Spiders Visit by Sarah Ferrick. 30 pages, 8 x 5, black and white xeroxed.

$5

This was one of my favorite comics I’ve come across lately. It’s hard to tell if this is the author’s first comic—but it feels that way. That is to say, while the artist has certainly done a lot of work exploring their own world of images prior to making this book, the way this strong imagery is translated into a comic is, at the risk of sounding hyperbolic, thrilling. A least thrilling for an artist like me. There is a strong, strong sense of storytelling here, but removed from all the accepted ideas of what comics ‘needs’ to have to constitute good storytelling. Grids are not considered, nor are word balloons. That’s good—because Ferrick is more interested in more important things: a inventive sense of drawing that, while scraggly, is very downbeat. Unlike a lot of shaky line artists, Ferrick’s aesthetic is not one of manic assault but instead more matter-of-fact. Her characters are solid units of drawings and her rooms are expressive without being filled with throw away gestures. But it’s Ferrick’s compositions that strike me the most, particularly when she gives us a large drawing of Lumpy (one of the two characters here in this one-act play like narrative) sitting and talking to Spider. Lumpy is a ragged piece of drawing at the center of an almost bare room—I get the comfort of a children’s book from this image, but also the deeper satisfaction of looking at a fully articulated style of personal drawing—and, what’s more, Ferrick shows us Lumpy and Spider talking, deftly moving the story along without any strain or showiness. The story itself is quite moving—one friend visits another one, and one suggests that the others home is bare and uninviting. What Ferrick does that so few other art comic creators seem interested in is develop these characters through sparse dialogue and reactions and opinions subtle but rich with feeling and intelligence. These characters don’t ask you to like them or impress you. They act out something hard to define—my reactions to their story was all over the place, and that’s what true comics-as-poetry ought to be. I’m less interested in fractured sentences written within a panel than I am in difficult emotions and intentions being achieved so well.