A torrent of writing about the comics on my desk 12/6 – 12/7

My monthly posts of “Every Comic I Read In” died off with SPX. I got behind because of SPX and then I got/read so many comics after SPX that I was just overwhelmed and stopped writing. Then the comics piled up on my desk, I stopped keeping track of what I read… I was originally going to write 1 review for every day in December as a follow-up to 30 Days of Comics (which was all on my Tumblr, but I’ll probably do a collected post here soon), but then I didn’t do that… finally on December 6 I just started writing short posts on Tumblr about (almost) all the comics that were piled on the desk next to my computer. These are the results. They are not edited (except one pass right before posting). They are all the result of at least two times reading the comics, though in some cases those readings were a month or more earlier (and I just flipped through them before/as I wrote). They are mostly short comics because I find it so much easier to write about shorter comics since I can read them multiple times and flip through them while maintaining a sense of the comic as a whole. I didn’t write about everything because in some cases I just didn’t have anything to say more than “I didn’t like this” or “this was not to my taste” in a way that didn’t really explain anything or address some aspect of the work/medium that I found interesting.

Balcony Zine by Evie Cahir (2013): Grey cardstock covers enclosing a series of blank cream pages interspersed with translucent brown pages that are printed with drawings of potted plants. The drawings are pencil, ink, and watercolor (or maybe just colored ink) and quite lovely, though some of them are muddied in the presentation (some combination of the color of the translucent paper, the printing itself, or the background paper). A small original drawing (like the inside but not one of the specific images in the book) is slipped into the front cover. More art zine than comic, but not totally divorced from the structuring series that is comics-esque. I don’t detect enough of a method to say this is inherently a “sequence” of images. I love the little colored (precise) curves in some of these drawings, and am thrilled the original drawing includes two of them (in blue). I have no clue what they are supposed to be or represent, but they add an intriguing geometry to some of the images.

Windowpane 2 by Joe Kessler (Breakdown Press, 2013): Really high production values on this one man pamphlet anthology. The cover has an odd (but not bad) waxy/plastic feel to it. The printing has lots of colors (limited palette per page, maybe it’s Riso?) heavy on purple, and the color is well used throughout. There’s even a little minicomic inserted in the middle of the book. It’s the kind of book you’d pick up and get all interested in by way of the impressive production and immediate visual notice.

I loved the inside cover/first page, a spread of a comic that is just thin precise colored (panels alternate green and red) lines delineating corners of rooms, shelves, stairs, walls. It’s evocative and unusual in its minimalism. It’s my favorite comic in the pamphlet.

One of my other favorite spreads is in the first half of the book. Two pages with identical layouts in green and pink/orange. The left is just the colors fields, the right has a dense hatching of purple showing two windswept trees and then a ship on some turbulent water.

The rest of the comics are varying sorts of short narratives. Reading it, I often found it hard to tell when I was finishing a distinct short story and when the tone/color of the story had just changed. And in general I’m just not interested in the narratives, they don’t do anything for me.

The short comic story usually with a “literary” short fiction quality is just so boring (and I don’t just mean in this comic, I mean in general). Too short to have any depth, too focused on narrative to be too visually engaging (beyond on a brief “oh that looks interesting”). They always feel so in-between (not brief/long enough, too much/not enough narrative). It’s like a legacy form (the old 8 page comic) that comics can’t get rid off, and it’s wrapped up in the “comics as literature” problem (real authors write short stories and novels).

World Map Room by Yuichi Yokoyama (Picturebox, 2013): I get the feeling Yokoyama is stuck in a rut. I read this book twice (due diligence) and it feels like Garden and it feels like Travel. (An exception for Color Engineering, it also really stands out for it’s sheer visual insanity. It’s like a whole other beast.) Guys wandering about with weird heads, saying the most obvious things, and looking at odd stuff. I think I’ve read all the volumes of Yokoyama in English, but none one of them beat Travel (my review from almost 4 years ago). There’s something great about the mixture of the everyday and exciting visual phenomena that makes Travel so interesting. Then all the rest feels like an echo… and he said he is planning three more to go with World Map Room. I guess with Picturebox closed we won’t see them anyone. I actually don’t mind.

So my Picturebox sale recommendation is buy Travel or Color Engineering.

