Sequential State – the comics criticism archive of Alex Hoffman

Comics That Challenged Me in 2016: Part 3

Happy Friday! Part 3 of this 6 part list, and another 5 entries. Last entry had a few comics I had already reviewed through the year, but this time around it’s all comics I haven’t spoken about in a formal way. I think I’m drawn to review books that are more of a challenge, so that explains some of the repeat discussion, but this list also lets me revisit those comics. Sometimes, like in the case of Breaking is Opening, a new piece of information changes my original impressions – for example, the Kim Jooha interview for the 2dcloud Fall Collection gave me more insight into Sab Maynert’s creative process.

Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3 | Part 4 | Part 5 | Part 6 | Complete List


Sec – Sarah Ferrick @butterstory , 2dcloud @2dcloud

There are few cartoonists that understand the power of text as a visual device like Sarah Ferrick, and this comic is so visceral and intimate. The text, how it lopes and hides, how it explodes, all is just as visually important as the images contained within. This was an actual comic – rarely are text and image so well integrated. Sexual desire, abstracted out until it is a wash of bright red, like staring at the sun through the back of your eyelids. This comic was vibrant. I’m looking forward to more of Ferrick’s work with 2dcloud in the future.


Test of Loyalty – Sam Alden @gingerlandcomics, Hazlitt @hazlittmag

This was one of Alden’s only published short stories in 2016. Are the actions after Noelle, the main character, is accosted by an immigration drone, real? Perhaps everything is imagined by the main character as she sits in some future detention center awaiting deportation. Alden’s future of drone-based immigration verification seems much more prescient now than it did when this comic first was published (a scary thought). Test of Loyalty addresses the zeitgeist in a smart way – concerns about the surveillance state and racism stand in line with Alden’s smart character writing and beautiful colored pencils. Alden’s use of white space in this comic is a step above. As always, the juxtapositions of Alden’s comics are what make them so exciting to unpack – the question of whom to trust exists on screen, and behind the scenes.


Dôme – Various, Breakdown Press @breakdownpress & Lagon

This was an illusive collection, and I ended up getting a copy second hand from the very wonderful @goodcomicsbykim​. This is probably the hardest I have ever worked to get a comic (I missed the last copy available from Breakdown by minutes at TCAF this year). Dôme made me reconsider comics as performance; the anthology was printed and assembled during the Angouleme comics festival in 2016 in the view of festival visitors and artists. That activity, and the blending of comics art that graces the middle of the anthology, had me reconsider comics as a solitary art form. The quality of the comics inside varied, but as an experimental anthology, Dôme was on my mind a lot in 2016.


Late Bloomer – Mare Odomo @mareodomo​ , Retrofit Comics @retrofitcomics

Mare Odomo’s collection of comics poetry from Retrofit was a surprise delight this year. I had planned to write a longer review, but time slipped away (like it always does). There was something startling about how intimate and atmospheric this collection was, how the dark graphite and charcoal drawings felt alive and close. Of all of the comics I read in 2016, Late Bloomer was able to harness a sense of melancholy and listlessness in me that was a resounding theme in the middle of my year. It was a lonely book, and its compactness was a strength. Late Bloomer was a book that reminded me about my love of poetry, and is one of the reasons I’m going to be devoting more reading time to poetry (comics and otherwise) in 2017.


Gift Shop 3D – Brie Moreno @boogerbrie , Oireau

My pick from TCAF 2016, Gift Shop 3D was an introduction to Brie Moreno’s work. The stiff line of the figures, The mix of analog and traditional technique,  and the seemingly fascist “More Store” all made Gift Shop 3D disturbing yet playful. Gift Shop 3D had a unique cadence, a stop and start quality hinging on empty spaces. This was comics poetry too, but unlike the lushness of Late Bloomer, Gift Shop 3D was stark and meditative. Moreno’s dream comics were especially bizarre, but again playful; this was a strong collection and I hope to see more from Moreno.

Three more installments next week and we’ll resume regular posting the week after. Have a great weekend!s