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Black Ghost Apple Factory
posted October 20, 2007


Creator: Jeremy Tinder
Publishing Information: Top Shelf, comic book, 48 pages, 2006, $5
Ordering Numbers: MAY073772 (Diamond)

imageI love the look of this comic -- seven and a half inches tall by five inches wide, no spine, a decent number of pages and a cool price point, and it's hard not to become immediately sympathetic with its aims. Rather than add one more earnest tale of longing to Top Shelf's catalog, Jeremy Tinder does his best to shove and slap that kind of comic around, like some tough guy movie-era fight on an elevator. Therefore we get a series of stories where at least one fact seems to cut into the general "woe is me" melancholia with a nasty-sounding hiss. In the first one, from where the title comes, the romantic notions become overwhelmed by an odd, fantasy activity whose practice provides much of the narrative structure. In the second, straight-faced exaggeration puts a spin on things, and skipping ahead to the volume's final effort the readers is subject to an old-fashioned plot twist that recasts the emotions on display in an amusing light.

Any shortcomings in Black Ghost Apple Factory tend to fall into the area of execution rather than concept. The stories could go further; some of them feel close to dithering on the page for what seems like wanting to have its cake (an emotionally affecting story) and eat it, too (making a satirical point about such stories, or at least tweaking the formula for the sake of tweaking it). Tinder's art is serviceable without quite being elegant; more suggestion than delineation. It adds very little to the stories except a certain amount of clarity in the straightforward nature in which each one is presented. Tinder tends to favor certain angles, and while they're not overtly noticeable, it's easy to pick at the passages that are bit more boring than others and recognize those moments feature a certain amount of visual repetition. It's certainly an entertaining comic overall, and I think it's flattered by the format. One wishes that, like the one-man anthologies of the early '90s it resembles, Black Ghost Apple Factory were coming out four times a year so that we could more directly track its creator's progress.