Monday, May 24, 2010

Mini Comic Monday: Secret Weirdo and I'd Sure Like Some Fucking Pancakes

Lately I've been delinquent in reviewing the mini comics that folks send me. So I've decided to institute "Mini Comic Monday," where I will gradually review any and all minis I receive.

In her mini Secret Weirdo, Lauren Barnett complains that her biggest pet peeve is when someone calls her comics "cute." "I think 'cute' is a terrible way to describe someone's work," she grumbles. This leads me to two thoughts. 1) Someone should give Barnett a copy of James Kochalka's The Cute Manifesto so she realizes she needn't fear the cute. 2) If she doesn't want people to think of her work as cute, she should really stop anthropomorphizing fruit and birds. It's the road to adorable.

Barnett's drawings of people could, honestly, benefit from some added cute. I'd Sure Like Some Fucking Pancakes, the shorter -- and less cohesive -- comic, contains a story "When a Bird Loses Its Feathers." The eight panel piece features a naked chicken and reads like a demented children's book. The comics featuring humans are nowhere near as visually interesting.

Reading minis is an interesting experience. Sometimes you come across a real gem of an artist, but more often you find someone who is still finding their voice, whose eye isn't fully trained in visual storytelling.  Barnett clearly has some talent -- at least when it comes to scripting -- but she hasn't quite grown into it. Secret Weirdo has the beginnings of a great theme comic. There are lots of odd little tales from Barnett's childhood and quasi-adulthood, and they're extremely well-chosen. She writes about running a lemonade stand, the end table she wanted as a pre-teen, the time she put an egg in the freezer just to see what would happen. The stories are great because they are personal, unusual, and extremely specific. They're understated stories, but they couldn't belong to just anyone. They're clearly the property of this one peculiar individual. Barnett needs to find that same peculiarity and specificity in her writing and art.

It's lurking in there somewhere, and every now and then it shines through. There's the delightful weirdness of "When a Bird Loses Its Feathers" and the simple dream logic of the unicorn story above. And the posters on her blog, which pair animal sketches with odd little taglines, tickle my funny bone (I find them -- gasp -- cute). I think Barnett has the right idea, trying to tap into her secret weirdo. She just needs to drag that weirdo farther into the limelight.

You can buy Lauren Barnett's mini comics on Etsy and check out her artwork at Me Likes You.

Want your mini comic reviewed? Shoot me an email.

21 comments:

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