Friday, 17 July 2009

2D Cloud mini comics round up - Beard Growing Contest & Manny plus Bigfoot

I’ve always had a soft spot for mini comics, and these are amongst the best I’ve read in recent times. These fine specimens come courtesy of Raighne and Megahn Hogan, who head up Minnesota based publishing house 2D Cloud. With Beard Growing Contest and Manny plus Bigfoot, they’ve created beautiful, finely crafted comics, both of which are lovingly assembled to a high standard.

Both minis come bound in high quality card covers, printed on eco friendly 'Ellie poop' paper which, you guessed it, is made using elephant dung. The interior pages are also printed on 100% recycled paper which has a nice textured quality to it. These uniformly gorgeous, tactile little artefacts sum up the 2D Cloud aesthetic perfectly.

First up is Raighne Hogan's Beard Growing Contest, a light hearted 12 page mini, which chronicles one child's efforts to grow a beard. In this case, 'growing a beard' involves the child in question belching and passing gas whilst brushing his teeth with his brother. When these physical exertions do not produce the desired results, the ill mannered little tyke retires to bed, and dreams of flying through the night sky, propelled by his own flatulence, a sizable beard trailing in his wake.

There’s a pleasantly expressive roughness to Raighne’s art, with its thick bold lines and clean open spaces. His characters' facial expressions carry a great deal of the story's humour, which alternates between the absurd and the obscene. All in all, Beard Growing Contest is a deeply amusing little diversion, one that feels strangely complete despite its brevity, and at the end of the day, don’t we all dream of growing really big beards?

Meghan Hogan’s effort, Manny plus Bigfoot is an equally surreal affair and comes wrapped in a sturdy velcro fastened sleeve in the shape of an envelope. Bigfoot, the comic’s cover star, brandishes a letter, as if inviting you in, beckoning you to open up the comic and experience the adventures that lie within.

The first thing that hits you is Megahn’s art, all flowing watercolours and softly contoured lines, painted with a serene, languid palette of baby blues and muted browns that seem to melt into the page. The comic opens with a wash of pale blue, as Manny travels home in his VW Beetle, flanked on either side by shaggy bison that amble idly across the arctic wilderness. When he arrives home he finds his pet bunny chewing on a mysterious letter.

The letter, it soon transpires, is a ransom note, demanding Manny's pet bunny in exchange for a girl he's never met. With only moments to digest its contents, a marauding Bigfoot comes crashing through the house, causing all manner of chaos, before making off with Manny’s knitting. All very disconcerting, I think you’ll agree.

There’s a playful child like glee to Megahn’s narrative, told with a haphazard sense of free association that that reminds me of Ron Rege Jr. There’s little to be gained by trying to rationalise the plot, far better to simply accept the random flow of events and enjoy the comic for what it is; a beautiful, whimsical story told with charm, warmth and humour. Wonderful stuff.

Both comics are limited to 100 copies a piece, so act fast if you want one.

Review by Matthew Dick.

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