Reviewing Important Comics [Part 2 of 5]
Important Comics: Vol. 2 (Self-Published by Dina Kelberman): The very title of Dina Kelberman’s collection of web-comics is itself a tongue-in-cheek self-deprecating jab that questions identity; it’s our need to make an important contribution to the world, counterbalanced by the human tendency to question if we’re good enough or worthy of that distinction. This second volume of Important Comics offers more punchy primary colors and ornamentation on the page, more adventurous lettering, and an abstract quality which I really liked. Not to diminish her own originality, but it’s almost like an abstract version of Lauren Barnett’s fantastic Me Likes You Very Much, recently collected by Hic & Hoc Publications. Kelberman’s style is more energetic in this volume, the natural progression witnessing creations bursting forth from the confines of their little panel borders, eschewing containment and going full bleed. “I’m turning into an adult and I don’t know what to do about it.” nicely summarizes Kelberman’s ethos of identity struggle, wearing the right clothes, being right or wrong, even having the right type of problems are all paradoxes in the foreground. My favorite page was probably “Gunk,” which finds one character asking “What’s on my hands?” while another retorts “It looks like failure.” It’s one of the best examples of the tertiary information delivery system that comics can offer. There’s what you see, what you read, and what the juxtaposition of the two actually tells you. It’s a piece of original art I’d want to own. I still think that Important Comics might be too challenging for some audiences (trust me, I work in a contemporary art museum and the whiny “But what does it mean?” question from visitors is simply unyielding) who are not willing to engage, but I really appreciate Kelberman’s modern art reinterpretation of old newspaper strips, sans the punch-line fixation, where the creator just lays it out and dialogues with the audience instead of preaching meaning at them so that they can take away their own meaning. Grade A-.