The Stack: Why Did I Put This Town On My Face?
I’ve been to the Alternative Press Expo every year since I first moved to San Francisco in 2004; even now that I live in Orange County, I still make an annual trip back up to the Bay to attend. I love small press stuff and minicomics and always spend much too much sampling things at random; if there’s an booth that looks interesting, I’ll always try to get at least one of their wares to take home with me.
But I haven’t been so good, necessarily, at actually reading those comics once I get them. They tend to be filed away somewhere on a shelf–or worse, on a permanent stack on the floor near a bookshelf somewhere. One of my goals in starting up a comics blog was to motivate myself to unearth those stacks, discover what’s in them, and write about it. And I’ll start with Why Did I Put This Town On My Face? by Matt Wiegle, which I seem to have picked up at last year’s show.
It’s a short minicomic of 32 pages, and maybe I should explain what a minicomic is for those of you not into the indie-comics scene. These are photocopied, hand-stapled creations produced in limited print runs by amateur artists. More than anything else this blog will cover, minicomics are literally comics for comics’ sake: they’re created out of a pure impulse of expression divorced from any attempt at making money. And as such, they can get pretty damned weird.
Wiegle’s minicomic, a collection of pieces that had appeared in other anthologies, is a good example of what I’m talking about. “Good” in both senses of the word: it typifies the genre and it’s also well-executed, which is hardly a given when you’re talking about random minicomics purchased at APE. A lot of them can be pretty awful, in fact, and out of respect for their creators’ courage in putting their work out there for public consumption I probably won’t be touching on those should I find one in The Stack.
The stories in WDIPTTOMF are short and whimsical. Most of them are surreal one-gag affairs, like the story about a man buried up to his jaw, and the humor is derived more from the strangeness of the stories more than a punchline. There’s not much plot to speak of–these vignettes barely qualify as one-acters– and the stories stand or fall mainly on Wiegle’s wavy, thin-lined art style.
Wiegle’s other strength is his ability to keep the ideas coming. The best piece in the book, the title of which is irreproducible since it’s just a picture of an anchor, is about a tattooed man invading an art gallery showing with the intention of using his power to bring art to life in order to make some ill-defined point. It’s only five pages long, but Wiegle puts a lot in there: a pair of freeloading students only interested in crashing the snack table, a lovelorn art critic, and the tattooed man himself, who’s worked out a system of using his tattoos to support himself in everyday life. Also, David Bowie with his legs chopped off.
In the end, there isn’t much to say about minis like this without just summarizing the already-thin pieces, so posts in The Stack series will probably end up being more review-y than other writeups, using the following as a form of final judgement:
IF MATT WIEGLE EXHIBITS AT THIS YEAR’S APE I WILL: Probably buy another of his minis if I happen across his booth.