Comics Workbook Magazine #1 edited by Andrew White, Frank Santoro, and Zach Mason (get it from Copacetic): Totally biased review, as I think I’m in issue 2 (unless they cancel my comic for sucking), so of course I want you to be super excited about this and buy all the issues (like #2)… (But in reality I am probably harder on this than anything, partially out of a constructive desire…)

I am so sick of interviews with comics artists (and I say this having read and shared a long interview with John Porcellino (at the very fine du9 site) just this morning). Most of them are boring and filled with excess verbiage that adds nothing to my appreciation of: a) comics/art in general b) that artist’s work in particular. There are two interviews in this magazine. That’s too many. Though I totally get interviews are easy, at least easier than writing stuff. And of course artists like to talk about themselves (not like I’d say “no” if someone wanted to ask me questions and listen to the answers), but most of the time… biography. Enough.

Oliver East kicks off this issue with a two page spread. (All the comics in there are two page spreads, which is totally a Frank thing, but also a good constraint, because if the artist knows their 2 page comic will be a spread they can think about those 2 pages as a spread (at least, that’s what I did).) Total credit to Oliver for succeeding in black and white when he normally works in color (I found it so hard not to be able to use color). The whole second page here has a great global layout and some interesting expressive effects with sound and water.

I enjoyed Dorothy Berry’s personal writing about the Nancy comic strip (though it felt familiar from an earlier version on the Comics Workbook tumblr). Way more interesting than an interview, but still personal and about comics (and even a little biography in there).

I’ve read a few of Sarah Horrocks comics and a good bit of her writing about comics. She’s got something to say about a lot of comics and writes well. I don’t know how long she’s been making comics, but I don’t think it’s been for a long time. Her work looks like she’s still working out how to incorporate her influences into her work and get past that to something new. She’s adventurous which I really appreciate. For instance her spread here has an unusual layout (that does take on the spread and the center of the page (I’m sure Frank appreciates that)) and a kind of Crepax-esque breakdown, but I just don’t think it quite works visually or narratively. Still, trying something like this and failing is more interesting than just making (unintentionally) boring comics.

Zach Mason reviews a comic in comic form. Sigh. Isn’t there a guy who does that for Barnes & Noble with really literal images and text that’s about as insightful as the back cover of the book? I’m not a fan of the comic as review (it’s like reviewing a movie with another movie), in large part because the effort seems to go to the visuals and then the review ends up being about a paragraph of text which isn’t enough to get anywhere. Mason’s review isn’t that straightforward (it seems to move quickly into personal association and might be more interesting were it a meditation on the idea of body image (especially in regards to young men) than a review), but I also don’t feel, after reading it, that I have any idea about the actual comic he was reading. Also, the all caps sans-serif font is just awful.

Pretty in Ink: North American Women Cartoonists 1896-2013 by Trina Robbins (and Kristy Valenti) (Fantagraphics, 2013): Let’s learn more about women cartoonists. Seemed like a good idea to get this book, plus the cover is really lovely (nice work, I assume, by designer Emory Liu). And if you look at the preview on the Fantagraphics website you’ll see the wonderful drawing in the Rose O’Neill comic on page 8-9. I think I was expecting something a bit different than what Trina Robbins was actually doing. This is very much a history/chronology type book. It’s a lot of “this person and that person” in sequential order. And there is good content about the role of women comic artists across the years (especially in relation to the male editors and artists), so it’s educational and informative. But I wanted more about the comics themselves, more discussion of the work as opposed to just the artist. Cause it’s well and fine to say “she’s a woman cartoonist”, but I’d also like to hear about what she did and why it’s interesting (or not). There are some great reproductions in here, but there are also way too many covers when actual comics would have been better. Covers are easy to find reproductions of and are rarely a representative of the artist. For instance late in the book, there are shown covers for Persepolis and Fun Home, neither of which are particularly good covers or give any indication of the artists’ style. It’s a real missed opportunity, especially for cases where the artists are less well known (and less contemporary).

