Crack In The Shell #3, A
A CRACK IN THE SHELL #3
The melancholic cover illustration and subdued, no-nonsense logo/title design of this publication offer perfect indication of the tone and mood of the issue. Indeed, thematically the weight with which the previous Cracks have been imbued is maintained, and that sense of there being meaning lurking beneath the surface always present. I guess, as with previous issues, it's all about the frustration prompted by passivity, and the resentment that festers behind such assertive-lacking behaviour.
A collection of 'Wage Slave' strips account for much of this issue's content and continue with last issue's diluted themes of existentialism and helplessness in the face of societal expectation and enforced routine played out by a once cuddly toy bear, now wearied with the cynicism of experience and a work/drink prompted lethargy. Ranging in length from three-panel to fourteen-page, in the main they provide sound amusement, at times contain some absolutely lovely, neat artwork, and, with occasional shifts in rhythm, often prove strangely affecting. That said, the longer, main presentation 'Wage Slave', though spot-on in its observations, pales in comparison to the shorter, punchier efforts. Lacking a tightness in its scripting and in its design, it reads slightly sloppy, looks slightly sloppy, and the search for poignency toward story's end seems quite laboured. It's still a worthwhile effort, mind - the illustration is of a consistantly sound quality, and the message of the piece flies in the face of current self-help book favourite 'Who Moved My Cheese': ultimately change simply affects environment - no matter the hue, we simply substitute one stagnation for another.
Also on offer: 'Danny and Clare', an oddity of a short story that had me feeling lost and abandoned throughout. Similar to the experience of reading two pages ripped from the first draft of a novel-in-progress, it fails to read well, lacks direction and form, but provides good characterisation and dialogue that seems to ring true. More impressive though is the Charles Burns inkiness of the accompanying illustrations - some lovely stuff.
So, all-in-all a very worthwhile issue then that, as the 'How To' books say, successfully draws parallels between the particular and the universal, and is peopled with a character with whom we may share no detail, but with whom we connect on an emotional level.
Not wholly satisfying (what is?), but definitely worth a goo, A Crack In The Shell #3 is one pound, A5, 24 pages, from Philip Barrett, 32 Celtic Park Avenue, Beaumont, Dublin 9. (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Review by John Robbins
Considering the expressionistic style and the odd name (Joven Kerekes (AKA Kerashtest)), you'd probably be forgiven for thinking that Ructions is the product of an avant-garde Slovakian artist. In fact Joven is Irish, and according to his bio on his website, he also spent a healthy period of time in San francisco, mixing it up with the large fraternity of cartoonists and animators that proliferate in that city.
It certainly shows. The seven stories on show here, are an eclectic mix of edgy, paranoia with an acerbic wit; alongside recountings of bizarre dreams and dream-like happenings. This includes "Alien Sex Dream", a first person recollection of a man 'selected for a test of the sexual compatiblity of aliens with humans'. This short story, told via a series of vignettes, is as poetic, as it is jarring and completely stupid. The highlights for me, though, are 1)'My Guardian Angel', a scratchy, atmospheric story about a washed up old hipster pissed off with his own existence and doubly less interested in anybody who gets in his way. And 2)the Greg Cook-like 'Joseph the Inept Yellow Dog' , a great little two-pager about a stupid big-nosed dog policeman that wouldn't look out of place in any Highwaterbooks anthology.
I actually picked this up in Bristol from the Toenail Clippings table, which, considering that particular publication's growing reputation, you'd have to seriously consider that Ireland's underground comic scene is going through a very fruitful period.
I think it cost me about £1.50. Maybe email him first. A5 2-colour card cover. Joven Kerashtest, 73 Windmill Park, Crumlin, Dublin 12, Ireland. Email : email@example.com www.jovenk.com
Posted by Andrew Luke
From what I understand this is a comic about environmental issues and the effect they have on day-to-day physiognomy (now thems issues). Using the metpahor of the countryside and maternal countenance, Malcy tells his tale with shapes ugly and beautiful. Read this four or five times now and not sure I get it, the compulsion to return is annoying but I believe worthwhile. in the meantime I'll just keep on climbing Lady mountain. A6 size in the 'missive device' (comic-as-postcard) format, costing £1, a reasonable choice for a gift. Created by a man whose understanding of comics as a form is so broad and second-to-none. Malcy duff, 24 belmont Gardens, Edinburgh, EH12 6JH.
Lupus, The #3
Posted by Andrew Luke
The Lupus #3
The creation of 15 Nuns man Ben Oakes, The Lupus easily surpasses its predecessor with it's overewhelmingly attractive attitude and neato design. Topics such as stalking and drug addiction are treated with the sugary heap of fashion and the honeys glaze, of credibility. Oakes' style is adequate, using a bold combination of slim mark outlines and thick black areas, plus a purposefully haphazard and un-even figure placement. This comic is so hip and has enough zinesque moxie to endear.
Also from 15 Nuns is John Cake, and the return of Big Night Out style comedy, "The Bruising Pit", Ken (the washing machine), Bobby and Walter fear their pub may be demolished and in an effort to prevent it board a bus driven by Busta Rhymes. This surrealist strip is unique, essential and worth the price of admission alone. That price is just 70p from Ben Oakes, 65 South Grove, Sale, Manchester, M33 3AR. A5, colour cover, 20pgs.