No! by various artists, edited by Colleen Frakes

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No! is the second book in the Four Square series, the I Know Joe Kimpel (a Center for Cartoon Studies student-related distributor) themed anthologies that raise funds for the artists’ convention costs. The first, Sorry, featured the work of Colleen Frakes, Caitlin Plovnick, Mario van Buren, and Emily Wieja. It was ok.

No!, despite one rather weak entry, is better. The silk-screened covers by Colleen Frakes have a sweet Scrabble theme and so beautifully kinetic drawing. Her story, “No, Man” is a fable about a series of denials that leads to an endless cycle of war. Her bear characters appear here and are as iconic as ever.

Morgan Pielli’s silly take on giving a hearty “No!” to societal and property boundaries is a great exercise in using varied panel structure to add spice to a one-note concept. His gabby line-crosser explores himself right into another story and despite the abrupt punch line I enjoyed it because the art is so easy on the eyes.

“Knee Deep in the Alphabet Soup,” by Jon Chad is a detailed, beautiful gross-out story about too much soup and not enough loving. I am not sure how it explores the theme, unless Chad is suggesting that the main character, the sweaty and perpetually terrified Bobo Backslack, should have said no to advice from that creepy guy in the grocery store.

Lastly, there is Lauren O’Connell’s “Fancyclue.” I am not really sure what to say about this one. It seems to have been conceived and drawn by a child really into Nancy Drew-type mysteries and aware of only the trappings of adult love. The comic ends with the question of does he or doesn’t he like her, vote yes or no, which perhaps is meant to fulfill the theme requirement but just adds to the bizarre childishness of the comic. It simply does not stand up to the other work in No!.

I tend to like themed anthologies and if the proceeds go to a good cause, then all the better. I am looking forward to seeing what the CCSers and former CCSers have to offer in upcoming Four Square books and I wish them fruitful conventioneering.

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