Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Reviewed: Silber Media Comics

These are the smallest comics I've ever seen. Seriously, look at them. Their palmable size and tiny plastic baggies bring to mind illicit substances, or secret messages that you have to destroy after reading. Each page has only one panel and a line of text, requiring the storytelling to be as compact as the packaging.

These match-book sized comics are written by Brian John Mitchell and put out by his indie distribution company, Silber Media. Issues of each of the four serialized titles can be ordered for a dollar each, though several issues are also available for free on the Silber site.

The books cover a range of genres; XO is a hitman power fantasy, Just a Man is a slow burning western, Lost Kisses is an sardonic, self-effacing confessional about Mitchell's personal life(illustrated almost entirely with grinning stick figures), and Worms is a paranoid headtrip that invovles worms, questionably ethical medical treatments, and other unpleasant things.

The common thread in each book is an understated, almost deadpan style of narration. Take for example the narration that accompanies the opening three pages of XO:

"I just killed someone for free.

I guess you could say I killed some people when I was younger....

...but none since I consider myself an adult."

This irrisistibly macabre hook is made even more distincitve by it's context; an adorably small booklet with illustrations that look more like a daily comic strip than the sort angular grit usuallly found in a crime graphic novel. The story unfolds with similarly passive descriptions of crime and murder, and the series ends up feeling like a slice-of-life diary comic by a sociopath. Whether it reads as creepy or funny is probably a matter of taste, but it's entertaining either way.

While several issues of XO can be read online, the highlight of the Silber Comics stable really needs to be read in print for the full effect. Only a single issue of Just A Man has been released so far, but in that 56 panel issue Mitchell and artist Andrew White tell a wild west story of revenge that evokes dread and suspence on every miniature page.


The dramatic weight of Just A Man is entwined with it's formal elements; having to focus your attention on stamp sized panels creates an bond between the reader and the stark desert world of the story. The limitations of size and length force the reader to consider the meaning behind each image and sentence, and as the plot turns more and more grim, the effect is hauntingly intimate.

Just A Man is a serious tale in a small package, and I highly reccomending spending the dollar it costs to have one delivered to your house. Read it in a public place for maximum effect; people will wonder what the hell you're holding that has you so engaged, and you'll feel like you're getting away with something.

1 comment:

mandy said...

You should check this out:

http://www.boyblueproductions.com/oubliette.php

also $1, also matchbook sized, and drawn on a single sheet of paper utilizing a clever way of folding that takes you thru the story. xx