If you’re like me, your budget for “fun money” is pretty tight, so when I go looking for new self published comics to buy, I’m usually looking for a straight up win. This is hard and also unfair to the self publishing crowd who are mostly full of great untapped talent, but most of our hard earned cash goes into the pockets of a few well-knowns.
My fantasy of a typical comix buyer browsing through etsy, “Wow, this is a crazy looking cover! I might just buy it. Oh, look at that sticker price, I better favorite it for now and just go buy another King Cat.”
Not that there’s anything wrong with King Cat. The point is, we’re all a bit conservative when it comes to throwing our money out there into the void for something experimental that we haven’t actually thumbed through at a convention or comics shop. So my goal today, is to get you to buy a David Robertson comic.
Browsing David’s store, Fred Egg Comics, you’ll immediately be hit with a wall of work. What is all of this stuff anyway, you’ll wonder? Well, they are anthologies. David writes all of the scripts (with the exception of a few that he gives writer’s credit to his kids for) and draws many of the comics, and he also gives the drawing seat to other cartoonists. Most of the books are perfect bound, and 60 to 100 pages. Sometimes his anthologies are a continuing title (e.g. “Dump”, “That Comic Smell”) and others are just a single volume of works with a one-time title (“Wow Retracted,” “Mount a Rescue”, “Booze Ha Ha”). In a few cases, he does a long story that takes up the whole book to which could be called a graphic novel, if you want (“Bell Time”). The works are mostly black and white, but some comics do have color. “That Comic Smell 2” is mostly color. “Bell Time” is a blue/gray color scheme.
The anthologies are a lot like sketch comedy although not every script is meant to be funny. David seems to challenge himself to turn any passing thought into a comic. It’s a lot like watching Olympic gymnastic competitions. They often stick their landings, sometimes they don’t, but you enjoy it anyway. Many of the stories are 1 to 3 pages long. There are a few that take longer, but not many.
There are a wide range of themes. One minute you could be viewing 2 Victorian era female characters exchanging a heated argument over whether one who shouts “I don’t really give a fuck” actually means they don’t give a fuck or if because they’ve said it, then that actually implies they do give a fuck or they wouldn’t have even said it in the first place (from Dump Volume 3). The next minute you might be seeing H.G. Wells traveling through time to take out his critics and literary successors with a giant robot (“George vs. Herbert” in Wow Retracted). Many times he muses on a theme from his own day. There are “hourly comics day” comics. A reoccurring theme is David’s love of Star Wars.
David’s drawing style is minimal. Line variation is spare, and when he deploys the use of watercolor, he does a nice job. I love and prefer his tone of facial expressions over current trends. It’s so rare these days to see a cartoon character not wearing their heart on their sleeve (I blame, Pixar, Disney, and manga). David’s dead pan sense of humor and understanding of how people actually guard their emotions works well in so many different stories. A short science fiction piece, “Revenge on the Orbiting Space Pod,” (from the Wow Retracted anthology) does this well where the character hides his boss’ notes from a recent meeting to get back at the guy for being such a jerk. When the boss asks his employee if he’s seen his notes, the panel shows the character saying “No.” Out of context, you’d think as much as the boss that he’s being truthful even though he isn’t.
So, if you’re looking for something out of the norm, which you probably are if you’re shopping for self published comics, I think owning a work by David Robertson is a great find. Get one and you’ll know what you’re getting in to if you decide to buy more of his anthologies or even one of his long works. You deserve it!
Fred Egg Comics <- Comics that David publishes
That Comics Smell <- Comics David collaborates with a group of folks