zine, [zeen] noun. 1. abbr. of fanzine; 2. any amateurly-published periodical. Oxford Reference


Saturday, July 4, 2009

Stephens, Joshua Ray


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via Optical Sloth by admin on 6/30/09



The Moth or the Flame

If you prefer your comics simple, I'll warn you right now to move along.  If you, on the other hand, prefer to have to puzzle out your comics, knowing that you'll still have questions at the end but that you will be richly visually rewarded for your troubles, this is worth a close look.  Joshua has an excellent introduction along those lines, essentially saying that the pretty pictures would probably be enough for some readers, but those who demand more would be richly rewarded.  This is the tale, more or less, of two lovers and how they eventually destroy each other.  A rich and successful playboy meets an ambitious lawyer at a party, they end up back at his place, but she disappears while he's on a hunting expedition the next day.  And really, I can't just leave it at "a hunting expedition".  The playboy, Tempest McGillicutty (who looks like vaguely like Too Much Coffee Man, in the sense that he has what appears to be an opening with liquid at the top of his head) goes out with his hunting dog, which is wearing the skin of a sheep.  Tempest shoots an adorable creature who is frolicking by the water to lure an even bigger creature to eat the remains, which will let him suck the energy from this larger creature.  This whole sequence is bizarre enough to be an unsettling comic all by itself.  He returns to his house, finds his lover Tealeaf Wallowrose gone, and goes into a long funk.  He eventually learns that she had been called away on a project but couldn't stop talking about him, they are reunited and spend two blissful years together.  Still, such a thing rarely lasts, odd happenings occur, a rite is required, and their love it turned into something much uglier.  Reading over this, it almost seems like a fairly common story, which does the whole graphic novel a disservice.  This is an utterly unique comics experience, with things hinted at going on below the surface that one read through will only begin to discover.  Every page is drawn and planned out seemingly to perfection, the troubles at the end seem to be inevitable in hindsight, and there's so much happening on every level that you could practically pick your own moral lesson, if you need one of those.  This seems to be Joshua's first comic (although there must be some minis out there, as this is a self-published hardcover graphic novel), and it's things like this that keep the medium going strong.  Somebody will read this, get their own ideas, make their own utterly bizarre and unique comic, and the art form moves right along.  Why don't you check it out and help that process?  $18



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