By Andrew Fulton.
Self-published. 2012. 16pp. $6 physical, $1 digital.
I’m not sure what to write about, or how to write about, Good. It’s quite in contrast to most of Fulton’s minis that I’ve reviewed, most strikingly in that it appears to be a much more personal, autobiographical vignette, the main character being Andrew Fulton himself with the supporting cast made up by his two sons and their cat.
It’s also even more languid and open in its storytelling and pacing than usual, in a successful effort to portray the emotional thread of the mini. Repeated and progressive framing describe an anxiety from the Andrew character; what seems to be a mini-breakdown and cocooning/retreating. A feeling experienced by many parents, a panic and despair, only broken by the relentlessness of the job that ironically is its cause in the first place. The oddness of the situation, of Andrew’s initial physicality, slows the reader down immensely, studying the faces of the players to try to decipher the situation and the characters’ states of mind. This in turn plays straight into the hands of Fulton’s desire to control the reader’s progress – not only to absorb the story at a better pace, but to also become more invested in the characters’ themselves. It’s an appreciated outcome, because to fly through these pages, just because they aren’t dialogue-heavy, would be a shame and severely blunt the emotional impact.
Another element that makes the story read slower is that panel borders are seldom used, really only employed to help organise busier pages. The rest of the book has a much more airy feel, with images creating ‘virtual panels’ owing to their repetition, singularity on a page, or the grouping of figures. The airier feel creates an almost dreamlike sense as Andrew struggles through his dilemma. This works a treat for most of the time, but the lack of structure might have lost the odd reader here or there.
The cartooning of expression and acting, of faces and bodies, of movement, action and stillness, is as accomplished as ever. This works hand in hand with the character design and its big heads, small faces and loopy arms. The malleability of everyone is used well as an expressive tool — mouths impossibly big when needed, bodies slinking over couches in surrender, etc. Andrew’s crazy, tightly curled hair might be an accidental metaphor for his state of mind, but his son’s unruly locks are completely in-keeping with it as well.
Production quality is again lovely and understated. Nice paper, good weight, with a heavier cover, not stark white, 13cm square, using coloured line-work. Mostly monotone, in a cool hue, there are a few splashes of a hotter colour to emphasise the temperament of emotion and action. A delightful edition to hold and read.
All in all, a very welcome surprise and change of pace in this autobiographical insight, telling a story that seems to be coming straight from the heart, yet not maudlin or embarrassing, only compelling and intriguing.