Comics Time: Closed Caption Comics #9

Closed Caption Comics #9
Pete Razon, Lane Milburn, Conor Stechschulte, Mr. Noel Freibert, Ryan Cecil Smith, Chris Day, Erin Womack, Andrew Neyer, Mollie Goldstrom, Molly O’Connell, Zach Hazard Vaupen, writers/artists
Closed Caption Comics, December 2010
192 pages
Buy it and see preview pages from every contributor at Closed Caption Comics

My favorite thing about the men and women of Closed Caption Comics is how much about their ways of drawing I just don’t get. I don’t get how Lane Milburn builds these beefy sci-fi-fantasy-horror creatures and warriors out of crosshatching and cleverly chosen angles and a line thick enough to look like it was drawn with a Crayola marker held in a fist. I don’t get how Conor Stechschulte creates his black images and blacker stories with lines piled upon wispy lines. I don’t get the thought process behind Mr. Freibert’s scraggly uniform-line-weight EC pastiches, with their abstract-lettering (???) interludes and endings that aren’t so much the usual O. Henry-by-way-of-the-Cryptkeeper twists but just the most ludicrously dark way the story could go. I don’t get Chris Day’s blend of chopped-up images, geometric shapes, block printing, and murky visual noise, and how it somehow fits so well with an elliptical tone poem about how The ’60s as a cultural force (from Marilyn to Manson) were a Satanic plot. I don’t get Andrew Neyer’s lightly penciled cross between a children’s storybook and a lo-fi Yuichi Yokoyama comic, its gutterless panel grids producing cross-image tangents that can be read as pure imagemaking in a way that belies his childlike character designs. I don’t get Molly O’Connell’s crazily ornate yet somehow messy figurework, her people who look like they were built out of tiny feathers. I don’t get how Zach Hazard Vaupen’s stuff doesn’t so much spot blacks as pour and smear them all over everything, reducing legibility but somehow increasing communicative power. Even the things I do think I can understand, like Ryan Cecil Smith’s cartoony parable, Mollie Goldstrom’s staggeringly detailed exploration of snowfall, Stechschulte’s painstakingly photorealistic drawings of a forest, Erin Womack’s elegantly iconographic tale of mystical violence, or Pete Razon’s knockout cover (which couldn’t speak more directly to me if it could literally talk), feel as though they emerged from a thoughtspace I could never quite access on my own, even if I recognize their results. That’s why I keep coming back to what they put out every time I see their table at a show, snapping up minicomics and eyeing their more expensive objects enviously. I don’t know where they’ll take me, but I know I’ll want to go there.

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