Geoff Grogan, Kevin Mutch, Alex Rader, editors
Sara Edward-Corbett, Kevin Mutch, Fintan Taite, Tobias Tak, Lance Hanson, Henrik Rehr, Adam McGovern, Paolo Leandri, Mark Sunshine, Bishakh Som, Andres Vera Martinez, Chris Capuozzo, Hans Rickheit, Jim Rugg, Brian Maruca, Connor Willumsen, Geoff Grogan, Joe Infurnari, writers/artists
Big If, April 2010
16 big giant newsprint pages
Simply existing is pood‘s greatest victory. It’s one thing for Alvin Buenaventura or Dave Eggers to provide the alternative and art-comics canon a Little Nemo-sized canvas on which to play; it’s quite another for this idiosyncratic, even weird, group to get a shot. (Why, only three contributors have been published by Fantagraphics!) And as I’ve said in the past, I happily rescind my initial doubts about the newsprint/broadsheet format: It’s the only way the project would make economic sense, first of all, and second of all it ends up holding line and color rather impressively–I’m not sure Sara Edward-Corbett’s work has ever looked better on the page, for example, and Tobias Tak and Geoff Grogan sure do turn in some lush purples.
Beyond that? The victories are harder to come by, I think. I mean, I’m generally perfectly happy with the main throughline of artcomix today, so on that level, folks who follow their bliss in other, perhaps more underground-y directions are gonna have a harder time fitting in with me, too? A handful of stories make use of the giant page to tell impressive little done-in-one morality plays–there are not one but two Western-vengeance stories, a muscular black-and-white firecracker by Andres Vera Martinez and a delicate, sinister color piece by Connor Willumsen, and I think they’re the highlights of the collection, while Adam McGovern and Paolo Leandri’s Kirby-indebted slice-of-lifer lingers as well. And I’m a sucker for the “gigantic environment with cutaway spotlight panels” approach to telling a story on a page this size, as utilized by Tobias Tak and Bisakh Som, even if I’m not over the moon for the stories they’re telling with that technique. Finally, Mark Sunshine’s strip–really it looks like a book’s worth of strips smushed into one page–and its world of cartoon characters who believe their very existence could usher some change into the world they inhabit, Heisenberg-style, is baffling to me in a way that suggests it will linger as well. But much of this material is either goofier (Edward-Corbett, Grogan, Rugg & Maruca, Taite, Capuozzo) or surface-uglier (Mutch, Sunshine) than I’m able to get into, undercutting the potential power of making giant-ass comics. Even a couple of personal favorites, Henrik Rehr and Hans Rickheit, offer contributions that are pretty much just what they normally do, only bigger. It reminds me a bit of the early days of Mome, when I would go on about how the uneven quality of the contributions was actually a plus because you could do apples-to-apples comparisons of work that worked with work that didn’t–only here, nothing is quite rising to the level of “there, that’s how it’s done.” Still, pood #2 is on the way, and at that price it’s a no-brainer to take a flyer on coming back to see if the crew fulfills the promise of the format.