So let's start with "Just A Man" from Brian John Mitchell (words) & Andrew White (art):
Like all of the mini-comics reviewed here "Just A Man" starts off very strong with a simple, but gripping cover and an intriguing beginning for the story. As a big fan of westerns, I was happy to see a story about a simple, peaceful man ("I'm just a farmer." "I'm just a husband") working the land. It's not easy establishing a character or characters in such a limited amount of space but this does it well with both imagery and simple text. The second half of the book wasn't quite as strong for me as it seemed to resort to a few gunfighter cliches. Perhaps it could have been streamlined a bit more by jumping right from the death of the main antagonist to the visit with the doctor (which I really liked). All in all, this would be well worth the price of admission.
Next is "Worms" #4 from Brian John Mitchell & Kimberlee Traub:
Worms starts off with simple summary that gets us up to speed on the important parts of #1-3. The abstract art may be a little inaccessible for some readers, but conveys the condition of the narrator at the time of the story well enough for me. Strange and discomforting imagery was the highlight though with ideas like little worms moving from an IV drip into the veins or a nurse who is "light as a feather" and is thrown into storm clouds to be struck by lightning. Again, the end of the book wasn't the strongest part, but it could be because this one is more of a serial than the others.
Next is "XO" #5 from BJM & Melissa Spence Gardner:
XO's strength at the top is the first line of the comic: "My best friend's brother was the first person I was ever paid to kill." I'm immediately hooked and want to know more. Initially, I thought the juxtaposition between the noir-ish subject matter and the Archie-ish art was going to be a part of the story (both of which I liked) but I'm afraid the disconnect between the two remained throughout the story for me, much to its detriment. That could be due to not having read the first 4 issues though. I think I would have enjoyed seeing more of the "I'm the star in the movie that is my life" kind of mentality for the main character as his thought process seemed to be the highlight of this mini for me.
Finally is "Lost Kisses" #9 & 10 presumably from BJM on both the writing & art:
This is probably the fav' of the lot I got to review despite (partially because of) the stick-man art. Of the lot, this one is easily the most introspective and thoughtful as the opening line "I'm not sure hatred's better than apathy." attests. Imagine a thoughtful, slacker who is a self described misanthropist waxing philosophic about the temporary nature of life and how it affects peoples' opinions of him because he views them as "ephemeral" and "temporary"... or how love "Freaks [him] the fuck out." My favourite line on the latter subject was; "Sometimes I say "I love you" by accident when having sex or something." Hilarious. The contrast between heady subject matter and overly simplistic visuals emphasizes the cerebral strength of this comic while unapologetically ignoring the physical aspects. Definitely the most engaging for me.
All in all, I'd say Silber Media, Brian John Mitchell & friends are putting out fair to high quality comics that are easily worth their humble cover price, especially considering the challenge of conveying emotion and hooking the reader with such a limited medium. I'd say these treats from our neighbours to the south are worth every penny! Check 'em out at www.silbermedia.com
Have you heard the latest episode of Where Monsters Dwell? If not, go here: http://wheremonstersdwell.ca