Category Archives: Leela Corman

Review: REAL WORK by Christopher Green


Reviewing comics, particularly independent comics, is a labor of love that will thank you with sore eyes, a sore back, and a profound understanding of the road less travelled or some such malarkey. But find a good mini-comic, a really good one by some glorious weirdo, and all is forgiven and you’re good to go for another batch of reviews. And so it was said and so it was done. Christopher Green is one of those glorious weirdos. His mini-comic, “Real Work,” is a fine example of that.

Oh so many cartoonists of a certain ilk are toiling away with thoughts of perhaps making some sort of impact. They don’t dare to dream to be the next R. Crumb, or at least they tell their friends that. But, hey, some don’t have to dare to dream and just do it. Just doing it. Sounds so easy, doesn’t it?

There’s an effortless quality to what I see in this comic. Maybe it took him hours upon hours to create and then he redid the whole sucker all over again for good measure. Or maybe he cranked it out at one go. There are a number of choices that needed to be made, “problem-solving” tasks, if you will, that Green gets right, one way or another.

Green’s 12-page collection of comics is loopy auto-bio, fantasy, and artful silliness. We begin with observations on the surface to body mass ratio regarding a squirrel’s crash landing. A few more pages in, and we’re in the thick of a war between Alaska and Canada. This also involves the teleporting of souls.

Green has the confidence and skill to pull this zany stuff off. It may seem simple but he’s actually putting his surface to body mass calculations to good use. Adroit placement of objects, thoughtful composition, pleasing contrast, it all adds up nicely. Take, for instance, his two boys on a whimsical crime spree. They may be relatively crude little figures, but they’re well-defined, distinct, and full of life. Katzenjammer Kids underground comix style!


Consider one last example above: a page on exploring pagan rituals. On just one page, Green evokes a doomed relationship, a universal struggle, and then gives it all a tidy absurdist ending with a hilarious grace note to boot.

Christopher Green’s “Real Work” mini-comic was printed at the Sequential Artists Workshop, or SAW, in Gainesville, Florida. This is a vital center for learning the art of comics founded and led by cartoonists Tom Hart and Leela Corman. It is, no doubt, thanks to the great care to craft at SAW that Christopher’s color cover, with gold no less, looks as nice as it does. Be sure to visit SAW right here. Be sure to visit Christopher Green right here. And visit his store, Wall of Balloons, right here.


Filed under Alternative Comics, Comics, Independent Comics, Leela Corman, mini-comics, Minicomics, SAW, Sequential Artists Workshop, Tom Hart


How did Esther, a bright young girl from New York’s Lower East Side, at the turn of the last century, find herself darning old stockings for prostitutes? She seemed to have come from a decent working class family. Her twin sister, Fanya, was always the studious one. But then there was their mother consumed by her own desires. And their father, all but forgotten by his wife sleeping with man after man. There is something to be said for cruel fate. And maybe Esther invited her own checkered destiny. Life becomes so complex, so quickly, a life that should have been simple and sweet. This is Leela Corman’s sumptuous graphic novel, “Unterzakhn.”

Shouldn’t life be simple and sweet? Not for Fanya and Esther. Their lives, in a few short years, would become entrenched to the point of no return. We always have choices in life but life keeps moving. Fanya works for the local abortionist. Esther works in a brothel. They are twelve-year-olds in 1912, options are slim, their fates are sealed. Bronia, the abortionist, provides the only thing close to parental advice to Fanya: avoid men. Miss Lucille, the madam, has advice for Esther: become a dancer. The stage is set. It is a sorry bargain. How the two girls survive is the story.

Corman weaves not only the story of the twin sisters but the story of Isaac, their father, and his youth in Russia. We go back to 1895. Hope and youth go hand in hand even in the face of great terror. When the Cossacks kill Isaac’s mother and sister, he must flee. Later, much later, he will find himself naked with a beautiful village girl. It is paradise but only momentary. After she deserts him, his youth is essentially over with. His destiny awaits him in America.

The characters in this story are not mere symbols. Even the most despicable character, the girl’s mother, is compelling. We feel for Isaac and his gentle promise. We feel for Fanya and Esther, who may never have truly contemplated their futures as children, prisoners to fate’s tracks laid down for them long before they were even born. And we consider existential issues. What choices could the two sisters have made in their lives? How influenced were they by their environment? How much does morality play in one’s life? And the girls do have choices to make. For a moment, after Esther had already established herself as a sex worker, she is intrigued by Joe, a curious client with a foot fetish. For a moment, she could have taken Joe. Or Fanya, after she was fully committed to working for women’s issues, can not tolerate the idea of marrying Sal, her lover, even though the match promised the two of them happiness. Choices come and go. And life keeps moving.

Corman’s writing and artwork make for a very energetic combination. Her brushwork is as bold as her sharp narrative. Corman’s vision works well with expressing women’s issues, the Jewish struggle, tenement life, and the dreams of her characters, whether thwarted or painfully realized. When the end comes, it is swift and resounding. Fate is fate. You live or you die. You survive or you transcend.

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Filed under Comics, graphic novels, Leela Corman