FineComix Collective, a creative tank from Seattle collects a series of short comics in Moxie, My Sweet that range anywhere from a sci-fi fast food revolution to a Lord of the Rings style fantasy. Meanwhile, Peter Kuper’s ambitious Give It Up! & Other Short Stories captures the waking nightmare of Kafka’s stories in comic book form.
Moxie, My Sweet
Moxie, My Sweet (subtitle: “FineComix Draws the Stories of Mark Campos”) is an anthology by a Seattle creative tank, the FineComix Collective. There’s no one genre or focus for the book. Sandwiched between a Lord of the Rings pot fantasy, a lesbian fortune-telling romance, and a sci-fi fast-food revolution are one-page vignettes with a gag ending.
There’s also a fun gang-initiation tale called “Appliances Gone Wrong,” a friendship between musicians titled “Can of Beans,” and a shockingly sad 4-page story, “Endless Plain of Fortune.” The title seems applied to the book’s final section, “The Crow Passes,” about a group of forest animals you might have met if Walt Kelly had been a jazz hound. The centerpiece, “Colony of Cats” could probably find a second life as a successful children’s book if Campos and artist Elijah Brubaker so chose.
Give It Up! & Other Short Stories
Peter Kuper’s idiosyncratic style is a surprisingly nice match for Franz Kafka’s absurd, claustrophobic tales of paranoia and dismay. Kuper uses simplified exaggeration to realize the waking nightmare of Kafka’s tales of persecution and mazelike bureaucracy.
Here, unspecified authorities become literally faceless entities whose expressions, nonetheless sadistic and vicious, betray nothing of their thoughts, but reflect the viewer’s own fears and guilt back at him. In one tale, a pistol-nosed policeman bullies a poor traveler whom he ought to help. In another, a random murder occurs as much because of a gawking bystander’s unwillingness to help as the killer’s unmotivated attack.
In this collection of stories, it’s as though the whole world where a Russian revolution poster, and Kuper the cartoonist who caricatures it. What was amazing about Kafka was his vision of conspiracy, injustice and fascism before it was realized on the political stage. Kuper’s art fits just that vision.
Brendan McGinley is a long-time writer for ComicBase. His comic favorites include anything featuring Grim Jack, Punisher, Guy Gardner, Green Lantern, or written buy Evan Dorkin, Grant Morrison, Alan Moore, Deadpool… and the list goes on. But he insists he is of discriminating tastes.