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Sammy The Mouse #3
posted August 4, 2010
 

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Creator: Zak Sally
Publishing Information: Fantagraphics/Coconino, Ignatz format, 32 pages, July 2010, $7.95
Ordering Numbers: 9781606994269 (ISBN13)

The Ignatz-format comic were introduced into the marketplace at a time when it seemed like the indy/alt serial comic may be doomed (as opposed to now, when we know for sure). Along with a cheaper comics for fewer pages experiment a few teams at Image were trying, the over-sized, high production value, slip-cased and saddle-stitched effort shared by Fantagraphics and Coconino would be one of those things that might catch on and revitalize the serial comic while the surging book format carried the financial load. At least that's what I remember. I'm not sure anyone asked the publisher if they agreed with this -- it was sort of assumed for these books. It's my opinion that the format has been less of a hit commercially than it has artistically. If the entire line consisted of Kevin Huizenga's Ganges -- all three issues of which were top 10 books the years they came out -- and the evocatively well-drawn series by veterans Richard Sala and Gilbert Hernandez, that would have been a publishing effort worth undertaking. There's been a lot more to it than that, though, showcasing a wave of talents either unknown or under-published in America in a format that flattered their visual gifts.

And then there's Zak Sally's Sammy The Mouse which for me has been a revelation, taking Zak Sally's natural cartooning chops away from some of the more densely-told and even sometimes predictable material from projects past and opening it up to a mix of classic cartooning tropes and the outright weird. I either missed issue #2 of Sammy entirely or forgotten it, but that's part of the serial comics experience, too. Without knowing for sure, I'd say issue #3 feels like Sally falling into a reluctant protagonist motif with his character. Characters like Sammy exist to march their way through scenes and set pieces that give insight into the human condition. But if you see the human condition as rife with absurdity and pain and arbitrary circumstance, then those kinds of adventures are bound to be troubling and annoying rather than satisfying. Or maybe that's not what he's saying at all -- I told you I missed an issue. It's enough for me to watch Sally explore the comics page, and at this point I think I'd watch him adapt the minutes from a school board meeting.