Hard-Hitting Comics in a Different Way: The Comics Workbook Magazine #4 Review

cwm_bannerI have two loves in this world—writing and art—or three, if comics weren’t art already. When I find books and magazines and blogs that combine my loves something punches me in the kidney and says, “Hey, pay attention.” The Comics Workbook Magazine, a new e-zine for aspiring comic creators, makes a punching bag out of my organs. “You’re paying attention, right?”

Just like a haymaker, the fourth issue of the Comics Workbook Magazine comes out of nowhere and gives readers a unique take on art in editorials. This May issue featured essays by L. Nichols, Sarah Lautman, and Barthelemy Schwatz, an interview with Alex Degen, and comic strips by Andrea Bjurst, Krystal DiFronzo, Ines Estrada, and Emma Louthan.

I found Graham Sigurdson’s interview with AREACC artist Alex Degen the most interesting. Degen’s thoughts on silent comics ought to be given to all comic artists who want to improve their visual narratives. His statement—“[…] even if I didn’t fully understand the text the pictures would fill out the context”—should be a code for all artists as, “Your audience will understand the pictures, so make the pictures talk”. Degen’s success and Sigurdson’s eye for capturing the Mighty Star artist in his element will rub any reader the right way.

After Degen’s interview, there are comic strips that give the eyes a time out. Bjurst’s’ “I Have Purpose!” comic strip is minimal as if she traded Edvard Munch’s mixed-media screamer with a penciled one. “True Lies” by Estrada followed by DiFronzo and Louthan’s comics make good gut-busters, at least, compared to the serious editorials in the later part of the magazine. These comics balance the entire magazine without losing a bead of sweat.

This magazine may deliver some clean punches to the body, but veterans know how to parry them with clear eyes. Any type of art magazine, even if it is a literary medium, is an educational art piece. Artists read art. Editorials reinforce the visuals. They work together, and when they don’t, it’s going to be noticed—and not in a good way. The Comics Workbook Magazine shows that art and literature are arm-length apart. In every essay, only one or two images break up the text, and the penciled comic strips look unprofessional flushed against each other. All writings should spar again—they need another revision. Some of my pet peeves in literature include long-winded openers, all-capitalized words, and obvious self-promotions, all of which are in this magazine. Still, I can’t get angry, or I risk forfeiting nuggets of wisdom. This magazine is a beginner mimicking the likes of The Greatest.

Aside from the swings that refuse to land, the Comics Workbook Magazine is a good resource for aspiring comic book artists who write their own stuff. The writers and artists in this magazine created a small yet provoking magazine that can only come from people who are just like me—attentive lovers of writing and art—minus the inflamed organs.

The Comics Workbook Magazine is available on The Copacetic Comics Company website for $2.00.

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