1.13.2011

Outward Expression of Inner Thoughts

My Inner Thoughts #1 (Can Die Studios): Julie Hurst’s $4.50 foray into the world of comic books is a success. It’s not perfect by any means, but the positive attributes far outweigh the areas of improvement needed, and I sincerely hope she keeps at the DIY craft. For me, the cover stock is a little thin, particularly when compared to the heft of the interior pages, but the cover does possess some very vibrant and eye-catching colors which would distinguish it from other books on the rack of an indie-friendly comic shop. Probably my biggest critical gripe is the run-on sentences, letters jumping into lower case, missing punctuation, and misspellings or words mysteriously missing letters. There are a handful of these types of mistake running throughout the four short stories that the book houses. Julie simply needs an editor or trusted friend who can function as a strong proofreader.

“Getting to Know the Artist” opens the work and chronicles her childhood Little Mermaid inspiration to draw and create. Her pencils employ a compact style that’s high on detail. I like the line thickness she uses; it has a rich, warm, and full bodied quality to it. By the end, the text is a little repetitious, but it’s got honest charm, and that gets you pretty far in life. I’d rate this intro piece a Grade B.

“The Last Goodbye” is my favorite piece of the lot, and the aesthetic is of exceptional quality. Julie uses even thicker lines here, with heavier inks, and gray tones for a slight color variation in the palette. It gives the visuals a lot of depth, which match the emotional tone and gravitas of the story she’s depicting. Her figures are simply amazing here, bearing so much emotional content. It’s bold and brave for a young creator to attempt long sequences without any text, but it works. I love how Julie draws tears. Seriously, those might be the best tears I’ve ever seen(?). The story is about lost love and, though the end might play a bit inconclusive, the mood she’s able to instantly evoke is spot on. This is an easy Grade A.

“Getting Through It” sees Julie use a different art style in her range to chronicle autobiographical experiences in the world of retail/food service. The archetypes, trials, and tribulations will be eerily familiar to anyone who’s worked in those industries. She uses what looks like some ink washes here, and although the final product is less detailed than earlier efforts, we get more story content and dialogue in the trade off. Though again, by the end, the story doesn’t really go anywhere. I’m starting to see a pattern develop, in which Julie needs to work on “finishing” and be a “strong closer,” as an old soccer coach used to continually drill into us. In spite of that, she really manages to capture the camaraderie of this environment and a bit of the esprit de corps of this age/demographic. Grade B+.

“Learning How to Float” closes the collection out, and it’s a strong way to end this group of her inner musings. The art bears more visual resemblance to what I liked in the second story, and there’s a beautiful transition from the young girl to the young woman. I really enjoyed the metaphorical meaning that the protagonist takes from her physical experiences and a Grandmother’s wisdom. This effort rates a Grade A-.

This will take me a second to explain, but I recently re-watched Francis Ford Coppola’s film Apocalypse Now for about the 5th time. I’m convinced it’s one of the best movies in modern times, agree with Roger Ebert that you can flag modern cinema as either pre- or post-Apocalypse Now, and that it’s probably the best “war movie,” ever. Every time I watch it, I seem to be even more struck by how it is un-formulaically constructed, the quintessential commentary on the nature of humanity and war, the frailty of the human mind, and how intricate and brilliant some of the small details are. For example, there is one bit of analysis that indicates the three largest personalities, Captain Willard (Martin Sheen), Lieutenant Colonel Kilgore (Robert Duvall), and Colonel Kurtz (Marlon Brando), are not only physical manifestations of man’s inner psychological make-up (each representing an aspect of the psyche in the id, ego, and superego), but even their names evoke that. Willard has the “will,” Brando’s Colonel is “cursed,” and Duvall’s Lieutenant Colonel takes pleasure in the “gore” of the “kill.”

Now, maybe this idea of the id, ego, and superego manifesting themselves in art was just really stuck in my mind, meaning I could be projecting the model here, but I swear that once you get past the intro piece of Julie Hurst’s book, you can also overlay the id, ego, and superego onto her three pieces here very nicely. I doubt that’s something that Jules, umm, can I call her Jules? I feel like I know her well after reading this book and considering it in this light… I doubt that’s something that *the creator* intended consciously, but it makes for even more powerful reading once you notice it. Overall, there are some technical glitches in My Inner Thoughts, but the spirit of the work shines through with strong intent and some instances of beautiful art. For the entire package, there’s heaps of potential here beyond the interim Grade B+.

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