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posted January 12, 2011

imageCreator: E.S. Fletschinger
Publishing Information: Self-Published, mini-comic, 12 pages, 2010
Ordering Information: Web Site

Beloved is apparently a first mini-comic for cartoonist ES Fletschinger. It certainly feels like one. The story Beloved chooses to tell of an older widower reaching out for companionship holds few surprises; its lesson is of persevering through ludicrous circumstance more than ingenuity when faced with daunting obstacles. That's a fine thing to communicate, although it makes the narrative more about waiting for closure than the satisfaction of seeing something solved. Beloved is also as sentimental as a first-time parent on Christmas Eve spent in the house she lived as a child, and I imagine its straight-forward sappiness will be the takeaway for most people reading it.

An artist can power their way through a comic like this if they can muster a sublime application of craft -- Jordan Crane has worked this general emotional terrain to fine effect -- but I don't think the cartoonist here is capable of that kind of showing just yet. The art has that rough quality where the lines run spider thin and then thick as rivers with little in the way of continuity or craft-consciousness, as if the artist hasn't quite found the control necessary to execute certain kinds of art. This is particularly true of the figure work, and I found the weakness of those portrayals to be something of a distraction. In other words, there's a lot of room to improve. Still, I like the fact that the artist is publishing, and that he's restricted himself in these 12 pages to a pretty straight-forward story moment. The strongest element of Beloved is its pacing, accomplished across a variety of page structures: it's a cohesive narrative beginning to end, and the book itself feels much more substantial for that accomplishment. I'd like to read the next one.