A comiXologist Recommends:
Harris Smith recommends The Grassy Knoll by nickdrnaso
Comics are capable of transporting readers to many worlds, from the farthest reaches of the imagination of visionary artists like Jack Kirby to the hilariously low-key absurdism of Jim Woodring. Sometimes, though, the best place a comic can take you is your own back yard, giving readers small slices of everyday life, populated with situations and characters that are recognizable and relatable. Such is the case with Nick Drnaso’s The Grassy Knoll, available now from Oily Comics through comiXology Submit.
The Grassy Knoll is deceptively simple. In it, a teenager named Tim starts a new job and, on his first day, is paired with an annoying co-worker, Sal. Eventually, Tim requests a change in assignment, in part to escape the boastful, overly intense Sal, and in part to get a chance to work with a trio of pretty girls. Later, they learn that Sal has been fired.
Much of the power of the Grassy Knoll lies in the Drnaso’s carefully crafted subtext. Though what is being said and shown in the comic is interesting enough, the ideas that are subtly suggested and not explicitly addressed give the story a great deal of weight. Issues of class and race come up, intertwined with questions about personal identity. The narrative climax, a gesture made by Sal as he passes by Tim, gains impact only as the story concludes, and when taken in the context of the title. None of these ideas are explained in detail, but it is that elusiveness that gives The Grassy Knoll its impact. What could have been a well-crafted slice-of-life story about bored teenagers trying to get through the day of a summer job becomes somewhat sad and more than a little menacing.
Though only 12 pages long, The Grassy Knoll feels weightier and more thoughtful than many heftier graphic novels. In its subtlety, Drnaso’s work is masterful, signaling the arrival of a major new creator on the comics scene.
Harris Smith is a Brooklyn-based comics and media professional. In addition to his role as a Senior Production Coordinator at comiXology, he edits several comics anthologies, including Jeans and Felony Comics, under the banner of Negative Pleasure Publications. He’s also the host of the weekly radio show Neagtive Pleasure on Newtown Radio.
Come buys some comic books at table J1
Guys, Girls, Cats, and Dolls,
Today Melissa and I will be getting the Oilymobile out of the garage with brand new struts and driving south to dirty-old Bethesda, Maryland. Once again we stress and strain and lose sleep until we are in the comfort of those Marriott pillows and blankets. What a year it is going to be at America’s own Small Press Expo!
The thing I am most proud of and excited for this year are Oily’s nominations in the 2014 Ignatz awards. Daryl Seitchik (Missy) and Nick Drnaso (The Grassy Knoll) both garnered nominations and holy moly do they deserve it. I think the Ignatz are one of the better awards given out in comics because the nominations are chosen by a panel of cartoonists and voted on by attendees of SPX during the first day of the show. It is a true festival prize and and tends to shine a light on works that don’t always get recognized for one reason or another. So here’s to Daryl and Nick. I’ll be rooting for you all the way.
Next up, we have a brand new comic called Daddy debuting at this year’s show. It is a black and red affair written by Josh Simmons (Habit) and James Romberger. Josh won’t be at the show but James is coming down for his first time. Look for him at our table and with the fine folks of Uncivilized Books.
What else is happening? Oh, our own Melissa Mendes (Lou) will be womanning the Oily table with me and handing out a little sampler of her new comic she is launching on Tumblr. It is called The Weight and from what I’ve seen so far, it is next-level stuff from Melissa.
Let’s see, Let’s see. Oh, yes. Panels! On Saturday from 3-4pm I’ll be on the Micro-Press and Beyond panel with Keenan Marshall Keller (Drippy Bone Books), Justin Skarhus and Raighne Hogan (2D Cloud), and Anne Koyama (Koyama Press). It will be moderated by my dear friend, the irreplaceable Robyn Chapman. And then on Sunday, Melissa Mendes will be discussing Stories of Girlhood with Ellen Lindner (The Black Feather Falls), Jillian Tamaki (Skim, This One Summer), and Aisha Franz (Earthling).
