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Mildred Lee, Space Station Schoolgirl
posted November 10, 2004
Creator: John Pham
Self-Published, $3, 16 pages, 2004
This is a tossed-off short story taken directly from the artist's sketchbook and given a cute silk-screen cover. Within those parameters, it's pretty fun work, like a Nancy Drew comic told with the same half-page spreads and measured rhythm used by Chris Ware in ACME Novelty Library
. That Pham screws things up every now and then -- losing the reader on the page, mainly -- is a measure of how hard that kind of storytelling can be and how confident the artist feels you'll catch up. Pham does a particularly nice job of changing perspectives from panel to panel, not just for effect, but to convey information -- an almost lost art among cartoonists. Mildred Lee does a surprisingly effective job of depicting the experience of Las Vegas for someone not inclined to take part in its decadent pleasures. Because she's a child, it makes sense Lee wouldn't be terribly interested in gambling and that she might seem almost invisible in the context of that many adults focused on their own desires. The result is that she soon becomes isolated and lonely, if not overwhelmed by her surroundings. Pham's fanciful page constructions underscore this feeling in very subtle fashion. If you enjoy the other Pham books like Epoxy
, this is a fine addition to your reading pile; likewise if you're specifically looking for a mini-comic with mini-comic values.