The single panel comic is a difficult thing to master. The trick is to somehow force the reader to determine what the events leading up to and out of a single moment of time are, and to do so without them even knowing that they’re doing it. As a result, single panel comics tend to rely heavily on context and common experiences to subtly present a single moment that can stand on its own while implying a bigger story. At least, that’s how it’s always been. Then along came Will Laren.
Written and illustrated by: Will Laren
What can you say about Slurricane #8? This thing is 20 pages of full sumptuous color. Almost all these comics have never before been seen or published! this is the type of thing you want to have sitting on your coffee table when you’re trying to seduce someone whose dad’s in the illuminati. it shows them that you’re a collector of the finer things in life. that you’ll take good care of their father’s absurd pocket watches and antique Bugatti’s and racehorses named after roman generals. THAT’S THE MESSAGE THAT SLURRICANE #8 SENDS.
Laren’s “Slurricane” is a barrage of single panel humor comics that delve into the neuroses and deepest thoughts of a plethora of weirdos. Where most other cartoonist who work in this format are aiming for a simple gag or sappy sentiment, “Slurricane” is a cover to cover sprint through humor that is both irreverent and cringe-inducing. The thing that sets Laren’s comics apart from others is that he doesn’t seem to care if you can put together a context for what you’re reading. In fact, not fully understanding the ‘who’ and ‘what’ of these brief stories probably helps him achieve the tone and atmosphere he desires.
The cast of characters we meet in “Slurricane” feels both familiar and alien. They feel like the people who populate the backgrounds of our lives: the old lady next door who stares, that guy on the bus (that one), and every other person who you’ve ever wondered what their deal was. The alienness I referred to comes from becoming privy to these people’s inner thoughts and finding out that you actually had no idea how weird they really are.
Each page is a full bleed piece of art featuring someone who we’re meeting in the middle of some sort of deep thought or earth-shattering revelation. The whole comic is painted in what looks to be gouache or acrylics and leans heavily on secondary colors. Laren’s figure work is asymmetrical and exaggerated, which causes his subjects to take on a bizarre grotesqueness. Necks are elongated, thumbs are on the worn sides of hands, faces look to have the topography of old and over-used pillows.
One of my favorite things about the art in “Slurricane” is the way Laren dresses his characters. Most of the clothing we see in comics can be generic and uninspired, but we forgive it because it doesn’t impact the story. But the grossies we find populating the pages of this comic? They’re a pretty put together bunch! Laren seems to have a real affinity for all-over print designs, as there are a bunch of them throughout the issue. Shoes, sweaters, hats, everything worn in “Slurricane” has been considered and is presented with care. These seemingly innocuous details help to add to the overall bizarreness of “Slurricane.”
The colors combined with the odd-yet-well-dressed shapes of the characters set the stage for the actual narratives presented in “Slurricane.” Laren has a sort of wandering stream of consciousness to the way he writes narration and dialogue. When his characters speak they do so with a rambling, almost redundant staccato that betrays the concise and deliberate storytelling at play. Each page twists and turns in ways that’d be impossible to predict, setting up mini-narratives that come to a rapid fruition and end abruptly, leaving the reader to ponder what exactly the circumstances leading up to or spinning out of this comic must be like.
“Slurricane” #8 is self-published and available directly from Laren via his online store. While you’re there, be sure to not miss what is undoubtedly my favorite new t-shirt or his snazzy enamel pins.Continued below
Final Verdict- 9.0 — I found “Slurricane” #8 to be intensely imaginative and laugh out loud funny. Reading this issue was like walking through a party attended exclusively by David Lynch characters and hearing only slices of the surreal conversations they’d be having with each other.