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posted December 31, 2004

Title: Airdrome
Creator: Jason T. Miles
Publishing Info: Self-Published
Ordering Numbers: None

This still in print mini-comic from Jason Miles provides a interesting look at how a young cartoonist develops when the primary source material is Brad Johnson and Gary Panter as opposed to Frank Frazetta and Neal Adams. The gimmick here is a good one: clear pages that can be put over more standard pulpy ones to represent things like free floating material that gets in the way of the characters. The idea of pages that you can read separately or together, all with different meanings, seems like a potentially useful one. Miles fails to do a lot more with it than depicting those moments of divine clutter.

The story is comprised of two characters visiting an abandoned site in search of something they have heard about called the airdrome, which will allow them to see "true light." From that jumping off point that nicely evokes the pointless neighborhood quest, Miles shows some precocious ability with one of the under-appreciated skills of comics writing, how to make an experience specific in a few turns of phrase. Particularly amusing are snatches of conversation about a sexually charged experience the younger character claims much to the consternation and potential jealousy of the older.

Miles' visual vocabulary still seems a little precious, which is awfully weird in a story that features drawing in a way that doesn't cohere to panel to panel logic or any commercial standard, but there you go. In a sense, the cartoonist seems to be playing with visual ideas seen before put to equally good or better use in comics from older members of the Highwater/Fort Thunder/Avodah crowd. One hopes that as the cartoonist improves at his craft, this will be the kind of pamphlet that is less indicative of a whole career than the beginnings of one or two areas of eventual, deeper artistic exploration.