Dockwood by Jon McNaught (No Brow, 2012): On paper, I should really love this book. It contains two spare narratives about everyday life. In the first a young man goes to his job at a nursing home, working in the kitchen, prepping and delivering meals, working the dining room. In the second a boy gets out of school for the day and goes on his newspaper deliver route before returning home to play a video game his friend loans him. They are plotless narratives, no real conflict or element of change other than the change to autumn that suffuses the backgrounds and often the foreground (sequences of birds, squirrels, and trees/leaves).
McNaught’s art is very pretty, smooth, colorful, precise. In his precision, the flat colors, the focus on shape as opposed to line, and use of many small panels it is reminiscent of Chris Ware, but McNaught’s work is softer less geometric and isometric, it is more atmospheric and organic. He does use a Ware-esque repetition of small panels to show small moments and variations.
But McNaught’s art is, I think, where the book resists me really loving it like I do with other similar daily life, nature focused comics. It’s surface precision resists my ability to really feel the work, like I’m get stuck at the flat planes of color and shape and can’t get past that like I would if there were a looser, more expressive visual style.

Comics Workbook #2: Variations/Deconstructions by Andrew White (2013): A flip book of more of Andrew’s strips from Comics Workbook (a follow-up to the loose-leaf folder that was the previous collection). It’s a 8.5×11 page size which still feels large to me. All color, all 8 panel grids. I prefer the Deconstructions side on the whole, especially the first spread of them which is these facing minimal scenes in forest green (left) and umber (?) (right). They look quick and effortless but also composed and refined, a mix of qualities that is missing from some of the other pieces. I’m struggling to identify the quality that turns me off from some of the pages in comparison to the ones that I think are really successful. Sometimes it’s just a certain type of shape that seems wrong, or a variation/attempt that goes too far in some direction (one page of rectangles and triangles just seems too iconically abstract)… some seem to move into a pure abstraction and become much less attractive than when Andrew is taking some reality and shifting it into abstraction. I think more so than when working in an illustrative/narrative style, it can be small things that can really bring down a more abstract comic.

This is a good comic to think about context. If you have any conception of this book’s origins, you go into with a different reading than if you just found it and thought of it as a straightforward collection of comics. (Though I imagine the title(s) would help disabuse one of that notion.) These are quick (often daily, I think) series of experiments on Andrew’s part, and so you read them in light of that, thinking about the underlying goals that go into the pages. Some of these comics are successful as stand alone pages, but most of them are successful only in the context of the other pages and the book as a whole (and some, I don’t think are successful at all). It occurs to me, I’m not sure if this is an edited selection from these series, or if they are all the series (comics workbook’s archives are too hard to find for me to look).

Life Zone by Simon Hanselmann (Space Face, 2013): Hanselmann’s comics about a group of stoner friends just shouldn’t be something I like at all (never been big on stories that are heavy on drugs or the kind of “loser” characters he’s using), but he’s won me over, first with Truth Zone and then with various comics on his website. Partially it’s the cartooning, Hanselmann’s drawing is clean without being slick, and he makes great use of a many panel grid for pacing and rhythm. In comparison with people doing short stories or “graphic novels” I also think there is a certain power in taking more of a comic strip model and reusing the same characters. You don’t see that a lot in “alternative” comics, but it adds to the reading experience of the shorter comics and gives Hanselmann room to explore without starting anew every time (I guess like Jaime Hernandez). I don’t really have anything to say about this collection in particular, though I think the “Altered Beasts” story (last in the book) is the strongest of the three, something about it’s melancholy ending, and that it’s not so focused on the Owl character (whose incessant run of horrible events and a certain type of embarrassment comedy are not particularly to my taste).

The Mysterious Underground Men by Osamu Tezuka (Picturebox, 2013): Another Tezuka translation, ho-hum. This one is beautifully packaged with a brown paper cover and brown paper on the inside with faded colors that look old (an attempt to recreate the original publication). It looks great as a book. But… I just can’t read this Disney Tezuka stuff. All those little cartoon-y people… bleah.

Annotated 11 by Aaron Cockle (2013) (I don’t know where you can get this): Cockle is clearly an ideas man. This is an interesting comic with lots of thought in it and some collage-y aspects, and text from books and exhibit catalogs and transcripts of what I assume is a Guantanamo military tribunal (or something similar), it’s subtitled on the inside cover as “Essay Comix Assemblage Zine Aspects” (I’ll even excuse the use of “comix”… this time). It’s ideas and references and I like reading it. But it really suffers from Cockle’s drawing, it’s pretty rudimentary and flat (it’s kind of old Tom Hart but not as wild and expressive) and it mostly makes me not look at the pictures, so I end up reading this more as short texts than as comics. But almost half the comic has these digital shapes and pasted in patterns or texts and talks about collage, and I just can’t help thinking this would be so much better if Cockle just collaged the whole thing instead of drawing it.

