DEBUTING AT THOUGHT BUBBLE!
Sarah Crosby is one of those artists whose work has crossed my path intermittently over the years – whether it’s been her self-published offerings (Occupational Hazards, The Hugging Contest), her online comic strips, or her anthology contributions (Dirty Rotten Comics) – who I have long hoped would produce something slightly longer-form to give her a showcase publication to spotlight the potential in her comics.
It’s taken a while but, with Good Comics now filling the space that Avery Hill Publishing once occupied and providing opportunities for grassroots practitioners to be seen by wider audiences, we now finally have a more substantial (and welcome!) compilation of Crosby’s humorous cartooning collected in one place.
Published as part of the new Good Zines imprint, Stir Fry presents three short story comics – ‘Cry Baby’, ‘Fly Love You’ and ‘Harvest of Sorrow’ – which weave in and out of the comic in episodic form. Crosby cleverly uses this device to turn expectations on their head in the two main stories by taking the narratives in craftily unexpected directions when the next instalment resumes.
‘Cry Baby’, for example, begins as an apparent slice-of-life story about passengers in a train being disturbed by a screaming infant before turning into an unlikely supernatural slapstick tale. ‘Harvest of Sorrow’ starts as an account of small village country life and a driving mishap before evolving into Bon Jovi-influenced romantic intrigue. Breaking these stories up are the one-page intermissions of ‘Fly Love You’ wherein muscine infatuation has dramatic consequences when a lovelorn fly falls for a sweaty bloke sunbathing in his garden.
While Crosby’s visuals are admittedly sometimes rawer and less sophisticated in delivery, her visual characterisation is expressive and accessible throughout. What’s most important is that she has a fundamental grasp on the tricks of the comics storytelling trade. Check out the use of sound effect lettering to emphasise the intrusive nature of the child wailing in ‘Cry Baby’ (above) for example or of the same events being seen from that baby’s perspective (below). Panel-to-panel pacing also impresses, particularly when building up to a punchline of sorts in ‘Harvest of Sorrow’, and there’s one particularly cute moment of meta self-referentiality in ‘Cry Baby’.
This ‘Good Zines’ development is a vital one that deserves the support of the UK small press community for a number of reasons. Chiefly, it’s because if it’s enough of a success for the Good Comics team to put out work like this on a semi-regular basis then it ensures a pivotal and supportive stepping stone for creators between self-publishing and the bigger micropublishers. And, of course, it increases the visibility of small pressers with Good Comics acting in both the role of publisher and “distributor” of their comics on the small press circuit.
It’s also an initiative that embraces the validity of work that fits more firmly into that DIY culture ethos. It’s great to see two such deserving artists as Sarah Crosby and Elizabeth Querstret represented in that first wave of talent. Make sure to pick up this and all the new Good Comics releases this month at Thought Bubble and give them your support!
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