Lunch Break :: May 4, 2011

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Lunch Break is a short round-up of favorite webcomics appearing here each weekday at noon. Here’s something for you to enjoy over your lunch break or whenever. The premise is simple: It’s another day on the internet. Here’s a new or forgotten comic that seems interesting.

We’d love to have you guest edit Lunch Break! Check out the Contribute page for more information.

  1. Important Life Lesson from “xkcd” by Randall Munroe // date unknown
  2. Top Shelf Kids Club 2011 preview by various // 2011
  3. lament from “Bunny” by Huw Davies // February 22, 2011
  4. Recommendations? from “Indexed” by Jessica Hagy // October 26, 2007
  5. Ah Seen by Derik A. Badman // April 2011

Sarah Morean

hey, bartender! with Brett Warnock

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hey, bartender! with Brett Warnock from Sarah Morean on Vimeo.

Every story has its backstory, so they say. Take Lana Turner, who was just sipping a Coke before becoming a star. Or Abraham Lincoln, the simple rail splitter who grew to save the union. Why, even Brett Warnock was just a humble bartender before becoming an important comics publisher.

Warnock was mixing drinks for 12 years before Top Shelf took off, and it’s heartening to see that he hasn’t forgot his roots. His annual stint as bartender for the Isotope Award Ceremony is lucky indeed for the people who go, since it seems he hasn’t lost his touch. I’ll vouch for the margarita in this video — it was good.

Because we at the Cross Hatch want you to have an excellent liquor-filled weekend, here are a few variations on the trusty margarita from Warnock himself. Enjoy!

Margarita. (As per the video.)

  • Salt rim of glass. Top with ice.
  • In separate glass, add:
    • 1.5 oz tequila (i suggest Sauza Hornitos for mixing)
    • .5 oz triple sec
    • 1 oz. pure lime juice
    • splash of o.j.
    • 1 teaspoon superfine (bakers) sugar
  • Shake vigorously in a cocktail shaker, pour, enjoy.

Margarita. (At home.)

  • Same as above, but replace ingredients as follows:
  • One half a ripe orange in place of o.j.
  • One whole lime, cut in half, in place of lime juice
  • Place ingredients in a mixing can and muddle before shaking

A toast!  To your health.

– Sarah Morean

APE 2009

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Isotope Award 2009 from Sarah Morean on Vimeo.

I’ve often thought of independent comics as the great social equalizer. By this I mean that no indie cartoonist or fan walking alone into a room full of similar stock should be able to leave without a friend. My estimation of indie comics, it seems, was too naive. See, until last weekend, I’d never been further west than Denver. The indie shows I’d seen were packed with internet acquaintances, kind artists recalling my fan letters, and other Midwesterners. In other words, people that I already knew. I’d been biased, for sure.

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The Nobody by Jeff Lemire

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The Nobody
By Jeff Lemire

jefflemirethenobodycoverThere are only five stories in the world—or maybe six or seven. The number varies slightly between tellings, sure, but the adage remains more or less the same. When boiled down to their purest essence, mankind has, in a sense, been reliving the same basic conceits since the dawn of storytelling. The moral, of course, is that the skill ultimately lies not in the story itself so much as the way it’s told. It’s one of the first lessons a low-level instructor will impart on you toward the beginning of nearly any creative writing course.

The concept is embraced to its fullest when artists opt to eschew the illusion of fresh storytelling in favor of an open retelling of some much-loved piece of art. Upon wrapping up his oft-lauded Essex County trilogy for Top Shelf, that’s precisely where Jeff Lemire went, choosing as his jumping off point H.G. Wells’s beloved science fiction allegory, The Invisible Man.

In adapting (or perhaps more appropriately, reimagining) the story, Lemire embraced yet another bit of creative writing 101: write what you know. For a backdrop, the artist provides us with Large Mouth, a small, rural town though ought prove rather familiar to those acquainted with the streets and farms of Essex County.

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Nine Ways to Disappear By Lilli Carre

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Nine Ways to Disappear
By Lilli Carre
Little Otsu

lillicarreninewayscoverGiven a little more time, one suspects that Lilli Carre could conjure up a lot more than nine. There are plenty of ways to disappear, and perhaps even more justifications for wanting to do so. It’s a good number though—certainly enough to fill up this beefy little teal volume. And besides, a nice, neat, round number like 10 wouldn’t suit an author so prone to open-ended tales as Carre.

Nine Ways to Disappear is a quiet book of single paneled pages based largely around narration, pieces mostly spun with fairy tale omniscience, a storytelling method well-suited to the magical realism that unfolds in nearly every piece. Mermaids populate these pages as do perpetually shrinking men and living skeletons. But Carre doesn’t embrace the fantastic for its own sake.

