Tiny Pages Made of Ashes is Comic Bulletin’s Small Press Review Column.
Hi. Tiny Pages is back. It’s been awhile, I know, but it’s been a tough go of it lately, right? Losing Leonard Cohen, Leon Russell, and Mose Allison in the span of a week has really taken the shine off the polished turd that has been this Trump November (not that there was any real shine in the first place).
The thought of writing about comics in the face of all the fear and sadness expressed by so many I love seemed almost silly.
But then I got 2 books in the mail and they reminded me that all is not a shit-show tire fire; there are still things that bring joy into the world.
I’ve got to be honest here. I’m currently exhibiting all the behavioral signs of a solid depression going on, so I would like to apologize to these creators for not being able to bring my “A” game to writing about their books. They deserve better, as they have created such spectacular works, but I hope they understand, and, if it serves as any sort of acknowledgement, they will gather whatever there is from the fact that their work is profound and beautiful enough to make me even want to attempt this.
My wish is that someone out there will be inspired by these reviews to purchase one of these books and, by so doing so, be able to also have a moment of joy (however brief).
That being said, here you go:
By Becca Tobin
Becca Tobin’s comics are elixir, panacea, cure for all ills. They are salve, balm, emollient. Her work distracts from that which thickens in the brain, forming paste and inaction. She celebrates and cerebrates and, in that, binds.
Her latest collection, It’s Me, answers the question “Who is that?” in a cautiously glorious manner. It explores the idea of seeing the self as others see it — envying it, casting it into the future, understanding its relationship to inner consciousness. The comic affirms and interrogates, embraces and distances, and ends up taking its audience precisely where Tobin wants to go.
Unlike her story in Youth in Decline’s Frontier #9, It’s Me eschews the warmth of watercolors and works exclusively in shades of gray and negative space. This forces the onus of intent on Tobin’s delineation — alternating between hard outlines and soft backgrounds — she draws in the line work of dreams.
Given the seemingly endless fecal fountain that has sprayed over much of the landscape this past year, Tobin’s comics serve as reminder that beauty exists, people are capable of love, the world is wonderfully weird, and art can celebrate as much as it can destroy.
MINOR LEAGUES TWO
By Simon Moreton
Pure, clean, delicate, august, sincere, orphic, perfect.
Simon Moreton continues to impress, and with his new zine, Minor Leagues Two, continues to show the possibilities of comics, the possibilities of quiet, and the possibilities of communication.
I worry that the more praise I heap upon Simon Moreton (here and here and here and here), the more it will come across as empty hype. I worry that with each review I end up saying less and less because I get overwhelmed by his artistry and his enormous grasp of the power of reduction.
But his work is beautiful. His cartooning gentle. His vignettes poignant. His communication profound.
Moreton’s work whispers. It unfolds within and it corresponds with the flow of energy jumping your synapses. It feeds on your need to make sense of experience. His work is the high tide of personal response. Moreton is the the fisherman in a sea of knowledge that proceeds from observations or experiences; he’s an a posteriori pescatore.
Minor Leagues Two is 88 black and white pages of comics, prose, and photos “about life and what has been going on.” And for Moreton, what has been going on is “birds, landscapes, parks, words, like a weird picture book.” Once again, as he is wont to do, Moreton allows us to understand that, often, in the simple day-to-day, there is enormous beauty and wisdom. He demonstrates that simple gestures reverberate. Moments are timeless. We can hear the universe in the hush and the lulls.