Tag Archives: Retrofit Comics

Comics Review: THE PRINCE by Liam Cobb

Mystery and irony abound.

The Prince, a graphic novel by Liam Cobb, published by Retrofit Comics & Big Planet Comics, has an intriguing reserve about it. There is an ambiguous and messy quality at play. It takes patience to build something like this brimming with mystery and irony.

This is the story of May and she’s in love with a frog. Well, she is and she isn’t. There’s a frog and there isn’t–or it’s more than just a frog. And if the frog is more MacGuffin than frog, then it’s one of the best MacGuffin frogs I’ve seen in comics. This is the magical world of comics we’re dealing with here so there’s more than one of these MacGuffin frogs. Jim Woodring comes to mind.

Dare to be sloppy.

Like I was alluding to, this is a very strange and quirky work that, as they say, in lesser hands, would likely fail. Because, let’s face it, this is very arty–but in a good way. For instance, Cobb gets to release some angst with little subversive acts of being intentionally “bad.” This is evident in his sometimes atrocious use of digital coloring. “Atrocious” in the sense that it’s not clean. It’s clearly calling attention to itself with its smudgy application but it’s purposeful, intended to add to the tension. Of course, I could be wrong but I don’t think so. In other places, Cobb demonstrates he’s quite capable of competent, even skillful, digital coloring.

Frog or no frog, Cobb does a fine job of pushing the envelope of what is possible in the comics medium. We have May and Adrian trapped in a bad marriage. Adrian is the bread winner but is a loathsome abusive monster. May stays at home and easily drifts into long stretches of daydreaming. Our story begins with May bringing home a stray late night lover–and it’s a man, not a frog. It’s not a pretty sight but, then again, that scene, like the rest of the book, is full of wry wit.

We end up with magic.

Once you have your premise set up, a talented and adventurous cartoonist can run wild–and so does Cobb to the reader’s delight. Enjoy this artful comic for all its worth. I particularly love the extended scenes showing one or two characters leaving or entering somewhere else. Cobb is great at lingering over things long enough to pluck out other possibilities. For example, there’s an interesting passage when May and a lover are walking down a street at night that is lit up by lights. We see them walk into the circles of illumination created by the streetlamps. Then we see the same circles turn into portals and May disappears through one of them. Ah, now that’s the magic of comics–and Cobb is some magician!

THE PRINCE by Liam Cobb

The Prince is a 120-page two-color softcover graphic novel (available in print or digital), published by Retrofit Comics & Big Planet Comics. The Prince will debut at Small Press Expo in Bethesda, Maryland. You can also find Liam Cobb on Instagram right here.

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Filed under Comics, Retrofit/Big Planet, Small Press Expo

Review: A CITY INSIDE by Tillie Walden

"A City Inside" by Tillie Walden

“A City Inside” by Tillie Walden

I was running late and I decided the best thing to do was to run even later. I stopped by to have a gourmet treat, a bison burger at Eve, one of the new trendy eateries in the Fremont neighborhood of Seattle. Eve is not yet a year old but, in human years, I suppose it’s already a teenager. The place is always immaculate and it seems to have settled into a nice groove. I went to my favorite table near the window and the waitress, with a really dazzling arrangement of tattoos, took my order. With a glass of wine, I turned my attention to one of the most pleasing mini-comics I’ve read in quite a while, “A City Inside,” by Tillie Walden, published by Avery Hill Publishing.

By the time I had read Tillie Walden’s mesmerizing book, my bison burger was served. I started munching and thinking over what this book meant to be. I wondered how many people had bison and wine while contemplating a mini-comic by Tillie Walden. That would be a rare subset of a subset of a select group. Everything about this comic adds up to a beautiful rare bird. Think of it as going to a really good art gallery show. Sometimes you’ll get a pang of regret wishing more people were there with you to share the experience.

Up, up, in the air with Tillie Walden

Up, up, in the air with Tillie Walden

Or, instead of art galleries, just think of comic strips. Walden’s work is as accessible, and full of possibility, as some of the best comic strips. Take Little Nemo in Slumberland, for example. Now, there’s some truly fanciful stuff going on. Consider Krazy Cat and Ignatz, early Popeye, even Peanuts. Comics strips, by their very nature, are ethereal and odd. Speaking of Little Nemo, Walden’s alter-ego, just like Nemo, enjoys taking her bed out for a spin like a magic carpet ride. Much of what we see in “A City Inside” is a wonderful ode to a daydream nation and to overcoming the trepidations of a young person. Walden celebrates all the great eccentricity to be found in comics.

The city beckons.

The city beckons.

What Walden does in “A City Inside” is invite you inside her head–or appear to do so. The main character, her alter-ego and/or a universal character, shares her concerns with the reader. The narrative appears to occur during a therapy session. The young woman is contemplating her future. It is one she knows will require overcoming fears and, ultimately, it may require leaving behind her lover. But the important thing is that the future is hopeful. She will find her way. She will gain admission into the wondrous city. Walden does a great job with a light drawing style to go along with her light lyrical prose. Some of the narrative is enigmatic, elusive, ethereal. But, in the end, it all makes sense.

“A City Inside” is a 56-page trade paperback, published by Avery Hill Publishing. Visit Avery Hill right here. And find more Tillie Walden comics at Retrofit Comics right here.

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Filed under Alternative Comics, Avery Hill Publishing, Comics, Independent Comics, Retrofit Comics, Tillie Walden

Review: DEBBIE’S INFERNO by Anne Emond

Anne-Emond-Debbies-Inferno

In her new mini-comic, “Debbie’s Inferno,” Anne Emond takes us deep into the nightmares and misgivings of a young woman and all we have to do is sit back and be amused. There’s plenty to be amused about since Emond is a crackerjack cartoonist in the vein of Lynda Barry. With a spare line and a whimsical touch, she distills angst down to wise and funny bits.

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Filed under Alternative Comics, Anne Emond, Big Planet Comics, Comics, Comixology, Comixology Submit, Independent Comics, Retrofit Comics, Small Press