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Madden, Matt – Drawn Onward

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drawnonward1

Drawn Onward

Who likes some experimentation in their comics? Is it you? Do you prefer to have
some boundaries pushed, to see an attempt at something completely different? It’s
impossible to talk about this comic without at least giving away the concept, so if
that’s your thing, and if you have trust in Matt’s abilities since he’s been making
comics for 20 (ish) years now, then I’m going to go ahead and recommend this
unreservedly right now. It’s unlike any comic I’ve ever read, and that is saying
something. That right there is your last chance to just pick this book up without
knowing anything about it, although I suppose it’s likely that the description of
the comic on their website might give something away. If you can manage to read this
completely unspoiled, do so. Anyway, now I’m going to talk about the story, in case
you need more convincing and don’t mind at least little spoilers. This is described
as a “palindromic comic,” which eagle-eyed observers might have already figured out
from that title. Things start off with a young woman and a chance encounter on a
subway with a young man. This man seems overly familiar with the woman, but too
desperate for her to do anything but run away from him. She keeps meeting him on the
subway, and gradually she starts to become less and less afraid of him, until
finally she realizes that she’s looking forward to seeing him again. Things finally
break just right, they kiss… and everything changes. And nothing changes. It’s up
to you to decide which of those things is true, or if they’re both true. This is a
genuinely remarkable book, and one of those rare occasions where I went back and
read through it again right after I finished it. Matt is a member of a group called
Workshop for Potential Comics, and I’m going to look into that after I finish this
to see what else they have to offer. For now, read this comic, especially if you
need a reminder that the only constraints that are on this art form are what the
individual creator brings with them. $5

drawnonward2

Various Alternative Comics anthologies – Triple Dare #2

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Triple Dare #2

The thing about experimental comics is that, well, they're usually not all that good. Sure, they're interesting to students of the genre, and it was neat to read about the strict rules that the people involved in the first Triple Dare had to follow. Here's my problem: this is a book with two of my favorite comic people ever, James Kochalka and Tom Hart, and two other people that I'm trying to learn more about, Matt Madden and Nick Bertozzi. There's not really a bad story in here, but there's nothing all that great about it either. It would be nice to have a book with all these people in it that I could just hand to people and say "Look, here are some of the best comic people working today!" and have it be their best stories too. Maybe I ask too much. It's an interesting book. All the stories have to be on an island, and then are other stipulations, but hey, it's a surprise. Let's just say that they're inventive and possibly a little obnoxious when you know about them. If I have one piece of advice for the next issue it's that they should keep these stipulations secret and let the people figure them out for themselves. My favorite in the book was probably the Bertozzi story. Like I said, there's nothing bad in here, it's just that maybe all this daring is dragging the stories down a bit. I know, that's the whole point, it's not like my opinions have to make any sense or anything... If you're looking for a copy of this, go to the Alternative Comics website and ask nicely.

Madden, Matt – A Fine Mess

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A Fine Mess

Regular comic series being put out by any of the “major” independent comic publishers these days are almost extinct, so it’s great to see any additions at all. It’s even better when the new book is almost thoroughly enjoyable. The only part I didn’t like was the “Exercises in Style” bit at the end where he told the same story several times using different cartooning styles. I didn’t even hate that, it just kind of bugged me for some reason. It’s interesting in theory, and I can see why he would want to experiment, I was just bored. The rest of the book was great. The opening story was in SPX 2001, so if you’ve read that you know what I’m talking about. The bulk of the book was about the last night in town of one man and what he does with it. A fascinating, real story about how some things just don’t get worked out. Sure, it’s about a lot more than that, I’m just projecting here. Visit his website for ordering info and bug him to keep putting these out while you’re at it…