Tiny Pages Made of Ashes 3/27/2014: Getting Loud, Going to New York

A comic review article by: Daniel Elkin, Jason Sacks

Tiny Pages Made of Ashes

Tiny Pages Made of Ashes is Comics Bulletin's small press review column

Loud Comix #3

(Eric Perfect / Christian Maes  Alan King/ / Joel Rivers / Erika Lane / Jamie Vayda)

4 stars

Three is a potent and powerful number in the fictions we create to make sense of the world. Our lexicon leans heavily on allusions to triads and three strikes and third times being charming. Threes are holy and lucky and sometimes the last chance. While the second installment gets darker, the third act provides redemption – think Empire Strikes Back followed by Return of the Jedi.

So, Loud Comix is now on its third issue and, after stumbling a bit in their second outing Loud Comix #3 returns to form by thematically focusing the anthology on a Southern Gothic understanding of addiction. See, in the South there's your basic drug addiction, but things get sweatier down there too, they're into all sorts of weirdness. There's that hunger for pleasure in ways that people who ain't from the South just can't grok, no matter how much Carson McCullers they read.

Pleasure is addictive, and, in the South, people are willing to debase themselves in ungodly ways in order to suck from that pipe. In this issue, Jamie Vayda and his cast of Southern Punk luminaries explore and explore and explore their relationship with pleasure in a slow, drunken drawl that seriously requires a hard back-beat and a soft guitar.

The best story in Loud Comix #3 is, hands down, Alan King's "The Time I Shit My Pants at a Motorhead Show" which is all about the price you pay for overindulgence and overstepping the limits you've set for yourself. The interplay between King's words and Vayda's art is like the sound of a really great rhythm section backing some kind of mondo wonk hillbilly jam. All you really need to know about the narrative is contained in the title, but this thing steps larger than the strides of a colossus, encompassing the dichotomy that undulates between teenage uncertainty and their sense of immortality; the addiction to possibility features large. A pretty amazing piece of business, it's the hook that will keep you in a state of high anticipation for the rest of the show.

Eric Perfect's "Cocaine Fueled" next funnels the thin line between creativity and abuse. When former addicts talk about their habit, there is always this wistfulness that exists in the telling, even when the story licks the sweaty floor of paranoia and near-death experience. Vayda's hard use of small details washed in a cartoon madness pulsates with everything wrong with this form of dependency; its whimsy masks the horror and, by doing so, viscerally reveals it.

Then Joel Rivers talks tits in "Satan's Fantastic Knockers" and the lengths boys will go to and the mistakes and embarrassment and uncertainty they foster. For teenage boys, breasts lactate the milk of manhood while reducing them to fools, and it is the smart girl, according to Rivers, masters "the art of weaponizing her assets." Once again, like an addict, the hero of the story makes foolish, boastful choices that lead him on an odyssey of pathos in order to sip from a grail which will never touch his lips. You've been there boys. You understand this journey.

Erika Lane provides a couple of pieces that are palette cleansers. Her "Roxie and Molly" whore gags are kind of the flat cracker between courses. They serve their purpose, but as they have no flavor, they are easily forgotten.

Will Loud Comix #3 ever make the list of recommended reading for feminists or NA meetings?

NO.

In order to dance to the tune Vayda and friends are playing here, you got to get into the groove of the moment. This ain't politics. These are Southern Fried tales of young men trying to figure out their place in among gentility and genitalia, concerts and cocaine. It ain't easy growing up in unpredictable circumstances. It's even harder when you're driven by whatever hunger it is that consumes you.

- Daniel Elkin

Loud Comix #3 is available through Birdcage Bottom Books.


Lovf – New York: Destination Crisis

(Jesse Reklaw)

4.5 stars

One of the greatest gifts that Art can give to those who consume it is to give you the ability to live inside somebody else's head, to visualize existence from behind their eyes.

And one of the greatest gifts that comics can give, one of the aspects of this great artform that separates it from others, is that comics can actually put you within the head of a complete stranger, to literally see the world from their perspective in ways that change the way that you experience your surroundings.

Jesse Reklaw's new mini-comic is a look through his eyes, and it's a terrifying place to be.

 

Jesse has moved to New York from Portland, for reasons that are basically unimportant and unfocused, and then proceeds to go off his meds. Because of that he goes into a manic phase in which he apparently drew anything and everything that came to his mind, unfiltered and aparently without any sort of control over what he created.

And what he created is wretched, terrible; a swirling panoply of pain, worry and anxiety displayed as distorted images that seem to roll in and out of vision just out of the corner of the reader's eye. It's a dreamlike, psychedelic – or maybe more accurately, psychotic – presentation that betrays all of his emotions, brought boldly to the surface in a stream of consciousness that is both horrifying and transfixing.

Just look at the art that accompanies this review – at the layers of colors, psychotic cartoon animals, strange people and endless layers of clashing linework – to visualize what it means to live inside a mind experiencing a manic period. It's impossible not to sense the pain that Reklaw is feeling. You can't but to empathize with a person who lays his agony so valiantly naked on the mini-comics page.

This is comic art that demands to be formed. It's healing and agonizing all at the same time. It's easy to imagine Reklaw during his homeless period drawing in a frenzy of colors on his few available sheets of paper, trying desperately to hold on to reality at the same time it's slipping away from him.

Late last year I reviewed Reklaw's Couch Tag and gave it a four-star review, commenting on his effective impressionistic style and emotional nakedness. This comic takes those qualities to a deeper level, truly allowing us to see his own very specific experiences from his disturbing point of view.

I often wrap a review like this by saying that I'm anxious to read the creator's next work, but honestly I hope that Jesse Reklaw received the friendship, love and attention he needed and has moved past his major problems. 

- Jason Sacks

Buy Lovf New York: Destination Crisis from Paper Rocket Comics.

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