I’ve learned that one of the nicest parts of my job is that I am frequently exposed to books that I might not have encountered were I not attempting to get them publicity. One of these recent surprises—I’m ashamed to say “recent,” as his work is really tremendous—was the cartooning of Graham Annable.
Over the last year, as I began doodling again due to the stress of my professional situation and the need for a creative outlet, I realized that the first job I ever wanted was that of a cartoonist. Somewhere along the line I convinced myself that art wasn’t my strong suit and I focused on writing. This eventually led to a pursuit of journalism which in turn led to reporting and editing comics news, but even with all that art in front of me, it never dawned on me to pick my pencil back up and start scribbling. A random cartoon I drew while at Wizard led to some encouragement and I started to draw regularly again.
As I attempted to take my hours of uninstructed middle school scrawling to a higher level, I began to take notice of cartoony strips I had more or less ignored for years. Suddenly, as I struggled with strip format, I could appreciate the enigmatic expressiveness of an art form where less was often more. Quite simply, and as cliched as it can possibly be said, I had not only fallen in love with cartooning again, but also the strip format that so permeated my childhood.
Musings aside, it was with a still relatively new-found love of cartooning that I was introduced to the art of Graham Annable.
As I’ve spent a lot of time with this cover of late, so I’ll use it as my first example to point out how subtly expressive Graham’s simplistic looking Grickle can be. This cover is, at first glance, filled with a single character. And yet, with a closer look, each figure is unique. Sometimes with just a slight alteration, the gaze of one Grickle makes it express something entirely different than another. Seemingly simple, but try it. Expressing so much with such small distinction is insanely hard.
Add to that the eccentric yet profound punches that the interior comics pack, and “The Book of Grickle” is quite simply a volume that I can’t wait to get my hands on, even though I’ve been afforded the chance to read a majority of it already.
This story has a sincere sweetness that sits alongside aspects that are completely deranged… and I love that! The fact it’s expressed in the art and not expounded endlessly upon in narration is also wonderful, but capturing the extremes of life in exaggerated cartoon forms is pretty damn perfect here and in every other bit of Annable’s work I’ve seen. Even more simply: It’s a style I enjoy and admire used to tell short tales that entirely entertain me.
And, of course, the fact that Annable has done some excellent “Lost” cartoons doesn’t hurt is case either!
Full disclosure, folks: It is my job to help get publicity for this book and sell it, but I dig it so much you can assured I’ll be picking up a copy myself!
Also: It’s been a while since I’ve mused/gushed about a comic. Alliteration is usually abundant when this the case, as it is here.
Added later on…
Comics Alliance has a “Book of Grickle” sample up. Check it out!