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Frakes, Colleen – Tragic Relief


Tragic Relief

In case anybody out there still had doubts that the Center for Cartoon Studies had a great program, capable of teaching the aspiring cartoonist all sorts of useful things, here’s one more piece of evidence in their favor.  There’s already a pile of stuff accumulating, granted, but it seems to be getting more impressive by the week.  This is Colleen’s first graphic novel, but she’s still putting out issues of the Tragic Relief comic on a regular basis (as least judging by her website).  This is the silent tale of a young man who’s living with his mother and his tendency to find love in the oddest of places.  A mermaid, a genie and a harpy (I may be completely off base on that last one) all play a part, as does the profoundly overprotective mother.  One of the many impressive feats of this book is that I’m still not sure whether the mother was malicious or just cluelessly “lucky”, although that won’t make a bit of sense to anybody who hasn’t already read this.  As for the art, few people have done so much with so little.  There are no backgrounds to speak of, many of the images are deceptively simple, and yet damned near every one of them moves the story along, often with the subtlest of glances or shrugs.  It’s obvious, after looking at the work coming out of graduates from the comic college, that the future for comics is brighter than it’s been in years.  At least, it is in terms of the quality of the work being put out.  Whether or not any of these poor kids are ever going to make a living at this remains to be seen.  I should also point out that this hefty thing is a measly $7, as it’s on recycled paper.