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posted January 20, 2010
Self-Published, mini-comic, 28 pages, 2009, $3.50
Ordering Numbers: thismeanswaugh.blogspot.com
Anyone who spends more than a few years of time engaging the small press world will see a lot of mini-comics like Coupledom
. Andrew Waugh's figure drawings are highly stylized, and his comics employ a number of static images. These strategies make Coupledom
easier to read -- I can't imagine anyone not
being able to read and understand the work here -- while sacrificing both the additional visual oomph that can be a welcome, compensating virtue and
the satisfying range of effects necessary for individual cartoons to engage directly with the reader. This set of limitations, even when willingly embraced, places a lot of pressure on the quality and idiosyncrasy of the observations that ground individual sequences. If you're not going to give me something to look while you make your point and you're going to be limited with how effectively you drive home many points, you better have something phenomenal to say. Waugh receives a passing grade in those categories; he doesn't make head of the class. Much of the work is pleasant, and some of it is even amusing, but I can't remember an individual joke five minutes after putting the book down, let alone an observation both universal and undiscovered.
One of the problems in doing a book based on the intoxicating intimacies of a relationship is that the scale is slightly off almost as a matter of rule. If it's your experience, you have almost no perspective; if it's someone else's, you have to guess. That makes it extremely difficult to figure out what's universal, what's special and which individual items from column a and column b are the ones that provide genuine humor. Waugh doesn't seem able to tell yet. The end result is a book where it takes three seconds to figure out the kind of work you're seeing but three times through and you don't have a feel for the reality of what's being explored.