Please come around to the Oily table (J1) and get some books or just say hi and meet some cartoonists. We are setting up a real signing schedule this year:
12-1 Daryl Seitchik (Missy)
3-4 Benjamin Urkowitz (Real Rap)
5-6 James Romberger (Daddy)
12-1 James Romberger (Daddy)
3-4 Daryl Seitchik (Missy)
5-6 Benjamin Urkowitz (Real Rap)
For you Comixology readers, you might be interested to know that they are running an SPX sale this weekend in honor of SPX. You get something like 80 digital comics for $10! Included are a bunch of Oily titles like Joey, Luv Sucker, Nu, Bastards, Missy 2, and more!
Oh, boy. One more thing. The folks at SPX asked Oily to draw their web banners this year. So I want to thank Billy Burkert, Ben Urkowitz, Melissa Mendes, Daryl Seitchik for helping out with that. If you go to the SPX website you can see them as you click through the site.
Okay. That’s all. See you in Maryland.
P.S. Guess who’s birthday is tomorrow?
A comiXologist Recommends:
Harris Smith recommends Luv Sucker #2
For the past several years, Charles Forsman has been making a name for himself in the comics as world as the writer and artist of books like TEOTFW and Celebrated Summer, and as the publisher of Oily Comics, a mini-comics imprint through which he publishes his own work, as well as new comics by other indie up-and-comers, including Melissa Mendes, Nick Drnaso, Dane Martin and Ben Urkowitz. Between his comics, which are by turns heartbreaking, relatable, disturbing, thoughtful, minimal, evocative and occasionally hilarious, and his publishing, Forsman has established himself not only as a substantial emerging voice, but as an asset to the comics community as a whole.
His latest is Luv Sucker, a low-key, slow burn take on the vampire genre (as the cover says, “file under: teen/blood/vampire/heartache”), published by Oily. Luv Sucker, the first two issues of which are now available via comiXology Submit, follows Natasha, a seemingly normal teenaged girl who, depressed after a breakup, is attacked by a coven of nerdy classmates claiming to be vampires. Natasha is incredulous at first, but then starts noticing weird changes in herself. Is she actually becoming a vampire, or is she just the victim of the adolescent hormones?
Eschewing the melodramatic posturing of a lot of contemporary teen genre media, as well as the seemingly omnipresent “chosen one” narrative, Forsman grounds his story in a very recognizable landscape of teenage disaffection, favoring the kind of episodic, slice-of-life moments that served him so well in TEOTFW, underplaying the horror and fantasy elements. Instead, he gives the reader a story, setting and characters that are believable and easy to relate to. Luv Sucker is smart and challenging, narratively adventurous, but it’s also unpretentious and an engaging, entertaining read. Charles Forsman once again shows us what a creator with a voice and a vision is capable of. I can’t wait for issue three..
Harris Smith is a Senior Production Coordinator at comiXology.
Get Missy 2 by Daryl Seitchik. Get it or you’ll be sorry.
I’m still working through my stack of minis, which includes some micropublisher work, a few subscriptions, and even a Kickstarter project or two. Quick Picks is a monthly feature of a set of three microreviews of stuff I’ve read the past week.
Bastard #1, by Max de Radiguès
Let me just start by saying, I am terrified to share this. I’ve been thinking about writing it since I heard the news about Robin Williams’ suicide.
I have depression. And anxiety. About 3 years ago, I was hospitalized for it. Not for a suicide attempt, but because I had hit bottom, and I didn’t…
My amazing partner wrote this important essay about depression and anxiety. She is so fucking brave. I’m having a really shitty day today so this of course is making the tears come. I think it’s important that we do not feel alone as we live life. It sounds cliche but tell your friends and family that you love them. Some humans get stuck in their heads and lose the ability to communicate. They need love too.