Denis St. John is just the sort of cartoonist it is a pleasure to champion. Here’s the thing, there are many, many, many cartoonists who deserve a thoughtful review, especially early in their careers as they are working towards establishing themselves. I support art for art’s sake but I’m most interested in cartoonists creating ambitious work on some level. It doesn’t come down just to issues of craft and narrative. It comes down to issues of vision. Overall, the comic can have a shaggy dog quality to it but if it has that spark, then let that shaggy dog howl! And that’s what we have here with this collection of horror comics, “Amelia: A Monsters & Girls Book.” I say more power to Denis St. John!
Category Archives: The Center for Cartoon Studies
“Drag Bandits” sounds like one of those titles resulting from a game of free association. But, no, it’s more to the point. This story features Stephen, a 17th century aristocrat, who enjoys robbing coaches in drag, thus the title. I’ve followed Colleen Frakes’s mini-comics for years and have always found them to be quite intriguing and reveling in whimsy. For this latest work, she teams up with Betsey Swardlick, who writes the story. Both are graduates from The Center for Cartoon Studies in Vermont, led my master cartoonist James Sturm.
One of the most endearing things you’ll see in the documentary, “Cartoon College,” a 2012 film by Josh Melrod and Tara Wray, is Lynda Barry’s declaration of love for anyone who is a cartoonist. Lynda Barry is an interesting case in point. Her style is “outsider” raw while, at the same time, highly sophisticated. It won’t be mistaken for Rembrandt but it’s not supposed to be. Lynda Barry’s comics are authentic, entertaining, and thought-provoking. But can you teach someone how to become another Lynda Barry?