Comics. I read them. Hence the title.
Our Love is Real
Sam Humphries/Steven Sanders
I’ve heard the buzz on this one. You kind of can’t escape it. Even my good friend Joey Aulisio wouldn’t allow the room to go quiet. After letting it sit in a pile for a few months, I decided I should finally read this, and you know what, I think Our Love is Real does deserve the buzz.
To somehow explain it … this story is set in the future where AIDS has been cured, and all new types of love are running wild. People now have sex with animals, plants and even rocks. Our anchor point is a cop by the name of Jok, and we follow him through this crazy, crazy world as he reconsiders all he knows.
The excellence here stems from a blending of different genres and ideas of comics into one, smooth, exciting final product. It’s as much an art comic as it is a big budget production, and it’s as much a noir as it is a science fiction meditation. Humphries’ approach to writing takes the path of creation in which all resources and outside influences are welcomed to the table. “Love” exhales a complete breath of freshness because of that. The comic’s components, in terms of plot elements, narrative beats and genre signifiers, blend together for a wicked celebration of what fiction has to offer.
The book gives off a certain statement that I think every new writer would want to deliver: “hey, world, I can add my own voice to all this old stuff.”
Sanders’ artwork captures the script very well. The detail and locations are there when needed, yet he’s not afraid to minimize his approach for the character scenes. There’s a nice sense of design to bring out the uniqueness of the world, and I’d also say the man draws an excellent fight, meeting every beat.
At the core though, Our Love is Real tells a classic yet compelling tale of a cop who has to rethink what he previously believed right. The theme is true to the noir state of mind. Humphries and Sanders do a great job telling this story. It’s a one-shot and it reads quick, but the team drops a number of subtle marks to give readers spots to go deeper. On top of that though is a comic full of extremes. Animal/human relations. Sex with rocks. Protests. Over the top voice overs. It’s as ridiculous as the subject it’s exploring. Or better yet, the subject it’s fighting against. By the end of the book, Humphries and Sanders make it clear that no specific type of love is the real, right, correct way to go, and the point is wonderfully summed up by the loving pair on the last page. A transgender and a deceased man’s crystallized ashes.
In my attempt to read comics outside of my usual focus, I stumbled upon Alex Schubert’s work after clicking a few links, and being as care free as I am I bought a few of his comics, not knowing what to expect.
Luckily, a pleasant surprise.
With his mini comic The Dudes, Alex Schubert shows us the darker, sadder side of the typically funny and well-loved “Dude” archetype. The story is very simple, or you could even say nonexistent. Schubert places us in a neighborhood where we observe an assortment of typical hipster, stoner kids and their miserable existences. Yet, to these Dudes, their existence is pretty important. Or at least, they make it out to be as they find used condoms and discuss threesomes they’ll never have.
Now, Schubert spells none of this out directly. Most of it you infer from the artwork, situations and comical tone, but he does a nice job of conveying the idea that way. The comic exemplifies minimalism in a very interesting fashion, applying it both in terms of the artwork as well as the “plot.” Most of the book is just a collection of drawn out moments, and the moments are so pointless to begin with that there’s no point at all to draw them out. Except, that is the point. Drawing out these moments shows us how insignificant they are, and Schubert’s deliberate lengthening of them channels that very real life importance we like to place on everything. His artwork keeps backgrounds to an absolute minimum and his layouts are as plain as can be, but it’s these touches that bring home the idea. Even the character’s dialogue is well done. Any line within the comic could easily be switched around with another as not one line is specifically designed for a particular character. This shows how truly little these Dudes have to say.
The Dudes is a nice peak into the typical American way of life. It’s a comment on what little we really do with our time on this planet and how we lie to ourselves to make us believe the opposite. The book makes you laugh while also causing you to reflect on your own choices. Not bad for 12 pages.
This could be consider a combination of the first two in terms of execution and tone. More importantly though, it’s a fun fucking read.
Blast Furnace makes its usual rounds as a weekly web comic, but I managed to pick up a print collection – which is really a mini comic – at this year’s New York Comic Con. According to Browne’s website, Blast Furnace will run for an entire year with a new page each and every week, and the entire thing is completely improvised. None of Blast Furnace is planned out or necessary thought through in terms of a plot, but damn, I must say, it’s good.
Browne’s entire base point seems to be an exploitation of badassery. The lead character wears a flaming tie and a handlebar mustache, and he goes around performing ridiculous feats of action. The first time we meet him his hands are dripping blood. The rest of the comic follows suit as Browne presents quirky situations and highlights them with accents of laughably exciting elements. Combined with the extreme though is a lighthearted sensibility of minimalism. His artwork strays completely away from any sense of rendering and instead looks like it came right off the sketch page. That’s not an insult. More comics should pack this vibe.
The look of the book and the line work used reminds the reader very well that Blast Furnace is nothing to take too seriously, just like the events in the story. Because it’s produced on a weekly basis Browne has room to go on the occasional tangent. Reading these pages in a row, you can clearly see how little this book follows a strict outline. The story goes where ever it goes. I like it, though. It feels very direct and there’s a certain flow on the pages.