God bless Lowjinx. I don’t know if anybody has ever come up with the concept for this book before, but it’s about time. In case you can’t read the cover, it’s an anthology of childhood drawing from some of the best small press cartoonists around. Included here are James Kochalka, Sam Henderson, Ivan Brunetti, Nick Bertozzi, Greg Cook, Tony Consiglio, Jordan Crane, Pete Sickman-Garner, Jesse Fuchs, Megan Kelso, Alex Robinson, Kevin Scalzo, Tom Spurgeon, Eric Reynolds, Steve Weissman, and, of course, Kurt Wolfgang. Once again, with this book, it’s probably not going to appeal to many people who don’t already know the work of those cartoonists. But for those people, this is absolutely priceless. It’s $6, if you like the work of these people go to the Top Shelf website and beg them to sell you a copy. OK, I should tell you a little bit about it first, even though if that list of names didn’t sell you, I don’t know what I could possibly say to convince you. Eric Reynolds (is he even on my page yet?) had a mostly text story about the Fantastic Four that’s hilarious, Sam Henderson hasn’t changed much over the years except now he swears more, Nick Bertozzi has a great story about a dog who’s learning to roller disco, and Tony Consiglio… aw, just buy it. I don’t want to ruin anything else for you, and everything in here is fascinating when compared to their later work. Don’t believe me? Fine, look at this:
I’m of two minds on this one. On the one hand, Greg’s art is gorgeous, an absolute treat to look at. If you ignored the words completely this would be one of the better books out there. That sounds unduly harsh, as the story isn’t terrible, it’s just completely random. The idea is that a gingerbread man buys cigarettes for some kids and then gets in trouble with the police. There are some beautiful panels of a long chase scene, something that I thought would have been difficult to pull off in a comic, and then it’s all over the place. The gingerbread man is on the run, but ends up having to cross a river with The Big Bad Wolf. One of the kids he buys cigarettes for ends up getting a crush on him and writing it in her diary, which causes a fight with her brother. There’s an interesting assemblage of characters and the story moves along at a good pace, but it just doesn’t seem to go anywhere. Who knows, maybe that’s the point. This book is something that I read a couple of years ago, when I was first starting the site, and I couldn’t really come up with much to say about it. My rambling skills have improved since then, so I have a bit more to say, but all this boils down to a bottom line of me being indifferent to this book, and this artist is too unique to put out a mediocre book. Hear-Say was wonderful, so I know he’s capable of amazing work. I won’t settle for less! Still, if aesthetics is your thing, this is a book that’s hard to ignore. Check out the Highwater page for samples from Greg and all their peoples…
The wordless minis (or graphic novels, for that matter) have always been more about reading them than talking about them. Sure, a bunch of stuff happens, or very few things happen, whatever. But they invariably have to be read to be appreciated. In the case of Hear-Say, it’s an old man going through his daily routine without being able to (or without wanting to, depending on your interpretation) hear what’s going on around him. It’s a simple story and it has a simple, powerful message. He also has a very sparse drawing style that perfectly illustrates the daily minutia that goes on in the story. The wordless minis always, for me at least, evoke a very visceral reaction of like or dislike, and I liked this one quite a bit.