Buddies 2015, a joint publication between The Providence Comics Consortium and Hidden Fortress Press, is an anthology collecting the work of 46 Providence based cartoonists. It exists more as a “scene report” than an anthology though, without any major thematic focus (outside of the lasting resonance of Fort Thunder on the area) or narrative constraint.
The format gives each artists involved between two and eight pages to tell their stories, this, like in many anthologies, leads many contributors to craft more joke orientated work that by and large fall flat or never reach a point. Joe DeGeorge’s two pager, centering around a clam doing hack clam puns on stage at a comedy club is the only entry i can remember laughing at, and only because of my continued love of horrible puns.
Brian Chippendale’s entry should also be noted for it’s humor, although it operates as more than just a humor strip. Written under the pseudonym Barry Manowar and titled ‘Ghostmace Killa in Quicksand’, it takes place over three single image pages showing a large warrior wielding a mace walking out of a jungle environment only to be quickly (in the third panel/page) enveloped by quicksand and disappear under its surface.
By obscuring his name with such a bombastic pseudonym, along with his choice of title, one is lead to believe a more hearty comic is going to take place but it’s brevity creates an ironic joke, playing into the fact that it appears as a short in an already packed anthology and is, as an addendum to the title, presented by “Puke Force” Chippendale’s long in the works follow up to Iff ’n oof making its abrupt ending a fairly pointed statement about page length and time.
(The story also reminds me of Chester Brown’s Walrus Blubber Sandwich which ends in a flying saucer crashing into the main characters skull after the third page ending the story abruptly and without any real reason for its existence. Later in an interview with The Comics Journal Brown confessed the reasoning was him not wanting to draw the remaining 17 pages he had planned* due his being bored with the subject. Although i’m doubtful Chippendale became bored with his own story, the two seem intertwined to some degree in my mind that i felt beard mentioning.)
One of the more interesting aspects of Buddies 2015 resides on the production side with the choice to alternate between the colors green, blue and purple both between pages and on a single page at a time. Maren Jensen utilizes this formatting choice most effectively in a story about ones disengagement with their own body in a search for something else. In telling this short Jensen utilizes the replication and overlapping of drawings of a single figure in varying poses along with garbled, almost poetically disconnected text, as the colors begin to vary between a deep shade to a more washed out one as the blue tinge that separates each color seeps in and out of the page. The changing colors create a literalization to the texts focus on shifting from ones body to another by shifting from one shade to another.
*Chester Brown from TJC: That one “Walrus Blubber Sandwich” [Yummy Fur #1] was actually intended to be a longer story. I wrote a script for it and if I’d drawn it the way the script said it would’ve been 20 pages or something. I got to the third page and I was saying to myself, “I have another 17 pages of this to do?” So I just had that flying saucer come down and kill the guy, and that’s the end of the story.