by Graham Annable
It’s all in the faces, those crazy, expressive, cartoonish, cutesy Sergio Aragones, Bert-and-Ernie-gone-mad faces that populate every single page of Grickle. With their minimalist expressions and flailing limbs, the faces that live in the Grickle universe communicate more simple truths and absurdities about the human condition than yer Final Fantasy CGI nonsense ever could. Canadian cartoonist Graham Annable spends most of his time working on big time fancy animation projects for companies like LucasArts and Disney. Please don’t hold that against him. Perhaps as a way of making up for his day job, Annable has collected handfuls of stories, scraps, and skits and assembled them into a surprisingly seamless 128-page collection. I haven’t been this entertained by fringe comics work since I happened upon a bunch of J. Lynch’s Nard And Pat back issues.
Grickle makes me cry sometimes. Like in “Decency,” where two kids throw stones at a frog until he/she dies, one egging the other on with a face all twisted with venom and rage. The uncertain kid doesn’t, and in a single heartbreaking panel, makes the frog a little resting place with a tiny headstone that reads “froggy.” Like in “Wee Man,” which is all about the transience of human companionship. But Grickle makes me laugh the rest of the time. Laugh so much that my eyes start tearing up. Laugh at unsolved hit-and-runs, at party asses, at Polaroids, at old people, nonsmokers, divorces, board games, frustrated love, the quest for eternal enlightenment, even at people who are only at their best when they’re on the toilet. But I always come back to those toon facial expressions that Annable has so easily mastered: the goofy smile of the guy who’s just been beaten up by two smokers, the sad eyes of the fella whose best friend has just bolted from their fishing trip to seek the TRUTH, the man and his dog singing and laughing when they realize they won’t get caught, and the slow transformation of a hopeful suitor into a stressed-out Nosferatu who has to flee from the possibilities/claustrophobia of commitment. I’m dying here. Graham Annable’s Grickle is damn close to comics genius. Just fucking hurry up and buy this.
Alternative Comics, 503 NW 37th Avenue, Gainesville, FL 32609-2204; http://www.indyworld.com/altcomics