Gorillas Riding Dinosaurs | Attack of the Mini-Comics!

As you may have noticed, we’ve been talking about Horror comics lately in this column. In keeping with the Season and all. Continuing that trend, I picked up a bunch of mini-comics at the Minneapolis Indie Xpo back in August, many of which were Horror-related.

Mini-comics are cool because they’re cheap and hand-made and usually put together without a lot of consideration for commerce. Not that their creators don’t care if they sell or not, but sales are a secondary concern to making something cool that the artist is proud of. That sometimes leads to the impression that mini-comics are self-indulgent and inaccessible, but as we’ll see here, that’s not always the case. Mini-comics can be – and often are – about fun, sexy topics as well.

The Midnight MarchWritten and Illustrated by Brent Schoonover

I’ve known Brent (Horrorwood, Astronaut Dad) for a while and the guy loves classic Horror. So when I saw the cover of The Midnight March, I knew I’d like it. And I did, though in a different way than I expected. It’s not really a Horror story, but a semi-autobiographical, slice-of-life story about some junior high buddies trying to track down a copy of Dead Alive before all the video stores close for the night. None of them have cars, so they walk from store to store, talking about girls, scary movies, and the future – like how they could totally get away with robbing the town’s one, armored car or open a combination bowling alley/strip club. The dialogue’s a lot of nostalgic fun and Brent’s art is full of humor and emotion.

Yetis and other monsters after the break:

Abominable and MonstersWritten and Illustrated by Lena H Chandhok

Abominable is the story of a young woman at an Antarctic research station in the late 1940s who has to rescue a young yeti from her bloodthirsty boss. Chandhok’s got a cute style that contrasts nicely with the seriousness of her subject matter. It’s only a six-page story, but it’s complete and well told and I finished it wanting to read more about the characters. Which I was able to do in Monsters, a sequel that takes place in modern times.

Unfortunately, I didn’t like this one as much. It does flashback to what happened immediately after the events of Abominable, but the twenty-first century framing sequence tries too hard to make a point about prejudice and gets kind of After School Specialy. I wish Chandhok had just done the flashback and that she’d stuck with the plain black-and-white line art of Abominable. She uses grayscales in Monsters and it loses the simple charm of the first comic. Hopefully she’ll go back to that in a third one, because I really would like to see more of Edie and her Abominable Snowfriend.

Kingwood HimselfWritten and Illustrated by Reynold Kissling

This is another monster comic with a moral, but I like it more than Monsters. Mostly because it’s longer, the creatures are weirder, and it’s not the sequel to a comic I liked better. The lesson is similar to the one in Monsters, but comes at it from a different angle. Both are about getting along with people who are different from you, but Monsters deals with fear while Kingwood is about just being nice. Put that way, Monsters is actually the deeper of the two, but Kingwood is stronger because at twenty-four pages it spends more time building characters and mood.

It’s about a young girl named Emily who gets in trouble for calling names at school. At home, she notices a kite flying above the woods behind her house and goes to check it out. In the forest, she discovers a secret cul-de-sac where strange creatures live. As she spends the afternoon there, eventually meeting the creatures’ ruler, Kingwood Himself, she learns about the fragile boundary between their world and hers and starts to care about someone other than herself. It’s a sweet, wonderful story and – like Abominable – I want to see more of it.

The BurrowedWritten and Illustrated by Steve Robbins

Part mini-comic, part scrapbook, The Burrowed tells the story of a strange creature that appears on the side of a barn in rural Minnesota. The comics part shows the farmer as he discusses the situation with his kids and talks about how selling tickets to see the monster will make him rich and finally let him win his feud against one of his neighbors. Interspersed with that are newspaper clippings and photocopied pictures about the beast and what ultimately happens on the farm. It’s a disturbing, Lovecraftian story made creepier by the strangely textured paper that Robbins uses as a cover.

Discussion Question: What mini-comics would you recommend to people who don’t think they like mini-comics?

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