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Krachmacher #1
posted February 1, 2005


Creator: Jim Campbell
Publishing Info: Self-Published, $6.50, 48 pages, 2005
Ordering Numbers: 1891867857 (ISBN)

The most baffling thing about Krachmacher #1 is the imbalance between content and presentation. The production values are pretty high: it's a small volume maybe an inch on all sides bigger than an Archie digest, a decent length, in full color. However, the main story develops so slowly that the reader might almost get resentful when the pages are given over to a pair of back-up features. Unless these issues come out in rapid succession, I can't imagine that one's expectations for a complete story from a book that looks like this won't have a largely negative impact on the individual reading experience.

The work in all three stories is generally strong, particularly visually. Cartoonist Jim Campbell is part of the Meathaus gang and I'm not quite familiar enough with those artists to make individual distinctions -- I can't tell you which one is Campbell. If it makes any sense, the first impression I have of those artists as a group is largely the same first impression I get here with Campbell going solo. Campbell's work reminds me of Archer Prewitt's and Dan Zettwoch's at times -- all three artists make use of a cartoon exaggeration that only seizes certain parts of their character's bodies. If there's a problem I have with these comics as they unfold, particularly the first, longer story, "At the Shore," is that I don't think the cartoonist's assurance with the visual feel of his characters extends to a comparative ability with narrative pacing. At times it's hard to stay engaged with what's going on because the story simply stops flowing, and each moment on the page erupts anew rather than continues moving from one point to another.

"At the Shore" looks like it might be a decent, modest piece of straight fiction rubbing up against the slightly fantastic in the manner familiar to those who see a lot of independen tfilms, but it's hard to tell as the story in this volume is almost all setup. The best parts come in flashbacks to a strange nautical-oriented childhood the lead enjoyed. Or maybe she didn't enjoy it -- what's fun is that you don't know if she's completely serious or not, and the whole thing could be some strange, outsized plea for attention that her current friends and companions are choosing to ignore. It's a nice note to play in a comic that otherwise unfolds in standard fashion. As expected, the pretty girl is resented but she actually seems nice; there's a aggressive doofus and a more passive, nicer, guy, and so on.

I'll be interested to see where Campbell goes from here, but I may wait to look back until after a longer story is finished.