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Stickleback
posted March 8, 2005
 

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Creator: Graham Annable
Publishing Info: Alternative Comics, 48 pages, $6.95
Ordering Numbers: 1891867806 (ISBN)

In a perfect world, cartoonist and game designer Graham Annable would be publishing in a solo comics vehicle, a series, instead of through anthologies and graphic novel one shots. I think that would give him the best chance to develop the kinds of stories that best suit his talent. Annable has all the component skills, in abundance. He has a distinctive style of drawing people that depends on cartoon reductions of arms and legs into sticks set off against square bodies and round facial features. He draws an expressive and humorous-looking cat in this latest work, in much the same style, that shows his art to be one of intentional exaggeration and emphasis, not something lucked into as a way of hiding visual shortcomings. Not only might it best serve his talent, it would be enjoyable to see Annable put his work in service of a variety of stories without having to shoulder the burden of customer expectation that comes with stand-alone, bound comics work.

Stickleback examines the underlying self-absorption of a minor artist named George Stickleback by placing him into a situation where his outlook on the world expands so that he may deal with an outsized incident. Annable paces his story in a way that emphasizes the lead's dreary, banal outlook. Without moving from a tight six-panel grid, he's able to provide his big moments with some emphasis by adjusting the "camera angle" slightly and by breaking down movement into component actions. Annable takes his time with little character asides that add much to the book, such as a panel with a nurse checking out information filed in an emergency room that deflates Stickleback's pompous speech earlier on that page. The package is attractive; there's a heavy blue tone throughout the book that makes the book feel slightly more sumptuous than past Annable efforts, but I'm not sure it was completely necessary as the bleakness of black and white might have worked just as well given the themes. An interesting work among a half dozen Annable has produced to start off his comics career, Stickleback showcases the artist's skill with longer narratives, but I'm not certain where he goes from here.