The Perfect Human by L Nichols (2013): This was L’s entry in that Comics Workbook 8 panel grid contest. She only got an honorable mention for it, which is a crime, cause this was one of the (if not THE) best entries. It’s also my favorite thing I’ve seen from L, perhaps it aided her comics creation to be working in color (even though it’s a limited palette) and in a more painterly fashion. This comic is a tribute to Jordan Leth’s short film “The Perfect Human” (which you can watch here learn about if you watch the awesome “Five Obstructions” by Lars Von Trier). Things I like about this comic: the use of white as a painted color (the paper is brown) creates great texture and negative space; the page compositions have a lovely organization to them in the way the brown, white, and black areas interact; the reduction of elements, rendering, and stuff in general.

RL 3 by Tom Hart (2013) (get a copy from Spit and a Half): (You can read 1 + 2 here.) The third part in Tom Hart’s autobio comic and moving to Florida and the death of his daughter Rosalie Lightning. On #2 in February I wrote: “I guess this is some kind of proof that art can come from traumatic situations. This is the best work I’ve seen from Tom. The writing, the imagery, that wonderful use of screen tone, it’s all top notch.” I don’t really have much to add to that. In the back it is announced that there will be 9 chapters and it will be published by St Martin’s Press, very much looking forward to it. I think this kind of traumatic life event autobio can very easily be manipulative and a form of trauma porn (or something), but Tom’s put a richness and love into this story that really shows through in the art and the organization of the narrative. He’s doing Rosalie proud.

(Follow Tom’s process blog on the book.)

Blinking/Twitching by Warren Craghead and Simon Moreton (2013) (get it from Grindstone): Well I love both these guy’s work, so you probably don’t even need to read what I have to say… A quarter size spit (dual covers, read from either side). Warren drew Simon a picture, and Simon wrote Warren a story. Then they made comics. Warren’s half is a little night scene with lots of frenetic energy of darkness and scribbled lights, punctuated by these incongruous perfect little circles in the background (I love that element). Simon’s half is a spare scene of a man watching birds. I love the way he visualizes the looking and the camera focus.

L3 No.2 by Laurel Lynn Leake (2013): (This one is sold out, but here’s Laurel’s store.) Another really nicely printed and designed single artist pamphlet. This one’s got different papers and colors (I really love the primary blue color that is used on the white paper) and I think even different printing methods (mostly Riso but one sheet is a full color print). It’s also really nicely paced, Laurel actually leaves some space in here (which is tough when you know each page costs more money to print even if it’s mostly empty). A few pages are all blank white except for some light blue dots and detritus down the outer edge or a couple blue drops, like the page just accidentally picked up some ink/water from a dirty table or roller. A few similar pages just have some scrawled words on it, like a leftover test print that the comics were printed on the back of. It’s all very well done. Some of the comics are totally abstract, though with an emotional expressive attempt to them, I believe, based on the text (“Anxiety”, “You are okay/not okay”). They are not, on the whole, very successful, I think, and remind me of that section in Understanding Comics about expressive qualities of lines. The least successful comic is the most representational/narrative, with some kind of fanged/clawed figure. The most successful are where the abstract and the representational and the attempts at emotional expression merge (“Depression Comix” (uggh that X again), and an untitled page at the back). They are more visually subtle and provide room for the reader/viewer to linger on them, trying to parse out visual and thematic meaning. Another more figurative comic makes great use of the two color risk (blue and red) with some water color-y lines and dabs.

Study Group Magazine #2 edited by Zack Soto: I picked up this Study Group issue (#2) at SPX. What caught my eye (so that I bought it, even though I felt really mixed about #1) were pages by Trevor Alixopulos and Aidan Koch. I just love Alixopulos’ drawing style and the way he designs his pages all angled backgrounds and curvy people (and pink screen tone!). Koch’s spread is a like a fragmented, iconic snakes and ladders board game. Really lovely. I’d put it on my wall. And then when I actually read (well, I didn’t actually read a lot of it because I just could tell what was not for me) it, other than those two, the only other piece that seemed to make it worthwhile was Julia Gfrörer’s spread (putting herself in dialogue with a 17th Jesuit scholar about the underworld/hell, which is nice variation on her usual sex/death creepiness and works really well as a sideways 2 page spread with tons of little panels). That’s like 9 pages out of 64. Not a great ratio of interest. I suspect a lot of that is just editorial taste, there is a certain stylistic consistency to much of the work I don’t like in the issue. Though I do really like the pink/blue color scheme.

