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Disquietville Vol. One
posted February 1, 2007
Self-published, mini-comic, 24 pages, $5
, Daniel Spottswood presents what looks and reads like the adventures of a Fisher-Price "Alternative Comics" set brought to life. His characters are a disgruntled wage slave (Doug), an arrogant blowhard (Milo), a slightly neurotic girl (Margie), a quiet student (Sam) and a lonely artist (Patrick). Spottswood marches them through the indignities of aimless, vaguely dissatisfying modern life, and one of the better things about the strip is how Spottswood captures the sense of how nothing can be wrong but still almost nothing satisfies. Another nice thing is the bold use of primary colors and the way they communicate everything from mood (rarely) to scene shifts (frequently), a necessary tool given the lack of nuance that one usually finds with simplified forms of the type that appear here.
Like most comics working in an approximation of strip form, the negatives that leap out are scope and focus, the former apparent through the latter. Some of the jokes hit -- the gags that come from the way the blowhard and the student approach a panhandler are memorable -- while others trail off or dip into cliche, particularly those around the disgruntled deli employee, Doug, save for a nice strip about the specific complaints that deli counter customers make. There's also some formalist noddling that feels extraneous. This uneven quality makes me wonder whether or not Spottswood has cast his net wide enough to capture characters and types that make for more solid strips time in and time out. Everything could be sharper, and whether the fault for that is in concept or execution it's hard to tell.