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05 December 2007

Derik Badman's MAOSE

Maose by Derik A. Badman
November 2005. 24p., 5.5 x 8.5″. Cardstock cover. Black and white, computer printed.

This is very much the type of comic I think of when I think of the standard mini-comic. Mini-comic size. Mini-comic length. Pink cardstock cover with black line drawing. Nothing fancy. Silk screened covers don't make a book read better but they do help them sell. This cover does not jump out at me at first glance but after closer consideration I do get a kick out of a mouse wearing a Chairman Mao mask and the cover is consistent with the book's content. Both the cover and the interior art demonstrate an analytical and efficient style. Badman is a librarian and his style seems to be as committed to analysis and instruction as it is to storytelling. His page layouts are very precise and deliberate. There is no question in where he wants the reader to look. Everything in it's right place just like in a good library.

The story is about discovering that Badman's house has rodent visitors. Badman tells the story without showing himself but rather by showing details of the evidence left behind by the unwanted pest. It is probably not a stretch to say that the main character of the story is the apartment and the villain is the mouse. Badman is just the documentarian. This means that there are many drawings of interiors, furniture, appliances etc. Fortunately, Badman's drawing chops are to the challenge and his voyeuristic composition and pacing are pretty interesting. The thing I'm most impressed with about this book is that Badman creates a genuine level of suspense using only these static interior drawings and the occasional glimpse of the mouse villain. The book works but it seems like Badman's commitment to the narrative technique outweighs his commitment to the story. Yes, to tell a story about his anxiety over a mouse without showing himself is an interesting challenge and yes Badman pulls it off, but the book itself might be a bit more fun if he chose to break his own rules. Maybe even just leaving the ruler in the drawer and drawing the panel borders in the same style as their contents would make the pages feel more alive. The book is good but in a 'oh, that was clever' way and not an 'oh, that was fun, let me read it again' way. I do think Badman's drawing chops are very strong and I admire his obvious knowledge of the form. I would like to see him cut loose and make a mini without self limitations or rules.
Badman sent in two mins but I want to consider each submission to file under other on it's own merits. The other book will be reviewed soon. I also want to mention that Badman is the creator of a very good webcomic called Things Change. Definitely worth a look.
Your best pal ever,
Shannon Smith

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