How many anthologies have I bought for one or two artists? Too many.

Solid Sight by Rebecca Mok (2013) (Sold out): Picked this up at SPX, after seeing something about it reblogged on Tumblr. One of the only comics I got by someone I know nothing about. It’s a series of paired images alternating with short text snippets. They are designed to look like old printed photos or postcards, rounded edges, slight discoloration, like the photos are on one side and the text is on the other (though I’m not clear in reading this, whether we should pair them up by the spread (where the text is above and photo below–the book is held sideways) or by the page (photo on the recto, text on the verso). The images are black and white… paintings I guess (small, hard to tell) that look a lot (often uncannily) like photographs. Each pair seems to have some slight difference from between the photos (in a couple case I can’t see what, but I’m assuming it’s there). They are like micro comics, micro-sequences of time, where the action is a slight movement of a figure or an adjustment of the (implied) camera. The text is not always clearly related to the images, but it does seem to mostly follow an elliptical progression of place and memory and displacement (perhaps relevant to the numerous photo pairs that have a figure appear in one image and disappear in the other). This is a really great comic, it’s attractive (though, I found the cover a little off with its incongruous diagonal) and in it’s abstraction leaves room for rereading and interpretation.

A Lesson in Survival by Kevin Czapiewski (2013): Another sideways reading book of paired images. This is Kevin’s printed version of 30 Days of Comics from 2012. Unlike me, he was really visually consistent across the month (or at least for the 23 comics contained here). All these seem to start from a baseline of two black panels, they are all inked in such a way that you can see the strokes in the blackness, providing for some extra texture. Often these images seem to be black on black, or black over white, so that images and marks are half hidden within the black panels. White works its way onto the panels, mostly a thick painted white, then some blue pencil is scribbled across or behind. There are strong verticals throughout, maybe it’s a scan of something that is mostly black with reflections in stripes. I can’t tell. I like that I can’t tell. You can pick out imagery here and there, birds, buildings, a faucet(?), a road, a large sign in front of some power lines (that’s my favorite), some gestural people. All the text (written in pencil underneath the pencils) is taken from a Joni Mitchell album and include a large number of lines with “you” in it, which often give the comics and unusual (for comics) direct address. The combination is both direct and oblique, more poem than prose.

Melancholy by Aaron Pittman (Temporal, 2013) (not sure how you’d get it): This is a short pencilled comic with a real nice blue on brown cover. The pencils are pretty loose, but with lots of tight horizontal scribbles. It’s just landscape, some woods, a couple deer, mostly trees. Quite. No action to speak of. No story to speak of. A bunch of us were passing this around and paging through it at SPX. From what I can tell this is pretty different from Pittman’s other work, which looks to be more narrative and people-filled.

Crater Lake by Jean de Wet (kuš, 2013): This just showed up the other day, one of the mini-kuš books, small in size, printed in color (in this case light blue on cream colored paper). It’s basically a landscape panorama with drawing that is reminiscent of Ron Rege, Tom Gauld, or Rui Tenreiro, simple lines, dots and small hashes. There are narrative elements that travel across some of the pages, but you can’t say a story is actually formed. Unlike some recent books (I’m looking at you Rage of Poseidon) this probably would have benefited from being printed as an accordion fold, so you could view the whole panorama at once. It’s an interesting attempt, but it’s a little too cute and simple to hold interest past the first read (which actually sums up how I feel about a lot of the work in the kuš anthologies).

Inverso by Berliac (kuš, 2013): Another of the new mini-kuš that I thought might be interesting. This one is visually really attractive. Kind of smudgy, smeary pencils, monochromatic at the page level, drawn on what looks like tracing paper, or at least some kind of paper that gets all crinkly and wrinkly. The colors are nice and dynamic, bright lines with a kind of halo effect in a lot of places (which I’m attributing to the paper and smudgy pencils, but maybe it’s something else). The pages themselves are nicely varied, single panel, two panel, all text, no text, spreads, objects, landscapes, people. Even the lettering hits a nice spot between too perfect and too inconsistent so it fits really well with the drawings. The narrative is a little story about a guy who goes to the jungle to find the “negative jaguar.” This is interesting enough that I’m looking up more by the artist.

