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sabato 11 gennaio 2014

Koyama Press Special part 1: Blobby Boys & Everything Takes Forever

Let's start taking a look at some of the 2013 publications by Canadian Koyama Press I have guiltly ignored so far, except for the review of Lose #5 by Michael DeForge. Right now, the Koyama is one of the best publisher around and for sure during this year it's bound to deserve this definition, since it presented a very interesting publishing plan, which I have already mentioned here some days ago. 
Blobby Boys is a collection of short stories by Alex Schubert already seen online and in other comic books, plus a bunch of unpublished ones. Schubert, born in 1983, is a very dynamic contributor of the website, works in the animation industry and created a series of toys inspired to his characters. The colors used for his illustrations, his dialogues often full of brutal sarcasm and the use of the very same and well defined characters can make him appearing quite similar to Daniel Clowes, although Schubert is different from him, especially because he prefers joking about the present time rather than filling his stories with the vintage and nostalgic elements prefered by the author of Ghost World. In addition to this, the wordiness of Clowes' characters is replaced here with an harsh style: Schubert's trademark is the sharp and meaningful sentence that ends unexpectedly the story making fun of narrative conventions. Schubert is able to create simple and short stories, where even just one page or strip or sentence contribute to a full narrative universe.

The main characters are obviously the Blobby Boys, an alien music band on drugs and ready to kill. As the very same cartoonist suggested in a recent interview, the Blobby Boys are a  bunch of nihilists and if we consider that the nonsense is the main element of his comics, his style can be well described as nihilistic nonsense. Other characters of Schubert's universe are the Cyber Surfer ("I'm a strong robot, and I like to surf" is his motto), the Aging Hipster, who desperately tries to follow the trends, the Punk Dad, the "experimental band" The Spoiler, the art critic who can’t stand anything he sees because, in the end, “everything sucks” (Schubert was a critic himself), and the Zine Police, a sort of police who checks on the fanzines and bans them, when necessary.
I totally recommend Blobby Boys, as everything else made by its author. 

While Schubert’s signature style is nonsense, Victor Kerlow's comics are about the logic behind the dreams. They often seem daydreams, where the line between reality and imagination is undefined. As in Blobby Boys there are as well some recurring characters in his collection Everything Takes Forever, starting with Taco-Head, the protagonist of some funny gags. Kerlow is well known in the United States as an illustrator and a contributor of magazines such as The New York Times and The New Yorker. His style can be considered not well-defined at first glance, but if you look at his work more carefully, you can notice his refined touch, especially when he draws the human figure. Also his use of the ink-wash technique, used for example in Weird Things, Downstairs, gives elegance to the illustrations and improves the black and white of the panels. Unfortunately not all of his stories are very much meaningful and the longest one of this collection, Little Guy, is a clear example. It seems like Kerlow’s stream of consciousness style is still more a limit than a peculiar detail, on the other hand his illustrations skills and very good ideas showed in the shortest stories make of Everything Takes Forever an enjoyable reading. I look forward to read Bad Party, the new collection of the cartoonist, published in these days by Future Shock Empirical.

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