Do not go gentle into that good night. Why should you? And don’t just rage. Get yourself a whole new body like in Pete Toms‘s comic, “The Dupe,” in the latest (special 3D) issue of Study Group Magazine. This piece certainly sets the tone and then some for a magazine full of ebullient work featuring in-depth essays, interviews, and a variety of work by talented cartoonists who tend toward the underground. Come in and sample everything and be sure not to miss the 3D because it is out of this world.
My own work in comics gravitates to the offbeat and so I’m very sensitive to how others push things in unexpected directions. There are no set rules and, often, the simpler approach is best. Or what may appear simple, since what you see on the page is usually the result of various methods of paring down. “Sunset People,” by Connor Willumsen, masterfully hightens the tension in his narrative by paring down. The landscape is stripped down but not so much that you lose his quirky vision. The dialogue is stripped down so that you get to the meat of the craziness that ensues. Bold color choices immerse you into the scenes. Willumsen takes advantage of the whole page and has the work sit of various backgrounds of colors that bleed off the page and work their way into the panels.
Another favorite artist of mine is Julia Gfrörer. In her comic, “Hiders,” co-written with Sean T. Collins, we get another example of a strange exchange between characters. This is what comics is all about: strange and mysterious doings in odd and dreamlike worlds!
There are a number of excellent written pieces to be found here. It’s great to find my fellow comics journalist, Rob Clough, contribute an essay charting the career of Ryan Sands, an editor, publisher, and translator, of some of the most inventive and compelling comics around. Starting off with a keen interest in manga and more adventurous and quirky sexual content, Sands has grown into a leading champion of independent comics with such exemplary anthologies as Thickness. It’s a special treat for me to see Clough’s work in print as I’m so accustomed to reading his work online.
It is also a special treat for me to see my fellow alumnus from the Frank Santoro comics course, Tyler Landry, who is certainly a known entity throughout the comics community. Landry provides a two-page spread illustration that is one of the most provocative and amusing things I’ve seen in a while. Let’s just say it is not for children. And that brings me to my only quibble. Given the other instances of over-the-top sexual content found here, this issue loses out on being for kids and could use a mature content label. I’m not against the sexual content. I’d probably even submit something similar. I’m just saying that the 3D portion to this comic has a built-in natural appeal for kids. For the most part, this magazine is already kid-friendly so the adult stuff really seems to be working against it this time around.
It’s not until you’re about midway through this issue that you enter the heart of the magazine, featuring pages bathed in that blue and red double printing for an impressive tribute to the world of 3D, a total of 19 pages of articles and comics in full-color and classic-red/blue anaglyph 3D (glasses included in every issue). This is no cheap gimmick, by any means!
Remarkably, the magazine shines with such 3D-related material as written tributes to the late King of 3D, Ray Zone, by Mary Fleener, Melinda Gebbie and Alan Moore, with an introduction/appreciation by the editors. And there’s all these amazing 3D comics by Dan Zettwoch, Malachi Ward, Chris Cilla, and Kim Deitch. You truly have to see it to believe it. Of all the pieces, I’d have to give it to Mr. Deitch for sheer mesmerizing work, aptly titled, “4D.” How everything floats on its own layer is, well, breathtaking. And I have to give props to Zettwoch’s floating monster pike too. Flap the page around and see that fish fly! I guess I’d never really enjoyed 3D, and that includes every blockbuster 3D movie I’ve ever had to tolerate viewing, until I got to see what’s in this magazine. I really wan’t expecting that!
If there is a theme to this issue, well, then it’s 3D, at least for the middle and the cover. In fact, once you’re exiting 3D territory, you’re instructed to remove your glasses.
Study Group Magazine #3D is 96 pages of mixed color & b/w goodness.
Study Group is more than one thing. It’s this fun and informative magazine and it’s so much more.