Word Balloons: Oi Oi Oi! #2 (Comicoz, 2014)

Australasian Comic reviews by Philip Bentley

Oi Oi Oi ! #2 (ComicOz, 2014)

As stated previously it is not my intention to run repeat reviews of ongoing series every time a new issue is released. Having explored the work as initially presented my preference is then to allow it to find its own way out of the harsh light of constant critiquing. However Matt has specifically asked me to review this issue so here goes…

The first issue of this newsagent distributed anthology presented a wide variety of strips, that whilst often individually excellent, to my eyes, failed to jell as a whole. This issue delivers a much more cohesive selection, even if I don’t feel they reach the heights that some of the former issue’s strips did in isolation

Some may attribute this greater cohesion to the fact that all contributors are women, but that seems a fairly fatuous proposal – all bar one of the creators in the first issue were men and there was no apparent concord. Instead the cohesion appears to be fostered by there being a more harmonious mix of styles and stories, and also via some thematic and narrative linkages – a number of the strips are wordless, or largely so, and the theme of metamorphosis/rebirth is evident. But that an entire issue is capable of being filled with quality strips by women is still worthy of note. For much of the last century most comic readers and creators, both here and overseas, were men. So this move does indicate a significant and welcome shift.

Madeline Karutz

The two stand out strips for me are Madeleine Karutz’s untitled opening story and Scarlette Baccini’s “Bug”, as it would happen the two wordless contributions. A wordless strip is generally more challenging to produce, but both these creators pull it off effectively presenting some evocative scenes. Alisha Jade’s “Seven” shows promise and demonstrates a pleasing art style, but given it is but chapter one of part one it is hard to be sure on the story. The other strips are by, Caitlin Major, Sarah Firth and Mel Stringer, with the latter’s fairly naïve style being at bit at odds with the rest of the work, and not as well-realised as some other strips I have seen by her. Kudos also to Lesley Vamos for a nicely delineated cover, even if I fear it is too lacking in a dominant feature to fully fulfil its purpose.

But in case all this has been seen as a disincentive to purchasing let me be clear in stating that despite my reservations about some elements, on average I find both issues to be of decent quality and certainly worth picking up. Merely from a monetary point of view $8 for six or seven quality strips is a steal. And a point that I neglected to mention above is that half this issue’s 36pp is in full colour for no extra cost. (It is particularly well-utilised by Baccini; not so sure that Major makes as good use of it.) You may not like every strip but that’s part and parcel of the anthology experience. But you may also find you end up liking work you wouldn’t otherwise have read.

Scarlette Baccini

Oi Oi Oi! #2 is currently available in bookshops and newsagents across Australia as well as from the ComicOz online store.

Word Balloons: Rosa Goes For a Walk and Good Dog Whisky


Australasian comic reviews by Philip Bentley.

Rosa Goes for a Walk by Nic Lawson (self-published, 2013)

Good Dog Whiskey  by Kent Kobi (self-published, 2013)

Comics about the notion of dying are not that common – as opposed to comics featuring death which are fairly thick on the ground. I guess this is because most comic creators are in the full flush of their lives and haven’t had reason to contemplate mortality beyond its use as a plot device. Whilst neither of the authors of the above two works appear to be more than middle-aged both have produced considered, moving works on the process of dying.

Nicole (Nic) Lawson’s Rosa Goes for a Walk is a whimsical, yet thoughtful narrative concerning an old lady living alone in an outback ghost town. Her daily routine is pretty similar until one day she espies a mound on the horizon that wasn’t there previously. Recalling her past life as an adventurer Rosa decides to ‘go for a walk’ into the bush to investigate.

More a parable than drama this is a largely wordless piece illustrated in a simple, yet effective cartoony style. It is a novel take on mortality and cleverly approaches it from a pan-spiritual perspective.

This is a difference between Rosa and Kent Kobi’s Good Dog Whiskey  where the afterlife depicted has more of a standard Christian dimension, even if nothing is overtly stated. Whiskey also explores the process of dying, but beyond this is also an evocation of the deep bonds that some people have for their dogs, or in this case vice versa. Kobi manages to pluck the heartstrings in a sincere and moving fashion. Sensitive readers are advised to have a box of tissues handy.

My only beef with Whiskey, and it is a major one, concerns the artwork which appears largely to be made up of rendered photos. The use of this effect is not new (artists such as Jean-Claude Claeys and Fernando Fernandez were utilising similar methods as far back as the 1970s, probably using a light box or overhead projector), but its use has become more prevalent recently with the availability of Photoshop. I don’t want to be too hard – if the choice is between rendered photos or inferior art then the former is certainly preferable – but ideally I’d prefer to see fully drawn works where the element of craft is more to do with the artist’s drawing ability than his computer expertise. Using this process inevitably means that you produce fairly static images, whereas part of the alchemy of the figurative drawing process (both in comics and single illustrations) is to produce figures that have the illusion of movement. Further, there is often a disjuncture between the images that have been rendered from photos and those that haven’t leading to an inconsistent look to the work. Thankfully in this case the story does lend itself to the process, as there is no need for expansive backgrounds, but for me it diminished what was otherwise a commendable effort.

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