Renee French, writer/artist
Top Shelf, May 2007
I’m rarely as baffled by a comic as I am by this one. Originally drawn in one-centimeter-square panels and published online, it’s the “story” of three tiny rodents who at varying times find a ball of shit, a corpse, a grub, a bigger rodent, and a sandwich. It’s a weird mixture of South Park potty humor and French’s trademark body-horror, the uncomfortable intimacy of which is somehow made even more disturbing by the scale of the drawings even though you’d think the gag-cartoon nature of the material itself would mitigate against it. Believe me, it doesn’t.
I think French is a very, very good cartoonist, and it’s a testament to her abilities that the procrustean parameters she imposed on her drawings for this project didn’t prevent her from exploiting the vulnerable, exposed physicality of her characters as well as she always does, bulbously distended noses, eczema-ridden nipples and all. The sticking point is the intentionally, admittedly slapdash nature of the story. On the one hand, it’s always refreshing to me to see a cartoonist present a comic that defies the usual niceties of story structure or readily graspable “meaning.” On the other, I’m not sure that kind of braindump necessarily warrants presentation as a stand-alone graphic novella that costs ten bucks. As a minicomic or a story in an anthology, it would be easier to swallow somehow, though I understand that the one-panel-per-page set-up probably precludes publication in such venues.