Trivial, edited by A.L. Arnold

Trivial is the third book in I Know Joe Kimpel’s 4-Square Books themed anthology series. Like No! and Sorry, Trivial collects the work of four CCS graduates and affiliates, and the proceeds go towards defraying convention costs.

This time around the collection featured work by some of my favorite young cartoonists, Alex Kim, Alexis Frederick-Frost and Sean Ford, as well as someone new to me, A.L. Arnold.

The first story, by Alex Frederick-Frost is my favorite in Trivial. Using thick brush strokes, Frederick-Frost takes us into the everyday musings of an Arctic explorer. While cursive text further creates an intimate, diary-like feeling for the narration, the action is dreamlike and underscores the sense of isolation the nameless characters face: “We were but tiny black specks, moving slowly and painfully across the white plains, bending our puny strength to the task.” This story also gave the most nuanced interpretation of the theme by showing how one can be drawn to, and take comfort in, trivialities when life is strange and impossible.

The next, by Alex Kim, features one of his rumpled young characters, awkwardly explaining his “thing with hands.” This is mostly a dream comic, and is altogether pretty slight in the story department, but I liked that he seemed to be having fun with it.

“Bullseye,” by A.L. Arnold, is the story of an old god’s quiet life, that when interrupted by duty, causes him to plunge from the clouds into our mundane and ugly world. I liked the character design of Atmus, (he certainly looked long-suffering enough to be a former god), and how his physicality changed when called to action. Even so, when the action was happening, I didn’t care all that much; without knowing more about Atmus, the ending lacked impact. Overall, “Bullseye” felt too much like a chapter in a longer work to hold my attention.

Sean Ford’s two offerings, “Lessons” and “Longing,” feature a young boy, Clay, and a manipulative, lonely ghost. Each is essentially a set up to a nasty-remark punch line by the ghost. Ford’s art and writing gives the few moments we get with the characters added weight: from Clay’s scowl and slumped shoulders in “Lessons” we realize the annoying burden his dead friend can be, from the ghost’s bits of confession in “Longing,” (such as “Clay, I’m incredibly nostalgic for things that I know never happened to me…”), you can surmise, that in life, people probably found it a bit of an asshole.

Again, Trivial did its job to showcase I Know Joe Kimpel’s creative talent and I am looking forward to the next installment.

(Sorry for the terrible picture. The real thing is much prettier.)

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2 Responses to Trivial, edited by A.L. Arnold

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