With gorgeous covers by Aron Nels Steinke and Hellen Jo, Papercutter 9 sets the bar high in the lookin’-good department. The standard is upheld with Nate Beatty’s interior cover urban scenes and the work by the aforementioned artists and other contributor Elijah Brubaker.
Steinke’s story, “He Lives in Our Basement I am Sure of It, is a long auto-bio piece covering one dream, one house, one phone call and a ghost. As always, Steinke’s art is cute and detailed, and his thick black and white lines create a comfortable atmosphere, even when the characters are freaking out. He makes good use of multiple panel sizes to frame his meandering story, but in the end, the story was a bit too long and aimless. Most disappointingly, the ghost, who is such a strong and intriguing figure in the cover image, is relegated to a bit character in Steinke’s house-stalking neuroses.
Elijah Brubaker’s one-page Hubert and Ray story further develops the two misbegotten characters as they wander around town and talk about god. “I had a pet duck named Frito.” “Oh yeah, what happened to him?” “Dog.”
“Diamond Heights: A True Story” by Hellen Jo, features a pair of drunken, foul-mouthed kids wandering around what looks like a deserted California suburb on an, I assume, stolen school day. When, at the top of a street they need to cross, shoeless and giggling twins appear, the girl is strangely affected. I love how easily Jo communicates the kids’ attitude and how it changes when the ghostly girls appear. The black skies and trees, intricate, vegetal backgrounds and cool camera angles add to the cinematically creepy feel. All the action may have only taken a few minutes, but Jo stretches it out and makes it tense and effective.
While this was not my favorite issue of Papercutter, I think Hellen Jo’s work makes it worth a read. I got the newest issue at MoCCA this weekend and I’ll have a review of that soon.