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giovedì 23 ottobre 2014

Dog City #3




Dog City #3 is an anthology made of ten mini-comics, a print, a poster, a broadsheet and a little magazine, all packaged in a beautiful screen-printed cardboard box designed by Simon Reinhardt, editor of the project along with Juan Fernandez and Luke Healy. The box depicts life in a city inhabited by anthropomorphic dogs, portrayed while smoking and standing in a train station: around them the sun, graffiti, buildings, advertising posters. These same dogs are the characters of How We Ride, the mini-comic by Reinhardt, surely one of the best things in the anthology. Reinhardt creates sensitive and playful comics, mixing a tasteful sense of subtle fun and refined melancholy. He's also good at playing with colors, as he showed in At The Dj Screw Museum, Detectives and Lost Films but here - as in Dead Rappers, published in the previous issue of Dog Cityhe uses black and white minimalist cartoon drawings and brief but effective captions. How We Ride tells the story of a gang of dogs dressed as humans just hanging around in the city, living the life of a lot of kids in the world, between fast food and parking lots. Nothing particular happens in this comic, but the mood Reinhardt wants to convey is perfectly rendered: there is a sense of waiting that is typical of youth, the idea that "all of us will get out of this town sooner or later" but even the feeling that "we're stuck here for now". The only thing these dogs can do is enjoy the moment and howling at the moon, hoping their future will be just like in their dreams.




Reinhardt writes also an interesting retrospective about Taboo, the cult anthology edited from 1988 to 1992 by Stephen Bissette, well-known for his work on Alan Moore's Swamp Thing. Bissette is now a professor at The Center for Cartoon Studies, where Dog City is born and in fact most of the contributors come from the school founded by James Sturm in White River Junction, Vermont. The magazine also includes a piece by Julia Zuckerberg abot journal comics, an essay on classic adventure comic strips by Nik James and an interview with Reilly Hadden, another student of CCS who put together for this anthology an amazing collection of Who's Zoo, a forgotten 1920's newspaper comic strip created by Hadden's great-grandfather, Tom Dibble Jr. These are brilliant strips and it's fantastic that someone took upon to put them together. It's also funny to compare them with the broadsheet created by Dan Rinylo, made in the tradition of old strips but with a contemporary feeling. 
For the rest, Dog City contains a poster by Laurel Lynn Lake, a print by Steven Krall and mini comics - in different formats and colors - by Amelia Onorato (Fortes Fortuna), Jenn Lisa (Garrettsville), Allison Bannister and Tom O'Brien (Going In Blind), Caitlin Rose Boyle ("mice"), Luke Healy (Starlight), Sophie Goldstein (Strands), Iris Yan (The Tarot Man), d.w. and Juan Fernandez (They Won't Get to You). This is a beautiful looking pack of mini-comics, the most of them already mature in contents and drawings, despite the fact that some of the young cartoonists are still students of comic art.




I liked a lot The Tarot Man by Iris Yan, a simple story of a dull penguin who finds love, inspired by tarot cards. The mini is in a neat black and white but at the end you can feel a pinch of color in the main character's heart. Sophie Goldstein did a good work as usual with a tale in full color about a lonely girl and her dead mother: Strands is an enigmatic but at the same time emotional comedy, where past comes back to juice up present and future has blonde hairs. The story shares some themes with Edna II - a comic by Goldstein published in the third issue of Irene anthology and then reprinted in a single comic book - and this is a clear hint that the former student of CSS and recent winner of an Ignatz Award has developed a very personal and intriguing style. Garrettsville by Jennifer Lisa somewhat resembles Reinhardt's How We Ride but uses the structure of a diary and a childlike drawing style. The comic documents life in a small town and the complications of growing up, entering a new world where the past slowly disappears leaving only its memories between flames.


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