Comix (defined quite broadly) (and using a spelling some took issue with). This month (and in subsequent Augusts) I will briefly review three of my favorite Mormon Comix read since 2008’s write-up.
Anyone aware of my reading will note some obvious names missing from this post’s lineup. Nothing on the Ric Estrada I’ve read (they’ll wait for the conclusion of my series of posts on the man) nothing on Jake Parker (I’m waiting for my ARC of his upcoming book, though you can check out his work online if you’re anxious), and nothing about some very worthy webcomics (I’m learning that I still prefer my comics on paper–I’m sure tech will catch up with my needs eventually, but 2008/2009 was not the year that happened). If you would like a bibliography of sorts, check out the original post and, equally importantly, the accompanying comments. (Note: Because WordPress is pretty much the worst thing ever invented, accompanying images will all be clumped at the end rather than placed appropriately.)
Let’s start with Mike Allred. Since writing the Survey, I’ve read well over a thousand pages of Allred’s work and I have a few hundred pages more here, next to my computer, waiting for my attention. I’m currently working on a magazine article on his Madman comics, specifically their deliriously Mormon content, but I’ll run a couple thoughts past you today in preparation for that much longer examination.
I met Allred briefly at Comic Con and the impression he gave me there (besides the impression that he works out) (and besides the impression that Scott McCloud is still more interesting to talk to than I am, curse him and his genius) was much the same as the impression his work has given me: Allred is infused with a sense of play, and that is not accidental. His recent return to drawing Madman comics is defined by the decision to make each book an experiment of some sort. The completely silent issue, the just-one-panel issue, the each-panel-in-a-different-artist’s-style issue, et cetera. But don’t take that fact to assume that these stories are all about technique and thus, incidentally, soulless. No. Each experiment plays into the story being told. Each panel’s in a different style because the protagonist is trying to figure out who he is. The silent issue [see forthcoming article]. The single-panel issue–okay, maybe that one was just for fun, but dang it, it’s fun.
See also Couple-Creators: Mike and Laura Allred and my offsite reviews of Madman Gargantua and Madman Atomic Comics Volume One.
The comic I purchased from her is “Me Good Me Bad” and before I say anything else, I have to recommend buying from her directly. She drew a little mushroom man on the envelope with a little thank-you note . . . . You know what? I want to contact her, I should send her a letter. You know. One of those paper things. Glad I figured that out.
I can’t find the sample pages online anymore (see website issues), so instead, let me refer you to an animated version of the first few pages. This is more appropriate anyway, for Annie, as she is an animator first and a comicsist second.
In the clip you will see her Evelike character grow breasts and get on a ship. The comic goes further than this, but not that much further. It’s only the first bit of a longer story, which longer story, best I can tell, remains incompleted and certainly not available for purchase.
But for four bucks, pick up the first volume and see where it goes. Annie Poon’s work is a breath of childlike fun and purity (as you can tell by watching her other clips) and certainly worth your time and dollars.
Brad Teare‘s Cypher may be the single best comic from a Mormon I’ve read this year. Teare tells me that he has enough material to create ten more volumes of Cypher, just no willing publisher, which is a shame.
Cypher is the same sort of weird alternative comics that Gary Panter is known for, but I dislike that comparison because Panter’s work is, ah, let’s just say I don’t like it, and Cypher is intelligent and whatever the opposite of pointless is.
If you get the Friend, you’re familiar with Teare’s scratchboardery, but Cypher lets him stretch. He sense of composition is innovative without being offputting. Really, his entire brand weirdness is simply refreshing. It’s not that pointless weirdness which we see way too much of. Most things labeled surreal or postmodern or dada or whatever are grade-a crap. But not Cypher. It takes the weirdness of weird comics and turns it to something lovely, of good report, praiseworthy, etc.
See also Couple-Creators: Brad and Debra Teare and my offsite review of Cypher.