Chris Davis : three comics
2) Entirely in black and white, Why I Never Joined The Strawberry Resistance (format/price the same as for I Walk...) is Chris's most recent offering, and concerns an interesting cast of characters : a melting ice cream salesman, a parking ticket-issuing robot, a Bananaman (against whose whip-wielding type there's a demonstration) - and Chris himself, unemployed, but fantasising various roles for himself whilst cycling around : businessman, restaurant manager, courier, paramedic. Chaos ensues and Chris's bike is a write-off.
Some frames are conventional, four-sided - but many others are open at the top, sides or bottom (or a combination), allowing the pages' white borders to mingle with the white spaces in the pictures, giving the comic a refreshing, clean appearance. There's plenty of inventiveness going on in Chris's layouts, a pleasing lack of sameness - and however busy things become, he manages to avoid a cluttered look.
3) No buses. Chickens (2006; 109 x 139mm; 16pp inc. card covers; $2/£1 plus shipping) is a surreal-in-a recognisable-landscape tale of waiting for transport. Hungry chickens turn a bench-sitting girl into a skeleton, and the narrator muses upon her age and pulls out the contents of her bag one by one : we see him holding a toy bunny, her 'phone, a lighter, and coins, whilst pondering exactly when his own death will occur. Flicking through her spiral-bound journal (from which there are excerpts), he's ganged up on by those farmyard birds - who proceed to rip the pages to shreds. I like how the colour front cover is illustration-only, bears no title. A thick black frame around said illustration serves to focus one's attention upon the chicken cover image (also Chris uses a chicken's head as his logo, setting it next to his email address).
I'm not entirely sure just how many self-published comics Chris has made thus far - just these ? They're very nice things, each a real grower and with its own atmosphere. There's a careful quality to Chris's work that I appreciate, evidenced by the cover lettering of I Walk... : he's broken the border beneath the title to better accommodate the tails of the "y" and "g". Text in these three is all handwritten, usually placed in thin-outlined rectangular boxes within the drawings. He has some panels overlapping within a larger frame, whilst other pages feature several border-free drawings, the surrounding shading of each blanding together. Chris's overall obsession would seem to be the odd in the everyday, which makes these comics right up my street. Lovely.
Some words from the artist : "... I recently moved to Portland from Los Angeles. I'm betwen jobs right now, but I'd been teaching English to immigrants for the past four years. I've also worked as a bike messenger, a waiter, and a couple dozen other jobs in different cities in the U.S. I've been making comics as I learn to draw, in my spare time, and now I'm trying to get my stuff out and seen by people other than my wife. I know there are lots of other people making mini comics and zines, but I don't know many. I'd certainly be interested in a trade, if anyone's interested."
Received : 30th April 2007.
Address : 4228 SE Evergreen St., Portland, OR 97206, U.S.A.
Email address : firstname.lastname@example.org.
Web address : http://squawkalong.blogspot.com.