The Bridge Project
Just so it’s clear, as of 10/07/09 that website is still “under construction”.Â Well, it does lead to a fair amount of samples from Matt and other places to learn about this book, so it’s better than most “under construction” websites, and this book is new enough that it might really be under construction.Â I’ve just become jaded from seeing that warning on countless websites only to have the construction never start.Â Anyway, how about the book?Â This is an anthology with a unique goal: team up on cartoonist living in Portland with one living in San Francisco, let them do their thing and see what comes out of it.Â Some of these stories just have one person drawing, some of them mix both artists in, but the mildly surprising thing is how well all of this works.Â Collaborations can be a tricky business, but Matt seems to have found the magic formula.Â This did take a couple of years to put together, so I guess technically he did have time to work some bugs out.Â Stories in here include The Forlorn Hope (by Shannon O’Leary & Ryan Alexander-Tanner, dealing with the infamous Donner party), The “The Bridge Project” Project (by Peter Conrad, the only solo piece in the book due to Peter’s partner crapping out on him), Nerd Prom (by Carolyn Main & Jesse Baggs about cartoonists in relationships getting along a little too well at a convention), Shanghooked (by Graham Annable & Scott Campbell), Lost Intersection (by Matt Leunig & Seamus Heffernan, the heart of the book), Jumpers (by Sina Grace & Susan Tardif, about a long distance relationship disintegrating), Future Jerks (by Jonathan Hill & Calvin Wong about, um, vegan jerks in the future), Dark Matter (by Tom Lechner & John Isaacson, dealing with an especially creepy invasion), The MVPs (by Josh Frankel & Greg Means, it’s about star basketball players yearning to make comics), and The Doppelganger (by Tessa Brunton & Vanessa Grunton, it’s all about the various evil twins we have all over the place.Â All that and there’s still room for a couple of short pieces by Rina Ayuyang & Erika Moen (an untitled piece about trying to fit in in Portland), Mari Naomi & Rachel Mendez (Inga and the Whales, a heartbreaking tale (almost certainly an urban legend) about a whale thanking its rescuers), and David Chelsea & Two Fine Chaps (that’s really what they’re called, it deals with David’s uncle having a stroke).Â It’s packed, is what I’m trying to say, and there’s really not a weak piece in the bunch.Â Graham Annable is always worth the price of admission to me and his piece on the sea serpent was brilliant, there were some damned useful tips in The Doppelganger (if you ever run into yours, that is), Peter Conrad was far too nice in not naming the slacker that promised him a script for months, and the center of the book by Matt & Seamus, dealing with a few people and their relationships over the years, was a perfect place to do some artist swapping.Â So now that I’ve mentioned how great the content was, I at least have to mention the layout.Â No table of contents, but that was made up for by the inclusion on the bottom of every page of the artists.Â Â It seems to be the norm not to mention that on the page in anthologies, and it bugs me every time it’s not included, so kudos to Matt for that.Â It’s an impressive achievement, here’s hoping this didn’t scare him off editing anthologies altogether and he can keep this concept going with other cities.Â And did I mention this is a measly $9.95?
Namby Pamby #2
Psychodelic scanner, go! Sorry, it doesn’t look that crappy, although the watercolor things still kind of bugs me, but it’s more because of its effect on the lettering than anything else. Really smudges it up and makes it hard to read, but the art is actually growing on me. This one is a lot quieter than the first issue. The bulk of the book is stories about diners and the people that eat at them, night after night. It’s the kind of thing that easy to forget if you don’t have a regular eatery of your own and can make you reminisce big time about high school, where a crappy place like Denny’s became a home away from home at times. She’s got some talent, that’s for sure. A little bit more work with the lettering and this could have been a really beautiful book, but it still looks pretty nice. No subscription info this time so maybe she’s backing off a little bit, but here’s hoping she keeps it up. The comics world can never go wrong with another quiet, meditative voice, contact info is above to see what else she has available or you could just go to her website…
So is it best to start out negative and then point out the positive things, or vice versa? First off, I’m really curious to see #2. There was a lot of potential here and she can tell a story that keeps me interested. It’s just… well, the art is incredibly sloppy at times. I can’t complain too much about that for her first time out of the gate, but I can offer a few words of advice. I don’t know that much about copiers, but this would have been better served with darker copies, or perhaps without so much of the background filled in. It looks like she used watercolors of something and then copied it, which looks awful. The art beneath that is kind of cute, it’s just hard to see it. As for the stories, they held my attention. The first one, Counter Help, was interesting, but it was also the sloppiest visually in the book. House of Horrors, about her and some friends volunteering to work in a haunted house, was a great story, no problems there. That one filled up most of the book, leaving room for the mostly forgettable (and very short) Grin and Bear It and Here, There. Far from terrible, but nothing that sticks in my mind. So, overall, I’d say give her some time to grow as an artist.Â She was possibly experimenting with a style with this one, I don’t know, but she can be a pretty good writer. E-mail her for subscription info (see, only people who are dedicated offer subscriptions, right?).