Thursday, March 27, 2008

Minus is a Wonderful Comic

In this episode, Minus doesn't 
appear until the final frame.
©Ryan Armand

I love Minus, one of the most distinctive comics hovering around Piperka's Twenty Most Popular.

Minus is a little girl with magic powers, and after that, it's not at all ordinary. When magical powers are depicted with warm watercolors, expressing the moods and tantrums of a child, they erupt into emotional sensations not often delivered by comics.

Often poignant, Minus' imagination is a stand-in for the omnipotent deity. Her innocence underscores that even gods need a moral framework to operate: in its absence, Minus is prankish, then benevolent, then murderous, then whimsical.

At the bottom of the early pages are excruciatingly self-conscious comments by the author. They are among the most painful I've read since Jim Woodring annotated an episode of Frank. And yet, they must be forgiven, as it appears Ryan Armand is still coming to grips with the awesomeness of his creative powers -- much like Minus.

What can the author be busy with, that his profound communication skills fail the moment he steps outside the boundaries of his comic? We get dead links, obsolete email addresses, rambling and repetitive comments, threats to abandon the comic without warning. An email requesting background was returned undeliverable; the latest email address was revealed too late to help. Like an absent-minded professor, we have here a sloppy genius.

Last year, just after Minus was nominated for an Eisner, the commentary edged into a more mature voice, but remains a questionable feature. This end of innocence also brings a few sub-par strips -- the first ever. All at once, I miss the hapless author, whose ramblings made the strips seem all the more miraculous.

It would take a hard heart not to love this comic. I hope children's publishers are swarming Armand with proposals.

Ryan Armand's site, which includes earlier work, is Kiwis By Beat.