, . . Fantagraphics, $14.95 (120pp) ISBN 978-1-56097-650-9
This new anthology highlights both the strengths and weaknesses of a new generation of alternative comics artists. Today's art comics scene seems to offer a variety of unusual, nuanced drawing styles on the one hand, but a lesser variety of wan, hyper-quirky narratives on the other. The comics in this volume can be engaging, but they can also be too opaque for clear meaning or just elegantly aimless. Anders Nilson's genially surreal story "The Beast," in which a faceless cartoon figure roughly drawn on photographs delivers an absurd tale, falls into the later category. So does "Passing Before Life's Very Eyes," Kurt Wolfgang's cartoon meditation on impending death, though its comic intent and lively drawing rescue it from complete oblivion. Gabrielle Bell's "I Feel Nothing," in which diffident girl meets passive-aggressive boy, and "221 Sycamore Ave," John Pham's enigmatic story of an utterly ordinary girl and a boy with an utterly unusual nose, are two of the best examples of thoughtfully rendered artwork combined with an engagingly oddball story. Also of note is Paul Hornschemeier's "Living with Mr. Dangerous," a methodically paced story of individual torpor. Additional work by Jeffrey Brown, Sophie Crumb and Jonathan Bennett add up to a very good selection of new art comics.
Reviewed on: 07/25/2005