One of the great things that comics can do is to take you out of the obvious and transport you somewhere fresh and new. The mini-comic, “Second Banana,” by Tessa Brunton, is an excellent example of the true power of comics to uplift and be awesome. This is a look at what it feels like to be a “second banana,” and a whole bunch of other neat stuff. You see, Tessa’s older brother is something of a genius. At least, I’m assuming this is an auto-bio comic. Whatever case, here is a girl named Tessa and she is doing her best to find her way in life. She is the baby sibling. Rich, the eldest, has left the nest. This leaves Tessa and her older bro, Finn, who dazzles Tessa with his general knowledge, including bogus info about light bulbs and fabulous info about ghosts, monsters, and various other related strangeness. Yes, this is what comics does best. It lets you dream. Brunton has got the knack for tapping into that wonderworld.
Let me tell you, I’m not twiddling my thumbs over here either. If you want to know what I’m all about, I champion work just like this. I believe you can find this sort of spirit in a variety of comics, whether alternative or mainstream. The bottom line is you really need to want it, the sort of comics that move the medium forward, not backward. For some creators, it may come more naturally to them but it’s still a process: rough drafts, laying out, editing. For readers, well, you know quality work when you see it. Now, when you see work that makes you nauseous, you know it too and you should protest whenever possible. No more nauseous comics!
But getting back to what Tessa Brunton has accomplished thus far, I think you’ll find that this mini-comic is very promising. We begin the story with an off-kilter reference to “Little House on the Prairie” which sets the tone. Moving right along, we continue with creative use of panels that establish the pecking order of the characters. With a restrained and crisp line, Brunton goes about expressing the ups and downs of having a bright but domineering older brother. I especially like her panel/word balloon combinations!
The narrative is so heart-felt in this immersive comic. You too will feel the same great disappointment as Tessa did when Finn does a complete 180 on his love and support of monsters and ghosts and dismisses them all as a bunch of folklore. As Tessa puts it, “The world seemed so much smaller without the supernatural.” In the end, this story is bigger than Finn. This is a story about the end of childhood.