The Littel Dragun.
Self-published, 2010, 20pp, A6.
With mini-comics currently appearing in my mail box from the latest incarnation of The Mini Comic of the Month Club, it seemed appropriate that I post up this review from one of the minis I got from it's initial iteration. The Mini Comic of the Month Club was a simple and brilliant idea from Australian comics and zine maker Pat Grant (original pitch here). (Caveat: Maybe it wasn't his idea, maybe he appropriated the idea. Regardless…) Basically, I joined the club for $20, and then received a mini comic in the mail every month for 12 months. (Or that was the plan anyway.) There was a limit to the number of members (50 I think, including the 12 contributors), which added an alluring tinge of exclusivity to the whole deal. The fact that the mini is delivered in the mail each and every month adds a lovely sense of anticipation too, waiting for an exciting little comic book jewel that could arrive at any time. Andrew Fulton has resurrected the idea and the gems are currently arriving ever four weeks or so now. If you see this being offered again (maybe at the end of the year, or next year) jump on it.
The first mini that I received was by Chris Downes titled The Littel Dragun. (The misspelling is intentional, cute, and persistent throughout the equally cute mini comic.) Downes is an amazingly talented illustrator from Tennessee, USA, now residing in Tasmania. I feel a little mean reviewing this mini because I don't think there's any other way to get it except at the time through The Mini Comic of the Month Club, so I'll be brief but glowing in the hope that you'll track down other things that Downes might do in the future.
From the personalised title page all the way through to the hilarious ending, this is indeed a little gem. Quick, witty, cute, surprising, and charming. I tend to feel that it may have been quite quickly created, but there's no complaints about that, as that's probably an important factor in the writing of it. The cartoony art has a chunky, rushed line, a brevity of detail, only depicting what's necessary, and a cute style that plays directly into the faux-storybook plot and telling. Using a landscape A6 format, Downes has a maximum of three panels on a page, but prefers to stick to just one. As such you would think the story moves very quickly through the 16 pages, but due to the captivating nature of the drawings and the great acting, you can't help but slow down to take it all in. That is, until the final few pages which really fly by, appropriately, to the hilarious crashing halt. A very well crafted tryst.
The aforementioned title page is but one small part of the greatly appreciated attention to detail and design for this — good lettering that is story-supportive, nice "end-papers", design elements like an ex libris page and corner frames on the front and back covers, etc.
So as a reader hopefully now interested in picking up a copy of this comic that's not available to you, I do suggest that you get along to Downes' blog, where he currently mostly posts his editorial cartooning, and see what other comics he may have there for you to enjoy.
Above: Trevor and the Littel Dragun. I did this totally digitally on a Wacom DTF-720 digitising screen.