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Guest Strip: Kevin Cannon

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drywalltzSt. Louis Park, MN — the childhood home of the Coen Brothers, Al Franken, and the illustrious Kevin Cannon.  Science has yet to conclude, but I suspect, that something in the water accounts for this rash of entertainment success stories.

Currently, Cannon co-runs a cartooning and illustration studio called Big Time Attic with his best pal and non-relative Zander Cannon.  BTA started in 2004 and was originally a 3-man show also featuring Shad Petosky.  BTA has since branched into two studios, BTA and PUNY Entertainment which is the go-to animation studio for shows like Nickelodeon’s “Yo Gabba Gabba!”

Recently, BTA churned out the highly acclaimed educational graphic novel The Stuff of Life: A Graphic Guide to Genetics and DNA.  The book was featured on NPR’s “Science Friday,” a program with which I’m sure you nerds are familiar.

Cannon’s first solo book, the Arctic adventure Far Arden, will be released by Top Shelf this May.  The book is something of a triple-threat, having previously been serialed online as a webcomic (which you can still read), a self-published 100-copy offset print job (which sold out instantly), and a properly-distributed professionally-promoted graphic novel (which you should totally buy).  It topped my list of favorite mini-comics released in 2008, and I suspect it will top more best of lists for 2009 as a Top Shelf graphic novel.  It’s a real ripping yarn.

Cannon’s clear thirst for adventure comes out again in this guest strip, which you can read just below the Cutty Sark — I mean — cut.

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Interview: Lilli Carre Pt. 3 [of 3]

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There’s a little bit of the future and the past in this quick final installment of our interview with The Lagoon author. We discuss the ways in which Lilli Caree’s fascination with sound has affected her comics, the power of a resolution-free ending, and why Hans Christian Andersen’s short story about a sad little Christmas tree is good fodder for a comic.

[Part One][Part Two]
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Interview: Lilli Carre Pt. 1 [of 3]

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For a book so invested in the poetry of sound, The Lagoon seems somehow quiet. Siren songs and metronomes and the whooshing of wind fill the its pages, but the book’s important moments, more often than not, seem to exist in the spaces in between, those quiet panels when its cacophonies have been temporarily extinguished.

It’s fitting then, in a sense, that when I first approach the book’s author, Lilli Carre, about doing an interview, she was a bit hesitant. She soon admitted that she had never actually done one via phone, and while I finally convinced her to give it a shot, I largely expected that, like The Lagoon, Carre would keep many of her answers to herself.

As it turns out, however, for all of her fears of coming across as muddled, Carre had plenty to say with regards to her methods and works, from The Lagoon to its predecessor Woodsman Pete, to the more sporadic work she’s done in the field of animation.

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Essex County Vol. 3: The Country Nurse by Jeff Lemire

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jefflemirethecountrynursecoveerIn The Country Nurse, the final installment of Jeff Lemire’s Essex County trilogy, the artist is obsessed with images—the image of the open farmland of Essex County, the image of a crow flying in front of the moon, the image of a boy growing up and learning the truth about who he is. He uses these composite images to complete a larger picture, started in the first two books in the series, of Essex County, a fictionalized version of his hometown.

In a real sense, then, Essex County is the protagonist of the three books. Whereas so often in series based on locations—consider any TV show set in a particular locale, for starters—the plots of the characters’ lives become the focus of the story, here the reverse is true: The tales of these characters are woven into the larger fabric of the story of Essex County, and the stories are important not so much for what happens in them as for how they represent life in the county. The lives of the people in Essex County become emblematic of the place, rather than subsuming it with their own drama.

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The Man Who Loved Breasts by Robert Goodin

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The Man Who Loved Breasts
By Robert Goodin
Top Shelf

robertgoodinthemanwholovedcoverIt’s hard to be genuinely funny in the comics medium. It’s a truth that countless syndicated strips remind us of on a daily basis. In some ways a certain portion of their failure to amuse can be chalked up to the parameters within which they must operate in order to appease the manner of mainstream audience that comes with widespread syndication.

While a fair argument can be made for the skill of a true comedian’s ability to embrace such constraints, underground cartoonist have tapped into one key truth about humor: sick shit is funny. The perverse, the unspeakable, the social unacceptable—it worked for Lenny Bruce, Richard Pryor, and Bill Hicks, and thanks in no small part to the immediacy of visual stimuli, it’s worked for cartoonists from R. Crumb to Ivan Brunetti.

Let’s not, however, overestimate the importance of the visual in the equation. While plenty of artists know their way around a nice piece of graphically suggestive imagery, that skill alone does not a funny cartoonist make. As lowbrow as the work of, say, Kaz or Johnny Ryan can appear, there’s an oft unappreciated level of craftsmanship required in the execution of a truly laugh-out-loud piece of sequential art.
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