All this month I'll be reviewing different comic books by African-American creators, based on submissions from the actual creators of the comic books themselves. A quick note - since this month is so relatively short, I'll be featuring an extra comic every week, for a total of 32 comics spotlighted! Here is a list of all the comics spotlighted so far!
Today we take a look at Whit Tayler's mini-series, Madtown High.
In this semi-autobiographical tale of high school (it seems like just the names have been changed, but I could be wrong), Whit Taylor has succeeded in capturing the high school experience beautifully in a series of short four-page (or less) vignettes. A remarkable thing about the vignettes is that while any one of them could easily stand alone as a story, the more you read the deeper you get to know the protagonist Wren and her friends.
Taylor's work is charming, but I like that she doesn't try to romanticize anything. One of the best stories in the series comes early on when she talks about the school's music teacher and how he slowly burned out (in part because his interest with the violin player in the band Kansas went unrecognized). It's a very sharp observational piece about how young teachers come in guns a-blazing and soon lose that early enthusiasm.
Taylor has a really strong sense of storytelling, as well. She lays out her pages with a keen eye for story. It's really impressive.
Here's a sample story, Wren and her friends get together for New Year's Eve, 1999...
That story is Taylor to the tee - offbeat, but grounded in extremely relatable emotions.
Taylor is a really impressive writer and you would be well served to keep track of her future work from her website, Whimsical Nobody Comics. I know I will!
You can buy each issue of Madtown High here. It was recently nominated for an Ignatz Award! Impressive!