Weird Schmeird #2
Ryan Cecil Smith, writer/artist
32 pages plus six lasercut cardboard toys, plastic sleeve
Ambitiously constructed and beautifully packaged, this is another workout in varying styles by CCC member Ryan Cecil Smith. The cover, and the opening vista of suburbia for the minicomic’s first story “Koshien: Impossible,” scan like Kevin Huizenga. The rest of that first story is all dense, explosive, propulsive ninjas-on-bicycles action, with massive rivers of speedlines that cohere like a Brian Ralph environment. There’s a sketchbook section in the grand “cartoonist’s travelogue” tradition. There’s a story set in the world of Two Eyes of the Beautiful, using that same Umezu-derived style to tell a “they had no idea how close they came to death”-type story about two oblivious, bicurious teenage girls who nearly fall into the clutches of the increasingly demented disfigured woman, who’s already transplanted the brain of one girl’s boyfriend into a dog. There’s a one-page cameo from Noel Friebert, with his trademark graphic treatment of text and almost textual treatment of graphics. There’s a little one-page Anders Nilsen monlogue-type thing. There’s a couple more sketchbook pages, making strong use of tones (as does the whole book). And there’s a third story that starts out with a Dan Zettwoch-style diagrammatic depiction of the university mailroom Smith worked in one summer, before telling the very very average tale of his life at that job in the Porcellino/Huizenga tradition. Finally, there are little die-cut cardboard mock-ups of DHL, UPS, FedEx, and Postal Service vehicles, and even a little mailman. Story #1’s the real highlight here–that thing’s a visual knockout, and I for one am dying to see Smith give that style a longer workout on something other than Xerox paper–but frankly it seems he could have stuck with any one part of this hodgepodge and made a strong minicomic out of it. As it stands, he went with all of them and made a strong minicomic out of that, and he could go down a number of rewarding roads from here.