Tuesday, January 28, 2014

B+F - Gregory Benton

64 4C pages
10 " x 15 " HC
$24.95 US funds
ISBN 978-1-935233-25-1

I don't remember how B+F got on my radar but I'm so glad it did.

B+F is a wordless comic about a nameless woman and her dog going on a journey that's thrust upon them. B+F is an interesting meditation on the environmental exploration genre. Now I don't know if this is a real genre but it works on describing the overall picture of B+F.  Throughout their journey they meet and fight various denizens. With every meeting comes a new insight about the world they inhabit and of our characters.

There's pervasive feeling of strangeness that strikes the reader as you're discovering this world. Not only strangeness but a feeling of uneasiness. That you're glad your not part of this world and wish never to be part of it because how bizarre and alien it is. Benton does an amazing job drawing environments and situations that are constantly putting the reader in an uncomfortable place. It's rare to come to across a comic that has this constant feeling throughout the story. That alien feeling continues to build and build until the story's climax where it literally and figuratively explodes in the reader's face. And even after the climax, that feeling lingers on.
Benton's artwork is absolutely gorgeous and you can stare at it for days on end. As I said in the previous paragraph, Benton has an amazing ability at conjuring up strange and alien worlds/characters. Even though we see a human woman in the cover, we soon discover that she's not entirely human. Benton's artwork is able to convey a sense of otherworldliness in her.

Benton's colors perfectly match the strangeness of the world he's created. I know I keep harking on the strangeness of the comic but it's impossible not to, and it's a big part of the overall atmosphere of B+F. Benton's colors remind of some of the old 70s Heavy Metal comics that had very lurid and psychedelic coloring to them. I'm thinking along the lines of Druillet's and Croben's work. Though those colors were mostly the only thing the creators had to at the time, in B+F, the color palette seems more deliberate. That Benton had thought out what colors to use, why and how that affected the reader's perception of the world. 

B+F does a lot of things rights but one of the things that caught my eye how easy it is to follow the story. There's no panel confusion, the eye follows the action/story perfectly and there's a beautiful beat to the story. I usually go into a comic with the mindset of an experienced comic reader but also as a novice. I do this because I want to see if a comic can be read by someone completely new, and if the creator has set up their panel in a way that wouldn't overwhelm a new reader. Now, I don't mind when a creator or creators do a layout that confuses the reader, but it has to be tied in with the story. That such a chaotic layout should add to the overall experience and story of the comic. A good amount of comics today, the artist or creator, they don't seem to have a good grasp of telling a clear visual story. There are panels are cluttered and arranged in such a way that it's confusing and hard to understand what the hell is going on; luckily Benton never falls into this pit. Everything here is clear and I would be more than comfortable giving this to a new reader, and I wouldn't have to worry about them getting confused.
 B+F caught me completely off-guard with it's alien charm but it also made me heavily uneasy; and I really like that. It's rare for me to come across a comic that both grabbed and charmed me, but also made me feel so uncomfortable that I was a bit glad that I finally got done reading it. Do yourself a favor and go buy B+F, you won't be disappointed.

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