2.24.2012

If a Mini-Comic is Made in The Forest and Nobody...

Lumberjacks Make Art Too (Self-Published by Jacob Hudgins): The first thing I noticed about Lumberjacks was that it’s a very accomplished package. It wouldn’t be uncommon to see material like this from creators tabling at a small indie-friendly show like APE in San Francisco. You can also certainly see the influence of Hudgins’ MSU professor Ryan Claytor. That creative osmosis is there in the extra mile of the little design flourishes that most self-publishers avoid. It’s the border of the wood grain cover, the paper stock of that same cover, the small spot illustrations on the table of contents, and the general attention to font and layout. The detailed approach to the presentation gives it the best chance of distinguishing itself in a marketplace pretty crowded with not-so-great work.

There’s one unfortunate typo glaring out in the affable introduction that caught my eye (“snippit” vs. snippet), but that’s hardly a show-stopper. Hudgins’ aesthetic style is light and effortless, I might even dare to sound erudite and say “ligne claire,” but I do think Hudgins could increase the emotional heft of his stories by varying the line weight and being more adventurous with the ink. I think those touches would allow his strong figure work (I especially like the shot of “Zombie Jacob”) in the foreground to pop against the occasional skimpy background.

I enjoyed the notion of art providing a differential identity with his twin. “How I’m Getting There” is a short which features the creator dreaming in class and so much of the story is told without dialogue or exposition. It’s a very strong panel-to-panel dynamic which never causes the reader to question meaning. “Speed Bumps” is hands down my favorite piece in the book. It’s an interesting exercise in sequential portraiture, making an incredibly compelling set of imagery that forces the reader to notice small changes in the accoutrements of the panel contents. It’s the most thought-provoking of the pieces, allowing the reader to bring in some independent analysis and interact with the work, not simply consume the relatively straightforward stories in the other fairly typical autobio entries. I can also easily imagine oversized versions of these full-page panels showing well in a gallery setting, so just something to think about, Jacob! For me, this piece delivers a strong message about art having the power to push despair out of monotonous life. The last piece is a bit of a confessional about a 27 year old toy addict. It’s a fun note to end the book on after the more cerebral “Speed Bumps,” which art snobs like me will naturally gravitate toward. *Wink!*

With a couple of very minor glitches aside, this BFA student in sculpture shows a lot of promise in the low-fi indie comics scene, having produced a very strong project for a first time publication. Contact lumberjackart AT gmail DOT com so you can send him your $4. Grade A-.

3 Comments:

At 12:40 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I concur. Great project, and the speed bumps segment is easily my favorite part. I hadn't thought about that section in terms of a gallery presentation, but I could see it being multiple larger pieces in sequence, or positioned like frames on a film reel, etc. Love it.
-G

 
At 8:03 AM, Blogger Ryan Claytor said...

Justin,

Thanks for always giving my students your honest and thoughtful opinions!

Jacob,

Congrats on the great review!

Sincerely,
Ryan Claytor
Elephant Eater Comics
www.ElephantEater.com

 
At 2:35 PM, Blogger Justin said...

Always a pleasure!

 

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