Monday, January 13, 2014

Sammy the Mouse Vol 1 & 2 - Zak Sally and Life Zone - Simon Hanselmann

And thus begins the adventure for Sammy and in which start a chain of events. These events lead Sammy and his friends in a hallucinatory elaborate adventure that is yet to be fully completed. the Mouse is an interesting comic. It's one of those rare comics that takes its time; really takes it's time and I love it. Something along the vein of B.P.R.D. or Cerebus, where Sally is setting things up that won't be resolved until way later in series. The comics also reads that's more interested in setting up and feeling out the world and the characters that live in it. More focused journey: how the journey changes Sammy and it's inhabitants, and where it takes them instead of it's ending. Sally is wanting to get into the mindscapes and space of his characters and their world and explore them.

Now this might sound boring to some people but it isn't. What makes this comic amazing and work is the great characterization, darkly-humored dialogue, masterful pacing, and Sally almost immaculate ability to time his jokes; there's a feeling that everything just builds and feeds off each other.

Reading Sammy the Mouse is great but seeing it is a revelation; Sally's linework is amazing. Master cartoonists have had problems making their lines full of life and emotions, but for Sally makes it seems easy; like it's second-hand nature for him. You can see the character's personalities, their frailties, and past mistakes. Though these characters are rather pathetic, Sally cares for them and wants to live a good life. All these emotions and feelings just burst out through his line, it's really amazing to see and experience.
Throughout the story, we see there's a disembodied voice that talks to Sammy at certain times in the comic and at times takes control of the people around Sammy. I have an idea about this voice; I think it's Zack Sally. It's Zack Sally talking to his creations, creations that have come to life and are able to live almost without Sally. When we first see Sammy he's doing nothing, and would probably continue to do nothing until nudged into action. That nudge comes from the voice from the sky. I think that's Sally talking to his creation while moving the story and certain plots forward. If there wasn't voice didn't push Sammy into action, Sammy would probably still be in his house doing nothing and us readers, would not have much to go on.

You can get Sammy the Mouse from Uncivilized Books.
Life Zone is darkly-humored and absurdist slice-of-life story that follow the lives of Megg, Mogg, & Owl. Characters that Hanselmann has created and worked on for five years now.

In Life Zone, Hanselmann intensely focuses on four separate moments in theses characters' lives. While these stories are told through vignettes, they build off each other. So what happens in one story has rippled through the rest of the stories.

What makes Life Zone so great is Hanselmann's ability to start off with broad characterizations and slowly and with precise hone in further with the characters, so by the end, we're read more realized and textured characters then what we had in the beginning. This is great for readers coming into Hanselmann's work for the first time. Hanselmann also has a great grasp at setting up jokes and timing the pay off perfectly. This timing is helped by Hanselmann using a four-tier twelve panel layout. With this layout, Hanselmann has a tight control over pacing and setting things up.

Hanselmann has improved as an artist. Hanselmann has a great ability to capture the mundane things in life--just look at the image above--with his artwork and make them larger than life. Her linework has a lineage from C.F. and the Fort Thunder era. He's highly influenced by their stories but especially their art style and is continuing their style through his work.  There's also a touch of ligne claire. That ligne claire touch is almost a subversion of the style.

Life Zone is a hilarious a comic that will leave laughing long after you've read the comic. It's also a touching and very poignant comic. Where Hanselmann has sneaked a peek into the human condition and brought forth through his linework and characters. This is why Life Zone was my comic of the year for 2013 and should be yours too.

You can buy Life Zone from the Space Face Books

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