XO #1-3 by Brian John Mitchell and Melissa Spence Gardner

Categories:  Reviews

XO #1-3
by Brian John Mitchell and Melissa Spence Gardner
Silber Media

Format can do a lot to influence the attractiveness of a book, but even unique and unexpected styles of bookmaking can blend in at big conventions like MoCCA or APE. However, at a small Midwestern show like the Madison Zine Fest, unconventional books have a chance to really stand out.

It was there that I noticed three ultra-mini minis (1.75×2.25″) sleeved in small plastic bags and sitting unattended on a banister. I thought about taking them. They would fit in my pocket. No one would know. The sensation passed, however, and good karma struck back. The books were given as a gift to my table mate who gave them to me. Now I share them with you.

Baby corn, puppies, doll-sized furniture – typically these and other small things define cute. One might expect that XO, a series of mini minis would be cute as well. Even the series’ title XO implies kisses and hugs and touchy-feely stuff. However, these books are anything but cute, because each contains a story of murder.

It’s completely disarming and even kind of funny, if such a topic can ever be funny. The stories are told from the first-person perspective of a guy who without emotion keeps killing people either by accident or without remorse. The guy is a total sociopath, and the things he does are so unbelievably dry and strange, it makes the book’s plastic slip-case seem like a metaphorical body bag or some caution to keep out the younger set.

Each page is filled with a single illustrative panel hovering above a few sentences of plot, in a kind of Far Side style perversion. The odd combination of art, layout and typography makes the stories seem even weirder. Thick, awkward lines outline human shapes and thin straight lines accent the shadows. Each drawing is trapped tightly in a box and clipped at all sides to make room for the words. The font used is some standard sans serif, one you might use on a website or a term paper or, you know, an unassuming murderous comic book series.

Each book left me stunned and laughing awkwardly just to release the unexplainable tension. I’d call them modestly awesome. You can pick up copies of XO dirt cheap for $1 apiece or all three for $2 from Silber Media.

Have a Happy Halloween tomorrow.

– Sarah Morean

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No Comments to “XO #1-3 by Brian John Mitchell and Melissa Spence Gardner”

  1. Troy | November 5th, 2008 at 12:10 pm

    Glad to see the Zinefest mentioned here. My sister-in-law, Michelle Downer, is the organizer of that fine affair. Her husband, my brother, Mitch Freund, has been creating zines for years, most notably “Truck Stop.” Melissa Spence is a friend of mine from years ago who also creates the nifty website “Strange Snow”– http://strange-snow.com Good to see some attention being brought to the Madison,WI-area!
    Troy Freund

  2. Terry Teipner | November 6th, 2008 at 3:40 am

    A good friend of mine suggested I check out the zine fest in Madison, and there were a number of interesting and thought provoking zines there, for sure. It was nice to see folks who were further away show up as well as locals. I too, really liked XO, both the artwork and the storyline. The style that it is done, the contrast between the artwork and storymatter and the manner in which the story reads were all draws for me. I will definitely be looking for more XO.

  3. Ellen S. Abramowitz | November 6th, 2008 at 7:19 am

    Thanks for mentioning The Museum of Comic and Cartoon Art – MoCCA on your blog!

    We will be posting information regarding our 2009 – Museum of Comic and Cartoon Art – MoCCA — Art Festival 2009 on our website within the next few weeks.


    Warm regards,

    Ellen S. Abramowitz
    Museum of Comic and Cartoon Art – MoCCA
    594 Broadway – Suite 401
    New York, NY 10012

  4. Brian John Mitchell | November 10th, 2008 at 7:15 pm

    Thanks for the kind words. Working on some more issues as we speak. I’m planning on getting a table at SPACE, but we’ll see what happens.