There’s something about Katie Skelly’s artwork that I can’t quite put a finger on.
It’s simple, for sure. Almost hurried at times. Her figures sometimes change shape and don’t always scan like you probably think they should. But there are consistent and deliberate qualities here: thickness of line, the ratio of black to white, and above all a relentless pacing that pulls you in and doesn’t let go. Her OPERATION MARGARINE comic looks a lot like a thousand other minicomics competing for the same head space, so what is it about Skelly that her artwork stand out? I can’t be certain, but I think it’s the eyes.
Whatever it is, it’s gotten enough attention that OPERATION MARGARINE will be published as a graphic novel by AdHouse Books in April, continuing the story of “trouble tuff girl Bon-Bon and rich girl runaway Margarine” as they flee from a mean looking biker gang and other, more existential difficulties. But the pair are also free spirits, or at least learning to become free spirits, and it’s fun to watch them enjoy life on the road.
I like simple linework that concentrates on telling a story. (Brandon Graham is a favorite of mine.) And Skelly has storytelling chops in spades. Her simple lines outline large faces and eyes that allow her characters’ expressions to fill the panel. Her elegant use of the space in each panel leaves room for everything, including her large and sometimes rather empty speech bubbles. Skelly can do more with her wry, single-stroke smiles than most artists can do with anatomically-detailed faces and mouths.
I keep meaning to pick up NURSE NURSE, Skelly’s previous minicomic-cum-graphic novel, and these first four issues of OM have probably convinced me track that down while I look ahead to April for the continuing saga of Bon-Bon and Marge.
A few columns back, I wrote about LOUD COMIX #1, and when I ordered OPERATION MARGARINE from Birdcage Bottom Books, they were kind enough to send along the second issue of that underground punk rock anthology. The stories in #2 are written by a variety of “rock bands & music enthusiasts (with an emphasis on southern punk luminaries)” and all drawn by Jamie Vayda. The first issue was a hoot, but I’m writing this bonus feature to say that #2 is a step up, and I’m not exaggerating when I say that “Lester the Porn Fairy” could be one of my favorite comics stories of the year. It’s equal parts Evan Dorkin and Eric Powell and 100% fun.