It's a rainy day and I spent the better part of the morning on the couch reading comics. What is it about rainy days and comics that go so well together?
Since my scanner decided to pull a Cobain on me a few weeks ago, it's made it impossible to post new art on here. I have also been reading more comics lately, so I have decided to devote some time and energy into giving some reviews of some of the comics I have recently acquired. Not all of them are new, but they were all new to me.
First up is Young Lions by Blaise Larmee.
I had been aware of Blaise's work for a while, thanks mostly to his blog presence. I knew he had been making zines and minis for awhile and that his first "graphic novella" (his description)had wont the Xeric Grant. I had been eager to read Young Lions based solely on word-of-mouth.
The first thing to grab me is the style of art used. Very loose, sketchy and raw un-inked pencils that do not attempt to hide erase marks on smudges, it is immediately jarring, but as equally captivating.
Now, the use of un-inked pencils is nothing new...CF (who I am quite sure is an influence) has used primarily pencils-only, as have artists like Amanda Vähämäki. But it is the feel of immediacy in Larmee's art that is different. Looking more like the thumbnails a cartoonist would use than a finished product, it begins to feel, with reading, more like a deconstruction of the comics page. Peeling away at unnecessary embellishment to get to just the most important information one needs to make the page "work."
There is an elegance to his line work that makes the images sing. The gestures of each figure, they way they hold a cigarette in dainty hands on the sit child-like on the floor of a party...you can see the artist at ease in the work.
There are a few complaints I have with the art, though. I am not sure if it is a choice by the artist or not, but often times the figures look like children. Short, shapeless limbs and tumescent heads...they remain ageless and unimportant. When they talk about art they seem more like children at play and less like the informed semi-adults that the dialogue would dictate. It would be interesting to go back and re-read the work to see if there might be a choice by the artist in this.
The story itself was engaging enough, and moved rather rapidly through it's 90 pages. I was never bored, and the characters have SOME sense of empathy. The subject matter itself I was not so involved with. Like Adrian Tomine before him Larmee has chosen to create the kind of characters that he wants to cultivate in his readership...in this instance that would apparently be blowhard trust-fund art-babies. I hope this is a product of his age and that he eventually grows out of this affectation, because there is definitely great things in this artist's future. Even despite it's pretentious leanings, this is still an impressive "debut" from a promising talent.