18 March, 2012

Review: Lumpen #8

Lumpen #8.
By Pat Grant.
Published by Pat Grant.

"Lumpen" is the name Pat Grant gave to his ongoing series of zines and comics, of which this is #8. I assume most of them were available where you would normally buy zines and the like, but this particular edition was only available through another of Grant's brainchilds; The Mini Comic of the Month Club — a limited edition subscription to a different creator's mini-comic every month for a year during 2010. (http://www.patgrantart.com/mcotm/page.html)

As might be expected from a true zinester, this has a real hand-made quality to it, from the pages that were obviously hand trimmed, to the silk-screened cardboard covers that look like they may even be left over off-cuts from previous projects.

The story is witty and whimsical, with a tinge of Dr. Seuss. Is it a commentary on the west's obsession with ownership, especially of land? Is it a commentary on the fleetness and ultimate futility of life? Or perhaps it's simply a humourous story, making a few wry observations about growing up and growing old. Regardless, it's well crafted and well told.

The artwork is very simple — really only stick figures — but the characters are imbued with amazing life and expression. To do any more with the art, to be more elaborate or ornate, would only detract from the "silent movie", pantomime feel of it all which is not only charming, but also helps make a potent distillation of the character's journey over the 20 pages. This style of cartooning, and of course the addition of a top hat, gives it an almost timeless feel.

The format is A6, and being reasonably there's a lot of whole-page panels. These are never used lazily however, always appropriately in service of the story. There are also numerous pages where multiple panels per page are used as required by the pacing needed for the storytelling.

It's a quaint little gem of a comic (although Grant calls it a zine, even though I think it's obviously a comic) and even though you couldn't get it except through The Mini Comic of the Month Club, Grant has made a number of other brilliant little zines and comics. Of course he currently has a magnum opus on the stands called Blue which I'll no doubt review sooner or later. Get along to his website and see what takes your fancy.

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