Book Review: Maple Key Comics 2

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Issue 2, edited by Joyana McDiarmid, 268 pgs, Samara Press, maplekeycomics.com, digital $6 print $15

Maple Key Comics Issue 2 presents a series of 17 diverse approaches to visual storytelling by emerging cartoonists. Editor (and accomplished illustrator in her own right) Joyana McDiarmid does an admirable job creating a sense of unity by integrating a seamless design concept with an engaging sense of everyday madness. For the most part, the stories are funny, quirky, visually exciting and complex. While some are slightly perverse or twisted, others project visionary alternative worlds. The content is hip and will appeal to students, casual readers and cartoon aficionados of every kind. That said, it’s the wordless comics that stand out most. These reveal that the sincerity of speech is not always enough to stimulate
creative thought. The reader requires simplicity of presentation. Adam Whittier’s “If the Coffin Fits” is poetic, humorous and well-crafted. Dan Rinylo’s “Mangy Muffin” is a spectacle of poetic imagery. Nicole Georges’ “When We Tried to Go to Soul Vegetarian CAKE in 2012” is appealing for ts lack of traditional cartoon gridlines. “Talk Dirty To Me” by Luke Howard is original and stimulating, speaking through unorthodox images, projecting overlapping divisions. Good comics require talent, inspiration, execution, formal experiment, a good line, a memorable title, engaging pictures and dialogue, among other things. Set in an anthology that allows for a lot of diversity in style and presentation, each of these comics aims  to achieve one or more of these elements, making for a genuinely intriguing collection of cartoons. (David Swartz)

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