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Sunday, January 25, 2009

Jumbly Junkery #6 -- The latest mini-comic from L. Nichols comes as a refreshing reminder that whatever the state of the economy, or whatever Diamond Distributors tries to do to limit the market to junk superhero funnybooks, artists compelled to make great comics will continue to make them.

As I mentioned in my review of Jumbly Junkery #4, Nichols trades mainly in observational and autobiographical storytelling, a genre that when well-done (as it is when practiced by Nichols) is as addictive as heroin to me. Nichols starts off the issue with a one-page observational strip about a cat who loves boxes, and if it's a minor note on which to enter the issue, it brings a smile of recognition at the bizarre behaviour our pets indulge in and refuse to explain.

Another brilliant-rendered one-pager then gives way to the show-stopper of this issue, "Quantum." Mining somewhat of the same territory as the sci-fi shorts Dash Shaw has been creating in Mome of late, Nichols depicts a time-traveler who has seen a future where science has cracked the very secret of the human soul and used it to facilitate true love in all its myriad forms and allow people of all types to find their true calling in life. "Quantum" is loaded with subtext and resonance for anyone willing to see it, a piece of perfectly-realized fiction laying bare its authors real-life hopes and dreams. It ends with a wondrously realized comment on choosing to create art and what it means.

There's tons more good comics in here, other one-pagers and a longer piece called "Stasis" that is arresting in the empathy it creates for a stranger who may or may not be all alone in the world. Nichols at her best has a way of reaching very deep into herself to show the reader the world we all share, and "Stasis" asks us to just think about that world for a minute.

The drawing throughout Jumbly Junkery is outstanding, thick and thin lines meeting at the place where art meets the real world, gloriously chunky in spots and spare and silent in others. Nichols in one hell of an artist and a gifted young cartoonist, and you should be following her stuff. She creates some of the most rewarding and delightful comics being published today, and the economy and Diamond's half-assed monopoly be damned. You want to see the future of comics? It's Jumbly Junkery and all the other passionate comics waiting to be found out there, created not because they might create a revenue stream, but because their creators have to make comics.



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