Happy Friday everyone! Quick Picks is a series of microreviews of books I’ve read in the past 2 weeks. These three quick reviews are of some recent minis from Uncivilized Press – an abbreviated set of these reviews was originally published in Selections #2, a comics review zine I publish. Uncivilized Books is a publisher of comics based in Minneapolis, MN. Check out their website to buy copies of the books reviewed here, and check out their Fall slate, which includes books by Sam Alden, Jesse Ball, Lilli Carre, Brian Evenson, and Caitlin Skaalrud.
Those Goddamn Fuckers by Andrew White and Alec Berry
Dark grey and black ink on grey paper, with maroon accents, text placed in ways as to be almost indecipherable. White’s vague, poetic illustration does justice to a story that is both voyeuristic and
shrouded in remembering. The imagery is foggy; it has a hazy quality, as if the connection between the narrator’s perception and the truth is half-tuned, slightly unfocused. Quietly, White and Berry have developed a sense of place and time that is distinct, yet feels like it could have happened anywhere. There’s a sense of brokenness throughout; an abandoned bar, a group therapy session, a line of coke, and the feeling that the people in the outside world have no idea how good they have it.
Do Not Disturb My Waking Dream #4: Laura Park
This was my first encounter with Park’s comics. This mini was heartbreaking in its honesty and its pain, a feature multiplied by Park’s beautiful inking and great comedic timing. One-off images and sketches complement a variety of strips in various shapes and sizes. You can feel the sense of Park’s dissatisfaction with her work and the emotional ups and downs in the presentation alone. Self-depreciating humor and images of Park in states of disarray drive the humor of this collection; the drive for Park to be the butt of almost every joke takes the mini to dark places at times. Pages are crammed with comics, somewhat haphazardly, adding weight to a potent, well-realized dysphoria. These comics look good, they work at a really base level, and make me excited to see Park’s debut graphic novel Do Not Disturb My Waking Dream from D & Q (publication date TBA) which was announced this summer.
Ice Heist: Madeline McGrane
A fast-paced action comic, with a fun plot – a trio of ghostly bank robbers return from a watery grave to claim their loot with the help of a 20-something woman. McGrane’s thick dark line and fluidly illustrated characters add to the book’s charm. McGrane has a nice sense of pacing, and the anachronistic cast is a smart twist on an old formula. A few well designed spreads break up a traditional panel structure, giving the book some oomph. The whole story feels very upper-midwest. A cool blue cover emphasizes the icy features of this story, a fun touch. A strong outing from a young cartoonist worth watching.
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