(All of these were picked up at MoCCA earlier in the month.)
James Hindle, Little Wolves
Cecil Berry, the protagonist of Little Wolves, is a children’s book author in the midst of a creative drought. A thumbnail description of Little Wolves would be to call it his search for inspiration, but that’s a little too neat. Cecil begins the book in a sort of paralysis; from there, the decisions he makes are unwise, and they’re telegraphed as such from a mile off. What we get is a character study of an artist simultaneously trying desperately to evolve and alienating everyone close to him — but the ending, and Hindle’s willingness to present his protagonist’s worst tendencies — make some good points about the gulf between art that inspires and artists whose lives…don’t.
Eric Skillman with Evan Bryce, Ming Doyle, and Victor Kerlow, Egg: Hard-Boiled Stories #2
To borrow a line from classical political theory, these three short pieces could be called nasty, brutish, and short — all good qualities when you’re looking at stories that fall under the “crime fiction” header. “Lost and Found,” illustrated by Ming Doyle, is the best of the three; Doyle’s art is reminiscent of a young Paul Pope, and it fits this story of young, attractive New Yorkers perfectly. “The Platform,” illustrated by Victor Kerlow, has the nastiest narrative sting, but Kerlow’s looser style doesn’t seem as well-matched to the brutality of this story. Overall, though, it’s a fine anthology, and I’m curious to see what Skillman can do at a longer length.
Niklas Asker, Second Thoughts
The cover caught my eye first: half a head, watching over a city at night. Stylistically, that cover reminded me a lot of Farel Dalrymple‘s work — not a bad thing at all, and Asker’s interior work is nicely evocative, and equally suited to sprawling urban canvases and more intimate domestic moments. It’s difficult to discuss Second Thoughts in too much detail without spoiling huge chunks of it. That the graphic novel’s central characters are a writer and a photographer, and the work of each (and its creation) factors significantly into the story being told. Where Second Thoughts stumbled, for me, is in its structure: the way in which Jess (a writer) comes to tell her story is, arguably, more interesting than the actual story that she tells. Beneath the metafictional elements here are an interesting exploration of gender, authorship, and memoir — but those aren’t readily apparent until a second reading, and even then aren’t necessarily in the foreground.