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mercoledì 18 dicembre 2013

Sequential Vacation #1-2

Sar Shahar; #1 self-published, 2011, 32 pages, $ 5; #2 published by Secret Acres, New York (USA), 2013, 32 pages, $6.

Sar Shahar is a cartoonist from Los Angeles, where he teaches comics and drawing. He reached some popularity with the debut issue of his Sequential Vacation, selected among the top thirty mini-comics of 2011 by The Comics Journal. Then he was hired by the New York publisher Secret Acres, which printed the second issue of his very same series. Sar Sahar's comics are mute and made with a quite plain style: the shapes are essential and simple while the background is made of geometric lines and a huge black and white contrast. The first comic-book is called The Robbery and it probably takes place in Los Angeles. The main character is a fast food clerk, bored by his miserable life until he meets a woman wearing big round sunnies in a club. They spend the night togheter and he starts to feel something for her while she doesn’t think the same about him. To represent this very significant emotional difference, the author send them to watch the very same movie (Motorcycle vs. Helicopter II, nice title) but they go on their own. When it seems that he has found someone else in a work colleague, she is shot during a robbery. But without any drama the man cleans up the blood stains, go out the fast-food and meets one more woman. The tale ends with the image of this new woman sticking her tongue in his ear, in an ecstatic moment which seems to delete the death scene drawn only a few pages before. 

The second issue is more complex than the previous one, although it offers a similar pattern. The opening pages of Beach Fantasy show two men kissing while wearing quite bizarre floral shirts (a Shahar’s trademark) and all the story is a flashback of their meeting. It starts with the blond character buying the shirt, having his meal and going home by car. Then he gets ready to go out but he finally stays home zapping in front of the tv. When the sun rises he goes to the beach where he finds three people and a dog sleeping on the shore. One of them notices him, they start playing with a frisbee and the they ride the ocean on a speedboat, leaving behind a factory and recalling the first scene. Here, as in The Robbery, the body contact seems to be able to delete a dull life made of malls, highways and technology. And even here we have a scene in a movie theatre (another Shahar's trademark, but we're at Hollywood after all). This tale has some new elements too, such as many references to a forthcoming nuclear disaster, sexual metaphors and some abstract panels with question marks, skyscrapers and clouds. Although the pattern is very similar to the first issue, Beach Fantasy offers something more, because the less linear structure allows the reader to use his imagination and feelings. So we just have to wait for the third issue, that will probably be even more innovative and experimental.

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