Reviewing Important Comics [Part 1 of 5]

Important Comics: Vol. 1 (Self-Published by Dina Kelberman): Important Comics offers the type of intimate production quality where you can feel the hand of the artist present on every page. This first volume is a collection of previously-run web strips, with Kelberman hailing from the Wham City Collective in Baltimore. It’s probably best described as a multimedia experience of autobiographically inspired strips that seek to formulate a sense of self through artistic expression. This quest for an honest self-image comes across in bursts of original figure work, receipts, whiteout, grainy pictures, legal pads, ink, pencil, and paint, sometimes teeming with re-appropriated found imagery. There’s some subliminal sexuality as well, such as examining one’s lifestyle choices vis-a-vis how we eat hot dogs. At times, some of the characters even try to self-referentially make sense of the strips they’re in, one doughy figure commenting nervously on how the pointy waters of the ocean waves beneath him are drawn, or another character being unable to discern the scribble he’s leaning on. The commonality is that all of the characters are squarely the center of their own narrative, to the point that they question if they’re being self-centered, things happen to them that nobody else finds interesting. In these early strips it’s almost as if Kelberman is concerned with feeling some, nay - any, emotion, even a physical sensation, perhaps explaining her recurring use of the term “synaesthesia.” The artistic style seems to be constantly evolving, “giving good eye” as I sometimes say, an aesthetically pleasing composition that tends to draw in the reader. I can see that for some readers it might play a little obtuse, there’s no real sequential narrative to speak of (more a set of recurring themes about displaced positions in life coming from our own insecurities), and the only recurring “character” per se is the bit of herself that the creator pours into every page. At times, the strips can play choppy when they’re read in rapid succession vs. periodic installments as originally designed, but the start-stop, start-stop, start-stop staccato eventually forms a rhythm all its own. The flurry of activity on the pages was the best quality to me, in the way that it mirrors how we all try to gain focus and make order out of the chaos in our own lives. Grade B+.


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