Some of you rightly wondered where the actual comics were in our wrap up of SVA student comics fair Fresh Meat. Well, here they are! Order them up! Hilary’s picks to follow pronto.
Ugly is a modern reinterpretation of The Ugly Duckling by Michelle Nunnelly. She ditches the ducklings and uses young children instead, making her main character a lonely, socially awkward little girl who is neglected and picked on. The art by Ms. Nunnelly is very well executed. Even though the style is rather cartoony, her composition, expert use of blacks and beautiful background and line work show that she does not use her style as a crutch and is indeed a skilled draftsman. As for the story, the comic becomes drawn out and melodramatic, bordering on over-sentimentality. The characters are so archetypal that we never really get to know them, even though we certainly understand “who” they are (I feel this was more of a time issue than anything). Overall, Ugly is a very competent, well-drawn comic. Despite its cheesiness, it delivers a fairly satisfying story and will please all the melancholy, unloved folks as well as the happy ones.
Face Corp is an intriguing ongoing science fiction title by Lori Esposito. It opens with a fantastic infomercial introducing the reader to Face Corp: A company, run by a disturbingly happy fellow, that will give you a new face…for a fee… Ms. Esposito’s art is by no means accomplished. The backgrounds are lacking in life, never actually immersing the reader within the world like sci-fi should (although the interior of Face Corp is simple and effective). Her figures are often wrong and her inking is very dead, without much variation or tact. All of these problems are not that hard to fix (just some life drawing and nib or brush practice should do the trick), and I’m confident in Ms. Esposito’s ability to increase her skills. The story is absolutely delightful and I enjoyed reading it thoroughly; it moved me past the art and actually kept me engaged. The pacing is a bit off, but once again, nothing more than a little study and practice can correct this. I very much look forward to the next installment of this sci-fi saga and know it will develop into something wonderful.
Adrian James’ Golden Boy is a fun adaptation of the classic tale, Goldilocks and the Three Bears. He transposes the tale to modern times and adds an entertaining gay/trans-gender twist to the story. The art is adequate and the reinterpretations presented to the reader are witty, on point and sometimes a little bit naughty. I never felt removed or bogged down by the gay/trans-gender element of the comic. Mr. James did a very good job of making sure that his comic didn’t become a “message” story and was wary of using the content as a crutch. I feel that Mr. James threw just enough of himself into the works to keep the comic heartfelt but not overly sentimental.
Criminal Ink is a simple story that is gorgeously drawn with loving spunk by its creator, Wyeth Yates. In a world where tattooing has been criminalized, Mr. Yates allows us to follow an underground tattoo artist on a secret job. The dialogue is snappy and crisp but the pacing becomes long winded at times, and some of that crispiness is lost. However, my biggest complaint with Criminal Ink is the quality of reproduction. There were far too many areas grayed out from un-erased pencils and graphite smudges making the comic look unprofessional and ultimately detracting from the artwork. Much of the impact from Mr. Yates’ brilliant and smooth blacks was, unfortunately, lost. In the age of digital retouching and reproduction, a few moments in Photoshop would have easily fixed the problem (also, cutting up an old sock to make an artists glove or simply putting a small napkin or cloth underneath your hand while working significantly reduces the amount of irritating, impossibly un-erasable smudge that appears on paper). Despite this setback, Criminal Ink is definitely a comic worth your time from one of the more promising young cartoonists.
Kat Fajardo’s Anxiety Attack is a brilliant little foldy comic that showcases not only her artistic abilities, but also her delicious sense of pacing and action. I enjoyed her character designs very much and found her facial expressions to be particularly unique, expressive, and effective. Ms. Fajardo really uses the “fold out” medium to her advantage and milks it for all its storytelling potential. She even wrote the comic to be read forwards and back. I highly recommend this mini work of genius.
–By intern JP Kim