12.24.2010

The 12 Days of Comics: 2010 - Day 12


"The Possum & The Pepper Spray" by Pete Hodapp (Self-Published)
Demographic: Slice of Life, Rural Contemplationist
Selected by: Justin Giampaoli
Subsequent Interview by: Ryan Claytor

Justin: Even though Pete Hodapp recently won the Isotope Award for Excellence in Mini-Comics for this book, I think it risks flying under the radar of most comic book consumers out there, so I’d like to highlight it as my next selection. I reviewed this book for Poopsheet Foundation and the comp copy thankfully came with a handwritten note from Hodapp explaining that he was tired of reading autobiographical comics that focused on life in New York or LA. He set out to capture just a bit of the experiences found in the rest of the country. The book takes place in rural Wisconsin, and is ostensibly about this ongoing battle of wills between Hodapp and an invasive possum, but the larger theme is about the incessant clash between urban and rural ways of thinking in our society.

Hodapp seems to have mastered basic anatomy and figure work, while the basic mechanics of smooth panel transitions and foundational storytelling no longer elude him, so he’s now at a level where he’s experimenting in other areas. His eye for graphic design is strong; he can flip the switch between minimalist screen printed covers, and wildly ornate page designs. I’ve only read three of Hodapp's books, but it’s really a joy to watch him tinker and see the wide variety of results he can produce. “The Possum & The Pepper Spray” is a good introductory piece because it most resembles a traditional comic. His other works are a bit more challenging, being a miniature flip book entitled "Pump," and a newsprint style opus called “Yawning Void.” I’d encourage anyone interested in mini-comics or something off the beaten path to track down Pete's work at: http://www.yawningvoid.blogspot.com/

Ryan: This sounds right up my alley, even down to the niche demographic you pegged. I'm struggling to think of a question to respond with, but all I can think of is "Where do I place my order?" Ha-ha! It's not very apparent on his website. Okay, okay, I've got a better one. You mentioned he has a couple other books: one is a flip book and the other is a newspaper something-or-other. Is this newspaper piece comics in the traditional sense, and if not, how exactly does it veer from the comics medium?

Justin: I think emailing Pete is the best bet; I checked the Poopsheet Shop over at Poopsheet Foundation, and I couldn't find it on that or any other small press distribution sites. The newspaper piece, “Yawning Void,” is fairly traditional sequential storytelling. The collected comic strips contained come in all shapes and sizes in that piece, but they're still "comics." The only reason I lumped it into that slightly more "challenging" category was because of the different format. It's folded like a newspaper, ala DC's recent "Wednesday Comics" offering, and might throw someone for a loop if they were looking for a traditional single issue "floppy" on the rack.

Ryan: Just a quick follow up; I emailed Pete and I'm a little embarrassed to say that I missed the "Stuff You Can Buy” link on his page, located conveniently at the top right of his website, in capital letters and excessive asterisks, no less! Thanks, Pete! Can't wait to read my newly purchased copy of "The Possum & The Pepper Spray."

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