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10 March 2008

Hogan, Smith and Skarhus GOOD MINNESOTAN #1

Good Minnesotan Episode #1 featuring Meghan Smith, Raighne Hogan and Justin Skarhus.
27 pages. 8.5" x 7". Black, white and grey tone cover on "Elli Poo" paper. Black and white interior pages "printed on 100% post consumer recycled Wausau Papers".
$5.00 cover price. On sale here for $7.00.
From the last page of the comic: "Good Minnesotan is a comic/sequential art compendium. The focus of the collections will be experiments in story-telling through the printed form with an obvious keen look at comics all over the board. We give a hard push on the local crowd and those just cutting their teeth on the medium."
That is a pretty lofty manifesto for the first issue of a mini comic but the Good Minnesotan gang seem to be on track to pull it off. Any time a comic uses the word "compendium" you know you are in for some heady stuff. The dot dot dot ink press gang have put together a good looking book with an emphasis on visual design. Of the five stories presented in this collection only Revenge Fantasies (written by Justin Skarhus with art by Raighne Hogan) bears much resemblance to traditional comic book story telling and even it has a pretty avant garde visual style.
All of the art is ambitious featuring a lot of mixed media work with aggressive variations in tones.
Raighne Hogan's story Cookie demonstrates some strong character design but the story was a bit hard for me to follow. It felt more like a series of images from a music video than a comic.

Hogan has a lot of range though and seems to be unafraid of experimentation. My favorite art in the book is from his stories Teddy Bears and Time Travel and Portraitist (a sample of which is above). These pages remind me a lot of Dave McKean and of the work David Mack has been doing over the past few years. Each page existing as it's own art object but still communicating enough narrative to give it the feel of a good mystery or riddle unfolding with the turn of the page.
Hogan's pages alone are worth the price of admission as far as I'm concerned but Meghan Smith also provides a eerie yet charming little story that would fit right into Tim Burton's world. Smith's art is quite polished and would make for a great little creepy children's book. Smith also provides a great looking wrap around cover for the book but unfortunately my scanner is too small to capture the whole thing.
As a whole, I would say that the Good Minnesotan gang's visual strengths outweigh the storytelling at this point but it is only a first issue and as far as first issues go this one is a gem. It looks good and the "Elli Poo" paper feels good. The feel of the paper matters a lot to me when deciding which mini comics to buy at a convention or in those wonderful few shops that support minis. I'm also encouraged by the fact that this thing exists at all. I love the idea of a regional anthology. I love the idea of these talented folks getting together and making a book come to life. I hope they keep it up.
Your best pal ever,
Shannon Smith
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