Smoo 7 by Simon Moreton (2013): Packaged as 3 booklets, a map, and a short letter to the reader, these comics are about the place where Simon grew up. His revisiting it and memories from the past. As a progression from Grand Gestures, this feels even more minimal and airy. There is a point where a sequence of clouds and road unravels into a sequence of empty panels that goes on for a few pages. I love it. Empty panels are so underused in comics, I imagine partially going to a frequent production need of minimizing page count (not that that applies online)… or maybe because people think it will look lazy. Simon’s line fields sometimes reach towards the limits of comprehension when in isolation, but the drawing, the representation, becomes clear in context of the page/sequence (kind of like John Porcellino sometimes). The map is a great addition to this package, it adds another contextual level to the comics as does the letter. I enjoy having these multiple elements to shift through and read in different orders. The one pamphlet ends with these little rain drop lines falling on the figure whose wandering structures the comic. The rain follows him out of the comic, it’s a like a little extra bit of cartoony melancholy, which kind of tempers some of the not cartoony melancholy that suffused one of the other books (“damn these blues I say”). My main visual issue with this comic is that sometimes the figures feel incongruous with the landscapes/backgrounds. It’s just a tricky thing abstracting down people in a way that feels more organic than just iconic… like… drawing a simple person that isn’t just a classic stick figure. It works better here in some places than others. With each new comic I feel like Simon is coming more into his own as far as style. This is a really strong work from him.

Black Pillars 1 by Andrew White (2013): Part 1 of a two-part series, this is Andrew working in a more conventionally narrative mode than his recent online comics (as found in the Comics Workbook books). The narrative circles around these black pillars that appear in the world, seemingly without reason or purpose. Geometry invades representational drawing: both the pillars themselves as they are inserted into a beautiful sequence of landscapes that open the comic (and a similar sequence in the middle) and a sequence where circles are used in the panel to represent breathing. I think I can see the more abstract/experimental comics working back around into the narrative comics and it adds effect to the narrative and experience of it. This could be a kind of existential horror comic, but Andrew takes it to a more introspective place. I’m curious where part 2 will go, and if it will resolve some of my confusions with the narrative itself. At times, I found myself not totally sure what was going on at the larger story level, like… I understand the immediate events, actions, scenes, but not always how they related to each other.

Polis Ample by Warren Craghead (2013): Another minicomic from Warren, this one’s half-size with a grey cover. There are grey pages with nothing else on them. Dogs. People walking around looking isolated with long shadows. Skylines, lamps, traffic lights, it’s an urban scene. “A fist then a feather to the face,” “butter some toast, get old.” It’s like a drunk wandering the streets, or a fever dream… I don’t know what it is. I read it three times just now. I don’t know what it is, but I like it. I enjoy the precise branching lines here. The scribbled cloud of smoke there. The traffic light that cuts across a page.

Swear Down by Oliver East (Blank Slate, 2013): All Oliver’s books are autobiographical, but he rarely gets personal about it. What we glean about him is almost incidental to the walking and the looking. The self is the walking eye, the processing brain and hand, rather than a character. But Swear Down pulls back the veil, so to speak, to bring Oliver and his family to the forefront of his walking. As if this is a story that Oliver needed to get out, but without leaving his walking comics. It’s interesting to see Oliver joined by his wife and child for about half of the book/walk. Having other people to interact with, or who interact with the setting, provides another dynamic to the walking narrative. The textual narration is also a change from the previous books. Here he tells the story of his son’s birth, and the complications his wife faced, in parallel with the walking, which adds a more personal, emotional thread.

The book interestingly contrasts with some of his more recent work (mostly at the Comics Workbook tumblr) that has been primarily narration-free. In comparison with that recent online work, this book feels like part of the previous books, while the newer work feels more sparse, more geometric, and poetic. I wonder if that is a result of the serialization, having the single-page as a viewed unit rather than just part of a book.

Lots of visual progression and experimentation in this volume too. Oliver always seems to be trying something new with his drawing or his layouts or even the media he uses. It’s like he doesn’t go into the comic with a predefined way he’s going to work, but rather adjusts the method/material to the subject.