Hic & Hoc
Completely by Noah Van Sciver
Good ol' Hic & Hoc! The little publisher that could. With each title from this dynamite new underground comc company I get more impressed. They have such a diverse wealth of talent and put out some really insane books (read my opinions on Fedor here). Amongst that talent pool is Noah Van Sciver. This gentleman has written and drawn an impressive amount of creator owned titles including Fante Bukowski, My Hot Date, Saint Cole (those 3 titles all came out just this year!) Blammo, and many many more. Check out his WordPress to find out what he's up to and buy the wares he's peddling.
This here zine shows various shorts spawned from Sciver's mind to cheer people up (more or less). Each dark comedic story has at least 5 good chuckles in it with subjects ranging from comic convention checklists to transdimensional party creatures to a pretty realistic depiction of book stores to everyone's favorite cartoon character, Sponge Chuck Thrift Store Pants! What more do you need! All in all, this zine has 12 vignette's and each is even more hilarious and outrageous than the last!
One thing that is very clear in these stories is that Sciver likes to give a humorously cynical albeit realistic depiction of events. This was most apparent to me two seperate times. When going over the comic con checklist, every panel gives a pretty accurate representation of things that you can (and often times will) find at a convention. It's hilarious seeing the "worst of the worst" scenarios all on one page. The second most honest is the segment "Scenes From a New & Used Bookstore" in which you see a variety of people that you can picture very well to actually exist. Sciver just gets these situations and occurences and jots them down in a way that doesn't disrespect them but rather gives the reader a sense of "Heh, I get it". Most importantly is the humility in this book's dialogue. It's clear that Sciver is by no means using cynicism to put down the things he is talking about, but rather bringing dark comedy to various different subject matter. I have to say though, there are a couple of stories where he really just goes all out, letting his imagination wander to tell these over the top stories and they are the best parts of the book.
Sciver has a very underground, sketchy style. This book is far from his first rodeo, and in his time in the comic scene he has definitely cemented a style of his own. Cheer Up uses a variety of hatch marks, lines and scribbles to give elaborate background detail without being too loud about it. His character models are similar throughout, with the main variances being in heads and facial expressions. Their are times when the faces are drawn in a more realistic fashion to force the reader to visualize what the character would look like in real life, and it's a very successful effect! The other facial expressions are comically over exaggerated to bring more humor when appropriate. Besides humans, he also includes some other interesting humanoid characters in this collection which are play off of characters we all know but gives them a new, far more adult look/voice. I would love to see a version of this colored by Sciver because his palettes are incredible, but that being said there is really nothing I can complain about, Cheer Up looks great!
Noah Van Sciver set out with this comic to cheer folks up, and if they (YOU) read it, they will! With adult humor and familiar situations as well as some outlandish stories, it is not hard to laugh yourself to tears with this title. Hic & Hoc has a great voice in the independent comic scene and it's super awesome that Sciver was able to contribute to that! This book is only $5 and your best bet to find it is to use Storenvy. Oh look, a link! Thanks for reading, friends!