Spazzing Out

Spaz! #4 (Self-Published by Emi Gennis): Aesthetically speaking, the art of Emi Gennis immediately reminded me of the style of Marjane Satrapi. I like the bold use of negative space and liberal inks that Gennis uses to punctuate her panels. Some artists are so afraid of “messing up” their precious blank white pages that they refrain cautiously, but Gennis is bolder with her application and I appreciate the fearlessness. For someone clearly a little paranoid and concerned with other people’s perceptions of her, it’s nice to see a confident side to what I assume is a quirky personality. The weight of that Satrapi-influenced style is certainly made lighter by Gennis softer lines and caricature type features, such as her characteristic big eyes which she uses to examine the world.

The opening piece, “Squat,” details the joy of traveling abroad and discovering the bathroom etiquette other cultures. The shock to our delicate Western sensibilities is funny, sure, but I actually liked some of the artistic decisions more than the content. For example, the inventive way that she depicts Chinese women gossiping about her with faux-Asian characters mingled with just a few recognizable words she can parse is a small bout of brilliance. Gennis moves on to show us a one-pager of her fears, from the self-effacing understandable, to the totally paranoid. We see an adaptation of a Wiki entry about an unusual death, which makes us certain that Gennis also isn’t afraid to change-up her style. There’s more technique on display in this piece, more detail, more cross-hatching, more shading, and more line weight variation. I enjoyed her anti-bacterial rant, which is rooted more in science vs. conventional wisdom. I swear, I’ve had this same conversation with people who think that cold air will make them sick, or don’t understand how vaccine resistant superbugs get created, but I digress…

Another winner is her story about beating her mom’s curfew and attending parties. She seems to not only have a byzantine and entertaining system for it, but also dips her toe into showcasing the prototypical party scene and nails every disparate element of it, from the guy puking in the corner, to the late night Taco Bell run, to bumming semi-sober rides home off of total strangers. "The Boston Molasses Disaster" was great fun and lended a feeling of déjà vu. Sure enough, for an alternate take on the same incident, check out "The Great Boston Molasses Flood" by Jaime Garmendia and Dirk Tiede in Inbound 4: A Comic Book History of Boston from the gang at The Boston Comics Roundtable. This is one of the more entertaining mini-comics I’ve read recently. Like all great autobiography, it’s not merely mindless navel-gazing for the sake of itself, but it’s a reflexive exercise wherein we learn more about ourselves. By examining the world around her, Gennis reveals her own insecurities and perceptions, which make her more self-aware in the process. Grade A.


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