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Never As Bad As You Think
posted October 20, 2007


Creators: Kathryn & Stuart Immonen
Publishing Information: One Horse Leadworks, soft cover, 64 pages, 2007, $5.95
Ordering Numbers: 9780978021610

imageIn television or in film, actors that are best known for certain type of role performed at a high level over time are sometimes able to escape into a cameo or bit part where they can stretch different muscles and perhaps remind audiences of the range of what they have to offer. In other media this is more difficult, if only because the market is rigid in a way that doesn't grant such projects equivalent pride of place on the shelf or stage, or even a rudimentary awareness of its existence. In his introduction to Never As Bad As You Think, Chris Duffy tells us that Kathryn and Stuart Immonen (he of high-profile superhero comic fame) used to produce homemade comics like this with greater regularity. The easy humor and elegant art on hand might make that realization feel like a punch in the stomach rather than a happy story of the past, in a "well, why can't they just do stuff like this now" way.

I'd suggest that part of the charm, however, is that Never As Bad As You Think is the sort of project that gets done in addition to more considered work. The Immonens' self-published comics short is therefore more effectively allowed to hover between creative exercise and fully-formed narrative, it has a looseness to it reminiscent of Kyle Baker's better work that I think has to come from the weekly nature of its web origins, and maybe best of all there's an ease of interaction between creator and audience where you're invited to have fun with the Immonens as well as enjoy the fruits of their labor. You don't want to pick at too closely or dump a great deal of meaning on this book's shoulders; frankly, something might shatter. It's in the more self-aware points you feel the limitations, the way it turns into a series of set pieces far more effectively than it ever coheres as a single work, even on the level of a work with shifting perspectives. But taken on its own terms, it's a pleasurable book, one of the two or three best stocking stuffers of the year. Even if you become doubtful that you want to see a lot more of work in this exact vein from its creators, you'll have to admit it would be nice if more creators would engage comics on the same fun, casual and fruitful level.