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S.P.B.: Rise!
posted December 13, 2006
 

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Creator: Tom Williams
Publishing Information: Self-Published, mini-comic, 36 pages, $3.50
Ordering Numbers:

This is a standard half-page mini-comic reprinting an on-line effort by the cartoonist Tom Williams, an update of a previous version of the same concept. Normally, I'd be hesitant in describing a comic like that for fear I might lose some of you due to the complicated description. But complication proves to be a theme here. There are character descriptions and an earlier version of the story included in the mini-comic -- which offers beautiful reproduction, by the way -- and I had to read both before I really understood what the heck was going on in the main narrative. If I'm getting it right, a boy on a farm with an out-sized dog is injured in an accident involving that dog, leading to a deal with the devil in order to survive. In addition to the dog, the boy also has a a brother that cross dresses.

It's not the most complicated plot, but Williams draws in this gorgeous but hard to parse exaggerated animation style, kind of a rough Saturday morning cartoon version of outlandish figure artists like Ralph Steadman. Also, some of the narrative is given over to arch commentary on itself, including creatures breaking into the story as it goes. The difference between this and something like a series of images from a Steadman and a Gilliam, in addition to the craft chops not matching up yet, is that while it looks like fun I'm not sure it serves the story; the narrative itself has sort of a deadpan feel to it beyond the visual gymnastics involved. Injecting weirdness into a rural setting doesn't have the string of precedents that urban comics fiction has, so I think it's worth seeing what happens, but I'll be glad for some time between issues to recover.