Free Comic Book Day part 2: Floating World

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I’m getting better at this journalism thing: remembered to bring a camera for a change! I still have a ways to go: Forgot to put memory in it, so expect a second FW trip later to correct the mistake.

I’m lucky enough that Floating World, an indie-centric but mainstream-friendly store that owner Jason Leivian describes as “the record store of comic book stores,” is my local store, a ten to 15-minute walk from my apartment. The store opened at 11 this morning, and by the time I arrived at about 11:30, Leivian reported that he’d already seen ten new faces. Before I left, around noon, several of the selections had been emptied out.

By my count, the store had 32 different free comics, including two local offerings, Dan Quayl from Sparkplug Comic Books (and several others) and Dragons! from Tug Boat Press. In past years, the two have teamed up for FCBD, but this year we get twice as many, with radically different approaches. These two seem like a pretty good place to start. So:

Dan Quayl
Sparkplug Comic Books, Gazeta Comics, Teenage Dinosaur & Revival House Press
By Amy Kuttab, Jesse McManus, Jason Overby & Blaise Larmee

This is the decidedly more underground of the two local offerings, scratchy pencil drawings and penises abound. The art styles employed are an acquired taste, and I’m working on acquiring it. The subject matter is self expression. The lead story features a strange young girl who brings home smelly things from the woods and in the other stories, creativity itself is the focus. The highlight for me was the final story, which I assume from the order of the credits is Blaise Larmee’s. In a series of shaky panels, an artist attempts to integrate the influence of the late John Callahan into his work so that he can move past it, a moving take on what an artistic hero can mean and hard it can be to escape them. A note about Callahan’s recent death closes it out.

Rating: For aficionados.

Dragons!
Tugboat Press
By Alec Longstreth and various

On the other end of the spectrum is this charming all-ages anthology, published in the same format as Tugboat’s excellent Papercutter. Longstreth’s lead story (actually the only story—the rest of the book is made up of gag strips, dragon pinups and a bunch of activity pages) has wonderfully simple artwork, attractively gray-toned, and centers on a dragon problem I’ve not seen addressed anywhere before, setting its protagonist on a cute quest. The rest of the book is equally endearing an the activities look like fun. I don’t know how widely this one’s been distributed, but it’s easy to imagine any young kid enjoying it.

Rating: Dragons!

Next: More comics.

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