Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Student Comic Review: Laura Knetzger's Bug Boys

Each Wednesday, Eric and Hayley dig into a box of minicomics by SVA students and pull one out to share with the world. If you would like to submit your minis for review, please drop them off in the Reviews box at Cartoon Allies meetings and in the senior studio. This week, we'll be looking at...

Laura Knetzger, Bug Boys #1 & #2, 2011

Bug Boys follows Rhinoceros Beetle (Rhino-B) and Stag Beetle (Stag-B), two pals who go on adventures throughout the tiny world of bugs. The first issue introduces us to the domain of the titular Bug Boys by way of a treasure hunt, exploring the world outside their village. The second issue features a more urgent and character-driven tale, in which Rhino-B is taken away from the village by a giant.

There's a lot to be said about the charm and technique displayed in the first two issues of Bug Boys. Laura's drawings are just as eye-catching as her funky and expressive linocut covers. While Laura's clean-lined and simple style shoots for the adorable, it's obvious from her storytelling that cuteness is just an element, not an end-goal. The world of Bug Boys is rendered intricately with attention paid to suggestive textures, while Laura's panel layouts give the world emotional power throughout the Bug Boys' adventures.

Laura's writing, especially in the second issue, balances the fun and poignancy of a good all-ages comic. In "Bug-napped!", Rhino-B meets Kuwagata in the cage of a young bug enthusiast. Laura depicts Rhino-B's distress at the situation with a touching element of honesty, while the climax, in which Kuwagata is troubled by the prospect of leaving his life in captivity, hit me in a way that even I paused to consider the beetle's words. Bug Boys is certainly a comic about adventure and the emotions associated with it, and I feel Laura's real strength is depicting those emotions in a manner that's genuine and transcends the page.

Bug Boys is a wonderful introduction to a world I can't wait to see more of. While I'd recommend it to anyone who can hold a comic and turn a page, it makes me happy to see great work targeted at children coming out of our student body.

Bug Boys #1 and #2 will be available for sale at the School of Visual Arts table at New York Comic Con, booth #1722. If you'd like to contact Laura, you can send her an email at intarsia_14 (at) yahoo (dot) com.

Eric Alexander Arroyo is a hot-blooded junior who wears a fedora, digs giant robots, and obsesses over flowing scarves. He's spent his life wandering Florida and Las Vegas, and hopes to find an apartment in the bowels of a volcano. Although he's training to be a cartoonist, he'd rather be a crime-fighting cyborg when he grows up.


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